View from the choir

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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Social Media and Teachers

An acquaintance of mine who is a teacher had a very nice blog - one that I read regularly and enjoyed. It was clever and funny, and she often had good insights.

She has suspended it for the time being.

From what I gather, the reason she did so was that some parents complained about it in some way. I don't know how many did so, or what exactly was the nature of their complaints.

The blog was not controversial. She certainly did not dwell on political matters or social issues. But maybe she revealed too much about her personal life and her teaching experiences. Perhaps some of her students found it and started reading and commenting on it, breaking down the barrier we teachers are supposed to keep these days between ourselves and our students.

I've heard of teachers who did go to far in some ways on blogs or Facebook or other such sites. They made comments that they would not make in class or posted pictures that were not appropriate.

Teachers have been fired because of such things.

As far as I can tell, none of that was true of my acquaintance's blog. But nevertheless it's now silent.

As teachers, we have to be careful. I've been lucky in that I teach at a school where the students don't go on the internet, so some of my posts on social issues or politics have not been a problem. But if I do go to another school some day, I will have to be more careful and perhaps in some cases use less strong language.

To be honest, that's probably a good guide anyway: Don't post anything that might offend someone or get me in trouble. I cause enough problems for myself with my mouth and my sense of humor!

I hope my acquaintance will be able to blog again some day.

I hope I don't have to stop doing so myself some day.

My "Republican" Survey

I just mailed in one of those surveys from the Republican National Committee.

I keep getting such surveys from Republican groups, even though I was only registered with that party briefly to work for the Huckabee campaign back in 2008. Immediately after that election I registered with the Right to Life Party, which means in New York I'm listed as a "Blank" (not a member of an officially recognized party).

I generally find all such surveys - no matter from which party they come - are worded in ways to gain the answers THEY want. And what they really want is for you to donate money.

I don't think the GOP will be happy with my responses to this one - if they actually read them.

I noted that I'm not happy with either party, and that I'm distressed with the Republicans for paying lip service to social issues but neglecting them for economic ones. (My own Republican Congressman is basically pro-choice.)

The extremist laissez-faire libertarian policies the GOP advocates today has failed time after time in the past, and will do so again in the future.

I wrote comments in the margins. I also did not send money.

Maybe someone will notice. I'm not holding my breath.

As for my party enrollment, if Huckabee decides to run I'll register with the Republicans so I can work for him. At this point, he'd be the only thing that could make me join them.

Otherwise, when either party comes looking for my support they'll just get a "blank" stare.

Existential Star Wars (In French) (Mon Dieu!)

Friday, April 29, 2011

A not so hot time

I was supposed to go see a play directed by a friend tonight.

Alas, when I got home, I noticed the house seemed a bit cool. I turned up the thermostat - nothing happened. So I call the furnace repair place.

They gave me a window of when they would arrive. Early, and I'd be able to get to the play.

Late, well ...

He arrived half an hour after the play began.

He just left, with a few hundred of my dollars in his pocket.


That's part of the joy of home ownership.

I'm sorry I didn't get to see the play. But the wait allowed me time to sit peacefully and do some Bible reading and to say the Divine Mercy chaplet. And I'll get to bed early. Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

No food for the soul

I sometimes like "horror" movies and books, and some crime/spy dramas on television. I also enjoy modern drama - I read plays the ways some people read romance novels! I read a lot of poetry. And I have some eclectic tastes when it comes to music.

But increasingly I find myself feeling empty when I read or watch.

The world view is too often so dark, so full of despair and hopelessness that they leave me hungry for something else.

I felt that hunger again today when I was at the library picking up something for school. I saw a copy of one of the graphic novel volumes of The Walking Dead series. I enjoyed the television version, so I've read a few of the novels (boy, are there some differences between the books and the show!).

I put the book back on the shelf unfinished. It left me feeling sad and unsatisfied.

The same thing happened the other night when I was listening to some contemporary music.

If I'm going to read, if I'm going to listen to music, it should be things that make me a better person, that help me to grow and learn about myself and others and my faith.

Where's that Chesterton book I was reading!

Monday, April 25, 2011

An account of prochoice violence (in Rochester)

From Mary at Focus Pregnancy Center

Dear Prayer Warrior,

If you click on 'download' you'll see a bigger picture of what 2 girls did to us pro lifers, on Holy Thursday. They walked down the sidewalk, where Rob was standing & pretended to be going into Planned Parenthood. They walked to the PP door & then they came around the bushes & started to throw eggs at Martha, Adolf & myself, who were standing there.

As they were running to get away they passed by Rob, the one girl threw an egg at him but it bounced off his jacket & hit the sidewalk. He chased them to their van which was parked on University Ave. up the street & there was a child in it to his dismay. He memorized the license plate # & I called the police. The officer then went to her house, to confront her. He asked her if she was on University Ave. this afternoon & had thrown eggs at some people there on the sidewalk? She answered "yes" & was arrested. Because she had a child in the house she was not taken downtown but will receive an appearance ticket to appear in court, in the near future, with a charge of Harassment in the 2nd. degree. It will be determined, at that time, if it will be a judge or jury decision. We will have to go to court, in the near future, too. I am more concerned about the child, who was left alone in the van, then what happened to me. I was able to feel a little what the Lord felt when He suffered humiliation, for my sins, on the way to the Cross.

I also thanked St. Veronica for wiping the precious Face of Jesus from all the blood, spit, sweat & tears, that He endured for me. It was an humbling experience & it couldn't have happened on a better day than Holy Thursday. I am not writing this email for any self pity but for you to pray for this girl & her child & her girlfriend, who was busy throwing eggs too. She would not give the officer her name. They must both be in a lot of pain to have done this to strangers. I got the egg thrown at me with her full force & it hit me on the right side of my head, near my eye.

The good Lord & Mother Mary & St. Michael were watching over us, for Martha & Adolf had just finished the Rosary & I had just said the St. Michael Prayer & earlier Martha had sprinkled, on the sidewalk, some Holy Salt, which is a Sacramental of the Church. Please again pray for these two girls, & the little girl who was left alone in the van, while the mother was committing this crime & for us & our continuous safety, especially during the summer months. Thank you. God has protected Rob & I for the past 15 years that we've been out there on the front lines, near Planned Parenthood, & everyone else who has joined us there too. Needless to say these girls were NOT in Planned Parenthood but were driving by when they saw us out there & set their evil plan in motion to egg us. They must have just been to the grocery store?? I might never eat another egg again :(

Happy & Blessed Easter season to you. Thank you again for your prayers & love for our ministries, both on the sidewalk & at Focus.

God bless you always,
Mary @ Focus

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Alleluia! He is risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Limiting Poetry Posting

I checked out the guidelines for the haiku magazine that came in today.

They, like many of the other magazines I read - and sometimes to which I submit poems - say they do not accept any poems published on personal blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I've had a habit of sharing my poems online, but if I hope to have more of them published, I have to stop. So from now on, unless a poem is intended just to be whimsical, I won't post it until after it's been published.

I know that all three fans of my poems will lament my bowing to the literary demigods, but, well, I like to see my poems in print!

And sometimes, I even get paid for them. Every 50 cents counts these days!

Holy Saturday

I went up to St. John's today wondering if they would have a Communion service.

Alas, no.

But they did have morning prayers led by one of the priests, and Confessions. I had been hoping for a chance to get to Confession, there were a couple of things weighing on my heart and soul, so I was overjoyed.

Thank you Lord.

At the regular Planned Parenthood Saturday prayer vigil, some stalwart souls braved the biting winds to say a Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. One of the people said an ancient St. Joseph Prayer, and he had some prayer cards with the prayer to share. My Confirmation name is Joseph, so I was happy to receive the prayer.

Thank you Lord.

Then, when I went to do some banking, I got inspired to stop by the Christian shop near my bank. I'd been feeling the need to listen to some more meditative Christian music, and I wondered if they would have anything by John Michael Talbot. Yes. One album: The Troubadour Years. Wonderful. I listened on the way home.

Thank you Lord.

Holy Saturday often seems like an in-between day, a day for waiting. But for me, this Holy Saturday has been one of spiritual nourishment. And it's not over yet.

Thank you Lord.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

I got to the Stations of the Cross for Life this morning. It was good to pray and sing with so many committed people.

This afternoon, I took the dog for a walk, and said a Rosary.

Then I went over to the Church after the Good Friday service for private prayers.

I feel the need for alone time on Good Friday, so I tend to avoid the parish's service. I don't want to play music or sing in the choir on this day either. Nothing against the parishioners or the choir members - there are many good and holy people at St. Theodore's - but on Good Friday my prayers with the prolifers in the morning fulfills my community needs for the day.

I started the Divine Mercy Novena, including a chaplet, in an empty church with a bare cross and just two candles providing light.

I felt sadness - at my own sinfulness, and as I thought of what Jesus suffered. But I also felt peace at heart. A strange mixture.

Thank you, Lord.

Pro-Choice Violence in Rochester

At the Stations of the Cross for Life this morning here in Rochester (at which some 200 people took part in a prayer service then prayed the Stations as the processed to a doctor's office where abortions are performed) I chanced to talk to some people who had been praying outside Planned Parenthood's local headquarters yesterday.

They told me that a woman in a car became enraged at them, yelling at them. Then she threw eggs at them - striking at least two people, including one woman in the face.

Planned Parenthood's security reportedly watched the incident, but did not intervene and then discretely drove away before police arrived (and they'd have to admit what they witnessed?).

One pro-lifer followed the alleged attacker and got her license number.

Apparently, the police were not going to do anything - until a lawyer for the pro-lifers made a call to police officials. Police then reportedly went to the alleged assailant's home, and she admitted everything.

The pro-lifers were debating whether to press charges. One factor they are considering in all this is that such incidents keep happening - pro-choice violence - but don't always get action taken or media coverage. Yet the media keeps fanning the flames with claims of pro-life violence (even though incidents of pro-life violence are far less frequent than those of pro-choice violence).

Further, the pro-lifers are justifiably concerned about whether the next incident would involve more than just eggs. There have been a number of physical attacks on pro-lifers across the country in recent months.

There's also concern about the woman. Was her action prompted by her own pain? Does she need support or healing? The pro-lifers hope they might get a chance to reach out to her to help her.

I'll monitor the newspaper to see if this violence gets any coverage.

I'll also monitor to see if our Stations today will get any coverage.


Thursday, April 21, 2011


I'm typing this as I watch/listen to The Passion of the Lord According to St. Francis on EWTN.

I'm typing this on my new laptop.

I'd been thinking of getting a laptop, but this past week it became a necessity.

My regular computer crashed.

An HP. Operation on Windows Vista.

An update came down last week, and it wiped out my hard drive. Totally. Everything. All my files, pictures, programs, and so on.


The technician who responded to my panicked call to HP acknowledged that sometimes Windows updates do cause computers to crash.

As happened to me.

And sometimes, everything in the hard drive gets wiped out.

As happened to me.

HP sent me recovery discs to restore the computer to the condition it was in when I bought it some five years ago. I had to pay for them, of course. Even though it was the update that caused the problem in the first place.

Fortunately, I had saved many of the family photos, and almost all of my poems and plays and short stories, and most of my novel on cds and at online sites.

Some things have been lost, though.

The HP is in a shop being restored. They checked first to see if any of my old files had survived the update.


Maybe by Sunday it will be usable again.

Meanwhile, I am typing this on the laptop I bought with the help of my gifted eldest daughter.

A Dell.

With Windows 7, not Vista.

Advice to all:

Make copies of everything you don't want to lose.

And be careful if you run Windows.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ah, theater days!

Yes, that's me in action as Prospero.

Franciscan Passion set for Holy Week

EWTN is offering a special program for Holy Week - PASSION OF CHRIST ACCORDING TO ST. FRANCIS

Saint Francis offered a meditation on several scriptures to help his companions better understand Christ’s suffering. This program explores this meditation and is augmented by a 14th century fresco cycle of Assisi’s traditional Good Friday Procession.

The program will be broadcast Tuesday at 4:30 AM and Thursday at 9:00 PM (both times are Eastern Time).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bacon Lady's Actions Not Kosher

I stumbled across a video by a woman who has been called "the bacon lady."

The woman is reading some troubling verses from the Qur'an and commenting on them.

I have no trouble with that. It's fair game to cite what's been written in a debate/discussion.

I do have two cautions about that sort of thing, though.

First, I checked some of her citations in a copy of the Qur'an I borrowed from the library. The copy I consulted had different translations of the verses she cited - less troubling ones. Not being an expert on the original language, I don't know what version is the more accurate translation.

Second, verses taken in isolation can be misunderstood. Was the intention symbolic? Was it hyperbole? Was it culturally based? I don't know. Imagine how a non-Christian might interpret Jesus' admonition to pluck out one's eye, for example, not realizing he did not mean it literally.

Still, citing passages as she did is still acceptable.

But then she tore pages out of the Qur'an and burned them. That was provocative and disrespectful - not worthy of a Christian.

Even worse, she used slices of raw bacon as her bookmarks. Given the Muslim views on pork, that was offensive.

Sadly, one site I went to that promoted her video "proudly" and described her as a "Catholic" - indeed, a "Tridentine Catholic."

That's embarrassing.

Debate the issues. Cite the Qur'an to reveal things about that faith - fine. That's in keeping with Catholic/Christian behavior.

But burning the pages and using bacon in that way was simply not in keeping with what the Church teaches.

Such actions make Catholics - Tridentine Catholics - look bad.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pope on some soap

When Alexander Pope
slipped on a bar of soap
the couplet he muttered was neither stoic
nor heroic.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Snippets (April 10)

This week for Sunday Snippets (hosted by the wonderful RAnn at This That and the Other Thing.) I offer up two posts. One is about Jesus weeping. The other is about sacred places.

Thank you to whoever reads my posts - and be sure to check out the other blogs participating. There are plenty of wonderful pieces to read.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Jesus wept

Jesus wept.

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible.

Jesus wept.

The context is that Jesus arrived after His friend Lazarus had died. He was moved by the tears of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, and the others gathered at the tomb. Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus.

But still He cried.

The tears were of love and sympathy. Martha and Mary, and all the friends and relatives of Lazarus were suffering because of their sense of loss.

Perhaps He was also thinking also of Lazarus. We don't know how he died. Did he suffer? Was he afraid? Did he feel abandoned?

Was Jesus feeling all that His friends experienced? The tears are those of a man who loved his friends, who grieved for them, who shared in their pain. Jesus was fully human.

I wonder too if he was also thinking ahead to his own death. He accepted what he was going to do, even though he knew how much he would suffer. I think of what I feel when I approach a difficult or painful task, even though I know it has to be done or will turn out all right. How much more He must have felt.

And I also think of Jesus suffering with us still. He feels our pain. He sympathises with our grief. He shares in our feelings of fear and loss. He understands.

He weeps even now, for He is beyond time, and those tears He shed at Lazarus' tomb are happening now.

Jesus weeps.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Planned Parenthood: Anti-Catholic

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A joke

A pregnant woman is driving down the street and gets into a fender bender, and is out cold for a week. When she awakens, she realizes that she is no longer pregnant.

"What happened to my baby!" she frantically asks the doctor.

"Ma'am, you had twins!" the doctor replies. " A healthy boy and a girl. Your Uncle Jack came in and named them."

"Oh no, the woman says. "Not Uncle Jack! He's an idiot!"

She asks the doctor, "Well, what's the girl's name?"


"Wow," the woman says, "that's not such a bad name--I like it! What's the boy's name?"


Sacred places

I'm reading Father Benedict Groeschel's Praying Constantly: Bringing Your Faith To Life as one of the positive things I'm doing for Lent.

One chapter deals with "Sacred Places for Prayer." He notes that "in certain places is is far easier to feel the presence of God, far easier to pray, than in others." These places can influence our prayer through our senses - hence statues, icons, stained glass windows, good music, beautiful vestments, the feel of rosary beads, the smell of incense and candle wax can all help us to sense God.

He also praises shrines, specifically mentioning the Auriesville Shrine. I've been there a couple of times. it is a moving place.

But my sacred paces tend to be closer to home.

My parish has a perpetual adoration chapel. I've been a frequent visitor to that little chapel, saying a rosary, reading, stopping in for a quick prayer while on my way to work or to home.

In our town there is also a chapel devoted to St. Padre Pio. It is full of statuary, paintings and other artwork, some of which was discarded when local churches "modernized," or that were deemed too old-fashioned or saccharine for some tastes. I find it a wonderful place to say a Rosary.

Just south of Rochester lies the Abbey of the Genesee, home of Monks Bread, and also of a beautiful stone and wood chapel. In the silence there, I feel close to God. Walking the grounds, listening to the birds, also turns my heart, mind and soul heavenward.

Less frequently, but at least once a year, the Good Looking One and I travel out Niagara Falls way to the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewsiton. The basilica is amazing. So are the grounds, with hundreds of statues dedicated to saints. It saddens me to see that the years - and Western New York's weather - have not been kind to the statues, some of which have broken fingers and hands. But still, strolling up and down the rows is an inspiring experience. It is inspiring not only because of the saints and their deeds, but also because of the great devotion so many people had to the saints.

Of course, most often I find my sacred place on a dawn-lighted street as I walk the dog and listen to the birds greet the day. The daily routine helps me to appreciate the changing seasons.

God is in all these places, and they all help my heart to sing.

Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion

Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion.

Good Friday, April 22, 2011, Prayer Service begins at 9:00 AM in the McQuaid Jesuit High School Chapel, 1800 S. Clinton Avenue

Immediately followed by Stations of the Cross outside of a nearby abortion facility. Led by priests, deacons and religious.

This is a peaceful, prayerful and lawful public expression of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Please join us!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Love Can Move Mountains - The Proclaimers

"A cynical mind won't help you through the night

and it can't hold you up when you're too tired to fight.

Where you didn't have the strength to look after yourself

you find all that you need for somebody else."

"Love Can Move Mountains" - The Proclaimers

I've always liked the Scottish band, The Proclaimers (remember "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)?)". I love the fact that the twins still keep their Scottish brogues!

This song is off their latest album, Notes & Rhymes.

The song not only can be interpreted in a very Christian way (though it is clearly a love song with a more down-to-earth focus). The title itself immediately makes one think of the Bible where we are told with faith we can move mountains.

But those opening lines resonate with me for a different reason.

Cynicism is one of the streams that flows through our culture, and I've plunged into it many a time. Out of habit, I immediately give a cynical twist to what I see or hear in the world. It can be fun, and funny, and entertaining.

And yes, sometimes I'm right. But I also too often miss out on what is innocent and pure and good.

I need to put on the mind of St. Francis who consistent saw the good in nature.

It's a struggle: Habits are hard to change.

Ironically, the song offers an out:

That impossible task you're thinking of

Is one you can complete when you're driven by love

And the strength that you find Won't go slipping away

Once it enters your soul It's re-born every day.

Through love - God's love, and love for God - what seems impossible becomes possible.

I need to let the fears that hold me back from truly loving fall away, to plunge passionately, foolishly, completely in love with God.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Abbey of the Genesee

The Good Looking One and I took a drive down to the Abbey of the Genesee this afternoon.

We took the back roads, enjoying the view of freshly plowed fields, circling hawks, and green buds just emerging on some of the trees.

When he walked into the Abbey the first thing that struck me was the sweet, rich smell of fresh bread.

I wandered about the book shop looking at titles - so many temptations, but I was good - and then went into the chapel. It was dark except for some light filtering in form the many windows, and a lone candle burning in the back. I sat on the front pew, and listened. The heaters were cracking. So were the walls occasionally from the slight breeze.

Otherwise, all was silent.

I studied the round altar, the wooden pews where the monks normally sit and kneel, the beams that make up the ceiling.

Wood and stone. Wood and stone.

Even the Holy Water fonts are made of hollowed out stones.

I took out my Rosary, and began. I went slower than I usually do. My mind wandered as it always does, but in the silence of that chapel it seemed easier to pull it back to reflections on the mysteries.

After a while, a lone monk, in work clothes, passed through the cloistered part of the chapel. A couple of people came in, stood at the back in silence, then left.

I finished my Rosary, and then sat listening to the silence. I felt peaceful.

We bought some raisin bread and whole wheat bread - the Abbey is the home of Monk's Bread, after all - and the Good Looking One also picked up some oatmeal cookies and a little fruitcake. I've given up sweets for Lent, so I'll have a little bit of those treats on Sunday.

We then drove up to Caledonia where we visiting the graves of my Grandmother, Mother and Father (they share a common headstone). The little angel statue (with a bird on its finger) that I had put on their headstone slab last Fall had fallen over. I set it upright. The plastic flowers I'd put in the vase in the ground were still there.

I don't visit the grave often, I have to admit. But I do talk to all three of them regularly as I drive or walk the dog. They are not forgotten.

As we drove away from the graveyard, I remarked that I miss the card games Dad and I used to play every Sunday. We didn't have a lot in common, and when I was younger, relations were strained. We had little we could talk about when I visited the nursing home. But those games gave us a way to connect - and for me to gauge his slow decline over the last few years. Too bad my wife and daughters don't share my enjoyment of card games. What will we do when I get old. Maybe talk!

Home now. Dog walked and fed. Dinner soon.

There is much to thank God for in my life.

And maybe there'll be some good card games in heaven! (Perhaps Dad's already dealt me in.)

Happy April Fools Day

The Case Against Abortion: Prenatal Development

Wow. Great video.