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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just wondering ...

Proponents of health care legislation claim that federal money can't be used for abortions already, and that there are conscience clause protections in place at this time.

So why do they keep shooting down amendments that stipulate reform bills state that abortion won't be covered and that health care workers can't be forced to take part in procedures they find morally objectionable - as they did today.

Could it be because they know they are not telling the truth - and that federal money will eventually be used to pay for abortions, and that medical personnel's consciences will not be protected?

40 Days: Volunteers Needed

The local 40 Days campaign is already a week old. There have been many people out there praying for an end to abortion, for women to find the strength and support they need to refuse that horrible "choice," for Planned Parenthood workers to have a conversion of heart.

But ... we need more volunteers!

Please, go sign up. A few fellow bloggers joined me last Saturday, a few more might join me this Saturday at 10 a.m. - but I'd love to see even more of the local blogging community join me or going on their own. If you plan to go on your own, or if you have already done so, post a comment to describe your experience.

Imagine the message some of our more vocal orthodox bloggers could send to the Diocese: See, we are out there. Join us!

Ask friends, folks at church, your priests or deacons to spend even just one hour in prayer at Planned Parenthood.

Got to the 40 Days site to get more information - and to sign up.

Abortion violence: Man murders woman who refuses to abort

A tragic story -

By Kathleen Gilbert
ARLINGTON, Tennessee, September 29, 2009 ( - A Tennessee man is facing a double murder charge after his girlfriend and her unborn child were shot to death, in what police say was the conclusion to the couple's disagreement over getting an abortion.

Shelby County detectives say they believe Tarence Nelson, 26, shot schoolteacher Tonya Johnson, 35, as a result of an argument over whether Johnson should abort the child, who was at eight months' gestation. Johnson was found in her home by neighbors who said she had bullet wounds to the right abdomen, chest, and the back of her head.

Those who discovered Johnson say they and paramedics attempted without success to save the mother and baby's life.

Neighbor John Ingram told a local news station that Nelson's intent to kill the child was obvious by her wounds. "It looked like he was intent on killing both of them," he told WMC-TV. "I think it should be a double homicide, the baby was ready to come."

Detectives have agreed that Nelson will be charged with first-degree murder of both Johnson and her unborn child.

In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which recognizes a child in the womb as a legal victim if he or she is killed or injured in an act of violence against the mother.

----- There are a number of stories in which men beat, try to induce abortions, and even kill their girlfriends/wives because they want the unborn child aborted and the woman hesitates or refuses. This is the kind of thing that helps to push women to make that horrible "choice."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

40 Days: 2 Abortion Workers, 38 Babies Saved

According to a report from the National 40 Days campaign, a nurse at a Granite City, Illinois, abortion facility approached one of the 40 Day participants and said, "Thank you for praying for me. Your witness has been powerful to me.This is my last day! I'm going off to do what real nurses should be doing." And then she drove away.

That makes two abortion facility workers who have quit since the campaign began - that we know of.

Thank you, Lord.

Meanwhile, there are reports of some 38 babies saved in the first six days because their mothers changed their minds. How many more don't we know about?

Keep praying!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Okay, I was wrong

Last Monday, with pro-life activities on my mind, I groused about the Diocese of Rochester's lack of active involvement in the issue (in the way I would like to see), and said I was not going to give to the Ministry Appeal until I saw some diocesan personnel out there with us, and more strict enforcement when it comes to some liturgical abuses in parishes.

I was wrong in declaring that.

I'd still like to see those things, but the Ministry Appeal does help so many people in so many ways and pays for so many diocesan services. I and my parish benefit from those services, as do so many other people and parishes in the diocese.

Plus, if I don't give, my parish has to make up the gap. They have a hard enough time paying their bills.

So I will give. And I urge other people to give, even if you don't agree with some of the things going on in the diocese.

But I'd still like to see some diocesan personnel out there praying in front of Planned Parenthood.

40 Days - Saturday Morning

I arrived for my first hour of prayer outside Planned Parenthood shortly before 7 a.m. yesterday - I am an early morning person. It was cool, but not unpleasantly cold. Traffic at that hour is light.

There was a sidewalk display at the site - a collection of stuffed animals and flowers.

Mixed in were slips of paper explaining what the display was.

I was soon joined by three other people - including a folks I've met only through blogging (good to place faces with names!). I was glad to meet them.

We prayed the daily reflection supplied by 40 Days, then a rosary (joined part-way through by Rick, who is coordinating 40 Days this year). I'm used to saying the rosary on my own; it was nice to say it with others for once. It enriched the experience for me.

After the rosary, we held signs. A couple of people had to leave early, but those who remained chatted about the campaign and the kick-off that I missed on Tuesday. One of the people who spoke at the kick-off was a man whose mother had attempted to abort him. Amazing, an abortion survivor right in our midst. I hope I get to meet him.

We also talk about sports - well it was three guys at that point, and I was wearing a Red Sox cap!
As we stood, a few cars drove by. We got a couple of supportive waves, and two ladies (Jehovah Witnesses?) pulled up to hand us Awake! saying that they agreed on the issue.

Nothing dramatic or profound happened - it was just a good experience. But nothing had to happen. We prayed - and the power of prayer will have its effect in God's good time and when the people for whom we prayed - the women and men facing choices, those who have lost their children, the employees and volunteers at Planned Parenthood, our society - are ready for God's love and grace to move them.

I will be back out there next Saturday - at 10 a.m. More traffic at that hour, and maybe a few more bloggers will join me to pray for an end to abortion and for all the people caught up in the tragedy of abortion.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Officially in formation

Much happened today - 40 Days for Life, with a couple of local bloggers/commenters, joining me at 7 a.m. for prayers outside Planned Parenthood, followed by the all-day Chesterton Conference out at St. John Fisher College. More on those in the coming days.

Last night, though, was personally significant.

I officially began the formation process as a Secular Franciscan.

I have been attending the meetings for a year now, but a group had begun formation long before I arrived on the scene, so I was put on hold. It was a long year, but I learned a great deal and have some wonderful spiritual opportunities. It was a time to learn more about patience and humility as well.

With the previous class now all pretty much done (one member could not make it to the ceremony in August, so will not profess until January), the new class - me - could begin.

I was officially welcomed as an initiate at the meeting, and was given some Franciscan books and my first study assignment. At the next meeting I will meet with the formation director to discuss what I have read and my reflections. (He was also at the Chesterton Conference today, and I jokingly confessed that I hadn't done my homework yet.)

I'm still hoping more people will join the class. But I'm excited that I have found a way to grow in my devotion to St. Francis - my patron saint - and that I have begun to pursue something that I've considered for more than two decades, but which in my pride and stubbornness I had pushed to the background.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bad Haiku Friday: Musical Study Hall

study hall lessons -
guitar for middle schoolers-
striking the right chord


40 Days for Life - having an effect!

40 Days for Life only began on Wednesday - and already we have reports of a life and perhaps a soul having been saved.

In St. Louis on the first day, a couple that had gone into the abortion clinic came out and told one of the sidewalk counselors that they had changed their minds and were going to keep the baby.

Meanwhile, in Bakersfield, California, an abortion clinic worker resigned and walked out to one of the 40 Days participants to tell her what she had done. She got a hug.

Who knows how many other people changed their minds as a result of this campaign, and the ongoing efforts of so many pro-lifers.

The power of prayer!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Abortion mill's history of hate

Caution: Contains some offensive language and images - all created by members of the pro-abortion side exercising their right to free speech. I pray they find the healing they need.

(A nod to Catholic Fire.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More pro-abortion violence

A 69-year old man was allegedly assaulted by two women on Saturday as he held two non-graphic signs protesting abortion.

This comes just about a week after Jim Pouillon was murdered for his pro-life views.

In the latest pro-abortion attack, Johnny Wallace was allegedly attacked by the two 48-year-old women in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was in front of City Hall holding text-only signs that read, "Abortion kills more black Americans in four days than the Klan killed in 150 years," and "Life begins at conception and ends at Planned Parenthood."

Wallace was allegedly approached from behind by the two women, who began by yelling profanities at him. One then attempted to take way and destroy his sign.

Wallace was wrestled to the ground, and then the other woman allegedly joined the attack.

Wallace was treated for minor injuries by paramedics.

The women were cited and released on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage.

Given the increasing pro-abortion violence, the 40 Days for Life campaign takes on an added edge. But we will not be bullied into hiding.

For more on the story, go here.


40 Days for Life begins

The 40 Days for Life campaign has begun.

A while back I invited Rochester-area bloggers to join me. A few responded that they would (hooray!), but many of our more outspoken bloggers haven't.

Maybe they don't read this blog. Maybe they plan to go on their own. Maybe the first two times I picked don't fit their schedules.

Anyway, I'll be there outside Planned Parenthood this Saturday at 7 a.m., and again October 3 at 10 a.m. Bring your rosaries.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sleep, perchance to dream (Please!)

Rough week and a half at school. Dealing with family and personnel issues there that have required long conversations with the involved parties - some crying - and members of the board. It's been a time of trying to find the right things to say in the most diplomatic ways possible to smooth some ruffled feathers and to ease tensions, to provide a sympathetic ear (even when I did not feel particularly sympathetic), all while doing my regular teaching duties.

Not easy

I've been having a hard time sleeping due to it all. I keep waking hours before I have to. The other morning I actually found myself drifting in and out of sleep from about 4 o'clock on and realizing I was saying one "Hail Mary" after another!

I was supposed to go to the 40 Days for Life kickoff tonight, but didn't get home until after it had already started - another meeting with board members! - and was too beat to turn around and drive back into the city.

Instead, I made something to eat, and then worked on school work (that I would have gotten done at school were it not for meetings and conversations).

My wife got home from a late day herself, took a look at me, and said, go to bed.

I finished a worksheet for the middle schoolers, and typed this instead of writing something more profound. Now, I will heed her advice.

I can take comfort in that no jobs have been lost - I'm very protective of my staff!

Thank you , Lord.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Huckabee and Acorn

Governor Mike Huckabee had a few encounters with ACORN when he was the Governor of Arkansas - where ACORN began.

In an interview with One News Now he recounts one incident with ACORN, which he calls "rent-a-mob":

"Suddenly two buses pull up outside -- they're full of ACORN members [who] walk in, they surround the perimeter of the building, they come to the podium, they surround me personally," he shares.

Then it got "really, really crazy," says Huckabee. "There was one state trooper who was with me, [and] suddenly there were several more being called in....This was an out-of-state meeting with a bunch of people, and [ACORN] just showed up. And they would regularly come to things I did, and yell and scream and hold signs. This was the first time they got physical, and they literally were just taking over the podium."

It is ironic, says Huckabee, that the ACORN protest in Little Rock was about "equal rights," yet sitting next to him that day was his appointee to the head the Department of Human Services in Arkansas, Lee Frazier, who is black. ...

Diocesan Ministries Appeal Not Appealing

Bishop Matthew H. Clark announced the start of this years Catholic Ministries Appeal with a goal of $5.49 million goal.

This year's theme for this campaign - which provides a large portion of the Diocese of Rochester's operating budget - is "Keeping the Spirit Alive."

"The Catholic Ministries Appeal is about taking care of one another -- family, neighbors and those in need. This year our theme is 'Keeping the Spirit Alive,' not only our faith in its practice, but the spirit of service in helping one another," Bishop Clark said during the appeal's kickoff press conference at Church of the Assumption.

Okay. How about the unborn in need? How about taking care of or serving them?

The Catholic Courier reports that the goal of $5.49 million is slightly higher than last year's goal of $5.39 million - a goal the diocese fell some $480,000 short of meeting . The Bishop "acknowledged that last year's campaign took place amid a dramatically deteriorating economy."

True, but there has also been growing discontent with Diocesan directions and policies. Whether all of the criticism is fair or not (and I believe some of it is fair, but some clearly is not), I think that has led to a decrease of support of financial and other support for the diocese.

At this point I give to individual programs (like those of the Catholic Family Center) and to my parish. If I see Bishop Clark or other diocesan officials in front of Planned Parenthood, or on the March for Life, or in the Good Friday procession to the abortion doctor's office, or some of the abuses at some parishes being addressed, then I will give to the diocese.

Yeah, call me short-sighted. I prefer to give where I know it will be used to help people.

Obama and Paterson meet

Shortly after suggesting that NY Governor David Paterson not run for reelection as he would be a drag on Democratic candidates, President Obama had what was described as an awkward encounter with the Gov.

No word about knives in backs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Huckabee a Fave Among Value Voters

It's only 2009, but Mike Huckabee is the clear frontrunner among Value Voters.

At the Values Voter Summit in Washington this weekend, Huckabee easily won the Presidential straw poll taken Saturday with nearly 29 percent of the vote.

Romney, Pawlenty, Palin and Pence each won roughly 12 percent of the 597 votes cast.

Obama to Governor Paterson - Don't Run?

You know you're in trouble when the President, a member of your own party, asks you not to run for re-election because it might hurt the Party!

According to a New York Times article, that's allegedly what President Obama has basically done to NY Governor David Paterson.

Paterson has done a poor job, is on the wrong side of a number of issues, and is way down in the polls - Bush country. Apparently the concern is that if he does run next year it will hurt the chances of other Democrats in the state (such as my own Congressman Massa?). I know I won't vote for Paterson - unless the Republicans run a neo-Nazi.

The Democrats seem to want the very popular NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run for Governor instead. I suspect he would have a far better chance than Paterson would. I'd consider voting for him.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What sports should be about

Matt Ziesel, a freshman with Down Syndrome at Benton High School in Saint Joseph, Missouri, loves football. He suits up for every game, and finally got a chance to play in the closing seconds of a game against Maryville High School. His team was down a couple of touchdowns, and the "Matt play" was run with the knowledge of the Maryville coach and players.

Good sportsmanship.

Health Care Reform: A Barber's Hairy Situation

I stopped by my barber's this morning - open house time at school!

She's been in operation about 2 1/2 months. The fellow she bought the shop from had let it run down before he left, and she is struggling to build it back up.

We chatted as she clipped. Health care reform came up.

In about two months, she will no longer be covered by the health insurance plan she is currently under, and due to the slow start of the business she said she may have to go without insurance for a while because she won't be able to afford it unless her business increases dramatically.

So here we have a entrepreneur who is facing some difficult financial choices.

Now some might argue that she should just give up her business if it's not making a go and go back to working for another barber - if she can find someone to hire her. Or get out of that business entirely. The marketplace rules!

I suppose. But then I recalled an old health insurance idea that I've heard suggested periodically.

What if the laws were changed to allow insurance to cross state lines, and for associations to form to provide group insurance? Imagine a network of barbers - or of small business operators - able to form such an association and buy insurance together? They would save money. And save us money as well, for if they go without insurance, get hurt and go to the hospital, guess who foots the bill?

There are probably many small-business people like her, struggling to keep up payments for health insurance, or even gambling and going without because they can't afford it. Add on to that young people just starting out, full-time employees who work for low wages for businesses that don't offer some health insurance plans, people who survive by working several part-time jobs, people who have lost their jobs and face COBRAs, and more.

I favor some form of health insurance reform to make sure people get covered. If it's not some comprehensive plan as some government folks are dreaming or scheming (depending on your point of view), why not seek changes in the laws to allow for some practical solutions for now?

Of course, given the way government works, even if something can be changed, it may take a long time for it to trickle down to a lowly barber in Gates NY. She could be out of business by then. And I'll have to find another barber.

Maybe I need to get my hair cut there more often.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bad Haiku Friday: Nuts About ACORN

a Lila Rose grad
uncovers ACORN aiding
prostitution scam

bad low-budget film
pimp and prostitute reveal
ACORN’s true values

ACORN has been caught –
still more friends of Obama
who said, “Nuts to you.”

Labels: , ,

Jon Stewart on Acorn Prostitution Videos

Two young people - one a veteran of Lila Rose's Live Action Films that expose Planned Parenthood's illegal activities - went to various ACORN offices dressed like a grade Z movie pimp and his prostitute with a fantastic story about wanting to set up a house of prostitution and to bring in underage girls from oversees to staff it (all with the purpose of raising money for the pimp's future campaign as a Democratic candidate!), and they got advice on tax dodges etc. from ACORN staffers.

Jon Stewart was not amused:

ACORN, of course, had ties to President Obama and his campaign. So we now have other former Obama "friends" from whom he has to distance himself when they prove embarrassing.

I hope Michelle doesn't have anything shady in her past!

As for the ACORN staff members who have been fired as a result of the videos, maybe they can get jobs at Planned Parenthood.

Here's one of their videos (love his coat!):

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Join Christ's Loving suffering

Part of a prayer said during Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15) has been on my mind.

"As we honor the compassionate love of the Virgin Mary, may we make up in our own lives whatever is lacking in the sufferings of Christ."

My first thought was what could possibly be lacking in the sufferings of Christ that we could somehow make it up? Is this possible?

But then I thought: What a loving gift - allowing us to share in that ultimate act of love.

And think of the sufferings we can offer up.

Small disappointments, bumps and bruises, a toothache, embarrassments, frustrations, minor illnesses, hunger, delays in getting something we want, a favorite team losing, unkind comments, loss of a job, being mocked and bullied, a beloved pet's death, serious injuries, lingering illness, slander, divorce or broken relationships, betrayal by a trusted person, the death of a loved one, cancer, persecution, crippling disease, loss of limbs, death, and so much more.

Life is full of sorrows great and small, and we can offer them all up to help make up whatever is lacking in Christ's sufferings. Offering up suffering helps to unite us to Christ's sufferings, following the examples of so many saints like St. Francis when he experienced the Stigmata.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Mary Travers (Peter, Paul and Mary) Dies

I just learned that Mary Travers of Peter, Paul, and Mary, died Wednesday after a battle with leukemia. She was just 72.

Their recordings helped to make folk music more mainstream back in the 1960s, to bring the music of Bob Dylan to wider audiences, and to clear the way for performers like John Denver, whose "Leaving on a Jet Plane" was a hit for them (and a boost for him).

They had a number of hits, including : “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” and “Puff the Magic Dragon”

I enjoyed their music, though I was not a colossal fan. But then I got to sing with the trio!

Back in the late 80s/early 90s (I have to check the date), they came to Rochester to sing benefit Christmas concerts for the Sisters of Mercy. I was with the old Corpus Christi Thursday night Mass music group, and someone approached me one night after Mass and said they were looking for male voices to join the chorus for the concerts. Would I be interested?

After a few weeks of rehearsals, there I was, one of the basses, backing them in performances at the Eastman Theater. It was a thrill.

They treated all of us locals with respect, stopping by back stage to thank us. Classy.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Haiku - bee in the classroom

bee above middle school class:
Who is more afraid?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bills .... sigh

The Buffalo Bills led New England 24-13 with about 5 minutes to play, still clung to a 25-19 lead with 2 minutes to go - and with control of the ball - but thanks to a bonehead play, end up losing 25-24.

Maybe God wants me to suffer more penance.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Animals in Heaven?

At the library the other day I caught sight of a title: Will I See My Dog in Heaven? by Father Jack Wintz, OFM (Franciscan, of course!).

Still mourning the loss of my beloved Maggie (her tail wags when I write her name), and even my wife's cat, Scooter (don't tell him, he was always too full of himself already), I checked it out.

Now I know all the teachings about man (generic) having an immortal souls while animals' souls are not immortal, so they don't share in eternal life. But still ...

The book provides a more positive, hopeful response to that question asked by many a child and animal lover. (Yeah, I know he writes for that St. Anthony Messenger of ill-favor among some folks. As for me, I subscribe and look forward to it!)

One point he does make:

In the Mass, Eucharistic Prayer IV contains.

Father, in your mercy grant also to us, your children, to enter into our heavenly inheritance in the company of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and your apostles and saints. Then, in your kingdom, freed from the corruption of sin and death, we shall sing your glory with every creature through Christ our Lord, through whom you give us everything that is good.

Wait a minute. It says that when we get to heaven, we will join that heavenly choir and sing WITH EVERY CREATURE.

So ... does that mean that I can sing with Maggie, and the beloved dog of my youth, Duke?

"Allel -OOOOOOOOOOOO -ia!"

And will Tiger, Itsy, Mathom, Seamus, Hannah, Mittens and Scooter be purring along in harmony?

I'll let the theologians debate the meaning of that prayer, the nature of animal souls, and whether animals are indeed present in the great beyond.

As for me, I hope when I step into that light Maggie and Duke will be standing there to help greet me, their tails wagging joyfully.

Pope to meet with artists in November

Pope Benedict has invited a number of leading artists to the Sistine Chapel in November to help encourage and reestablish a dialogue between the Church and the artist.

I am happy to see this. I have long thought that artists - musicians, graphic artists, performers, writers, etc. - have so much to contribute to the faith, and to the spreading of the faith.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pro-lifer murdered

A 63-year-old pro-life activist was gunned down this morning in Michigan.

James Pouillon, who was known as the "Sign Man," was shot several times after 7:30 as he stood across the street from Owosso High School holding his pro-life sign shortly.

A 33 year-old male driving by in a car has been arrested in connection with the killing. He is also implicated in a second homicide.

It is unclear at this point why he allegedly shot Pouillon. It may not be related to Pouillon's pro-life activies. But in recent months, there have been multiple death threats made against pro-lifers, and several assaults. I myself have received threatening comments in response to my pro-life posts.

I hope this was not a hate crime perpetrated against Pouillon because of his pro-life activities.

For more on the shooting go here.

UPDATE: According to Catholic News Agency: Harlan Drake, the 33-year old man arrested in connection with the murder of the Christian pro-life activist James “Jim” Pouillon as well as business owner Mike Fuoss, told detectives that he targeted Pouillon because he was “offended” by his pro-life message.

If this is indeed true, then this was a hate crime, and yet another instance of pro-choice violence. Of course, not all pro-choicers are violent in this way, but it is further proof that the pro-choice side is the far more violent than the pro-life side in this debate.

Bad Haiku Friday: Five years since last visit

my doctor prescribes
fewer sweets, more exercise -
why I avoid him


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another St. Nicholas grabs my attention

Today is the feast of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, 1246-1305. He is the Patron of Holy Souls, and ... a vegetarian.

There are many reasons to honor him - and many miracles attributed to him - but his vegetarian ways jumped out at me, having been one myself for some 36 years.

(Yes, I know Chesterton's views on vegetarians!)

I love the story of a time when he was served a fowl. He made a Sign of the Cross over the cooked bird, and it suddenly rose and flew out the window.

But given that he is credited with having resurrected more than 100 dead children, resurrecting a bird was probably just chicken feed. (Sorry.)

His parents were Compagnonus de Guarutti and Amata de Guidiani. They were unable to have a child, but after they prayed at a shrine of Saint Nicholas of Myra - the St. Nicholas most of us know - they had young Nicholas, naming him after the saint.

At the age of 18, Nicholas became an Augustinian Friar. He became ill and received a vision of Mary who told him to eat a certain type of bread that had been dipped in water. He started distributing these rolls while praying to Mary. These rolls became known as Saint Nicholas Bread.

St. Nicholas was noted as a peacemaker. He preached, worked wonders, healed people, and visited prisoners. He also reportedly received visions, including images of Purgatory. He had a great devotion to the recently dead, and was noted for praying for the souls in Purgatory.

There are more wonderful stories about him. His vegetarianism just adds to his luster for me.

I know St. David (of Wales) is the patron saint of vegetarians. I've also heard or read that St Francis of Assisi, St Clare, St Therese Neumann, St. Martin de Porres, St John Chrysostom, and St Anthony of Padua were vegetarians.

Good company. I'd happily break bread with them - and maybe enjoy a good salad!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fr. McBrien off-base on Eucharistic adoration

Mike over at DOR Catholic had a post about a Father McBrien column on the National Catholic Reporter website.

Putting aside questions about why Mike would be slumming at that site (wink), I was glad he brought my attention to Father McBrien's piece.

In it, Father McBrien rejected Eucharistic adoration:

Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI's personal endorsement of eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.

Now that most Catholics are literate and even well-educated, the Mass is in the language of the people (i.e, the vernacular), and its rituals are relatively easy to understand and follow, there is little or no need for extraneous eucharistic devotions. The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.

Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.

Wow. How dismissive. How arrogant that sounds

I was suddenly reminded of so many "educated" Catholic "intellectuals" who have over the years dismissed devotions, popular piety, or, for that matter, any form of religious expression that did not meet their refined standards.

I must confess that, sadly, I too, have been guilty of this. But more often, I have witnessed it, and even experienced it.

I remember back in the 1970s when I was in the college seminary that Charismatics - I was one - were regarded with distrust, and even ridicule. We were not allowed to hold our prayer meetings in the seminary, so I recall one night when we tromped across campus to the football field to pray.

I have witnessed or heard people speak of the rosary and novenas with disdain. I remember when some folks were trying to get the Traditional Latin Mass reinstated that they were dismissed as backward reactionaries. I have seen others joke about those "simple" people who build shrines in their yards - Bathtub Marys! - or go on pilgrimages to Marian sites (approved and alleged). Even more recently, when I posted some pictures of statuary at the local St. Padre Pio Chapel - built as an act of personal devotion; what a waste of money one priest declared to me as he said he would never set foot there - one commenter dismissed the statues because they did not meet his aesthetic standards.

My argument all along has been if something helps an individual spiritually, if some bit of art or form of devotion is meaningful and a source of comfort and an occasion for prayer, as long as it is not extreme or in violation of Church teachings, it's fine with me. I may not find something to my taste, but I am not about to put others down for what helps them with prayer and spirituality. I have used the same argument to defend different forms of music at Mass, or even celebrating Mass in ways that purists might find discomfiting. Indeed, during one of my meanderings away from Church teachings, a Mass celebrated by a Franciscan on a coffee table in a living room in the Lower East Side of New York was one of the events that help to get me back on the right path.

In this case, moreover, Eucharistic adoration is more than just a pious devotion. Yes, the Mass is the ultimate source of spiritual and sacramental nourishment, but Eucharistic adoration is another way to focus on Christ's love for us and his eternal presence. It has been endorsed and encouraged by saints and popes. I trust them more than I do Father McBrien's opinion on this issue.

ADDED LATER: In his piece, Father McBrien said, "The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually."

This morning, I came across the following from Pope John Paul II: "There are some who think the centrality of of the liturgy, rightly stressed by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, necessarily entails giving lesser importance to the Rosary. Yet as Pope Paul VI made clear, not only does this payer not conflict with the liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and a faithful echo of the liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives." - Apostolic Letter, On the Most Holy Rosary, 2002

While he was writing about the Rosary specifically, I think some of his ideas can readily be applied to other forms of devotion, including Eucharistic adoration.

Calling all Rochester pro-life bloggers

A while back I mentioned the idea that Rochester bloggers join to take part in the 40 Days for Life campaign. So far, I have signed up for 7 a.m. September 26, and 10 a.m. October 3 to pray outside Planned Parenthood on University Avenue.

The October 3 one would allow folks to get over to OLV for the noon Mass, so how about that one? Let me know if you can make it, then go over to the 40 Days site to register through this link, then by going to the vigil schedule to sign up.

If you can't make it October 3, join me September 26. I picked that early slot that day because I'm going to the Chesterton Conference that starts at 9 out at St. John Fisher College.

I'd love to meet some of you face to face. Bring your rosaries!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Congressman Massa Sidesteps

A while back I wrote an e-mail to my Congressman, Eric Massa, about health care reform. I also spoke with a staff member at his office.

In my e-mail and comments, I said that I did support some form of reform that would ensure that all people had health care coverage, I stated emphatically (and repeatedly) that he should not support any plan that did not specifically exclude abortion coverage, and that did not contain a conscience clause for health care workers so they could refuse to take part in things they found morally objectionable like abortion.

This is the response I received (via e-mail) today:

Dear Mr. Strong:

Thank you for contacting me about the need for health care reform across the nation.

The U.S. health care system is in crisis. I know this fact from my personal experience as a cancer patient and from my time as a cancer outreach worker. Much to my dismay, I have learned that hundreds of thousands of families across this country are forced to make incredible sacrifices in order to afford necessary medical attention.

Because of this tragedy, I support the idea of a single-payer health care system in which the doctor-patient relationship remains personal and private, but costs and payments are centrally managed. We can reduce overhead and operational costs. Such a plan would encourage preventive health care, dramatically simplify paperwork and reimbursement processes, and reduce costs.

You may be pleased to know that I am an original co-sponsor of H.R. 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act. H.R. 676 will come to a vote on the House floor in the fall, and I intend to support it and urge my colleagues to join me.

I do not intend to vote for H.R. 3200 as it now stands. This is the so-called "Tri-Committees" bill, spearheaded by Congressman Henry Waxman. This bill, as it is currently written, does not do enough to reduce costs and cut fraud, takes over $300 billion from Medicare, and establishes costly and unnecessary new bureaucracies and commits the nation to a gigantic permanent subsidy to the private health care industries.

Thank you again for contacting my office. Please be assured that I will do all that I can to push for legislation that delivers higher quality and affordable healthcare to all Americans, and I will urge my colleagues to join me.

Eric J.J. Massa

Okay. He did respond, and he is not supporting HR 3200, the bill raising so many hackles because of abortion. He does state clearly where he stands. All good.

But he did not address my concerns directly. He focuses just on what HE believes. His response seems like just a form letter. Like letters I've gotten from other public officials.

Will he keep my concerns in mind? The impression I get is that my concerns are of little concern to him.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Abortion Exposed: Feminists for Life Documentary

Touching. Powerful. Real. So many young women make a tragic choice because they don't have support, or worse, get pressure put on them. Thank God this young lady made the right choice.

(A nod to Catholic Fire.)

Acting like a scribe or Pharisee

Today's Gospel reading was Luke 6:6-11

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.

But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up and stand before us.”

And he rose and stood there.

Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?”

Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.”

He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

A couple of things struck me as I listened.

Like the scribes and Pharisees, I find myself all too often watching closely to see if I can spot a reason "to accuse" others. I often catch myself doing that when reading the newspaper or watching the news, looking for some moral failing I can point out to others or that I can use to tear down the offending individuals.

And I do it too often when it comes to the Church. Today, for example, the Mass was celebrated by a priest noted for straying from the text when he celebrates Mass. I sometimes find myself watching him to see if he does it again - then saying to myself, "There he goes again."

I have spoken to him in the past about some things, and every time he starts doing things that don't strictly follow the rules, I'm tempted to do so again. Like the scribes and Pharisees, I become"enraged" (more annoyed, really) at even the small things he does "wrong" and wonder what I might do. I find it easier to stick to the "law" rather than the spirit of the law.

I also thought of all the folks who make a habit of watching Bishop Clark, and the priests and personnel of this diocese - or Church personnel in other dioceses - looking for things done incorrectly or in violation of the rules, and then, when they see what they are looking for, get enraged and discuss with like-minded souls personally and on blogs what they can do. (Write to the bishop! Write to Rome!)

Yes, some offenses are major and warrant action and reporting. I know I need to be more courageous about confronting such things.

But some offenses are, well, small.

And some are like curing the man with the withered hand, technically a violation of the laws as we understand them, but the right thing to do.

And, of course, I also get caught up in watching those folks to catch them when they go too far in watching others. I'm being a scribe and a Pharisee of the scribes and Pharisees!

I know I need to learn to be less like the scribes and Pharisees, and to be less caught up in the technicalities. I need to learn to focus on what I do and say rather than on what others do or say. I need to be more forgiving of others, and more compassionate.

Otherwise God might just judge me by the same standards with which I judge others.

That's a frightening thought.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Spirit Alive : Read Acts of the Apostles

The Diocese of Rochester's latest installment of Spirit Alive! is call for us to read through the Acts of the Apostles. We are to spend between now and Pentecost studying Acts, beginning this week with Acts 1:1-26.

A bookmark passed out at church today offers the following:

"The Acts of the Apostles describes the challenges and joys of discipleship by telling he story of the early church. It demonstrates the ongoing action of the Holy Spirit who animates the early church and who continues to guide us today as the people of God. The challenges and joys of the early disciples offer disciples today inspiration about how we might live out our own baptismal call in the world.

The diocese has a web page devoted to Spirit Alive, with all sorts of resources.. The video above is one of the ones you can view there.

Time for me to get to work on Acts!

Father D'Aurizio goes home

Father Joseph D'Aurizio, a long-time priest of the Rochester Diocese who retired in 2000, went home to the Lord Friday September 4, 2009.

He was from Rochester' St. Andrew's Parish, and was ordained June 9, 1956 by Bishop James E. Kearney at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He served as assistant pastor at Corpus Christi Parish in Rochester from 1956-61, then joined Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester. He earned a master’s degree in social work from Boston College in 1964 and became assistant director of diocesan Catholic Charities. In 1966 he became executive director of the Catholic Family Center in Elmira, and in 1972 he became diocesan director of Catholic Charities.

In 1977 he became pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Greece, staying there until he retired in 2000. The obituary in today's paper mentions that he was assistant pastor at St. Leo's Parish in Hilton, though I don't know the years for that.

His funeral Mass is this Thursday at St. John the Evangelist.

Thank you Father for your years of service to the Church.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Blessed Mother Teresa - Patronness of Life

"Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants."

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
- Blessed Mother Teresa

But did they have to pick a flavor with fudge?

Ben and Jerry's has renamed their Chubby Hubby ice cream "Hubby Hubby" for one month to celebrate Vermont's recognition of homosexual marriages. Given the company's cultural predispositions, such a move is not surprising.

Still, considering the original started as a joke, there's a certain irony here.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Bad Haiku Friday: The Bills

Buffalo Bills fans
grateful last night's game not shown -
"NEXT year" cries begin

You know team is bad
when winless Detroit beats them -
coach checks resume


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Something to chew on

I went to Mass this morning
sitting off to the side
in the back.

I looked down.

The kneeler was up.

Underneath the kneeler
was ...

... gum.

Not just one wad.
A gathering of gums.

White, peach, pink, red.

Gum on wood.
Gum on gum.
Gum on gum on gum.

I looked at the kneelers around me.
No gum.
Just this one.

Maybe this was the pew
a chewer
regularly occupied
slipping in
suddenly realizing she (or he?)
was still chewing
and not wanting to swallow
before Communion
discarded it here.

Maybe it was a kid
who thought it was cool
to stick it
to the Holy Man.

Maybe one chewer did it first
and with the taboo broken
subsequent chewers
just stuck with the practice.

Maybe they figured
that by sticking it there
they were hiding their transgressions.

Maybe there was no thought involved at all.

It crossed my mind that maybe
they should have used a tissue or paper
and not the bottom of the kneeler
and should have shown more respect
for God's house.

I could have been angry or upset
but today my mind
got stuck
on something else.

Being a chewer
of matters metaphorical
I thought of how many times
we come to Mass
chewing on
and suddenly remembering
we are about to receive
we try to discard
those things
to make us ready.

At the right time
I put the kneeler down
and knelt
on the padded top
knowing that beneath
was a foundation of things
someone hoped that someone else would not notice.

But the Janitor will notice.

another metaphor
to chew on.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Papal Prayer Intentions for September

The Vatican reports that in September Pope Benedict XVI will be praying particularly for the evangelization of the Word of God.

The Apostleship of Prayer announced that the Pope has chosen as his general intention, "That the word of God may be better known, welcomed and lived as the source of freedom and joy."

Pope Benedict has chosen as his apostolic intention for September, "That Christians in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, who often meet with great difficulties, may not be discouraged from announcing the Gospel to their brothers, trusting in the strength of the Holy Spirit."

I know I for one could spend more time with Scripture, exploring its richness and beauty.

And I will also try to remember the suffering Christians of Southeast Asia who face so much persecution.

Come home to the Catholic Church

Secular Franciscan Introduction

The SFOs up in Ontario came up with interesting background video on the Secular Franciscans.