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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

If it's Monday, this must be Mars

Inspired by a conversation about Viagra over at Cheeky Pink Girl.

It begins ...

Early one morning a mother went to her sleeping son's room.

"Wake up, son. It's time to go to school."

"Oh Mom, I don't want to go to school."

"Son, give me two reasons why you don't want to go to school."

"One, the kids all hate me. Two, the teachers all hate me."

"Come on son, you have to go to school."

"Oh Mom, give me two good reasons why I need to go to school?"

"One, you are forty-four years old. Two, you are the Principal."

....Off to school this morning.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Huckabee Jams with Casting Crowns

Prayer for proper use of technology

Prayer to St. Maximilan Kolbe on the Use of Technology
by Sr. Mary Kansier, MS

Heavenly Father, Your loving servant Maximilian Kolbe spent his life in service to others, using technology to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

You crowned his life with the grace to give his life for another, in imitation of Jesus who said, "There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend."

Through the intercession of St. Maximilian, may we always use technology for Your Glory and to draw others close to You and Your Blessed Mother Mary.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us. Amen.

(A nod to Lisa, a fellow Secular Franciscan.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Casting Crowns to be on Huckabee

Tonight, Casting Crowns (one of my favorite Christian rock groups) will be on "Huckabee" - and Governor Huckabee (bass player) will join them to play "Voice of Truth."

Quote of the Day

At the preschool meetings - we start on Monday - one of the younger teachers asked me where some of her books were. We dug out the paperwork that showed the book order she had given me in June. I had erred on some of the books (grr), but then she realized that a list she had thought meant we had the books in stock was a list that showed how many we would need, so she had not ordered those books.

Frantic faxes and calls to book companies.

A senior teacher looked at me, smiled, and said: "You wanted to be principal."

Friday, August 28, 2009

The debris that haunts me

It happened again this morning.

I was in our parish chapel before the tabernacle, trying to fit in a half hour of prayer before Mass. I was saying a rosary, when I realized my mind had strayed into remembering an inappropriate comedy skit I'd seen on television 30 years ago.

It happens all too often. I'll be at Mass, praying, driving, reading, watching television, and suddenly I'll remember an image, a line of dialogue or from a song, a joke, a skit that taints what I am doing.

When I realize what is happening, I quickly say the Jesus Prayer, or ask God to help me stay focused on what I'm doing or to drive that thought out of my mind.

But there is so much in there. When I was younger I was not always careful about what I read, viewed, listened to. I rationalized it all by saying it wasn't that bad - though, sadly, there are some things I allowed to enter my mind that were bad. I'd say it was just funny, or entertaining, and that it wouldn't lead me astray. I'd say that the sisters, the priests, the parents, the older folks who were trying to warn me were prudes, or were being ridiculous.

And some of it was small, not evil in and of itself.

But the accumulated weight of so much moral debris can desensitize you, can weaken you, can make you less resistant. I know that it helped to pull me down to more evil things at times - as I'm sure it has other people. I have used those things that haunt my subconscious to help excuse my greater lapses. As a parent, I'm ashamed to say I let my children have contact with some of those things, too.

I wish now that I had been more careful back then. I wish I had not allowed all that to stain my mind and my soul.

I wish I could convince others to be careful - but they would probably view me with the disdain or condescension with which I viewed those who tried to warn me. I'm sure there are some people who think of me as a fanatic or too scrupulous.

But here I am dealing with the consequences of not living the kind of life I should have been living, of not being careful and wise in what I allowed to enter my heart and mind. That is very real.

And here I am now knowing the pain that I have caused God, who suffered on the Cross for my choices back then.

I have confessed the things I did that were wrong. I have been forgiven by my loving God. With God's healing grace, I have even forgiven myself (though there are still some pangs of regret).

But the debris will be with me until the day I die.

Bad Haiku Friday: Retirement money!

retirement plan if
Social Security fails -
lottery tickets.


Planned Parenthood Exposed

Lila Rose was on Life on the Rock last night talking about her efforts to show how Planned Parenthood violates the law and is willing to conceal rape and sexual abuse in the name of abortion. She showed some clips from undercover videos she shot when posing as a pregnant 13-year-old going to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Her efforts have led to Planned Parenthood staff getting fired, and to criminal investigations.

You can read more about what she is doing and see the videos she has released (more are in the works!) at Live Action Films. Her efforts have exposed Planned Parenthood in a number of states. Her picture is now posted in some clinics like a wanted poster!

I've had contact with Planned Parenthood deception twice.

Back when I was a reporter, I covered the effort of the local Planned Parenthood to add a "health clinic" to its headquarters here in Rochester. They kept saying it was not an abortion clinic, but I dug through plans, documents, filings with the state, and found evidence that it did include abortion services. I confronted the local head of Planned Parenthood, who fudged, dodged and basically lied in response to my questions. It all got approved anyway, and now the "health clinic" is one of the main providers of abortions locally.

When I returned to teaching, I was in public school. For sex education, the principal invited Planned Parenthood in to give a presentation.

I listened carefully, and afterwards confronted the Planned Parenthood presenter, pointing out important details she had excluded when it came to birth control - which, of course, she was essentially promoting. She admitted she had left things out. She said she wanted to keep things simple for the students, and did not want to confuse them. (Confuse them with the facts?) I reported our conversation to my principal.

The following year, Planned Parenthood was back, only this time the representative did allude to some of the issues I'd raised -only to mock and dismiss them.

After all, kids will be kids, kids will have sex, and health/mental/emotional concerns are secondary when it comes to providing them with materials to help encourage them to continue having sex - and to help Planned Parenthood make money.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pope Benedict Gets Environmental

At his general audience on Tuesday, Pope Benedict had some wonderful things to say about concern for the environment.

The Pope said we need to have "a correct relation with the environment," and we must consider "ourselves as stewards of (God's) creation."

"From this awareness, the Church considers questions linked to the environment and its safeguarding as profoundly linked with the topic of integral human development."

He then said, "Experiencing the shared responsibility for creation, the Church is not only committed to the promotion of the defense of the earth, of water and of air, given by the Creator to everyone, but above all is committed to protect man from the destruction of himself."

So basically he is continuing the human development thread developed in his latest encyclical. Care for and proper use of nature is an aspect of that development. At the same time, care for human development leads to respect for nature.

"When 'human ecology' is respected in society", he noted, "environmental ecology also benefits," adding that "inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized."

"Creation, matter structured in an intelligent manner by God, is entrusted to man's responsibility, who is able to interpret and refashion it actively, without regarding himself as the absolute owner."

We are called to use and shape nature, but in a responsible way.

“Creation," he said, "structured in an intelligent manner by God, is entrusted therefore to man, who is in a position to interpret it and actively remodel it without considering himself the absolute patron of it. Man is called, above all, to exercise responsible governance of it, cultivating it and finding necessary resources for a dignified existence of all.”

He said governments and the international community need to work together to preserve the environment.

“The protection of the environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all leaders to act jointly, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the world . Together we can build an integral human development beneficial for all peoples, present and future, a development inspired by the values of charity in truth.”

And he concluded by citing the patron saint of the environment, St. Francis.

“Dear brothers and sisters, may we thank the Lord and make ours the words of St. Francis in the Canticle of the Sun: ‘Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing…Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures.’ Such was St. Francis. May we also want to pray and live in the spirit of these words.”


James Marvin, Former (?) Priest, Passes

I was glancing at the obituaries yesterday (isn't doing that required of everyone over 50?), and I spotted the name James Marvin.

I used to know a Father James Marvin, so I was curious.

Sure enough, ordained in 1948, served in a number of Rochester parishes, including a stint as pastor of St. Ambrose from 1971-95. That's where I encountered him. After Corpus Christi went off the deep end, I tried out several parishes, including St. Ambrose. We attended there for about a year, but it wasn't a good fit.

Anyway, I quickly discovered why there was no "Father" attached to his name.

"Survived by his loving wife ..." (who, interestingly, had a different last name) "... children ..." three of them listed, all with different last names than their mother or my former pastor. Children of a previous marriage by her?

I vaguely remember him disappearing when he retired in 1995 - I was at the Catholic Courier in those days - then being spotted in the western Finger lakes region (for some reason I recall something about running a real estate agency, but I might be wrong). At the time, it struck me as odd that as a retired priest he did not seem to be assisting anywhere.

I don't remember ever hearing that he had married, or that he was laicized - something significant enough that I probably would have heard at least some rumblings about it while at the Courier (I quit there in 1999). Maybe it happened later?

Ah well, all that is between him and God. The funeral Mass is scheduled for St. Ambrose tomorrow.

Thank you Father for some 47 years of service as a priest. God be with you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mother-in-law back In Hospital

My mother-in-law had what appears to have been another mini stroke yesterday, and is back in the hospital. It looks small at this point - compared to the bigger stroke she had in June. But they decided to be cautious just in case it was a prelude to another big one. More testing and observation scheduled for today.

Please pray for her.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Protestant Church `Jumps The Shark'

Following the path being forged by the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has "jumped the shark" when it comes to sexual morality.

Last week, the Evangelical Lutheran Church leadership voted to condone sex outside marriage and to allow sexually-active homosexual clergy.

"Jump the shark" is a term that refers to a point in a television show's or movie series' history in which the plot lurches off into absurd story lines or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations. It usually comes when the show or series is starting to decline and it's often a desperate but futile move to try to add energy or life. The term emerged after an episode in the television show Happy Days in which the character Fonzi did a water-skiing jump over a shark.

The Episcopal Church long ago lost sexual (and doctrinal) credibility - but then, it was a church created to justify sexual impropriety in the first place.

Just as the Episcopal Church's wayward ways has helped to lead some of its disillusioned members back home to Rome, perhaps we might see some ELCA members turn to Catholic Church for steadfast moral beliefs.

Say a prayer for the many good Lutherans who are already troubled by their leaders' decisions.

40 Days For Life - More Cities!

We had a meeting tonight of the Rochester team for 40 Days For Life.

Vigils are now scheduled for 212 cities from September 23 to November 1. Among them are Buffalo, Ithaca, Niagara Falls, Syracuse, and, of course, Rochester.

I invited fellow Rochester bloggers to join me for an hour of prayer down at Planned Parenthood. A couple responded that they would be interested. Would it be best if I just set a date and time?


Daughter begins final year

Youngest daughter (and her new pet rabbit) are now safely back at Wellesley College. The next trip there will be to see her graduate in May!

Communion on the hand still okay

There have been reports circulating on the internet that the Vatican is about to make some changes in the Mass, including revoking the option of receiving Communion on the hand.

A report at the Catholic News Agency counters that.

According to the August 24 report, "The Press Office of the Holy See today denied reports in the Italian press that Pope Benedict is poised to make changes to enhance the sacredness of the liturgy. The statement added that there are currently no institutional proposals to alter the rites being used to celebrate the Mass."

"The Assistant Director of the Press Office, Father Ciro Benedettini, said that `so far there are no institutional proposals for amendment of the books currently in use.'"

Personally, I have no problem with Communion on the hand, if it is done reverently.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Blessed Sacrament - Quotations

Jesus had just declared - ""Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." (John 6:53-57)

This Sunday's Gospel reading follows this passage. Many followers left Jesus because of this "hard saying."

Yet the Blessed Sacrament - his Flesh and Blood - remain a precious gift for us all to this day.

"Farmers everywhere provide bread for all humanity, but it is Christ alone who is the bread of life…Even if all the physical hunger of the world were satisfied, even if everyone who is hungry were fed by his or her own labor or by the generosity of others, the deepest hunger of man would still exist…Therefore, I say, Come, all of you, to Christ. He is the bread of life. Come to Christ and you will never be hungry again…" - Pope John Paul II

"What does it matter where we go? Wherever we go, won't we be serving God there? And wherever we go, won't we have Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with us? Isn't that enough to make us happy?" - The Venerable Father Solanus Casey

"I believe that You, O Jesus, are in the most holy Sacrament. I love You and desire You. Come into my heart. I embrace You. Oh, never leave me. May the burning and most sweet power of Your love, O Lord Jesus Christ, I beseech You, absorb my mind that I may die through love of Your love, Who were graciously pleased to die through love of my love." - St. Francis

“We should consider those moments spent before the Blessed Sacrament as the happiest of our lives.” - St. John Vianney – The Cure of Ars

"This Sacrament really contains You, O my God, You whom the Angels adore, in whose presence the Spirits and mighty Powers tremble. Oh! if we could only see You clearly as they do, with what reverence would we approach this Sacrament, with what humility would we receive You." - St. Angela of Foligno

“The devotion to the Eucharist is the most noble, because it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation, because It gives us the Author of Grace; it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself.” - Pope St. Pius X

"My heart feels as if it were being drawn by a superior force each morning just before uniting with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. I have such a thirst and hunger before receiving Him that it's a wonder I don't die of anxiety. I was hardly able to reach the Divine Prisoner in order to celebrate Mass. When Mass ended I remained with Jesus to render Him thanks. My thirst and hunger do not diminish after I have received Him in the Blessed Sacrament, but rather, increase steadily. Oh, how sweet was the conversation I held with Paradise this morning. The Heart of Jesus and my own, if you will pardon my expression, fused. They were no longer two hearts beating but only one. My heart disappeared as if it were a drop in the ocean." - St. Padre Pio

"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacles expressly for you, for you alone? He burns with desire to come into your heart." - St.Therese of Lisieux

Thanks, Planned Parenthood

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) had sent letters to all members of Congress with criteria for a healthcare bill they could support. All amendments to specifically exclude abortion had been defeated in committees, and all rational observers acknowledge that the bills as allow for - and probably will lead to - abortion coverage (despite false claims to the contrary by President Obama and some members of Congress). So in their letters, the bishops warn that the healthcare reform bills leave the door open for mandated abortion coverage and taxpayer funding of abortion.

Well, that brought a response from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood :

"Seems that, if the U.S. Conference had its way, the national health care system would make American women second-class citizens and deny them access to benefits they currently have."

Hmm. Seems to me she is confirming that health care reform does include abortion coverage. She must not have the administration's playbook ("Fabricate, and keep fabricating even if caught. The general public won't catch on.")

I'm not the only one to see that: Father Thomas Eutenauer, President of Human Life International, noted:

"Ms. Richards has done a favor to all pro-lifers and people of good faith in her hate-filled rant against the shepherds of our beloved Church...First, she has reminded everyone that, despite President Obama's recent statements to the contrary, abortion is absolutely going to be covered in any health care reform legislation that crosses his desk."

Thank you, Planned Parenthood. Keep talking.


Off to daughter's college

We're off this morning to help youngest daughter return to college.

For the last time.

Yep, after seeing her two older siblings through college, we are down to the last one's final back-to-school trip: She's a senior.

The next time we go to the campus, it will be to see her graduate.

(That also means I will be away from the computer for a couple of days, so if you post a comment, be patient.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Time flies when you're having ... life

We are taking youngest daughter back to college tomorrow. Her two older siblings, who no longer live at home, came over last night for dinner (and to meet her new rabbit).

Oldest daughter wished my wife happy anniversary.

Wife gave her a puzzled look.

Wedding anniversary!

With everything going on lately, neither one of us had remembered that August 22 is our anniversary.

I promised to try to snag some flowers for her at the funeral I'm singing at this morning.

Good thing the Good-Looking-One has a sense of humor.

But marrying me in the first place proved that.

Happy anniversary, dear.

Lay off the President!

I'm a critic of some of President Obama's policies, especially when it comes to abortion. But his family and personal life are off limits.

Apparently some opponents of health care reform don't feel so limited.

Conservatives for Patients Rights is apparently ready to release some ads criticizing President Obama's family vacation on Martha's Vineyard. According to a report on ABC News, they apparently feel he should just keep on working while health care is being debated.

I think they are being ridiculous. Give the guy and his family a break. You undermine your credibility when you do stuff like this.

I hope he and his family have a good time. I hope he gets some rest.

Besides, with a little distance, maybe the President will get a chance to think about what he is doing.

A funeral

I'm singing at a funeral this morning.

I don't know whose funeral it is.

My wife took a message from our choir director while I was in Detroit.

It seems the mother of one of our choir members died. She did not get the name.

I called the director when I got back, but only got her answering machine. I said I would be there.

Even though I do not know who the person is, or even who the choir member is, I will gladly sing. It might help to ease the pain of the family to have music, and to know that the choir members support a fellow parishioner and a fellow choir member.

I thought back to the funerals I've had in the past couple of years - my mother and my grandmother. My mother's funeral was small, but a few friends of my parents did attend. I appreciated that. When my grandmother died, though, the funeral was a minimal affair. Few people knew her. She had been in senior residences and nursing homes for years, and was not a social person. At almost 92, she had outlived the friends she did have. The funeral party basically consisted of the six surviving members of my immediate family, my parish priest - who did not know her - the organist and cantor, and one or two other people who knew me. It made the funeral seem even sadder.

So I will gladly sing this morning for the sake of my fellow choir member, her mother, and their family. They already have enough sadness to think about. Maybe a little support will help make it easier for them.

Friday, August 21, 2009 - It's Obama doing the fabricating, which examines politicians claims objectively, looked at President Obama's claims that pro-lifers are fabricating when they say that government health plans being proposed will cover abortions.

Factcheck concludes ... it's Obama not telling the truth.

The summary of the Factcheck report reads:

"Will health care legislation mean "government funding of abortion"?

"President Obama said Wednesday that’s "not true" and among several "fabrications" being spread by "people who are bearing false witness." But abortion foes say it’s the president who’s making a false claim. "President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component" of health care legislation, said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. So which side is right?

"The truth is that bills now before Congress don’t require federal money to be used for supporting abortion coverage. So the president is right to that limited extent. But it’s equally true that House and Senate legislation would allow a new "public" insurance plan to cover abortions, despite language added to the House bill that technically forbids using public funds to pay for them. Obama has said in the past that "reproductive services" would be covered by his public plan, so it’s likely that any new federal insurance plan would cover abortion unless Congress expressly prohibits that. Low- and moderate-income persons who would choose the "public plan" would qualify for federal subsidies to purchase it. Private plans that cover abortion also could be purchased with the help of federal subsidies. Therefore, we judge that the president goes too far when he calls the statements that government would be funding abortions "fabrications.""

The report later states: "As for the House bill as it stands now, it’s a matter of fact that it would allow both a "public plan" and newly subsidized private plans to cover all abortions."

Seems it's not just me calling into question the President's veracity when it comes to abortion.

Morning Viewing: Discipline Of The Eyes

Okay, so some of you might consider me a prude, but here goes...

I'm an early morning riser. When I want to catch the news on television, my cable news choices are CNN's American Morning, MSNBC's Morning Joe, and Fox's Fox and Friends.

The networks in general have their political leanings, especially when it comes to the evening talk/news shows. At night I can't watch Fox - too conservative and blatantly anti-Obama - or MSNBC - too liberal and blatantly in love with Obama. CNN leans liberal, but at least it pretends to be covering the news and tries to be more objective. (The one Fox evening exception is the Huckabee Show on weekends. That one I watch regularly.)

In the morning, though, the biases are less blatant on MSNBC, and to a lesser degree, Fox. So I will often check them all out. Whether I keep watching a particular channel depends on what story it is covering, and who the guests are. I'll often switch back and forth.

But lately, I have found myself turning from Fox almost as soon as I turn it on.

You see, the female hosts on both weekdays and weekends are, in my view, less than modest in their attire. The tops are sometimes a bit too low cut. I don't want to be distracted by cleavage.

The women MSNBC and CNN don't seem to have the same problem. They all dress modestly.

I've even e-mailed Fox to suggest more modest attire.

No luck.

So I practice discipline of the eyes. If I turn on Fox and see what I don't want to see, I switch.

Maybe their attire doesn't bother anyone else. Certainly by the world's standards it's not too bad. But I'm responsible for my own soul.

Hmm. Maybe I should just turn to EWTN. Or turn off the television and say morning prayers or read something spiritual.

Huckabee/Obama gap continues to narrow

The latest poll from Public Policy Polling shows Mike Huckabee continues to close in on Obama:

2012 Presidential Match-up:

Obama 47%, Huckabee 44% (-3% spread)
Obama 47%, Romney 40% (-7% spread)
Obama 49%, Gingrich 41% (8% spread)
Obama 52%, Palin 38% (-15% spread)

The last poll showed a 6-point gap between the two (48-42); in June it was a 7-point spread (50-43).

If the trend continues, Huckabee might tie or even pass Obama early this Fall.


Bad Haiku Friday: New Rules

teachers consider
district's new stricter rules -
lots of wiggling

Response To An Anonymous Post

One of my visitors posted an anonymous comment. Since it was on one of the Solanus Casey posts, I decided not to post it there.

"Lee, do you ever have anything interesting to post here at all? Everything you have been posting lately has been either anti-Obama or poetry. I was expecting some real Catholic news and perspectives on a CATHOLIC blog, but I am not seeing that here anymore."

Hmm. Anything interesting? Since this is a personal blog, what I write is obviously of interest to me. Since I get a few regular visitors, they find enough to keep them interested. But I admit that what interests me and what I write is not everyone's cup of tea.

Hey, I was president of the chess club in high school, and I won a letter for being on the bowling team, so I'm used to my interests not being everyone's!

All I have been posting lately is anti-Obama or poetry?

Let's see, 40 Days for Life, my visit to Detroit and the Father Solanus Center, anagrams, the Secular Franciscan profession ...

I will acknowledge there has been a lot about Obama, but then I am pro-life and his policies are decidedly pro-choice. I do take a step back occasionally to wonder if I have said too much. My last post about Obama, for example, was revised from my original draft to take out things that were too harsh. But if I do cross the line, as I'm sure I have, mea culpa.

But the poetry criticism?

This is a personal blog, and I am a poet and English teacher. I've even had a few poems published. I love to write and read poetry, and that is naturally going to show up on my blog.

Real Catholic news and perspectives on a CATHOLIC blog?

Well, again, it is a personal blog, not a news site.

I write a lot about pro-life issues, and that is decidedly Catholic in perspective.

I also write about Franciscans, prayer, confession, spiritual books, devotions, saints and saints in the making, etc. All from a Catholic point of view.

Anonymous, I hope you will not go away. Continue to comment and offer correction - God knows I need that.

But let me repeat: This a personal blog. I write about what is important to me, and my own struggles to be a better Catholic.

A Visit To Venerable Solanus Casey

As I had mentioned previously, during my trip to Detroit for a principals' conference, I managed to stop for a quick visit to the St. Bonaventure Friary, where Venerable Father Solanus Casey - the first U.S.-born male to be declared Venerable - served for a number of years and is buried.

I actually made two visits, though the first was not as I had hoped.

My conference sessions ended shortly after 4 on Tuesday, so I jumped back into my car and drove into Detroit (the conference was at a hotel at the airport, south of the city proper). By the time I figured out where the Friary was - and dealt with construction - it was 5 p.m. I parked in the parking lot, and started walking toward the entrance, but the security guard informed me that the Father Solanus Casey Center closed at 5. Ugh. I walked around the outside, took a couple of quick pictures in case I could not make it back, then drove back to the hotel.

I was disappointed, but I told myself at least I now knew where it was and if I had a chance I'd have an easier time of getting back to it on Wednesday.

I was trying to follow Father Solanus' model and be positive. (My own less-saintly pattern is to grumble.)

On Wednesday, I packed all my stuff early for the drive home and put it in the trunk, hoping for a quick getaway. Sure enough, we finished the conference early at 3:15, so I jumped in the car and threaded the traffic and construction back to the Friary.


Deo gratias!

Knowing my time was limited, I made a quick walk-through. Then I went back to a few spots.

The center has a nice exhibit about Father Solanus' life with lots of picture and artifacts. Among the items on display were his personal effects,
including the beloved violin he would play to entertain (well, by all accounts of his ability, not exactly "entertain"!) his fellow Franciscans, and in the chapel for the Lord.

The exhibit also included the vestment he wore for his last Mass, and his Chalice and Paten

...and the rubber stamp he used to sign the many letters he sent to people in response to their letters asking for his prayers and guidance. (He received so many letters that, as he got older and struggled with health, he would dictate letters to secretaries, then stamp them with his signature.)

His tomb had been moved into the church once the process had begun to investigate his sanctity - a first step toward him possibly being declared a saint.

The tomb of the long-time porter is located, appropriately, at one of the entrances to the church. There is a carving of a violin on it.

It was also covered with slips of papers on which there were prayer requests. I wrote my own request, asking him to pray for something that is troubling my heart.

The center also has an exhibit honoring various people who reflect virtues.

Some of my personal favorites were represented, including Dorothy Day

Mother Theresa

and Catherine Doherty.

At the entrance to the Center, there is a garden with art reflecting lines from St. Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Brother Sun."

I also got a lesson in Franciscan poverty. I'm a bibliophile (with a house jammed with far too many books). After my initial swing through the center and the chapel, I went to the bookstore/gift shop, hoping to find a book or two that I did not already have (or three or four!).

It closed at 4 - before I got to it. Ha!

I hope some day to go back now that I know where the Friary and the Center are. It would be nice to go there with the Good-Looking-One.

Maybe even buy a book?

40 Days For Life Kickoff Event

Things are moving along with planning for 40 Days for Life in Rochester, which will take place September 23-November 1.

Volunteers are contacting some parishes and organizations to help get the information out. We are hoping to get fliers in as many parish bulletins as possible the weekends of 9/13 and 9/20 - anyone have any contacts?

Would the TLM folks be willing to have fliers at their Masses?

The kickoff even it scheduled for September 22, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Our Lady of the Americas (Corpus Christi), 864 E. Main St. There will be prayers, information talks, and it looks like even music! Please consider coming to the event - and taking part in the campaign.

Christmas Poem Of Venerable Solanus Casey

With love and with Christmas blessings to all
Comes the Infant once more to free us from sorrow
Whose smile and Whose power and Whose gentleness call
To each heart and each soul for a manger tomorrow.
Whose love and Whose goodness, Whose wonders proclaim
Him, the Son of the Virgin, as promised of yore.
O may He estrange us from sin and its shame
And reign in our hearts as His crib evermore.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Obama Errs In Abortion/Health Care Claim

President Obama continually argues that Health Care Reform does not include coverage of abortion.

The Family Research Council begs to differ.

It notes:

It's included in one of the House bills. The Capps amendment explicitly allows abortion coverage in the public health plan and subsidizes health plans that cover abortion. (Passed 30-28 in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, July 30)

Senate Democrats admit it. "[The health care bill] would include, uh, it would include, uh, Planned, uh, Parenthood clinics." (Sen. Barbara Mikulski, July 9, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions-HELP-Committee meeting-Planned Parenthood is the No. 1 U.S. abortion chain.)

Senate Democrats refused to ban it. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): "Madam Chairman, would you be willing to put some language in [about] not including abortion services? Then I think you would have more support."Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.): "...No, I would not, uh, be willing to do that at this time." (July 9, Senate HELP Committee meeting)

The mainstream media confirms it. ("Government insurance would allow coverage for abortion," Associated Press, August 5, 2009).

The Obama administration includes it in its definition of reproductive health care. "Reproductive health care includes access to abortion." (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, April 23, House Foreign Affairs Committee)

Every amendment to exclude it from health care legislation was defeated by the liberal sponsors. The following pro-life amendments would have prevented abortion funding or prohibited abortion mandates for covered services:

-Rep. Sam Johnson Amendment in the Ways and Means Committee (July 16)
-Rep. Eric Cantor Amendment in the Ways and Means Committee (July 16)
-Rep. Mark Souder Amendment in the Education and Labor Committee (July 17)
-Rep. Joe Pitts Amendment in the Energy and Commerce Committee (July 30)
-Reps. Bart Stupak and Pitts Amendment in Energy and Commerce Committee (July 31)
-Sen. Orrin Hatch Amendment #227 in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (July 13)
-Sen. Mike Enzi Amendment #277 in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (July 13)

Any intelligent person who is aware how government and the pro-abortion activists work - and who is not blinded by faith in Obama or a desire to get health care reform at any cost - can see that unless it is specifically prohibited, the current health care proposals will permit government money to pay for abortions.

Now perhaps President Obama is misinformed.

Maybe he hasn't read or doesn't understand the health proposals.

Maybe he assumes it won't cover abortion and didn't investigate.

Maybe the issue is above his pay grade.

I hope that it is not a case that he is consciously lying.

Back from Detroit - Visited Fr. Solanus

I got back from Detroit late last night.

The principals' conference was good - but even better was that I got to visit St. Bonaventure Friary where Venerable Father Solanus Casey served and is interred.

His coffin is at one of the entrances to the friary church - greeting people still.

It is covered with prayer requests.

I'll write more later - and post more pictures.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Off to Detroit

One of the obligations of being the official principal now is that I have to attend the principals' conference at the home office for our school system. That means a seven-hour drive to Detroit (I don't like to fly). I get to drive through Canada to check out border security. If I'm on the White House list, you never know ...

To be honest, I dislike conferences more than a drive of that length. I'm not a crowd person. Still, maybe I can pick up a few ideas to help our school.

I hope there will be a free moment to pop over to St. Bonaventure Friary in Detroit. That's where Venerable Father Solanus Casey served for a good chuck of his career and is now buried. The monastery is only about a half hour from the hotel.

That said, I will be away for my computer for several days, so there won't be any posts or comment moderation until Thursday.

All of you: Be good!

For Your Amusement: A Few Anagrams

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

(Ah, but from a theological point of view...)

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

(Hmm. With three daughters - two graduates, one with a year to go - I can attest to this!)

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

When you rearrange the letters:

(My mother-in-law is actually nice.)

These were sent to me in an e-mail. Add your own.

Secular Franciscan Profession Photos

Here are the newest Secular Franciscans in Rochester!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Secular Franciscan Profession

We had our Secular Franciscan Profession today. From the two Rochester fraternities, there were 11 people professed (there was supposed to be one more, but she had a family emergency).

A beautiful ceremony - with four priests concelebrating. One of those priests was also one of the professed.

I'd post more, but it's so hot - and we have no air-conditioning - I'm afraid of burning out the computer!

I was given my formation packet. I officially begin in September. At some point in the future I hope to be part of another such ceremony in a more direct way.

Pax et bonum - Lee

The ordination dance

You put your right foot in
you put your right foot out
you put your right foot in
and you shake it all about ...


Saturday, August 15, 2009

40 Days For Life Update

The 40 Days For Life team held a teleconference (also online) on Thursday to help get ready for the September 23-November 1 campaign.

Some details:

This Fall there will be a record number of cities involved - 208 (last Fall, there were 177).

There will be vigils in 45 states, the District of Columbia, 5 Canadian Provinces, and, for the first time, Denmark.

The 40 Days effort, which began with vigils in just one city in 2004, went national in 2007.

There have been 466 vigils involving 215,000 people in 50 states and four countries.

Thus far, 1,561 babies have been confirmed saved. In addition, 18 abortion clinic workers have quit the clinics because of the campaigns, and three clinics have closed.

I'll post more details as we get going.

But Rochester area readers and bloggers - how about joining together? We can be prayer warriors, and maybe some of us could even volunteer for an hour at Planned Parenthood to pray there. Rochester Catholic, Cleansing Fire, DOR Catholic, Interstate Catholic, Journey to a New Pentecost, Musings from one of the women, View From the Choir and more? Why not!

Buffy Meets Edward (Yes!)

Buffy, where are you now that we need you?

A milestone missed

Hey, while I wasn't looking, this blog passed 100,000 views.

I know, there are some blogs that might get that many a week, but as for me ... WHEEE!

Summer's over: How did I do?

Even though it's only August 15 - Happy Feast of the Assumption, Mary! - my summer vacation is pretty much over.

On Monday I have to drive to Detroit for a two-day principal's conference, then I have to return to set up the teacher prep days for the following week, make sure all the books have come in, create individual schedules for students, and do some lesson plans.

At our school, the kids are back August 31.

Yep. Summer's over. Back to work.

At the beginning of summer, I set some goals:

"I plan -

to attend a summer institute for church musicians

to lose the weight I put back on

to edit the Christmas book I hope to have ready for Christmas this year

to add 10,000 words to my novel

to fix part of our driveway that's collapsing

to stain the stockade fences

to begin reading the Bible daily

Oh, and in between to do some traveling with the Good-Looking-One, get to daily Mass, read a few good books, make a couple of mini pilgrimages, ride my bicycle, write a few poems, relax."

Let's see -

I did go to the musicians institute ( I realized that if I'm going to be a singer I have a lot of work to do)

I lost some weight, but not nearly enough

the Christmas book is partly edited, but there's a lot more to do

I did not add 10,000 words to my novel. Given the darkness of it - it's a horror novel - and my current spiritual directions, I've had reservations about it and had a hard time working up enthusiasm.

The driveway was not touched

ditto the fence - too many rainy days. Maybe this fall?

I am ready the Bible daily

I did some traveling with the Good-Looking-One and got in some mini-pilgrimages (Steubenville, Piffard, Our Lady of Fatima Shrine), but her mother's stroke ate up a lot of time, and forced us to stay close to home

I did read a few good books (but not nearly enough)

The bike still has a flat tire, so ...

I did write a few poems (mostly bad haiku).

I did relax a little.

Not on the list - I hired a contractor to work on our bedroom, I partly cleaned out the storage area that used to be known as the upstairs (boxes of stuff from when we had to sell my parents' house, and when Nana died), I finally scheduled a physical - it's been five years -and found a doctor instead of relying on a health center, I went to Steubenville for the plenary indulgence, I did a lot of soul searching and worked (with God's help) on some character flaws, I visited and decorated the graves of my mother and Nana, I wrote a lot for this blog (too much, probably).

A mixed record. A grade of C?

Oh well, there's always next summer!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Reported Someone To The White House!

You may remember that the White House blog had asked people to contact the White House at if they saw anything fishy being said about health care reform.

Being a patriotic sort, I reported someone this morning.

This is the e-mail I sent:

I am writing to report some inaccurate information that was dispensed about health care reform.

During his town hall in New Hampshire, President Obama claimed that AARP had signed on to the reform proposals when it had not, that a Congressman had been involved in helping to create the proposals when the Congressman in question had not, and that he, the President, had not said he supported a single payer system when in the past he had said he did.

Hopefully you can do something to help correct these inaccuracies.

- Lee

Bad Haiku Friday: Bye Bye Summer

summer break over
teacher meetings start next week -
when's the first snow day?


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Double Blessings

My wife had gotten a mammogram a couple of weeks back. The results were inconclusive, so the doctor's office suggested she come in for a reexamination.

Naturally, she was upset and worried.

This morning she went back: Everything is fine.

Phew. Thank you Lord.

Then the mail came. I got a package from the Haiku Society of America containing the 2009 members' anthology, A Travel-Worn Satchel. The anthology has a theme of "geography of place or haiku of place." Somehow, one of mine got in.

On page 89:

a break in the clouds
gave way to sunrise -

(Yes, that's one of the poems I posted on August 9 to remember Nagasaki and Hiroshima.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clerihew Published In Gilbert Magazine

I got a pleasant surprise today.

The latest issue of Gilbert Magazine, the magazine of the American Chesterton Society, arrived, and one of my clerihews was published in it.

A clerihew is "a humorous, biographical verse of four short lines - two closed couplets - with the first rhyme a play on the name of the subject." (The definition in Gilbert.)

My humble contribution:

When Siddhartha Gautama
Was seeking Nirvana
He refused to settle
For any old heavy metal.

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Congresswoman: Abortion Part of Health Reform Plans!

Gee. She must have forgotten the playbook.

I Got Robocalled!

I just got one of those robocalls. This one was from the left-wing fanatics attacking the right-wing fanatics and insurance industry thugs for organizing protests at those health care meetings (as opposed to the calls from right-wing fanatics attacking socialists [i.e. Democrats and union members] and Acorn-thugs for urging people to get out to support reform).

I listened to the drivel, commenting occasionally at obvious mistruths and spins. The robot just kept talking. But then the robot gave me an opportunity to call my Congressman - RIGHT NOW - by pressing 1.

I did.

I got the office of Congressman Massa (newly elected, so he still has that fresh Congressman smell).

A lady - sounded young - asked how I felt about health care reform.

I started off by saying that I actually favor some form of reform to make sure that everyone who is in need gets covered. I even said I'd be willing to pay more in taxes - gasp - if it would insure that people in need get covered.

BUT I said, he should vote for only a bill that includes a clear statement that there is to be no coverage of abortion. Taxpayer money should not be used to pay for abortion, period.

She tried to say that under law it can't be covered, but I countered that agencies have found ways to get around the law - citing the recent case of Planned Parenthood of Spokane that gave abortion pills but listed it as "family planning" (until getting hit with $700,00 in fines). I contended that some of the government money under a health care plan would go toward abortion, so they need to include a clear statement prohibiting.

Second, I said there needs to be a conscience clause, citing the case of the Catholic nurse who was recently given a choice: Assist in an abortion, or face discipline and possible loss of job.

I think it flipped her out that I was citing actual cases.

Anyway, I said that any bill should include a clear statement banning abortion funding, and a clear conscience clause.

I also said that I was offended by the robocall implying that the protests were due to right-wingers and insurance industry efforts. I told her that I'm sure some of that was going on, but that there were also folks on the left doing the same thing - with which she agreed. I added that most of the people are just voters who are upset, and they are not puppets of either side. I cited President Obama saying that they were just exercising their rights as Americans.

I also complimented the way Congressman Massa has been handling his health care town halls. I noted that I had not voted for him, but that some of his decisions and his actions are making me give him closer look, and if he makes sure my two points get included in any health care bill that I might just vote for him next time.

Obama fudges at Town Hall

During Tuesday's Town Hall in New Hampshire, President Obama responded to a question by declaring:

“I have not said that I was a single payer supporter.”

Well, there's a matter of this clip:

A partial transcript of that 2003 clip:

I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately.

Now I suppose he could argue that was then and this is now, and that he had changed his mind (or, perhaps to be more honest, he said that back then to get votes). And he has said different things in different situations, and lately has not been pushing single-payer. But the fact remains that he said he favored it.

At the forum he also said that AARP is on board. Not quite. AARP favors some sort of plan, but it has not yet endorsed the proposed plans because it is waiting to see specifics and whether there are deal killers - such as wording that would affect Medicare.

AARP Chief Operating Officer Tom Nelson issued this statement following the remarks by the President.

“AARP has been working with Democrats and Republicans to fix our broken health care system.

“While the President was correct that AARP will not endorse a health care reform bill that would reduce Medicare benefits, indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rosaries Around The World This Sunday

From a Catholic News Agency report:

As part of the International Marian Festival taking place in France August 14-19, the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary will be prayed on the world’s five continents beginning at 5 p.m. (Paris time) on Sunday, August 16.

The Rosary will be prayed with Scripture readings, plus meditations from John Paul II, who, during a visit to France in 1986, consecrated the world to the Virgin Mary.

According to organizers, the purpose of the worldwide Rosary is “to pray for peace, for the Church, for France, for the world and for the mission of each one of us in particular.”

By the way, 5 p.m. Paris time is 11 a.m. Eastern time and 9 a.m. Pacific time. (With the 11 a.m. time for here in Rochester N.Y., I will be back from Mass in time.)

More information can be found at:

St. Clare's Letter To Ermentrude of Bruges

To Ermentrude, dearest sister, Clare of Assisi, humble handmaid of Jesus Christ, greetings and peace.

I know that you, o dearest sister, have fled the filth of the world, with the help of God's grace; for which I rejoice and give thanks with you and again rejoice that you tread the paths of virtue strenuously with your daughters. Be faithful, dearest, to him to whom you are promised until death, and you will be crowned by him with the laurel of life.

This labor of ours is brief, but the reward is eternal; let the noises of the fleeting world and its shadow not confound you; let the empty specters of the deceiving world not drive you mad; shut your ears to the whispers of hell and, strong, break down its attempts [against you]; willingly bear adverse evils and let provident goods not puff you up; for the one requires faith, the other demands it; what you promised God, faithfully render, and he will repay you.

O dearest, look on heaven that invites us, and bear the cross and follow Christ who preceded us; indeed, after various and many tribulations we shall enter through him into his glory. Love with your whole heart God and Jesus, his son, crucified for our sins, and never let his memory escape your mind; make yourself mediate continually on the mysteries of the cross and the anguish of the mother standing beneath the cross.

Pray and be always vigilant. And the work that you began well, finish and the ministry you assumed, fulfil in holy poverty and sincere humility. Do not fear, daughter, God is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works, he will pour out his blessing on you and your daughters; and he will be your helper and your best consoler; he is our redeemer and our eternal reward.

Let us pray God for each other, for in bearing each other's burden of charity we shall fulfil the law of Christ.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Planned Parenthood Office Fined For False Billing

While some Planned Paranthood office have been implicated in taking money to abort blacks, concealing rape, or violating state laws, one office has been found guilty of a different offense: overbilling for abortions and other "services."

An audit has revealed that Planned Parenthood's abortion business in Spokane, Washington, overbilled Medicaid $630,000 for abortions, birth control, condoms, and more between 2004 and 2007. With interest added, the office has been fined $700,000.

According to the audit, state health officials found Planned Parenthood of Spokane was "unbundling" abortion claims and falsely billing for doctor visits when customers were picking up prescriptions.

The audit discovered a number of questionable practices.

One involved "unbundling" post-abortion drugs and billing them to Medicaid as family planning, which is prohibited.

Other cases included billings for pregnancy tests done on women who never said they thought they were pregnant and without any indication the tests were medically necessary.

The office also apparently overbilled on fraudulent birth control prescriptions or for drugs sold without a prescription, billing for more than three times the cost of condoms, and billing office visits to pick up a prescription or get an injection.

One wonders how much the fine would have been if the audit had covered more years?

I'd also be curious to find out if other offices also did this sort of thing.


Physicist: Guadalupe Tilma Can't Be "Explained"

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Unborn. As we gear up for another 40 Days campaign, and combat the pro-choice agenda of the Obama administration, the Tilma that bears Our Lady's image is in the news.

According to an August 7 Catholic News Agency report, Dr. Aldofo Orozco told participants at the International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe that there is no scientific explanation for the preservation of the Tilma for 478 years, or for the miracles that have occurred to ensure its preservation.

A researcher and physicist, Dr. Orozco said of the Tilma (the cloak of St. Juan Diego), “All the cloths similar to the Tilma that have been placed in the salty and humid environment around the Basilica have lasted no more than ten years.

He noted that one 1789 painting of the image, was on display in a church near the basilica where the Tilma was placed.

“This painting was made with the best techniques of its time, the copy was beautiful and made with a fabric very similar to that of the Tilma. Also, the image was protected with a glass since it was first placed there,” he said.

But just eight years later, the copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was thrown away because the colors were fading and threads were breaking. In contrast, he said, “the original Tilma was exposed for approximately 116 years without any kind of protection, receiving all the infrared and ultraviolet radiation from the tens of thousands of candles near it and exposed to the humid and salty air around the temple.”

He also pointed out that while the back side is rough and coarse, but the front side is ‘as soft as the most pure silk."

He also discussed two miracles associated with the Tilma.

In 1785, a worker accidentally spilled a nitric acid solvent on the right side of the cloth. “Besides any natural explanation, the acid has not destroyed the fabric of the cloth, indeed it has not even destroyed the colored parts of the image,” Orozco said.
And in 1921, there was an explosion of a bomb near the Tilma. He said the explosion broke the marble floor and widows 150 meters from the explosion, but “unexpectedly, neither the Tilma nor the normal glass that protected the Tilma was damaged or broken.”

The only damage near it was a brass crucifix that was twisted by the blast.

He observed, “There are no explanations why the shockwave that broke windows 150 meters afar did not destroy the normal glass that protected the image. Some people said that the Son by means of the brass crucifix protected the image of His Mother. The real fact is that we don’t have a natural explanation for this event.”

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Two Haiku: Hiroshima and Nagasaki

walk in the woods
noticing the mushrooms –
August 6

a break in the clouds
gave way to sunrise –

I have posted these before, but we are marking the anniversaries again.

Dear Lord,
let not the light of Your love
of Your sacrifice
be lost
in the fires of destruction
and fear
and hate

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Government Health Care - A Current Tale

Government health care already exists - in the form of Medicaid and Medicare. Do they provide a snapshot of what we might face under a larger program under health care reform? Perhaps.

If so, here's a story that shows the potential complications.

One of my middle daughter's friends graduated from college last year. Her family health insurance plan covers children only until they are 21 or graduate from college. So as of last May, she was off the family plan.

The young lady got an apartment with a friend in another city. She had a part-time job she hoped would turn full time. The economy went south, though, and there were layoffs. She did not lose her job, but she did not get a full-time position and did not qualify for company supplied health insurance. She applied for full-time jobs elsewhere, but no luck.

Her income is so low she qualifies for Medicaid.

She has a degenerative bone disorder. Even though she is only in her early 20s, she needs hip replacement surgery soon. She's already using a cane - and lots of pain killers.

To get ready for the surgery, her doctor says she should get an MRI. Medicaid won't pay for it. Her doctor suggested she take the "poor people's" route and go to the Emergency Room to see if she can get one that way. No luck.

They can go ahead with the surgery without the MRI, but the doctor says it would be far better if they had an MRI. Is he right? Or is he just protecting himself from any potential lawsuits? Medicaid certainly does not deem it necessary. Are they right? Who decides?

Her family is already facing some health and money issues - with one member on the list for a heart transplant. They are trying to fight their insurance company to see if they can get her back on the family plan. No luck so far.

Now there's all sorts of issues here. The young lady could move home and give up her apartment. Independence is nice and all, but does it make sense under the current circumstances?

At the same time, though, that would mean giving up the job she has, and it's not clear she could find anything in her home town given the economy. And even if she did move home, she would still not be on the family insurance plan.

Now maybe the family could have chosen a plan that provided more coverage of children - my own unmarried daughters are covered under my plan until they are 25, and under a new state law, that might even stretch until they are 29.

Then again, maybe they could not afford more when they got it. Maybe that was the only plan available to them at the time. Maybe things went along fine for years and they never thought to look for something more or better. Maybe they could not afford to switch because some plans don't cover pre-existing conditions, and that heart problem would not allow them to switch.

As for the current situation, they could go ahead with the surgery without the MRI, but would that be like the surgeon was operating with one eye closed?

On the other hand, thanks to a government health plan, even though she does not have the money, she can get the hip replacement surgery. Without a government program, she might be facing huge medical bills - or being crippled.

And, to be fair, there are stories like this even when the family does have insurance coverage - all that fine print and the cost analysis that goes on.

It's not an easy situation. There are many factors. There may be many more about which I'm not aware. I have no easy answers.

And I'm not trying to paint anyone a villain.

I favor health care reform to make sure low-income people get the health care they need. But in a larger government plan, would there be even more such stories?

Or is that just part of living in an imperfect world?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hillary Boogies; Chelsea Has A Potential Suitor

Hmm. The dowery might have gone up if Hillary had been elected President!


NC Register Nails It On Healthcare Reform

The National Catholic Register has a great editorial on healthcare reform. Here's just one section:

Of course, all of those questions are moot if a health-care proposal fails to protect the right to life. Health care that pays for abortion or pressures older patients to forgo necessary treatment isn’t a health-care system at all, but a death machine.

No matter how it is structured or how many benefits it provides to people, Catholics must oppose any legislator who proposes or supports a death machine.

Love and truth demand that.

Go read the rest here.

(A nod to Tom S.F.O. for the tip!)

Call To Read "Called To Be Holy"

I have just finished NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan's Called To Be Holy. I highly recommend it.

The book is based on talks he gave to priests and seminarians when he was the rector of the north American College in Rome. The talks contained in this book were originally published as part of Priests for the New Millennium.

Although originally intended for priests and seminarians, the book, as adapted here, is appropriate for lay people. It is easy to read, folksy and full of anecdotes and quotations and good humor. But it is also spiritually rich.

I'd love to hear him preach!

I had already read his To Whom Shall We Go, and some of the stories are repeated in here. But I did not find that annoying. It was like seeing old friends again.

New York is lucky to have such an archbishop.

Monsignor Ellis: Church Answers

"No, the Church does not have all the answers, but she sure has more than any other institution on the face of the earth!" - Monsignor John Tracy Ellis

Friday, August 07, 2009

I'll Let the President Have His Say

"That was gift-wrapped and waiting for me. I don't want the folks who created the mess do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking."

-- President Obama, August 6, commenting on the economic challenges and rising deficit left by the Bush administration, with a call for opponents of his plans to be less vocal.

If they do too much talking, maybe we are then supposed to report them to the White House.

Bad Haiku Friday: Raisin Bread

set to bite my bread
I stop when one raisin moves -
the ants are back

Jesus, Our Pelican

This morning I came across the hymn "Hidden God" ("Adoro te devote" ) by St. Thomas Aquinas. It contained the following verse:

Deign, O Jesus, Pelican of heaven,
Me, a sinner, in your Blood to lave,

Pelican of heaven? Now I vaguely remembered some legend concerning the pelican that linked it to Jesus, but I wasn't sure. So I looked it up.

Pelican: The Pelican is a symbol of the atonement and the Redeemer and is often found in Christian murals, frescos, paintings and stained glass. The pelican was believed to wound itself in order to feed its young with its own blood. In the hymn "Adoro Te," St. Thomas Aquinas addresses the Savior with, "Pelican of Mercy, cleanse me in Thy Precious Blood." (NOTE: A slightly different translation of the verse than the one I encountered.) Allusion is even made to this belief in "Hamlet" (act iv): "To his good friend thus wide I'll ope my arms And, like the kind, life-rendering pelican, Repast them with my blood."

And from another source:

According to legend, in a time of famine a mother pelican would draw blood from her own chest and give the blood to her chicks.

Thus the pelican symbol in Christianity, also called pelican-in-her-piety, symbolizes the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (because he gave his blood for others) as well as the Eucharist (because it represents Christ's blood and provides spiritual nourishment).

Aha. You learn something new every day.

He So Obama

President Obama has entered the world of slang.

Some linguistic students at UCLA compile a book called UCLA Slang every four years. They have to collect the words and phrases, and do the necessary research to make sure entries are spelled and defined correctly. As a teacher, I think this is a clever idea.

The soon-to-be released sixth edition includes "presh" (cute or precious), "fomo" (fear of missing out), "schwa" (wow), "I.D.K." (I don't know), and "bromance" (a close platonic friendship).

The book will also include "obama," which is defined as meaning "cool." So "You so obama" means "You are cool."

I suspect many of those students who voted in 2008 cast their ballots for Obama. That was the cool thing to do, right?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Schismatic Priest Plans Book About Dismissed Nun

Father James Callan, one of the leaders of the schismatic Spiritus Christi Church here in Rochester, has planned another book related to the church.

In the July 25/26 bulletin of the schismatic congregation, Father Callan announced that he is writing a book about Margie Henninger, a former Sister of St. Joseph who was one of the leaders of Spiritus' break with the Catholic Church back in 1998. All of the leaders of the congregation - including Callan and Henninger - were excommunicated.

Father Callan said he wants to have it done in time for June 29, 2010, the 50th anniversary of her becoming a sister. If I remember correctly, Henninger was dismissed from her congregation in 2002 - after they told her to stop calling herself a sister and not to identify herself as a member of the congregation. So it might mark the 50th anniversary of her joining the SSJs, but it will not be a celebration of 50 years as a Catholic woman religious.

I was an active member of Corpus Christi Parish - the Catholic parish he headed before the break. I left in the early 90s when it started straying too far from the Catholic Church. Father Callan even officiated our wedding. So I continue to be saddened by the decisions made by a number of people about whom I still care. I often pray that they will return to the Church.

Knights of Columbus Take A Stand

Resolved by the Knights of Columbus:

WHEREAS, during an audience with the Supreme Board of Directors in October 2008, Pope Benedict XVI personally appealed to the Knights of Columbus to “defend the moral truths necessary for a free and humane society, including the fundamental right to life of every human being;” and

WHEREAS, that fundamental right to life is under attack throughout the world in rich and poor countries alike; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Congress is now considering health care legislation that would accomplish by stealth many of the aims of the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, including federal funding of abortions for the first time since adoption of the Hyde Amendment in 1976; and

WHEREAS, a Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll conducted in May 2009 shows that 86 percent of the American people favor placing restrictions on abortion; and

WHEREAS, the Canadian Parliament will soon consider a measure to legalize assisted suicide; and

WHEREAS, international governmental and non-governmental agencies are attempting to force countries like Mexico, Poland and the Philippines to permit abortion on demand; and

WHEREAS, many other means of attacking and devaluing human dignity, including assisted suicide, euthanasia, and embryonic stem-cell research are becoming more widespread;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Knights of Columbus reaffirms its commitment to unconditional support for the right to life and full protection in law for every human being from conception to natural death; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly oppose any effort to repeal the Hyde Amendment and other restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortions in the United States, and oppose any health care reform legislation that does not explicitly exclude abortion coverage for any health insurance plan, public or private; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon legislators everywhere to adopt legislation protecting the religious conscience rights of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, guaranteeing their right to refuse to participate in abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide or any other practice that is destructive of innocent human life or that conflicts with their sincerely-held religious beliefs; and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that we reaffirm our long-standing policy of not inviting to any Knights of Columbus event, persons, especially public officials or candidates for public office, who do not support the protection of unborn children against abortion or who advocate the legalization of assisted suicide, euthanasia and other violations of the right to life, and of not allowing such persons to rent or otherwise use facilities over which we have control, and of not bestowing on them honors or privileges of our Order of any kind, inviting them to serve as honorary chairpersons of events, celebrations or committees, speak at Knights of Columbus events, or hold any office in the Knights of Columbus.

Look at that last one. All you Catholic politicians who vote for abortion, you are no longer invited to K of C events until you stop doing so.

And notice the call for no honors for such politicians. I hope other Catholic agencies follow suit.

Now I wonder if someone will report the K of C to the White House?

A Congressman To Respect: Faith Trumps Politics

Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao of New Orleans, a Catholic and the first Vietnamese-American congressman, said Saturday that the health care reform legislation being considered is contains a "stealth mandate” for abortion, and that he prefers to “save his soul” rather than vote in favor of it.

In an interview with the Times-Picayune on Saturday, Cao, who took office in January of this year, said he can't support any bill that permits public money to be spent on abortion.

“At the end of the day if the health care reform bill does not have strong language prohibiting the use of federal funding for abortion, then the bill is really a no-go for me,” said Cao, a refugee who who spent time in formation to be a Jesuit priest.

Cao said that as a Jesuit he did believe in the notion of social justice.

“I do fully understand the need of providing everyone with access to health care, but to me personally, I cannot be privy to a law that will allow the potential of destroying thousands of innocent lives,” he said.

“I know that voting against the health care bill will probably be the death of my political career,” Cao said, “but I have to live with myself, and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, ‘How does it profit a man's life to gain the world but to lose his soul.’”

Now that is true political courage. I wish some of our other Catholic Congressional Representatives and Senators would show similar courage.
(ADDED: I should explain that he is a Republican first-termer elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic district when his Democratic predecessor, Congressman Jefferson, was indicted on corruption charges. So Cao's reelection was already less certain than is normal for an incumbent.)

Daily Mass

One of the joys of summer vacation is that I get to go to daily Mass.

I alternate between two parishes, St. Theodore's (my home parish) and St. Helen's, depending on whether I need to drive my daughter to her summer job.

At St. Theodore's, there are the regulars - anywhere between 20 and 40 people - who show up most days. Most are seniors and retirees, though a few of the regulars seem to be on their way to work. (During the school year, I have to be at school by 7:30 - so I can't make it to the 8:30 Mass at my parish, or the 7:30 Mass over at St. Helen's. It would be nice if I could find a 6:30 Mass somewhere between home and work!)

I am amazed at these good people. Some linger after Mass to say more prayers. Some visit the perpetual adoration chapel before or after Mass. Sometimes they pray together from memory prayers that I only barely know or need help remembering - like the Divine Praises.

I am humbled by these men and women.

Huckabee: Healthcare Reform = Elective Abortions?

Catholics and pro-lifers who are not still drinking Kool Aid need to pay attention.

Oh, and in 2012, consider Huckabee.

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Big Brother Might Be Watching ... Me!

This from the White House blog:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

Wow. Have a chat with your neighbor about health care and his comments sound "fishy"? Blow him in. Your friend sends you an e-mail opposed to health care and talks about abortion coverage or euthanasia? Turn her in.

What will happen to the offenders? Will there be a list? Will there be payback? I heard a report about one Senator talking against health care reform and his governor getting a call from Washington basically saying if the Senator keeps talking we might just pull some of your stimulus money!

Now thought control that may not be the intention of it, but images of the Red Scare, the Nazis, the KGB, and 1984 cross my mind.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Grave Concern

On Monday, the Good-Looking One and I went down to the Trappist Abbey of the Genesee (home of Monk's Bread!), one of our favorite places to go for silence, prayer and contemplation.

Oh, and to pick up some bread.

On the way back, we stopped at the graves of my mother and grandmother (they share a headstone). They are buried in Caledonia, I live in Rochester. I rarely have reason to go that way, and, to be honest, I'm not a "grave" person by nature. I figure they are in heaven (or are on the way), and their bodies are, well, just their bodies.

But as I looked about, I saw that other graves had signs of care and visits. Flowers, flags, figures.

I felt sad. Mom and Nana's headstone looked forlorn. Unloved. I started thinking of the way I had been in life with them. (Mom and I in particular had a difficult relationship.)

Today, I took some plastic flowers, a small vase, and the figure of an angel with a bird on its finger to decorate the grave site. I said a couple of prayers for them.

I asked them to pray for me. And to forgive me for the times I neglected them.

I will go back more often. I will keep them in my prayers. It's the least they deserve for all their love and sacrifices for me.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

40 Days Dates Set

I went to the 40 Days for Life organizational meeting tonight. The dates are indeed September 23 to November 1.

We will once again gather prayerfully and peacefully outside Planned Parenthood. Last year in Rochester, the first year for us, we kept up a continuous prayer presence most days from 7 a.m. to 7 pm. (It woudl be great if we could exend te hours locally.)

More than 250 people took part locally. They represented 45 different churches.

In Rochester, 4 babies were confirmed as saved, with the chance there were others we did not know about.

Internationally - the U.S. and Canada -179 cites held 40 Days, with more than 76,000 people involved, resulting in 64 babies being confirmed saved, 8 abortion clinic workers quitting, and one clinic announcing that it was closing. Who knows how many other babies and workers were saved?

40 Days, which started in Texas in 2004 as just a local effort there, has now stretched to not only the U.S. and Canada, but also to Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland joining in.

We don't know yet how many cities and countries will be involved in this fall campaign, but with the Obama administration policies being what they are we may well see an increase.,

The more important thing it organizing locally, though. If you are a local reader of this blog, consider getting involved. That involvement does not necessarily have to be taking part in a vigil. Some people are involved as prayer warriors. Some get involved in community outreach. All such efforts are equally valuable.

You can do it as a group. It can be a parish group, a prayer group, a K of C council, a youth group, a campus ministry group - whatever.

E-mail to volunteer, or to seek more information.

Abortion Postcard: They Are Okay

(A nod to Cheeky Pink Girl.)

Pope John Paul II

On A Mission From God

(My wife loved the mugs, tee-shirts and magnets she saw at Steubenville with this image!)

Offering Up For Souls In Purgatory

Sometimes I'm slow.

You know, the kind of slow that comes with understanding something intellectually, but it still does not register.

My slowness has been brought home again in the last couple of days. I went to Steubenville for the plenary indulgence, hearing repeatedly that you can offer it up for a soul in Purgatory.

Being a selfish sort, I wanted it for my own well-stained soul. (I used laundry references to explain it to one of my daughters - stain remover and bleach!)

Even before I went, I thought of my mother, who died in 2005, and my Nana, who died in 2006. The idea crossed my mind to offer it up for one of them. Then I thought maybe the next time I have such an opportunity I would offer it up for one of them. (You can add in my brother, who died back in 1983.)

Then I was reminded that beyond plenary indulgences there are partial indulgences available that offer partial remission of time in Purgatory. There are various lists of actions one can do to obtain such indulgences - including certain hymns, litanies and prayers, reading Scriptures for at least half an hour, rosary on a blessed rosary, and so on.

I could have been doing these for a long time, but it never occurred to me to do so! (Told you I was slow.)

Sorry Mom, Nana, and John. I will begin to do so.