View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Snippets (February 27)

It's time for another edition of Sunday Snippets hosted by RAnn at This That and the Other Thing. (Thank you!)

This week, I'd like to offer some happy news about my quest to become a Secular Franciscan. I also report on a man who threatened me. And in case you haven't seen any of the videos, here's a summary of some of the things Live Action has exposed about Planned Parenthood and its illegal activities (on top of performing all the abortions they perform).

Check them out - and the fine posts of the other participants.

Secular Franciscan Profession: July 9

If all goes according to schedule, I will make my profession as a Secular Franciscan along with several other people on July 9.

Father Anthony (pictured above at our Day of Reflection Saturday) is available that day to come up from New York to oversee the ceremony.

This will not be an end, just another step in a process of formation and growth that began formally in 2008 (but has been with me in one form or another for nearly three decades!). That won't end while I live and am still subject to temptation. I have so far to go yet to be a good Franciscan and a good Christian.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Planned Parenthood's Bunnies

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pro-choice violence - an arrest (and personal ties)

The FBI has arrested a man who ran a blog that called for attacks on pro-lifers - and a man who made threats against me - for reportedly threatening two pro-life advocates.

Theodore Shulman has been charged him with communicating interstate threats against the two pro-lifers. At last report, he was being held without bond at Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.

The FBI is withholding the identities of the two targetted pro-lifers to protect their safety.

Protecting them from other violent pro-choicers? Or if he gets out?

Shulman ran a site called Operation Counterstrike. It was pretty vile - and pushed for attacks on pro-lifers, including murder. He had a history of making threats against various pro-life people.

Back in 2009 he wrote the following to me:

Lee, if you report me to the authorities--police or FBI, please make your report SHORT. Policemen and FBI agents are very busy doing important work, and you should try to waste as little of their time as you can. Soon, there will be COUNTERTERROR against right-to-lifers. PAYBACK for Dr. Tiller's murder. Likely first-targets include Professor Robert P. George of Princeton, Paul Hill's wife (karen) and kids (justin, gloria, and joy) and a moron named Lee Strong.

He also wrote:

Will there be PAYBACK for the murder of Dr. Tiller? Will there be COUNTERTERROR against right-to-lifers? If a right-to-lifer gets counterterrorized TO DEATH, will that be murder, or JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE? WHO would be the most effective TARGETS for anti-right-to-lifist counterterror? WHERE do they LIVE?

There were more comments, but you get the idea. I hope he gets the help he so obviously needs.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Planned Parenthood and the light bulb

How many Planned Parenthood staff members does it take to change a light bulb?

One to assure everyone it's not really a light bulb, it's just a collection of glass and metal molecules.
One to change the light bulb
One to make sure that someone gets billed for it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christ seeks us and thirsts for us to pray

The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him. - Catechism of the Catholic Church #2560

Monday, February 21, 2011

Obama distances himself from Planned Parenthood

"In the past has done good work"? Wow, is he treating Planned Parenthood like a lot of his other former friends who've proven to be potential political liabilities?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Live Action: Planned Parenthood's pattern

It's systemic. We need to defund Planned Parenthood. Now.

Sunday Snippets - February 20

After a week off, it's time for another edition of Sunday Snippets hosted by RAnn at This That and the Other Thing.

This week, I'd like to offer some final words.

Check them out - and the posts of the other fine participants.

A joke

A woman has twins, and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Amal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan". Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his mum. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Amal. Her husband responds, "But they are twins. If you've seen Juan, you've seen Amal."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Last words. Ack.

I’m reading a book about Famous Last Words.

I’m like that.

It’s hard to top the fictional last word of Charles Foster Kane from Citizen Kane: “Rosebud.”

That set off a film – and years of cinematic analysis.

But the book does contain some memorable lines – and got me thinking what my last word or words might be.

I’m hoping it will be something more than, “Aaargh.”

I wouldn’t mind if they were somehow a reflection of my faith – along the lines of “Welcome, Sister Death” (St. Francis of Assisi) or “It is time for Matins” (St. John of the Cross).

Maybe it could be something nice like “It is very beautiful over there” (Thomas Edison) or “I’m so happy, so happy” (Gerard Manley Hopkins).

Perhaps I should try a fitting line like “Strike the tent.” (Robert E. Lee), or one that has poetic echoes like “Please put out the light. (Theodore Roosevelt).

Then again, maybe I could opt for the enigmatic like “Moose … Indian.” (Henry David Thoreau).

Some of the ones I’m toying with:

“This is a joke, right?”

“I never knew.”

“French toast.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Watch out for low flying trees.”


“And then he said ….”

“Peace at last.”

“Tip one for me.”

I’ll work on it. I want it to be good. Something people will quote and remember me for.

But chances are it will be something like, "What truck?" or "I don't need to turn the power off for a job like this," or "Oops."

Enter the Dagon (Lovecraft fans beware!)

A short horror/comedy/parody film I was once in. (I'm the "Old Man").

Friday, February 18, 2011

House votes to defund Planned Parenthood

A victory in the House for the women and the unborn.

The House voted 240-185 to block federal aid for Planned Parenthood.

The vote was victory for pro-lifer's in Congress led by Congressman Mike Pence, who argued that taxpayer money should not go to groups that provide or promote abortion.

In it's latest report, Planned Parenthood - the nation's largest provider of abortion, with more than 300,000 babies killed by abortion in the most recent year for which we have figures - said it received some $363 million in federal money.

The proposal to cut the funding is part of a bill that seeks to cut government spending this year.

The Senate, which has more pro-abortion members, will likely reject the House proposal. I intend to contact my two Senators to urge them to support the cut. (Alas, they are both strongly pro-abortion, including one who identifies herself as a Catholic. But I believe in the power of prayer.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hungry - A song for Rock of Faith

Rock of Faith will be doing a version of this at a Mass in March

Planned Parenthood slammed in Congress

We need more Representatives to speak the truth.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Liturgical Weeds (Part 2) (In which I eat crow)

I briefly spoke with my pastor today. He brought up the earlier piece I had written concerning a troubling item in our parish bulletin discussing "liturgical weeds" - folks who disagree about liturgical practices.

In my earlier piece I assumed he had written it - it was in the bulletin after all - and that these observations were his.

He told me he had not written the piece nor had he selected it for inclusion in the bulletin. He chastised me - quite correctly - for saying that he had written it without checking with him first.

I apologized.

He was right to be upset - and to chastise me.

I should not have assumed he wrote it. I certainly should have checked with him first. As a former journalist, I should have known better. As a parishioner, I should have given him more respect. As Christian, I should not have been so quick to assume and judge.

Again: Sorry Father.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kneeling at the Consecration

General Instruction of the Roman Missal #43

43. The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance chant, or while the priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect; for the Alleluia chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful; from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the prayer over the offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated below.

They should, however, sit while the readings before the Gospel and the responsorial Psalm are proclaimed and for the homily and while the Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory is taking place; and, as circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed.

In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.53

With a view to a uniformity in gestures and postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the directions which the deacon, lay minister, or priest gives according to whatever is indicated in the Missal.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Secular Franciscan Profession

At last night's formation session, the formation director for my Secular Franciscan Order fraternity noted that we had just one more lesson to go - we will do it in March.

Then he said that final profession ceremony will likely be this summer, based on when the Franciscan priest who celebrates the profession Mass and service for our area is available (he has to come up from New York City). There are several candidates from the other local fraternity ready for profession, and then there's me. Indications are my fraternity leaders will approve my profession at this point.

I am ... excited, reflective.

I have been working for this day for several years now with the SFOs, and I have a life-long attachment to Franciscan beliefs and spirituality. I have been searching for so long for a spiritual path, a way to grow, and, to be honest, a check on my more lazy, selfish, sinful side.

But at the same time I feel so unworthy. I don't mean that in the "Hey, look at me acting all humble" way.

I really do feel that my prayer life is not as strong as it should be.

That I too often give in to the temptations that nip at my soul

That I'm prone to be non-Franciscan in the my words and thoughts.

And I fear that when people look at things I do and say they will remark in incredulity, "He's a Franciscan?"

Profession is not an end, of course. It doesn't mean one is a finished product. It's just one more step in the ongoing process of spiritual growth.

That won't end until I stand before God.

Pax et bonum.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

St. Peter Canisius: Respectful theological discourse

"One characteristic of St. Peter Canisius (was) that he was able to harmonise fidelity to dogmatic principles with the respect due to each individual. ... In a historical period of deep confessional contrasts, he avoided severity and the rhetoric of anger, something fairly rare in discussions among Christians at that time, ... and sought only to explain our spiritual roots and to revitalise faith in the Church". - Pope Benedict XVI.

I wish we could all engage in such respectful debate when dealing with Church matters.

President Obama and Planned Parenthood

Given his pattern of dropping friends as soon as they start to prove politically embarrassing, does the recent revelations concerning Planned Parenthood mean President Obama will soon be severing his close ties to the abortion giant?

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bronx Planned Parenthood latest to aid sex trafficking

Live Action does it again: It catches Planned Parenthood willing to cover crimes -in this case, sex tafficking of minors.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunday Snippets (2/6/11)

Time for another edition of Sunday Snippets hosted by RAnn at This That and the Other Thing.

I wrote a lot this past week related to the Live Action expose of Planned Parenthood, but the two pieces I want to highlight are on other topics.

At our parish, I've been voicing some concerns about some liturgical practices. Suddenly there appeared in our parish bulletin a curious piece concerning "liturgical weeds."

I also attended a retirement party, prompting some light-hearted reflections about appropriate retirement gifts.

As always, check out the other people whose blogs are featured in Sunday Snippets.

By the way, if you do check out my blog, and like what you see, consider voting for me in the Best Religion Blog category of the Blogger's Choice Awards! (The listings are by votes, then alphabetical. Because this blog used to be called "From the back pew," you have to look for

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Bloggers Choice Awards - Vote for me!

I'm up for the Best Religion Blog in the 2011 Blogger's Choice Awards. It's not as impressive as it sounds - there are dozens of religious blogs up for it.

Anyway, if you feel so moved, and have a few minutes (you have to register) go to

Register, then click on the Best Religion Blog category. Once there, you have to search to find my blog. The list starts with the Religion blog getting the most votes, then works down. (The last time I checked my blog was on page 9!)

I'm not listed by the name of my blog, by the way. It's by part of the http code, so look for -- (the blog used to called "From the back pew")

I won't win, but it would be nice to get a few votes!

Saturday Morning Prayers at Planned Parenthood

In light of recent revelations about yet more wrongdoing at Planned Parenthood, I decided today to get over to the Planned Parenthood branch just 10 minutes from my home for the weekly Rosary across the street from it.

I've known about the weekly prayers there for a long time, yet for some reason I never went. Instead, I've prayed outside the Planned Parenthood in the city where we hold our 40 Days campaigns.

Determined to give it a shot, I went to morning Mass, stopped home, and then headed for the Planned Parenthood.

Including myself, nine people showed up to pray - a good number on a chilly February morning (28 degrees). We said a Rosary, a Divine Mercy Chaplet, some prayers for the intentions of the pope, and a few other prayers.

As we prayed, a few people went into the clinic, including a young black couple. The young woman looked uncertain. I said extra prayers for them.

The other people praying were obviously regulars. I admire their commitment. I hope to go there more regularly.

Prayer is a powerful weapon against the Culture of Death and the Lord of Lies.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Gosnell doesn't understand that killing children is wrong

To Live and Die in Philadelphia The Weekly Standard

Of course the charges involving infanticide puzzle him. He and other abortionists make a living from killing children.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A SECOND Planned Parenthood caught helping underage sex ring

This a pattern with Planned Parenthood. Rape, sex trafficking, abuse, all condoned and covered up.

Live Action - Wisconsin/Rochester Planned Parenthood ties

The above video was shot in June, 2008, at a Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin. At the time, James Stewart was the head of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. In September of that year, he left Wisconsin to become CEO of Planned Parenthood of Syracuse/Rochester. He still holds that post.

If this could happen under his reign in Wisconsin, what's happening here?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

No Matter How Small (A Respect Life Poem)

This poem was written by Laura (with some inspiration from Dr. Seuss). She has a wonderful blog, Catholic Teacher Musings.

Plain or pretty
Skinny or Fat
A person's a person
I like it like that.
And if you speak funny
Like some of us do..
Guess what? You're a person!
Oh my yes. It's true.
Are you somewhat nutty?
A bit off your rocker?
You still count my dear friend
(I know it's a shocker!)
If you have some limbs
That don't work so well,
You're 100 percent people..
This fact I do tell.
Do you like to eat liver?
(Though I think it's gross).
That still makes you human
And to you I toast!
Your brain may be slow
or yet, fast it may be
But the fact still is this-
You suit God to a T.
Perhaps you are old
And your skin doesn't fit.
But that doesn't matter
Not one little bit...
Or maybe you're tiny
And can hardly be seen
You are no less a person
To say so is mean.
Because you ARE a person
The most awesome of all...
And a person's a person
No matter how small.

by Laura Graham Fetters (with some Dr. Seuss inspiration.)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Planned Parenthood Aids Underage Sex Ring