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, November 30, 2008

The Geography of Guilt

The geography of guilt
Mea culpa
has no maps
mea culpa
no roads
mea culpa
no signs
mea culpa
only obstacles
mea culpa
and dust
mea culpa
and shadows.

Mea maxima culpa.

But faith promises
that shadows
mean light



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Franciscan Morning Prayer

Jesus Lord, I offer you
this new day because
I believe in you, love you,
hope all things in you
and thank you for
your blessings.
I am sorry for having
offended you and
forgive everyone who
has offended me.
Lord, look on me and
leave in me
peace and courage
and your humble wisdom
that I may serve others
with joy, and be
pleasing to you all day.

- "Franciscan Morning Prayer" from Secular Franciscan Companion


Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Black Friday

Black Friday
Up before dawn
Not because
I planned to pilgrimage
to the shrine of Mammon
at the mall
but because
the cat
needs to be fed
the dog
needs to be walked
morning prayers
need to be said.

Oh Lord Jesus Christ
Son of God
Have mercy on me
A sinner.

We each have
Our own sins.

We each have
Our own God.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Solanus Casey - A Thankful Man

"Let us thank [God] at all times and under whatever circumstances. Thank Him for our creation and our existence, thank Him for everything — for His plans in the past that by our sins and our want of appreciation and patience have so often been frustrated and that He so often found necessary to change. Let us thank Him for all His plans for the future — for trials and humiliations as well as great joy and consolations; for sickness and whatever death He may deign to plan."

"Therefore we should thank Him frequently for, not only the blessings of the past and present, but thank Him ahead of time for whatever He foresees is pleasing to Him that we suffer. We should do this not only in general but in each particular case."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Huckabee on the Culture of Life

"There is intrinsic worth and value in every human life regardless of that person's age, stature, functional capacity, ancestry, personal assets, last name, level of education, or occupation. The culture of life is much broader than the simple notion that abortions are immoral and wrong (although it encompasses that, too)."

- Mike Huckabee, Do the Right Thing.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Doherty - Fools for Christ

Yes, foolishness for Christ's sake. He wants us, like St. Francis, to be fools the like of which the world has not yet seen. He gives us St. Francis to show us the way, to help us risk exposing ourselves to ridicule. St. Francis took two piece of wood, branches cut from some tree, and made believe that they were a violin and played music on them. We don't have to take branches, we need only let the strings of our heart play music, the foolish music of one who follows Christ until the end.

- Catherine Doherty (Urodivoi: Holy Fools)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A new Anglican Church?

The Associated Press is reporting that Episcopalians are preparing to form a new Anglican Church in North America.

AP says that a church constitution will be unveiled at Wheaton College on December 3. Reportedly, the new church would unite the approximately 100,000 Episcopalians who broke with that church and now have ties to various conservative Anglican archbishops abroad.

The new U. S. Anglican Church would have ties to the worldwide Anglican Communion, and would hold to historic doctrines of the faith, as opposed to what the Episcopal Church has been doing.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, the leader of one of four dioceses that have seceded from the Episcopal Church due to differences over biblical authority and interpretation, is expected to be the leader of the new church.

The consecration of an openly homosexual Episcopal bishop in 2003 lit the fuse that led to this break. Conservative Episcopalians have been breaking away from the U.S. church in the five years since that action - an action that put the Episcopal Church out of sync with Anglicans worldwide.

Will this new church succeed? I don't know.

Personally, I think they should just come home and be Catholics again.

Kenyan Ambassador: Obama was born in Kenya

A Detroit radio station gets the Kenyan ambassador to admit Obama was born in Kenya!

About 12:30-13 minutes into the interview the ambassador admits it is well known that Obama was born there, and his birth place is already an attraction. Is it possible that the ambassador was confused and thought they were talking about Obama's dad? Perhaps - but it sure didn't sound like it from what I heard. Besides, why would his dad's birthplace be an attraction?

Obama's Abortion Drumbeat

When he is inaugurated, Barack Obama will be the most pro-abortion President in the history of this nation.

He is currently assembling the most pro-abortion cabinet/administration ever – and one that may lead to conflicts with the Catholic Church.

His first action was to pick Senator Joe Biden, a pro-abortion Catholic who got in trouble for misstating Church teachings, and who drew flack from a number of bishops across the U.S. some of whom suggestion he should not receive Communion.

Post-election, Obama has begun to name individuals to key position in his administration who share his extreme pro-abortion views.

There’s pro-abortion Catholic Thomas Daschle, so extreme in his abortion views his bishop told him not to refer to himself as a Catholic, who has apparently been tapped to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Governor Bill Richardson, a pro-abortion Catholic who said he would use support for Roe as a litmus test for Supreme Court candidates, will apparently be named Secretary of Commerce.

Three pro-abortion Catholics in prominent positions – is Obama intentionally challenging the Church? Actually, I think it’s more likely he doesn’t even give it a second thought.

Meanwhile, the pro-abortion drumbeat goes on.

Governor Janet Napolitano, pro-abortion Methodist (phew), appears on track to be the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Then there’s Ellen Moran of the staunchly pro-abortion Emily’s List who it appears will be the White House Communications Director. She is as extreme in her views as is Obama.

If Hillary Clinton does indeed become Secretary of State, she will actually be a pro-choice “moderate” in the administration!

Obama has already indicated that he will overturn Bush administration policies concerning limits on embryonic stem cell research and funding for abortion, both domestic and foreign.

I suspect there will be further actions. I would not be surprised at new rules being put in place for receiving any federal funding for hospitals and health care organizations – forcing Catholic institutions to choose between funding or offering abortions. I would not be surprised to see an attempt to tell Catholic organizations their health insurance coverage has to include abortion and birth control. I would not be surprised to see pregnancy centers come under attack – there has already been a bill proposed in Congress that if brought back next year and passed Obama would likely sign.

I’m glad the Bishops have finally begun to speak up. I suspect they will need to be even louder once Obama takes the helm - and that he will fire back.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

C. S. Lewis's "feast day"

A Saint's Feast Day is traditionally the day he or she died. Today would be the Feast of C. S. Lewis - were he a saint (some might debate this) and were he Catholic (some think he should have been).
He died 45 years ago on November 22, 1963.

Barring the Church adopting the controversial Mormon practice of posthumous baptism/conversions, Lewis will remain an Anglican, and not eligible for sainthood.

But he remains an important spiritual figure for many Catholics. His writings helped to spark or restore faith in so many people.

My own discovery of him came in December 1974 - and I credit him with helping to resuscitate my spiritual life and saving my soul.

I was working in New York City for a place called Covenant House (before the controversies). I had dropped out of college, was very confused and unhappy, and, sadly, was not leading an exemplary Catholic life.

As part of my "salary," I lived in an apartment rented by Covenant House. When I moved in, there was a bookcase full of books that someone had left behind. Among them were the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia. I had heard of them, but never read them. I had read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, however, and knew that Lewis was somehow connected with J.R.R. Tolkien.

At Christmas, not having a car, I planned to ride the bus back to upstate New York to be with my family. I borrowed the books figuring it would be a long ride and wanting something "light" to read on the way home and back.

I went through all seven books that Christmas. They whetted my appetite for Spiritual reading - and I soon found myself reading Merton's Seven Storey Mountain and St. Augustine's Confessions. Those books were pivotal in turning me around. Inside of a month, my spiritual and moral life was heading in the right direction and I made some major changes in my life.

In the next few years I amassed a large collection of Lewis books. I also sought out other Christian/Catholic writers, and discovered G.K. Chesterton (his biography of St. Francis of Assisi was my first real taste of the great one).

But I might never have had the inspiration to try Merton, St. Augustine or Chesterton at that time were it not for reading Lewis' "children's books" that Christmas. To be sure, there were already promptings by the Spirit that had led me to Covenant House in the first place. Lewis just came along at the right time. Or got sent my way. After all, what were the chances that a troubled soul from a small town in Upstate New York would find himself in an apartment in New York City that just happened to contain the Chronicles of Narnia?

So here's to you, C.S. Lewis. Thank you.

The Prophet Chesterton? Why not!

Sometimes I go awandering through the blogosphere. I'm looking for new blogs, interesting ideas and insights, and even fodder for this blog.

I also search for subjects and topics about which I frequently write or in which I have an interest.

Secular Franciscans. Haiku. Huckabee. Abortion. Rochester.

And, of course, G. K. Chesterton.

I frequently encounter mention of Chesterton. Quotations. Entire posts. Or frequent quotations and posts. I especially enjoy it when he as used as a touchstone to help judge some contemporary belief or action of lunacy.

Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It! is a frequent stop for many reasons. He regularly refers to GKC as the “Prophet Chesterton.”

I don't know if he originated the title. I have seen it elsewhere - most recently in a blog called Totally Catholic Youth Ministers Lounge (yes, that is the name!). They used him to counter some anti-Catholic ill-informed comments (as opposed to their regular ill-informed comments) by the ladies of The View.

The other day I was reading Father Dwight Longenecker's excellent Standing On My Head when I spotted a post by him that gave me chuckle. He referred to Chesterton not just as a prophet, but as “The Portly Prophet” .

Prophets are usually defined as individuals who have encountered God and who serve as intermediaries with the rest of humanity. They often give warnings or promote change. They often annoyed people and were outcasts.

Chesterton certainly fits some of those criteria - though the genial giant seemed to have a propensity for befriending his foes. Of course, in terms of another sorts of “fit,” prophets are often pictured as ascetical sorts on the thin side who frequently fast and wander off to mountains, caves, deserts and other isolated regions. Hmm. Sound more like Shaw!

Chesterton, appropriately, provides us with a prophet paradox – a man of large proportions with large appetites who often seems to have received his “messages” over many a glass in a tavern.

God does have a sense of humor.

As for whether Chesterton is a prophet, history will eventually provide an answer. Are his warnings, predictions and guidance authentic? So far, they seem to be – and think of how many people he has helped to lead to the Church.

The Prophet Chesterton? Yes, it does have a certain ring.

At least until we can call him St. Gilbert Chesterton - as I hope we will some day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Killing a baby is not against the law in NY

You can kill a baby in New York and get away with it in New York - and we're not talking about abortion.

Or are we?

According to Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Perry Duckles, a woman who intentionally ran over a romantic rival who was seven months pregnant and killed the rival's baby can't be charged for a crime for the killing of that child.

Seven months. At that stage, an unborn baby has an excellent chance of living if born. Kill it at that point, you are in trouble.

But before it's born, no problem.

Duckles said that under New York law, the child has to take at least one breath outside the womb before charges can be considered. The rules vary from state to state about whether charges of murder and manslaughter can be filed in connection with an unborn child's death.

New York does not allow it.

In this case, the assailant will face charges of assault for running over her rival. But the dead child does not matter.

Ironically, the article continually refers to the baby as a "baby," an "unborn baby," a "child," and an "unborn child."

(I'll be the pro-abortion gang at NARAL and Planned Parenthood are not happy about the use of those terms.)

Everyone involved in the case knows that a child died. The mother. The killer. The police. The Assistant DA. Even the the pro-abortion cabal.

Except under New York law.

There's a reason for that.

If you admit that this child is a child, then what about a child of a similar age who is aborted? Couldn't it then be argued that that child is also a child, and the abortion killed a child? Wouldn't that raise doubts about legal abortion?

We can't risk people starting to think that, right?

So the law is used to try to hide the reality. To protect the guilty.

Let me be clear: A baby was killed.

And under New York law the killer will get away with it.

Tragically, it happens not only on the streets of Rochester between romantic rivals. It happens thousands of times each year in hospitals and doctor's offices and abortion clinics across this state.

Killing babies. Legally.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dick Dougherty - Thanks for the smiles

A longtime, much beloved local columnist - and a writer whom I admired -has passed on.

Dick Dougherty, who wrote for the Rochester's Times Union, and then the Democrat and Chronicle, for more than 25 years, died today at age 88.

He wrote five columns a week from 1977 to 2004 when health finally stopped him. He then published a collection of his columns - Dougherty Revisited: A Random Selection of Columns - that I own and have read several times (and some of the columns, several times more).

He had a self-deprecating sense of humor, a fondness for people, common sense, and a deep love of dogs (some of whom supplied "thoughts" and "insights" to occasional columns).

He was the old-style type of columnist that is lacking too often from papers today. He was a true gentleman.

I admired his writing. He made me want to write better. I used to read his columns for the sheer pleasure that reading good writing can give, and for the writing lessons they taught.

I dreamed of being a columnist like him, but I lacked the opportunity and the gifts to do so.

Thanks Dick for all those columns. Pet the dogs for me.

A Life-Oriented Catholic Carnival

This week's Catholic Carnival seems to have a lot of posts about "life" - including pro-life issues and the need for evangelization. Check it out and get a taste of what some other bloggers write. .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SFO Patroness: St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Yesterday was the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the patroness of the Secular Franciscans.

She was born in Hungary in 1207. Her father was Alexander II, King of Hungary. As a child, she was sent to the court of the Landgrave of Thuringia to be educated, and as the betrothed of the one of the sons - by some accounts Hermann, by others, Ludwig. Whatever the case, she did marry Ludwig in 1221 when she was 14 and he was 21, and eventually they had three children.

Although a member of the court, she lived a simple and austere life, and soon began supporting the efforts of the Franciscans, who had recently spread to her part of Europe from Italy. She devoted herself to works of charity. Ludwig, who was also religiously inclined, supported and encouraged her in her charities and pious actions.

One popular legend about her is that one time when she was taking bread to the poor in secret, her Ludwig asked her what was in the pouch. She opened it and the bread had been turned into roses.
Ludwig went to fight in the Crusades and died in 1227. On getting the news, Elizabeth reportedly declared: "The world with all its joys is now dead to me."

She left the court after his death, arranged for the care of her children, and in 1228, renounced the world, becoming a member of the Franciscan Third Order (now known as the Secular Franciscans). She built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and devoted herself to the care of the sick until her death in 1231 at age 24.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Mall Santa's Prayer

Today is my first day of "helping" Santa at the mall this year. It's my fourth season.

When I first started doing this four years ago, I wrote this poem:

A Mall Santa's Prayer

As I hold each precious child
let me treat each one
with the love and care I'd show
Your most holy Son.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

St. Charles Borromeo - Franciscan tertiary

In the midst of the pre- and post-election hullabaloo, I neglected to write about a saint with Secular Franciscan ties - and is a significant figure in the Church history: St. Charles Borromeo.

St. Charles is renowned for his faith and intellect, and as a reformer through his work with the Council of Trent and in the Archdiocese of Milan.

He was also a member of the Franciscan Third Order (now the Secular Franciscan Order).

St. Charles was born October 2, 1538, in Aron, Italy, to a Milanese family related the Medici's. His uncle, Cardinal de Medici, became Pope Pius IV in 1559, and made Charles, who had gained a reputation as a scholar, cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan, even though the 22-year old was still a layman. He spent most of his time working at the Vatican and was finally ordained a priest in 1563, and then was consecrated bishop of Milan.

Although he now had a diocese, he still spent his time at the Vatican where he was instrumental in keeping the Council of Trent in session as it worked to reform the Church.

All the while, he sought to actually go to Milan, which had been without a resident bishop for nearly 80 years. When he was finally allowed to do so – after Pope Pius IV died and Pius V became Pope – he worked tirelessly to reform his see. He sought to better educate the clergy and eliminate abuses, to provide catechetical education for children, and to help the people deal with plague and famine – spending his family fortune and going into debt to do so. During the plague and famine of 1576 he reportedly tried to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily.

He eventually wore himself down, became ill, and died the evening of November 3, 1584, at age 46.

According to Church custom, since he died after sundown his feast is celebrated November 4.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A History of Mexico - by a friend

I came home to find a package on my front steps. To my pleasant surprise, it was an Advance Copy of Gods, Gachupines, and Gringos: A People's History of Mexico. It was written by one of my oldest friends, Dick Grabman. (You've probably seen some of his amusing comments on this blog.)

He's hoping I will do a review of it. I hope to, also. It's by the bed, waiting to be read. I plan to let the diocesan paper know so they can include it in their list of publications by people with ties to the Diocese of Rochester (Dick grew up in Geneva). Maybe they will take a review too?

I humbly acknowledge a small role in the book having read one section of it for accuracy - a role which Dick in turn acknowledged in his introduction.

"Lee Strong, the former editor of the Rochester (New York) Catholic Courier gave his imprimatur to my reading of recent Church history."

Ah, fame. (But the editor in me wonders if there isn't a comma missing in there!)

Dick is a good and witty writer. Some of the section titles include "Alien Nation," "The Empire strikes back," "The fatal glass of beer," and "Body (politic) and soul."

I look forward to reading it.

Franciscans, Rock of Faith, and Santa

A full weekend ahead.

Tonight, the Secular Franciscan meeting - with a visit from one of the regional coordinators. Alas, still not enough people for me to begin formation. I might have to start solo.

Tomorrow morning the members of Rock of Faith will be at church at 8 a.m. to set up and practice. We will be providing music for a youth Mass on Sunday. With the other guitarist down due to an injury, I'm the lone strummer. Ulp.

Bridget (middle daughter) will be over later in the morning and Clare (oldest daughter) hopes to get over too, and if so they will go out with the Good-Looking-One for lunch. I'll be off to visit Dad at the nursing home.

Sunday Rock of Faith plays at the 9:30 Mass, then at 2 I begin my first gig this year "helping" Santa at the Mall.

I feel tired already!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Huckabee on the radio

ABC Radio has signed Mike Huckabee to do weekday news spots, starting in January.

That's a potential audience of 105 million listeners.

2012 ....


He wrote a poem a day

I read about a man
who wrote a poem a day
from the day he discovered poetry
shortly after his 18th birthday
until his death
at age 67
of a heart attack

17,778 poems

Sonnets, free verse, haiku, clerihews, cinquains, ballads, odes


During his life
he published a few of his poems
usually in local and obscure periodicals (most no longer published).
He also sent poems to friends, relatives and people he admired
for birthdays, Christmas, graduations, births, weddings, or just to share,
sometimes getting polite thank yous and smiles
although his wife did save the love poems
he wrote during their courtship
storing them in the attic in a box that remained unopened for 40 years
until he died.

He wrote poems to celebrate or lament his four children’s
first steps,
first accidents, lost teeth,
school plays, team losses, proms,
marriages, children, divorces,
promotions, lost jobs,
moves to other states.

Moments that had meaning to him.
Moments that he wanted to share.
Moments that he wanted to remember.

17,778 poems

Each dated
and kept by month,
and year,
in file folders in a file cabinet in his attic office.
He often revised and reworked poems
but always kept the date they first emerged
from his fingers.

17,778 poems

The last one dated
the day before he died
of a heart attack while shaving
before he could write that day’s poem
but which may have been forming behind
the sad eyes staring in the mirror.

His wife found him
and then when cleaning out his office in the attic
looking for insurance papers
she found the poems that she had vaguely known about.
And she told a friend
who told a friend,
who told a reporter,
who did a report
that caught the attention of a small-press editor
who agreed to publish a selection of the
17,778 poems
including some from the box
that the wife had not read in 40 years
that she remembered when the editor asked
if there were more
and which still had dust on them
when he read them.

That is how
I read about the man
who wrote a poem a day
and died.

I'll buy his book.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fish tank haiku

sushi bar next to
restaurant's empty fish tank -
second thoughts

(Blame Laura and her Bad Haiku Fridays for inspiring me to write this one!)

Huckabee - topping the ratings

Huckabee's show - shown Saturday and Sunday nights at 8 on FOX - was the highest rated show its time slot both November 8 and 9 (against other news/talk shows), and the highest rated show overall on Saturday night (beating among others Dobbs, Brown and King on CNN, and Geraldo on Fox).

Cable news networks on weekend nights are not ratings blockbusters, obviously, but still, he is getting an audience and building national recognition.

Gotta love those bass players!


Honoring Veterans

Because this is Veterans Day, a day we honor those who have honorably served the nation in the military, I will cite two soldier saints.

The first is St. Theodore, after whom my parish is named, and whose feast day was just this past Sunday.

St. Theodore was a martyr. According to the story of his death, he was a recruit in the Roman army at Pontus, on the Black Sea. He refused to take part in a pagan ceremony and he was brought before the legion's tribune and the region's governor. They freed him, but then he went out and set fire to a pagan temple. Arrested again, he was burned to death in a furnace. Other than that, little is known about him.

I find it interesting, though, that unlike some soldier martyrs, he did not die for refusing to take part in pagan rituals, but because he took direct action against paganism.

The second saint has Franciscan ties - St. Louis IX of France, the Patron of the Secular Franciscan Order.

St. Louis had a reputation for being a model Christian king (at least by the standards of his day). He reportedly never tolerated cursing or sinful conversation - a good role model for some veterans I know! 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. 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.”

As a soldier, he led two Crusades, dying on the second one in 1270.

On this day, let us pray for all the veterans we know, and thank them for their sacrifices.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fr. John Dear - causing scandal?

A while back, I got word that Father John Dear, SJ, the noted author and peace activist – and Catholic priest – was scheduled to speak at Spiritus Christi Church – formerly part of Corpus Christ Church. The occasion was the 10th anniversary of that community’s break from the Catholic Church.

I decided to write to Father Dear to give him a heads up about the nature of the community, and the possible scandal he might cause speaking there.

I sent the following e-mail to several different addresses I found for him back on October 22:

I see that you are scheduled to speak November 11 at Spiritus Christi Church as part of its 10th anniversary celebration.

Perhaps you are not aware that that 10th anniversary is of its schismatic break with the Catholic Church. That break damaged the Diocese of Rochester and hurt many in the local Catholic community - damage and hurt that linger to this day. The church continues to maintain that it is "Catholic," even as it has two women priests, and engages in a number of practices that violate Church teachings.

Given Father Bourgeois' recent problems, and the nature of this particular church, you might want to contact the Diocese of Rochester and speak to your superiors before going to Spiritus Christi and risking the potential of causing public scandal to the Church.

Pax et bonum - Lee Strong, former Associate Editor, Catholic Courier (Rochester's diocesan newspaper)

Because some of those messages bounced back, I sent a second one on October 23.

I have tried to contact you to give you a heads up about Spiritus Christi Church, where you are scheduled to speak Nov. 11.

Perhaps you are not aware that it is a schismatic church, and they are touting your visit as being part of their 10 anniversary celebration - the anniversary of their break from the Catholic Church. That break hurt the Diocese of Rochester and splintered the community.

Please check with your superiors first.


Pax et bonum - Lee

On October 23, that second e-mail got a response.

Thanks so much, God bless you,

That was it. I wasn’t sure what he was saying. Was he thanking me for warning him and would he consequently refrain from lending some credibility to the schismatic Spiritus Christi by cancelling his talk there? Perhaps.

Or was he politely trying to get rid of me?

I don’t know.

So, being a former reporter and a pesky sort, I e-mailed him back on October 28.

Thank you for getting back to me. Does this mean you will reconsider speaking at that Spiritus Christi now that you are aware it is schismatic? Or do you still plan to speak?

Pax et bonum - Lee

No response. I sent a second one on November 2.

I sent you this response a couple of days ago, but had not heard back. Perhaps you are on the road. People here are awaiting news:

Thank you for getting back to me. Does this mean you will reconsider speaking at that Spiritus Christi now that you are aware it is schismatic? Or do you still plan to speak?

Pax et bonum – Lee

Still no response, so I sent this one on November 6.

I see you are still on the Spiritus Christi Calendar for next Tuesday. Did they not yet take you off, or are you still planning to go there?

Pax et bonum - Lee

No word. But in the latest Spiritus Christi bulletin, I see the following:

“Here’s something else that is exciting: We have a chance to hear one of our country’s greatest modern-day prophets on Tuesday, November 11. John Dear will speak at our church. John is a good friend of Spiritus Christi, dedicated pastor, and outstanding Jesuit priest. He has been arrested more than seventy-five times and spent more than a year of his life in jail because of his efforts to bring peace, stop war, and dismantle all nuclear weapons. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has nominated him for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. He will be signing his new book, and autobiography, called A Persistent Peace, available to purchase for $20. I just finished reading it and found it extremely inspiring. John is the final speaker in the 2008 series to celebrate Spiritus Christi’s Tenth Anniversary. Please join us in the sanctuary on Tuesday night, November 11, at 7:00 PM. (He will have a private meeting over pizza with our youth group at 5:30.)

Having received no further word from him, and this bulletin being dated November 4, it’s entirely possible that he will indeed be there – and if so, giving scandal to the Catholic Church and his own order by helping a schismatic church in celebrating its break from the Church.

I hope he does cancel.

If not, I think further action might be in order by his order.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fight FOCA - and Obama's Promise

Last year while speaking to Planned Parenthood, Barack Obama promised: "The first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do."

FOCA would would eradicate state and federal laws that the majority of Americans support, such as -

Bans on Partial Birth Abortion

Requirements that women be given information about the risks of getting an abortion

Only licensed physicians can perform abortions

Parents must be informed and give consent to their minor daughter's abortion

There's a petition against FOCA - more than 30,000 people have signed it as of this evening. Consider signing it.

Franciscan Day of Recollection

November 8 - the feast day of that great Franciscan Doctor of the Church, Duns Scotus - the two local Secular Franciscan groups gathered at St. Leo's Church in Hilton for a Day of Recollection.

The Day was led by Father Tony Baetzold, a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal - and a former resident of Hilton. He mixed humor, stories, and some challenging observations in his presentations and homily.

The Day included Mass, talks, Veneration, Confessions, and Benediction, as well as socializing. (Father Tony joked that because it was the feast day of Duns Scotus, we were permitted to eat cookies. I followed his advice, as did many of my fellow SFOs!)

I had not had a good retreat or Day of Recollection in a long time. This Day reminded me of what I've been missing.

Father Tony offered much to think about in terms of spiritual life, the role of the Holy Spirit, the Franciscan way, and the theme for the Day: The dignity of the human person.

He said that we need to consider how we treat our enemies, and how we look at the poor - citing in the latter case the important of lepers for St. Francis' growth, and talking about Jesus' treatment of the woman with a hemorrhage treating her not as an outcast, but as a daughter.

He strongly urged the local Secular Franciscans to find an apostolate through which they could reach out to those in need - the poor, the elderly, those involved in abortion, etc.

As I noted earlier, Father Tony leavened his talks with humor and down-to-earth examples and saying. One of my favorites was his story of riding (in Franciscan robes!) a roller coaster with family, and then observing: "Spiritual life is like a roller coaster that you are on for the first time."

More specific to the Franciscans gathered there, he noted that in formation there are three essentials: Prayer, Community and Apostolate. He advised us to pursue all three, for they are like the three legs of a stool and you need all of them.

He also observed that, "Franciscan spirituality is a spirituality of humility."

Father Tony had more to say. There is much more that I could write.

I will be mulling this over for days to come.


Happy Birthday, Mom

Today is Mom's birthday. She's the one on the right.

She would have been 75, had not cancer claimed her October 9, 2005.

Nana, on the left, died one year later.

I visited Dad in the nursing home yesterday. He's down in the dumps, and has pneumonia again. He was thinking of her. I told him we can take comfort in knowing that all that suffering she went through in the last years of her life is now over and she can be at peace. Then he said now she was with John.


I will go see Dad again today.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Priest for Life talk in Rochester

After giving a talk at St. Theodore's Church last night, Father Denis Wilde of Priests for Life corrected me.

Out loud so everyone could hear.

While chatting with him and a few of the other people there, being a polite sort (call people what they want to be called), I referred to the other side as "pro-choice."


He loudly asked for everyone's attention and said never refer to them as "pro-choice".

They are "pro-abortion".

Thank you, sir. May I have another?

(I'm kidding, of course. He had a point - though I'm still inclined to the gentle, more polite approach so as not to alienate - and I was not embarrassed.)

In his talk, the man did not mince words as well. But he also offered hope. And some music (he was a music teacher, after all).

He noted that the proper attitude following the election of Barack Obama is not despair.

"This election like every election is God's will," he said.

"It's not God's will to have evil conquer," he explained. But we have to keep in mind "We don't know everything."

And so we don't know what God will do with this.

He referred to the story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 12. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah's wife, impregnating her, and then had Uriah killed and took her as his wife. The son Bathsheba bore David became ill.

David, his eyes opened to his sins by Nathan, lay on the ground in sackcloth for seven days, refusing to eat. When the child died after his seven days of penance, David rose, cleaned himself, and ate.

When asked about this, David said "While the child was living, I fasted and wept, thinking, `Perhaps the Lord will grant me the child's life.' But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."

And then he comforted Bathsheba, and she bore a second child - Solomon.

In the same way, Father Wilde said, we may have fight and fasted and prayed for McCain's victory (or Obama's defeat), but now that is over. There is nothing we can do about the election, so we need to move on trusting that just as God brought good out of David's sin - the birth of Solomon - God will bring good out of this defeat.

But we have to act, and not simply bemoan what has happened.

"I can't do anything about it," he said, "but I can do a lot after."

So it's time to renew our efforts to fight for life.

It won't be easy, he admitted. Things might get rough. There may be persecution of pro-lifers. But that can help - as has been the case of the Church.

"Where there is persecution, we are strong."

He noted that during the pro-abortion (I'm learning) Clinton days, the pro-life movement grew. Under the even more pro-abortion President Obama, the movement will grow even more, he predicted - if we do the work.

"It's not about Obama. It's about us."

"This is a time for growth," he observed. "We need to reassess not whether we can do it, but how."

He noted that this is also a time for prayer. He advised people to go on retreats and days of reflection to gear up for the fight ahead.

"The most important thing right now is to be reinforced by God's love."

Father Wilde and others will be at Planned Parenthood this morning to pray, then he will be preaching at the Masses at St. Stanislaus this weekend to help inspire the pro-lifers here in Rochester.

I will be at a day of recollection with the Secular Franciscans today, and will be in the choir at St. Theodore's tomorrow, so this was my only chance to see him. But I feel inspired.

I just have to remember: Pro-abortion. ... Maybe.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Spiritual matters - Franciscan Day of Recollection

It's going to be a busy weekend.

Tonight one of the Priests for Life is talking at my parish (St. Theodore's in Rochester, N.Y). This is a good way to follow up on the 40 Days for Life (some of the same folks might be there).

Tomorrow, we have an all-day Day of Recollection for the two local Secular Franciscan groups.

I'm happy to get back to spiritual development.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Looking to 2012 (Huckabee!)

With the dust of 2008 still settling, I'm already looking ahead.

At this point, I have just one thing to say for 2012:

Election haiku

election over -
on neighbor's lawn a tilted
sign for the loser

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I voted in fear

I have been involved in electoral politics in various ways since I was a high school junior in 1972 (yes, I am that old). I have voted now in 9 presidential elections. I have worked for local and national campaigns. I have covered elections as a print and radio reporter, and as a blogger.

In all that time, I have favored certain candidates - some Democratic, some Republican, even some third party. There have been some candidates I liked better than others. There were some that I thought would do better jobs. But in most cases, I have not been dismayed if the candidate I favored lost: I could see some good in the winner.

One exception was 1972. I reacted to Richard Nixon with a mixture of disgust and dread. I simply did not trust him. I feared for the nation. Those feeling proved prophetic.

This year is as close as I have come since to experiencing those feelings again.

I fear for what will happen to our nation if Obama wins.

I voted this afternoon. For the third time in nine Presidential elections, I voted for a Republican.

Not because I believe that John McCain has all the answers. I just fear the answers we will get from an Obama administration.

I don't know yet today's results. It could go either way.
I have been praying all day. For today - and the days ahead.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bishop Finn: Vote for Obama, risk your eternal salvation

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City is not mincing words when it comes to Catholics voting for Obama - vote for him at the risk of your eternal salvation.

In an interview with KCMO 710's Chris Stigall, Bishop Finn, when asked what he would say to Catholics voting for Obama, he said, "I would say, give consideration to your eternal salvation."

"To vote for a person who has a fanatical determination to not only support abortion as it is now but to remove all limitations on it through the Freedom of Choice Act and to extend it without any recourse - throwing out all of the efforts of citizens over the last 35 years to place reasonable limits on abortion," Bishop Finn explained.

"By voting for a person who has expressed his determination to do this to Planned Parenthood and NARAL - you make yourself a participant in the act of abortion and you mustn't do it because your eternal salvation is tied up with that important choice," Bishop Finn said.

Life News reports that he also appeared on the Mike Gallagher Show on another station, and when asked if a Catholic can in god conscience vote for Obama, Bishop Finn said, "I don't think any Catholic can in good conscience."

Finn noted that "In his brief career, (Obama) has collected a very consistent record of a kind of fanaticism for abortion."

You can heard the full audio at

Santa for President!

Okay, you know after I stumbled across this I had to post something!

He has a website complete with a list of issues and a platform -

Santa Claus is a Write-In Candidate for President of the United States! What, exactly, does that mean? Why could that be more democratic that the 2+ party system?

I meet the basic requirements (born in the U.S. and 35 years old or older) for Presidential candidates. I did not participate in primary elections or conventions. I do not belong to a political party. I do have a political platform and agenda ( I refuse to accept any campaign contributions from anyone. I refuse to spend more than $1,000 on my campaign (the federal limit is $5,000 before one has to comply with Federal Election Commission rules). My legal name is extraordinarily easy to remember: Santa Claus. I have name recognition.

My primary reason for running is that the Republican and Democratic candidates refuse to discuss the plight of the 2 million children in the United States annually who are abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, homeless, and institutionalized through no fault of their own. That's 1 out of 37 children. Throughout the decades, those 2 million have literally grown into 50 million adults (voters) who, as children, suffered from the same experience and political indifference these children to today. 50 million is a huge voting bloc, one no candidate can afford to ignore. Only 123 million people voted in our last general election.

I'm well-versed in a variety of subjects and feel confident that my platform will be balanced. Prior to my Santa days, I served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner, Administration, of the Police Department of the City of New York (more commonly referred to as the NYPD), Member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Defense Executive Reserve (Region 2), and Director of The Terrorism Research and Communication Center (based in NYC).

As Santa, in 2006 and 2007, I visited every state Governor's staff and discussed children's issues, formulating my solutions for the problems facing 2 million vulnerable children in dire circumstances in our great nation. I've also served as an Emergency Response Public Safety Chaplain, victim advocate, and Community Emergency Response Team member and founder of a children's national advocacy foundation. I have been an instructor at the university, college, and high school levels and earned my Masters and Bachelors degrees at New York University, where I completed my doctoral coursework in educational communication and technology.

Things I've had to consider. The national news media tend not to cover any candidate who spends nothing on TV, radio, print or other advertising. There are 9 states that do not allow write-in candidates at all. There are 25 states that require a candidate announce his/her running-mate when applying and require that official state Electors agree, in advance, to support the write-in candidate. Fortunately, there are 16 states that either require a write-in candidate do nothing or file a basic form indicating their intention to run as a write-in candidate for an office. I'm set in 16 states, so far. That's enough to garner the attention of the big boys.

For voters not sure they want to support the Republican or Democratic candidates and who don't want to just throw their vote away. I offer the opportunity to cast your ballot for someone who is trying to make a difference, to compel the other candidates to address the real issues, to emphasize the importance of our children who really are our future, to recapture the heart of America, and to replace the fear we experience today with the strongest power on earth--love. ...

Wow, this guy sounds more qualified than Obama!

40 Days for Life Continues

At least four abortions averted in Rochester.

That's the official tally as the 40 Days for Life campaign concluded November 2. And who knows how many other hearts and minds were changed?

But while the official portion of the 40 Days for Life campaign in Rochester ended yesterday, it was made clear at the "victory celebration" that the campaign will continue in other ways.

As local campaign coordinator Jose Rivera said to the more than 40 people at the celebration, Planned Parenthood may think that the effort is over, but the message is, "We're here. We mean business. We want you to stop."

The goal is, he said, "no more abortions at 114 University Avenue."

At the celebration at Our Lady of the America's Church, Rivera played a recording from the national chairman David Bereit. He reported more than 10,000 people took part in campaigns in 179 cities - with more than 450 babies saved.

"This work is merely coming to a new beginning, " Bereit declared.

In Rochester, some 250 people from 37 churches were involved in the campaign. Some of those people had not been involved in pro-life efforts of this sort before, but not want to remain involved.

Plans are already underway for the campaign to continue unofficially with volunteers signing up to provide a prayer presence at Planned Parenthood at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while some individuals will be continuing on their own on other days.

In addition, there was talk of a monthly prayer procession through downtown Rochester similar to the one that marked the midpoint of the campaign.

Rivera said the committee that oversaw the Rochester campaign will continue to meet to keep up the efforts, and to prepare for the spring campaign.

"I believe this is the beginning of the end of abortion in America," he said.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Archbishop Curtiss: Catholics should vote pro-life

One more Bishop has suggested that Catholics have no reason to support such a blatantly pro-choice candidate as Senator Obama.

Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Obama, Nebraska, issued a statement today in which he said Catholics should vote pro-life - and that abortion is the top issue voters should consider this election.

"At the core of Catholic moral and social teaching is respect for the sacred dignity of every human life. In this election, like many before it, we are faced with a conflict of values in candidates. There are many serious issues at stake in this election, but none is more important than abortion."

Archbishop Curtiss also took on the argument that some Catholics have used to try to justify voting for Obama -

"It is also true that if a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, a vote for that candidate could be permitted 'in the presence of proportionate reasons.' ... However, I cannot conceive of a proportionate reason that could outweigh the deaths of nearly 50 million children killed by abortion."

He also counters the "single-issue" charge leveled against pro-life Catholics who oppose Obama.

"We are surely not one-issue people because we have to be concerned about the well-being of everyone in our society, and especially those who are hurting and in need. We have to be concerned about women with unplanned pregnancies who are without the resources to give birth or to care for their babies. We are rightfully concerned about candidates for public office who do not seem to care about babies after they are born. But the very first right we must protect, if all human rights are to be protected, is the right to life for the unborn. Those who do not understand or accept this basic human right are unworthy of our trust."

Full statement:

Culture of Death: Who's next?

"While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of `the strong' against the weak who have no choice but to submit." - Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

Just filled out all my paperwork for being one of Santa's "helpers" at the Greece Ridge Mall again. This will be my fourth season.

Tentatively, I start November 16.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


40 Days for Life - Day 39

I went down to Planned Parenthood in Rochester this morning to help out with the 40 Days for Life campaign on this, the second last day.

The calendar said only one person had signed up for a particular hour. I wanted to join that person so he or she would not be alone. But when I arrived, there were 7 people praying - some from the previous shift, and some arriving like me without having signed up to take part. A few left, others remained. At all times we had at least 5 people.

We prayed, and offered literature and help to everyone driving into and out of the Planned Parenthood parking lot. Having read this week about a beatified Secular Franciscan who worked wonders just by making the sign of the cross, I blessed every vehicle going in and out with a sign of the cross. I placed them in God's hands.

We got a number of positive responses from people - honking horns, and giving thumbs up and waves. A few people vented their pain - a couple of fingers, and one woman who rolled down her window and asked if we were giving out free condoms, then called us hypocrites.

I prayed for them all.

Several people mentioned that even after the campaign officially ends tomorrow they intend to come back to keep praying. I might just join them.

Ayers, Kennedy, Sirhan - and Obama

And now we find that Obama "acquaintance" William Ayers "dedicated" his book Prairie Fire to, among others, Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Robert Kennedy. One of the heroes of my youth.

Good thing Ayers was just some guy from the neighborhood - who helped launch Obama's political career. Served with him on boards. Joined him for speaking engagements. Got Obama to write an endorsement for a book. Attended a party with him for a PLO spokesman.

Must be an interesting neighborhood.