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, January 31, 2009

NY's "Catholic" Senator votes for abortion funding

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Hillary Clinton's newly sworn-in replacement in the Senate, continued her NARAL-pleasing ways January 28.

She was one of 18 Catholic Senators to vote against an amendment that would reinstated the Mexico City Policy and ensured that no U.S. tax dollars fund abortions in other countries.

The former Congresswoman had previously earned a score of 100 from the extremist abortion group NARAL - meaning she voted their way every time, even when the measures clearly went against the teachings of the Church.

Looks like she will keep that score intact.



When I was a kid
a group of we kids
that if you put a blanket on the ground
under a tree
you could jump from the tree
onto the blanket
and not get hurt.

We put a blanket on the ground
under a tree in Raymond's back yard.
We climbed the tree
and jumped
and climbed higher
and jumped
and climbed higher
and jumped.

And Raymond broke his arm.

We watched as Raymond ran screaming to his house.
We picked up the blanket
and went home.

love is like that.


Friday, January 30, 2009

GOP pick a pro-life Catholic African-American

The new Republican National Committee Chairman is former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele. According to a number of sources, Steele, an African American, is a devout Catholic who attended seminary before opting for a secular career, is pro-life when it comes to abortion, and is opposed to embryonic stem-cell research.

All to the good.

He seems more moderate on Iraq than some other GOP types, and thinks that marriage rules should be left to the states when it comes to gay marriage. (Constitutionally, that is the correct position, I think, though the tradition of reciprocity clouds the issue.) He did say before being elected, though, that if it was an official proposal of the GOP, as the chairman he would support a federal ban on gay marriage.

I don't know how he stands on the death penalty, extending health care, immigration policies, etc. He is described in some places as a moderate, in others as a conservative.

Still, it's an interesting choice. It may help broaden the GOP base.

Pro-life ad rejected

This powerful but positive and tasteful ad was rejected by NBC for the Super Bowl.

They said it was because they did not want to run ads involving "political advocacy or issues."

Yet when PETA tried to buy time for a sexually suggestive ad that clearly involved political advocacy, they were just told that if they toned down the sexuality there might be a chance of it running.

Double standard?

I was not overly interested in the game, but I probably would have watched some of it.

Now, I won't bother. And I will let them know why.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stinking thinking

I used to go to A.A. meetings.

Not because I am an alcoholic
though I have my addictions -
this computer

But because I was surrounded by alcoholics -
loved ones

Heck, if not for alcoholism
I might not be here.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

I went to the meetings
because a lost soul
I loved
was convinced I was an alcoholic
and being a lost soul
in love with a lost soul
I wondered
and doubted
so I went.

I went to the non-smoking meetings
(not an addiction I had)
where they served coffee (aha).
People said the usual:
Name, addiction, story.
I knew some of them
from the news
and from life (avoiding eye contact).
I got to know them better
even as I avoided eye contact
comfortable in confidentiality
and familiarity
and routine.

The coffee helped.

This went on for a while.
So did group counseling.
Then I realized
and my counselors realized
and the group realized
this was not my issue
this was someone else's issue
and the fiction of me being an alcoholic
was one way to avoid
facing that issue
just as my accepting the idea that I might be an alcoholic
was a way to avoid my issues
including the one issue
I most wanted to avoid.

Revelation time.

The loved one quit the counseling
and me.

I finished the counseling.
There was a celebration.
Hugs all around.
And coffee.

It's been years.
My life now is filled with poetry
and not fiction.

I still drink coffee
still eat chocolate
still collect books
still think too much
still sit at this computer
still say and write sarcastic things

I am mostly comfortable.

late at night
when it's easy
to think that what's not real is real
I wonder
if I had been an alcoholic
if things would have ended differently.

Stinking thinking.


New York's FOCA

While there is a lot of national attention being focused on the Freedom of Choice Act - the extreme pro-abortion measure that President Obama vowed to sign but which does not appear likely to be passed this year - New York has it's own radical pro-abortion bill to contend with.

In April 2007, New York's now disgraced Governor Eliot Spitzer submitted the “Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act.”

This bill would establish a “fundamental right to privacy” in New York statute to guarantee that abortion is protected and available. Spitzer said it would “ensure that New York’s women have the same or stronger reproductive rights as those currently afforded under Roe (v Wade).”

In other words, it would essentially codify Roe in New York.

What would this law mean? The New York State Catholic Conference points out that the law would:

Seek to ensure that abortions are legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy if they are deemed necessary to protect the life or “health” of the mother. Courts have interpreted the term "health" so broadly as to include social, economic and emotional distress factors, rendering the term meaningless. Current state law says abortions are legal in New York through 24 weeks of pregnancy, but outlawed after that unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life. Because of Roe v. Wade, this law cannot be enforced, so abortion is already legal in New York through the third trimester of pregnancy for reasons of life or “health.”

This bill would allow post-viability abortions to be performed on an out-patient basis in clinics that go virtually unregulated by public health authorities, endangering both women and unborn children. And it would not allow for the type of support facilities necessary to assist a baby who might be born alive in the course of an abortion.

This bill could be used to eliminate conscience protection in current law by requiring every institution licensed or funded by the state – including religious hospitals, agencies and schools – to support abortion, provide coverage for abortion, or to allow abortions to be performed.

The bill seeks to make abortion virtually immune from any state regulation or restriction. That includes such reasonable regulations as parental notification, informed consent, and restrictions on taxpayer funding.

The bill would repeal the requirement in current law that says only doctors can perform abortions. Under the bill, a dentist, a nurse, a podiatrist, a social worker, a physician assistant, a chiropractor, a midwife, even an optometrist could perform abortions.

The bill would undermine efforts to pass an “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” by refusing to recognize the unborn child as a second victim of the crime in cases of assault against pregnant women. The child would be regarded as just an appendage of his mother’s body.

The legislature is now under Democratic control, and Governor Paterson is strongly pro-choice, so this bill could surface again this year.

New Yorkers need to contact the Governor and their legislators to say this bill must not become law.

The abortion fight continues on so many levels!

Bishop Hermann does not mince words

In a column in the St. Louis Review, Bishop Robert Hermann, Archdiocesan Administrator of St. Louis, has a blunt message for Catholics officials who support abortion (for example Biden, Pelosi, Kennedy, Gillibrand, etc.) and Catholics who voted for Obama.

In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of-death candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land.

Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!

Whew. Bailing on their faith! No mealy-mouth pronouncement there.

He said we should congratulate Obama for his win, but not for "but we cannot condone his pro-death policies ...."

He cites Obama's idiotic "above my pay grade" comment, and the lovely one in which he said he would not want one of this daughters "punished with a baby."

But then he goes on to note: If at this stage our anger is directed at President Obama, our anger is misdirected. Obama is not the enemy. He needs and deserves our prayers, not our condemnation.

As Catholics, we are not guiltless. It seems to me that when President Kennedy compromised Catholic teachings and accommodated political pressures in order to be elected to the highest office in the land, he set the tone for many Catholic leaders to follow and to compromise their Catholic principles to get ahead.

How many of even local Catholic politicians have compromised their beliefs with hopes of higher office? Our new Catholic Senator in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, is pro-choice - and considered by New York Democratic Party standards a moderate or even a conservative!

After almost 50 years of having 50 percent of Catholics abandoning their Catholic identity, we cannot expect to turn this culture around by short-term political efforts. In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of life, we have to restore our Catholic identity.

This means that all of us, as Catholics, have to undergo a profound transformation. It means that we have to take a good look at every facet of our Catholic life, including the serious study of life issues, the regular and devout use of our Sacramental system, especially the devout and weekly attendance at Mass, the regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the devout praying of the daily Rosary, and then the faithful, loving and firm witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices.

Amen to that.

We have to live our lives in such a way that we will be unafraid to witness to what we believe and live.

I may courageously say that I am willing to die to end abortion, but am I equally willing to say that I am ready to let my ego get ruffled daily for the same cause? Yet … that is where I need to arrive if I am to be a credible witness.

That means, of course, that we also have to be willing to take criticisms from fellow Catholics for talking to much about life issues, for being sometimes blunt in our pronouncements.

What a glorious opportunity we all have to make a difference in the pro-life cause. Until we are willing to be politically incorrect in order to be biblically correct, we will never convince anyone that our religion is worth living.

It does not take 100 percent of our Catholics to transform this country. If 75 percent of our Catholics were steeped in Catholic identity, the abortion issue would be over for our entire country.

I absolutely agree. Even just at election time, politicians would have to think twice about switching sides or watering down their positions for political gain. Of course, that would also mean that some would vote pro-life not because they believed in it, but because they want to win. But if it saves lives, I'll take it.

... I do not want us to fall into Satan's trap of getting us to hate President Obama or any of the pro-choice Catholic legislators in Congress. Being pro-life means that we engage far more in spiritual warfare than in political warfare.

I know I fall short here. It's so easy to get caught up in it. That's why prayer is so important.

President Obama, pro-choice legislators and Planned Parenthood are not our enemies. Our enemies are the invisible forces masked behind these people. Most of them do not have a clue that they are being deceived by our common enemy, the devil. They are used by our common enemy, Satan, and his evil forces, to get us to hate so that we, too, will end up in a culture of death.

... We owe all of them prayers and fasting for their conversion. At one point, Gov. Reagan was California's very pro-abortion governor. Yet he became a very pro-life president. He repented and regretted the evil he supported.

We must bravely witness against supporting pro-choice and pro-abortion candidates in political elections, but pray daily for their conversion.

(It's nice to see someone else have two categories - pro-choice and pro-abortion! And to call for their conversion. I've been chided for saying that. )

In his piece, he calls for the restoration of Catholic Culture - something I have been saying, too. It should go beyond politics and abortion to what we read, what we watch, what we listen to, the daily decisions we make, how we treat others and the environment, and so much more.

Powerful column by Bishop Hermann. You can see the full text here.

Gee, wouldn't it be great to have a few bishops like him in New York?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oh Yes We Can!

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to pull a $200 provision for contraception programs from his $825 billion stimulus package after pro-lifers, Catholics and Republican congressmen voiced criticisms of it.

CNN reports that Obama himself called House Democratic leaders to ask them to remove the provision.

Apparently, despite comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that preventing children from being born to poor people will help to save money - didn't Margaret Sanger, the mother of Planned Parenthood, say something about preventing the poor and other undesirables from breeding? - Obama said the provision did not focus on creating jobs as quickly as possible.

In addition, it has drawn fire from Catholics, and pro-lifers, and the GOP.

If it had been approved, the provision would have provided contraception to low-income families. It also would have removed a requirement that states seek permission from the federal government to provide family planning services for Medicaid recipients.

If this doesn't fall through, this is a small, but still tangible victory for pro-lifers. We spoke out loudly, and he backed down.

For now.

Still, we can say, Oh Yes We Can.

This news comes on top of reports that supporters of the horrible Freedom of Choice Act, which would have undermined all national and state limits on abortion (including the ban on partial birth abortion, and state provisions for such things as parental notification and waiting periods), have decided that it is drawing too much flack to promote this year.

Though its chances were small in the first place, Obama had made it clear that he would have signed it if it had passed. Now he won't get that chance.

For now.

Such victories are only temporary. These ideas will likely surface again unless we keep watching and keep up the pressure.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Catholics Start Anti-Death Penalty Network

A new Catholic organization to end the death penalty was launched January 25 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Death Penalty is a lay-run group that apparently has support from the U.S. Bishops, but will be run independently from the USCCB.

A CNS story says it "will be designed particularly to reach out to young people and Hispanic Catholics on the issue of capital punishment."

The story notes that the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille - the congregation of Sister Helen Prejean, who has battled for years against the death penalty - provided the seed money.

I am all for such an effort - even though my own brother was murdered. Just as I oppose unjust war and abortion, I am opposed to the death penalty in the U.S.

And that's in line with what the Church teaches and Pope John Paul II has said.

As the CNS story points out, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor." It quotes Pope John Paul II as saying that "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

In the U.S, that is the case.

The U.S bishops have also spoken out against the death penalty for decades, in 2005 issuing "A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death."

In that statement they said ""We renew our common conviction that it is time for our nation to abandon the illusion that we can protect life by taking life. We encourage reflection and call for common action in the Catholic community and among all men and women of good will to end the use of the death penalty in our land. Ending the death penalty would be one important step away from a culture of death toward building a culture of life."

We need to oppose the culture of death in all its manifestations.


Pelosi inserts her foot again

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on ABC's This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government. (I bolded this section)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

Once again, pro-abortion Pelosi, who claims to be Catholic, publicly goes against the teachings of the Church.

Her plan seems to be to prevent children from being born to save money.

She has turned money into a higher priority - can you say a "false god"?


Kilmer's "There was a little maiden"

There was a little maiden
In blue and silver drest,
She sang to God in Heaven
And God within her breast.

It flooded me with pleasure,
It pierced me like a sword,
When this young maiden sang: "My soul
Doth magnify the Lord."

The stars sing all together
And hear the angels sing,
But they said they had never heard
So beautiful a thing.

Saint Mary and Saint Joseph,
And Saint Elizabeth,
Pray for us poets now
And at the hour of death.

- Joyce Kilmer

I was skimming through the revised edition of Kilmer's Anthology of Catholic Poets (with a supplement after he died), and stumbled across this one. There was something in the last stanza that resonated with me - I can't explain why (other than pretensions of being a poet).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vatican officials chide Obama

Well, it didn't take long - for Obama's pro-abortion agenda to surface, and for Vatican officials to respond.

On Friday, on his third day in office, Obama reversed the Mexico City policy that prohibited U.S. money from being used for abortion internationally, and cleared the way for the U.S. to provide funds to the U.N. that could help China continue its abortion policies.

On Saturday, Vatican officials reacted.

The Catholic New Agency reports on an interview in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera with the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Rino Fisichella .

Archbishop Fisichella said that "among the many good things that he could have done, Barack Obama instead has chosen the worst."

"What is important is to know how to listen... without locking oneself into ideological visions with the arrogance of a person who, having the power, thinks they can decide on life and death," he added.

"If this is one of the first acts of President Obama, with all due respect, it seems to me that the path towards disappointment will have been very short," Archbishop Fisichella said.

And in a challenge to those who voted for him - including a number of Catholics - he said, "I do not believe that those who voted for him (Obama) took into consideration ethical themes, which were astutely left aside during the election debate. The majority of the American population does not take the same position as the president and his team."

Meanwhile, another Vatican official, Archbishop Elio Sgreccia, the former President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Italian News agency ANSA that, "This deals a harsh blow not only to us Catholics but to all the people across the world that fight against the slaughter of innocents that is carried out with abortion."

I suspect this is only the beginning.

No wonder Obama did not invite any Catholics who follow Church teachings to take part in his Inauguration celebrations.

Newspaper catches Obama maneuver

The Catholic Key (the blog of the staff of the diocesan paper of Kansas City-St. Joseph) picked up on something interesting.

President Obama, as expected, reversed the Mexico City policy that prohibited U.S. funds from being used for foreign abortions. He did it on late Friday - perhaps to avoid lots of press for it (it's a time-honored political tactic).

But in reversing the policy, Obama apparently snuck something else in that could have additional adverse effects when it comes to abortion.

In announcing the reversal, Obama also said:

In addition, I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the U.N. Population Fund. By resuming funding to UNFPA, the U.S. will be joining 180 other donor nations working collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries.

The U.S. government had stopped funding the UNFPA after investigations showed the agency was "complicit in China's coercive one-child policy - coercion that includes forced abortions."

The State Department investigated, and, the Key staff notes, "then-Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote a letter to Congress saying, `UNFPA's support of, and involvement in, China's population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion.'"

The staff notes that the State Department - prior to Obama taking control - had this on its website the following stop notice:

UNFPA China Program

The Government of the United States is disappointed that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has decided to continue to provide financial and technical assistance to the Chinese birth limitation program under the direction of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission. We have made our views known at the UNFPA Board meeting, which is currently reviewing the proposed new country program for China.

The U.S. opposition to this program is a matter of principle. It is not directed at UNFPA as an institution. Rather, it is based on the strong opposition of the United States to human rights abuses associated with coercive birth limitation regimes. While the United States has acknowledged that China has made some progress in its approach to population issues, Chinese birth limitation policy continues to contain clearly coercive elements in law and practice. The United States remains deeply concerned about these remaining coercive mechanisms, such as the "social maintenance fee" for "out of plan" births and regulations that leave women little choice but to undergo abortions.

The United States understands that UNFPA does not approve of these policies. Nonetheless, UNFPA’s continuing support for the Chinese coercive birth-limitation program unfortunately provides a de facto UN "seal of approval" on these activities. UNFPA should insist that all coercion end in the counties where it operates. Chinese birth limitation laws and policies are inconsistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the commitments undertaken by the Government of China at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

But now, that "matter of principle" is no longer operative. There are reports that China has relaxed its policy somewhat, but that forced abortions still take place.

Thus the Obama administration will help to fund abortions - with our money - and Obama announced it in a way that appears to be trying to slip it by us.

Given the way he has operated in the past, I would not be surprised. Nor would I surprised at any such actions in the future.

Good catch by the folks at the Catholic Key.

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Secular Franciscans and music

We help our Secular Franciscan meeting on Friday. We are beginning a read through/study of Francis and Clare: The Complete Works (of the Paulists' "The Classics of Western Spirituality" series). We cleared the introduction and preface out of the way. The next meeting we will look at The Admonitions.

Interesting discussion of how St. Francis, for all his supposed rebellious behavior and psuedo-hippie attitudes, was really a loyal son of the Church who called for obedience and respect for the Church and its leaders and priests. He was very Trinitarian, and not just focused on Jesus. In addition, he was very Mary-centered. Marty commented that his seeming simplicity actually revealed a profound depth of spiritual understanding and of mysticism.

So much more was said. I'm still mulling it over.

I had brought along information about Spiritual Adoption. Many people took cards. We did not discuss it yet, but perhaps at the next meeting.

Something else to be discussed is music.

Joan plays recorded music, and we sing along. But they would like live music, and I can help with that.

My concern is that the songs they sing are not ones with which I'm familiar - Charismatic Renewal type stuff from the 80s and 90s (long after my involvement with the movement had ceased). I pointed out that I don't know the music they sing. I added that I learn by listening with the sheet music in front of me - and I have neither the music nor the recordings of what they sing. I have searched in local music and Catholic shops, but no luck.

Marty also wondered how well I play and sing - he has never heard me. I said I'm adequate - but that I won't be going on tour soon!

I said I know contemporary liturgical music, and am somewhat familiar with the Steubenville youth rally type music. I asked if maybe we could come up with some sort of a list to get me started.

Marty said we can talk more.

I'd like to play. It would be nice to be able to contribute even in a small way to the meetings. Live music is always better thatn recorded - well, competent live music, anyway!

Rock of Faith - a fan!

Rock of Faith played today. After Mass as we were tearing down, I overheard two people talking, and one said with obvious pleasure, "That music, it just gets you moving."

Hopefully, we were able to move more people, and that some were moved spiritually.

Father did a good job in his homily of focusing on St. Paul, reminding us that Christ is the head, we are the body, and we are called to act and live out Christ's message in the world.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

A joke

I stumbled across this over at Happy Catholic. Given my unease at some elements of my former profession and the way some news people act these days it got a chuckle out of me.

A car was involved in an accident in a street. As expected a large crowd gathered. A newspaper reporter, anxious to get his story, could not get near the car.

Being a clever sort, he started shouting loudly, “Let me through! Let me through! I am the son of the victim.”

The crowd made way for him.

Lying in front of the car was a donkey.

The Vatican on You Tube

For an alleged fuddy duddy, Pope Benedict is proving himself as willing as President Barack Obama to use contemporary means to reach out to people.

The latest venture is a Vatican cannel on You Tube. (Just click on the word Vatican in the box above.)

The channel has this description:

This channel offers news coverage of the main activities of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI and of relevant Vatican events.It is updated daily.Video images are produced by Centro Televisio Vaticano (CTV), texts by Vatican Radio (RV) and CTV.

This video-news presents the Catholic Church's position regarding the principal issues of the world today.

Links give access to the full and official texts of cited documents.

The stated goal is to reach out to young people - but the channel might be of interest and use for any Catholic.

Check it out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New York's new pro-abortion Catholic Senator

Governor David Patterson has appointed Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.
Listing herself as a Catholic, Gillibrand is pro-abortion (100 pecent rating by NARAL), pro-embryonic stem-cell research, pro-government funding for birth control.


And she's described by some as a conserative Democrat? Well, she apparently doesn't favor gay marriage (just civil unions), and is opposed to some forms of gun control , so by New York Democratic Party standards I guess she is conservative.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vigil for Life at the Cathedral

Unable to make it to Washington for the March for Life, I went to Sacred Heart Cathedral tonight for a "Silent Vigil in Reparation for Roe v. Wade."

About 50 people were there (many other area pro-lifers were able to go to Washington, and some were at a protest at the Unitarian Church). My wife was at the Cathedral, as was Bishop Matthew Clark, still showing effects from his surgery last year.

We sat in silence in Eucharistic adoration. Some read prayer books. Some said rosaries. Some simply sat. The only sound was the trickling of water in the baptismal pool.

It was so peaceful that I decided not to take a picture in the church proper; I did not want to break the mood. So the only image of the night was of a table displaying pro-life items.

As I sat there, I prayed for Anthony, the unborn child I have spiritually adopted for the next nine months. I prayed for all the unborn children at risk of losing their lives, and for their mothers and fathers that they will find the strength and support they need.

We concluded with St. Francis' s Prayer for Peace.

On the way home, I listened to an EWTN report about the March. So many young people. So full of enthusiasm and energy. The election has provided a spur to the movement.

I pray tonight for the conversion of Barack Obama, and the healing of our nation.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thought-provoking pro-life ad


Pro-life events in Rochester

In addition to the pro-life prayer vigil at Sacred Heart Cathedral tomorrow night at 7, I've gotten notice of two other events in Rochester for those who can't make it to Washington for the March for Life.

From 1- 3 p.m there will be prayers outside Planned Parenthood's headquarters at 114University Avenue (I'll be at work at that time).

At 7 p.m. the First Unitarian Church at 220 S. Winton Road will be hosting a "Roe v. Wade 36th Anniversary Program" featuring Bill Baird, who is sometimes described as "the Father of Abortion and Birth Control." He'll be speaking, prolifers be protesting outside. They will be gathering at 6:15 to begin their protest.

I wish I could make all three, but given my schedule and the proximity, I'll likely be at the Cathedral praying.

In two years when the March for Life falls on a Saturday I'll finally be able to go as I no longer (after 21 years!) work on Saturdays. I look forward to that.


Two of my musical heroes


While I have been strong in my denunciation of some things Barack Obama supports, has said, and has done, I'm perfectly willing to praise him when I think he is doing right.

He is looking very carefully into the situation of the Guantanamo detainees - as is only right. I think the way things were handled under President Bush was clearly wrong.

I also approve of some of the new rules Obama is putting in place concerning lobbyists coming into government service and governing former government employees becoming lobbyists. In addition, I like his call for greater openness. I hope he follows through.

We need a break from the way President Bush dealt with a number of issues over the past 8 years. (In case you are wondering, I did not vote for Bush either time, and I think he did a poor job except on a few issues. I think the invasion of Iraq was illegal and immoral.)

On a side note, because we had no school today, I was able to go to morning Mass. I approached our pastor and thanked him for the pro-life message he put on the bulletin this past weekend.

Hopefullly, we'll see more such messages in the future.

Inauguration Day - moral blindness

I was listening to National Public Radio on the way home yesterday.

They had various people calling in with Inauguration Day observations and reflections.

One man called in obviously excited and happy. He said Inauguration Day would always be special for him because it was linked with his fiance and him seeing the ultrasound of their unborn child for the first time. He also gleefully announced that they estimated the child was conceived election night back in November. (Ironic, eh?)


Two months pregnant.

Not married yet.

Now maybe their wedding day is right around the corner. Maybe as I write he's heading down to pick up his tux.

And I am happy that he and his fornication friend - um, fiance - chose not to abort (though there is still time and you never know), and that they are still together.

But there seemed a strange moral disconnect to me. He saw nothing wrong with publicly proclaiming his sin on a national radio program. In fact, he seemed pleased and proud.

We all sin. I've got enough sins on my soul to have me nervous, even after confession. But I would never proudly publicly proclaim my sins. I might cite them as a prelude to pointing out my sinfulness and maybe to urge others not to do some of the stupid and wrong things I've done. But I would talk about them with shame.

Sadly, his story seemed to me emblematic of the moral blindness that surrounds this past November's election and the stated goals of this new administration.

I pray for him, his fiance, and their child.

I pray for this administration.

I pray for us.

Lord, open our eyes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And so it begins ...

From the White House website, changed as of today ...

Supporting Stem Cell Research: President Obama and Vice President Biden believe that we owe it to the American public to explore the potential of stem cells to treat the millions of people suffering from debilitating and life-threatening diseases. Obama is a co-sponsor of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, which will allow research of human embryonic stem cells derived from embryos donated (with consent) from in vitro fertilization clinics. These embryos must be deemed in excess and created based solely for the purpose of fertility treatment.

Supports a Woman's Right to Choose: President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Adminstration. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy: President Obama was an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information, and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims. ...

I bolded a few sections. The intent is his, however.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Is Obama anti-Catholic?

A few blogs and commentators have speculated whether Barack Obama might be anti-Catholic.

I'm not among them.

But I do believe orthodox Catholics make him nervous - and he is minimizing contact with them.

At the Denver convention, he broke with tradition and did not involve the local Catholic prelate - Archbishop Chaput - in any of the prayer activities. The same pattern is continuing with the Inauguration. Four Protestants - three liberals and a pop-evangelical - have been invited to offer prayers, but once again orthodox Catholics have been shunned.

Two major events - and nary a Catholic. That's unprecedented and a clear slight of the nation's largest denomination.

Change indeed.

Part of the reason may be his extreme views on abortion - views that are totally out of sync with Catholic teachings. And a number of Catholic prelates (such as Archbishop Chaput) have been increasingly vocal on the issue.

Obama likely does not want anyone to speak about life and rain on his pro-abortion parade.

He does not reject all Catholics. He associates with those who go against Church teachings - like V.P. Biden.

But Catholics who are true to their faith? Stay away.

Guess I won't be getting an invite to the White House any time soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pro-life message and a vigil in Rochester

My pastor has not been very outspoken on the abortion issue - which saddens me - but in today's bulletin he raised the March for Life, the need for those of us who can't go to Washington to pray, and Obama's support for the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act."

"It is our responsibility to pray and act so that this legislation may have as little power as possible or be defeated.

"As Catholics, we can counsel those seeking abortions, persuade our teenagers especially not to have sex until marriage, and write our legislators expressing our disapproval of this proposed law.

"We have God on our side on this!"

I'd love to see more from him on this issue - more preaching, more in the bulletin, maybe his participation in some of the local efforts like the 40 Days for Life - but this is a start. I plan to talk to him to thank him for what he wrote.

At Mass, Father also announced that at 7 p.m. this Thursday there will be a silent prayer vigil and Eucharistic adoration at Sacred Heart Cathedral to mark the anniversary of Roe. The vigil will be a good way for those who can't go to Washington to gather and pray for an end to the abortion holocaust in our nation.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Spiritual Adoption: Pray for an unborn child

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” - (Jeremiah 1:5)

Today there is a pro-life retreat in Rochester. I had hoped to attend, but I'm ill - I couldn't even make it late enough last night to watch the new Battlestar Galactica episode! - and I have school work to do to prepare for next week's exams.

I will be there for the next 40 Days campaign that begins in February.

This week is also the annual March for Life - just two days after the most pro-abortion regime in the history of the U.S. takes over in Washington. Obama's election may actually do a lot to help the pro-life movement to grow if he carries out his agenda (the economy and other issues may slow him down).

I have never been to a March for Life. I've always been working at the time of the March and unable to get time to go, and in my years as a teacher it always seems to fall during January exams.

I do take part in the annual Good Friday prayer march here in Rochester. I plan to do so again this Good Friday.

This year I hope to do more for life. Letters to the editor. Help with publicity for 40 Days. Praying at the clinics. Praying.

There are many people who for a variety of reasons can't be out there marching or praying outside clinics. One alternative way to fight for life for has ties to a former Rochester Bishop - spiritual adoption.

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen encouraged people to spiritually adopt an unborn children. To do this, you simply pray for a particular but unknown child’s life that the child not be aborted and be allowed to continue to live. You can give the child a name, which may help to make it easier to focus on the child as you pray.

As part of the effort, you are encouraged to say each day for nine months this prayer by Archbishop Sheen:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of [baby’s name] the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”

That's it. Simple. But powerful. The 40 Days campaign last fall helped save more than 400 lives through prayer. How many more can be saved through taking part in this prayer campaign?

It can be done individually, but whole groups can be involved. Maybe this is something prayer groups, schools, even parishes can try. Just go to the site linked above for more information.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

God of whose understanding?

Barack Obama has picked openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, to deliver the invocation at the kickoff inaugural event Sunday.

Robinson said in an interview with NPR that he will not invoke the name of Jesus - aren't Episcopalians Christian? - but will instead invoke the "god of many understandings."

God of many understandings????

Given who is delivering the invocation, and given whose inauguration it is, I am not surpised.

Rick Warren will be there. Maybe he will mention Jesus.

I haven't heard of any orthodox Catholics being invited to do anything at the inauguration. Considering the make-up of his administration, maybe Obama is looking for a pro-abortion Catholic to say a few words.

Patrick McGoohan, 1928-2009

The Prisoner.

Secret Agent.

The Scarecrow.

Catholic who until age 15 had considered being a priest.

Number Six - Be seeing you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Planned Parenthood woes: It gets even better!

Eugene Michael reports the following:

Finally, some good news about the economy: It has been reported that the local Planned Parenthood abortuary on University Ave. will now be closed on Saturdays due to economic constraints. Our prayers are working.

A local group of pro-lifers will continue to gather in front of Planned Parenthood every Saturday morning for prayer. They will only stop gathering when the abortuary is closed all seven days of the week. In the meantime, continue with your prayers.

I hope he is right - I need to find out more to confirm it.

But if true, then those Saturdays out there praying are even more worth it. I wonder what will happen after the next 40 Days for Life campaign begins in February?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Planned Parenthood takes a financial hit

That billion-dollar abortion business, Planned Parenthood, is apparently feeling the effects of some financial crises.

It couldn't happen to a more deserving group.

According to Steve Ertelt over at, the Madoff fundraising scandal, along with the recession, has led the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to lay off 20 percent of its staff.

I wonder if that will result in saved babies? (I can only pray.) says PP, which does 25 percent of all abortions in the United States annually, laid off about 30 people this week.

The Madoff scandal is apparently part of the problem, reducing Planned Parenthood's income.

The article notes that The Florida-based Picower Foundation shut down in December because Bernard Madoff had mismanaged its assets. The foundation was worth $1 billion and was a major financial backers of pro-abortion groups.

Since 1999, the foundation reportedly doled out the following amounts to various abortion groups: $3.2 million to NARAL; $2.5 million for the Center for Reproductive Rights; $2.4 million for Planned Parenthood; $625,000 for the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy.

While this is nice - maybe those laid off people will see the light and this will lead to their salvation! - I fear the pro-abortion Obama administration will soon be directing lots of loot Planned Parenthood's way.

At taxpayer's expense - financially, and morally.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Off to make a joyful noise

Rock of Faith has rehearsal tonight.

Uptempo music. Sometimes loud. Amplified acoustic guitars. Electric guitar. Electric bass. Drums. Electric keyboards. Flute.

The kind of instrumentation and music that might lead some to grimace.

Yet we get many people of all ages coming up to us after Mass to thank us, and to say they are glad we are an option once or twice a month.

Should we play each week? No, not for regular Masses. But if we had a specific teen Mass, that would be fine. For now, special school Masses.

The rest of the time, I'm content to praise God as part of the regular choir. Four-part harmonies and piano/organ. (And two acoustic guitars and a bass for rhythm.)

Thank God for the beauty of music.

Oh, that Catechism

2475 Christ's disciples have "put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."273 By "putting away falsehood," they are to "put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander."274

2476 False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness.275

When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused.276 They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions.

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.277 He becomes guilty: - of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; - of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;278 - of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. and if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.279

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On uncharitable comments about Bishop Clark

26. That the Servants of God should honor Clerics.

Blessed is the servant of God who exhibits confidence in clerics who live uprightly according to the form of the holy Roman Church. And woe to those who despise them: for even though they [the clerics] may be sinners, nevertheless no one ought to judge them, because the Lord Himself reserves to Himself alone the right of judging them. For as the administration with which they are charged, to wit, of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they receive and which they alone administer to others—is greater than all others, even so the sin of those who offend against them is greater than any against all the other men in this world.

- St. Francis of Assisi; Admonitions

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Secular Franciscans celebrate

Last night was the first meeting of the Glory Of Yahweh Secular Franciscan group in 2009. It included a short prayer session, then an Epiphany celebration with food, eggnog, and straw.

Tom, one of the members, had collected straw from a Nativity scene at a local church and cited a story about St. Francis and the first Nativity scene in which the infant Jesus reportedly appeared in the straw. The story continues that people who took the straw home received blessings and miracles. Apparently there's now a tradition that if you bring home blessed straw from a manger scene and place it in an envelope in certain places - such as next to a statue of the Infant of Prague - you will not know want in the coming year.


I'm not one for practices that border on superstitious, but we just happened to have gotten a statue of the Infant for Christmas (thanks in-laws), and we did have a run of bad luck in the last few weeks, so ...

One of the other gifts I received was a replica of the Cross at San Damiano that spoke to St. Francis. The cross is iconographic in nature, and I do like icons. In fact, it now hangs in our bedroom between two icons.

Alleged Ponzi scheme targets Catholics

There's an old saying - If it's too good to be true, then it probably is.

Some Catholic investors, many in Western New York, have allegedly been caught up in a Ponzi scheme that was too good to be true.

82-year-old Richard S. Piccoli of Williamsville is accused of processing millions - more than $17 million in the last five years alone - through a false mortgage company. It was an alleged Ponzi scheme - a scheme in which he would use money from new investors to make payments to earlier investors (and thus keep them happy , quiet, and clueless). But he reportedly never invested any of it, and allegedly transferred $600,000 to his personal accounts or to his children.

Piccolo ran ads for his business, Gen-See Capital Corp, in Catholic newspapers - including the Catholic Courier (Rochester) and the Western New York Catholic (Buffalo) for more than a decade. His clients included some 50 priests, religious orders, churches, and cemetery associations - though there haven't been any reports of ones here in Rochester yet, and spokesmen for the Rochester and Buffalo dioceses say the dioceses did not invest in the scheme. Piccolo also reportedly used his ties to the Knights of Columbus to get clients.

Rochester's daily, the Democrat and Chronicle, interviewed one woman (her name is not revealed) who saw his ad in the Courier (which is incorporated separately from the diocese, by the way) five years ago and invested $25,000. On paper, her investment is now worth more than $44,000, but who knows how much of even her original investment she will recover.

If true, it's terrible that he preyed on people that way, especially by using his religion to help him do so. But over the centuries many men and women have been guilty of using the cover of faith to steal from others.

He began advertising in the Courier when I was the associate editor there. But editorial (my department) did not interact with advertising - other than the number of ads sold dictating the size of the issue - so I had no contact with him nor was part of the decision to take the ads. That decision was under the control of the advertising manager and the editor-in-chief. Still, it bugs me that such an ad would have run while I was there. Maybe he was legit back then.

The tide turns (?)

Okay, so after God played all those jokes, maybe He's letting up for a day or two.

Yesterday, my wife went to the doctor about the back pains she's been having full of fears of fractures in her spine or ribs. Apparently it's a muscle problem that can be treated with relaxants and some exercises. Phew.

I met with the head of the trustees yesterday, and he officially offered me the position of principal (I had been the unofficial principal for the first four years of the school). I accepted. We then talked about some ideas and duties I would be taking over. He also mentioned a raise.

Let's see, bills for the hot water heater, furnace, car door, tires ... yeah, a raise would be nice.

Of course, maybe God has other jokes in store for me.

I'm reminded of the story of St. Teresa of Avila complaining to God about some problems with other people (gossip, hostility). Jesus said the her, "Teresa, that's how I treat my friends." Teresa responded, "No wonder you have so few friends."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Keep on laughing

I've always maintained that God has a sense of humor.

Lately I feel as if He's been testing to see if I have one.

Maggie's situation comes on top of a series of "jokes" since Christmas

First, during a fierce wind storm the wind caught my car door as I was opening it and threw it open, damaging it so that it would not properly close. A repair bill. Then, just as we were getting ready for company, the oven element caught on fire, and we had to replace the stove. That was followed by Daughter 3's second semester tuition bill, which I had expected but which was larger than I'd anticipated. Right on cue, the IRS tracked down my dead grandmother and are seeking possible taxes from her from the year she died (2006), and since I handled her finances in her last year and have all her records, they want me to supply them with all the information that I will have to search for in boxes of old papers. A few days later, the hot water heater's piping sprung a leak, necessitating a late night visit by a repairman (on overtime, of course). Yesterday, I came home wondering what state I'd find Maggie in, and the furnace was off. Another repairman - who found a lovely broken part that had to be replaced - and another bill.

Tomorrow, my wife, who's been having severe back pain, is going to see the doctor. I can't wait to hear what the doctor will find.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Okay. Not all is bad. At the school where I teach I had been an unofficial principal for four years. This year, they decided to split the jobs and hired a principal. He lasted until just before Christmas. Monday, I was asked if I would become the official principal. And they mentioned a raise.

Let's see. If all works out - I still have to meet with the trustees - and depending on the size of that raise, I might just be able to cover all those bills.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Good ones, Lord.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The end is almost here for my beloved Maggie.

It's been coming for a while. To be honest, I was afraid that she wouldn't survive last summer. She was having a harder and harder time walking. Her hind legs and hips were going - a problem with older German Shepherds (she's a Shepherd/Labrador mix). She's 14 +.

Yet she made it through summer, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas, and into the New Year. But getting worse. And starting to have incontinence problems.

Today, she could barely walk. I took her out for a short morning walk. She kept falling. She stumbled through the house. When I came home, I had to carry her out to the yard, then back in. She ate, stumbled into the living room, fell down, got up, moved a little further, fell again.

She's resting now.

Maggie was a City Pound rescue. She was about one year old when I spotted her in a pen there in the spring of 1995. Beautiful, and so gentle. She had me when she licked my hand through the bars. My wife was grumbling about getting a dog, but when I took her to meet Maggie, she melted.

Maggie's always been a good dog, dealing with cats and children with patience, but barking mightily whenever any stranger approached the house. And the Lab in her loved water. We even got her a kiddie pool for the yard . She used to jump in, lap up some water, run around the yard, then jump in again.

Two summers ago she would gingerly get in the pool. Last summer, we didn't put it out. She was no longer capable of getting in.

Maggie used to wait each day for me to come home. She'd hear my car down the street and head to the door, all excited. Now, we can walk in the house and she won't hear or notice us until we walk right up to her, and sometimes not until we pet her.

I've been praying that she would simply fall asleep one day and not wake up.

I fear that will not be the case.

Her limp is so bad. Maybe it was the icy conditions we've had lately. Maybe something broke or is dislocated. Maybe something's just strained. I don't know. She doesn't seem to be in pain. She eats. She just has a hard time walking.

We used to take long walks in the morning and at night all around the neighborhood. We'd go out in the yard and chase each other. In the winter, I used to toss snowballs in the air and she jump up and catch them. And sometimes I took her for rides in the car, her head out the window as we'd head to a park or a wooded area for her to wander around in and sniff. Our trips often ended with ice cream cones - one for each of us.

I'm giving her one more night. Maybe by tomorrow the the leg will be a bit better. Maybe she has a few days or weeks or months more in her.

Or maybe tomorrow she will need to be carried out to the yard and back in again.

If so, after school tomorrow I'll call the vet.

This night is more for me than for her, I know. I hope she simply falls asleep.
Maybe she'd like some ice cream now.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

VP Cheney: Gee, maybe we were wrong

Vice President Dick Cheney was on Face the Nation today and he admitted that the pre-Iraq War intelligence was wrong (even though he still defended the Bush administration's actions).

"The original intelligence was wrong, no question about it," Cheney said on the show. "But there were parts of it that were right. It wasn't 100 percent wrong. It was correct in saying he had the technology. It was correct in saying he still had the people who knew how to build weapons of mass destruction. I think it was also correct in the assessment that once sanctions came off, he would go back to doing what he had been doing before.

"Where it was wrong was said he had stockpiles, and he clearly didn't," Cheney said. "So the intelligence was flawed."

Many people - myself included - knew that the intelligence was flawed even before that illegal war began. I took part in protests, wrote about it, talked about it, argued with people - to no avail.

And I watched many of the people who were telling the truth called unpatriotic, radicals, and more.

So how did we know and the so-called experts did not? The information was out there. It was in print. People were citing it. Did Cheney, Bush and their cronies just cherry pick information to fit pre-conceived plans to invade Iraq?

Sad. Criminal.

Even more, I blame them for helping Obama get elected. Imagine what harm he is going to cause.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Obama and Warren

I have not read Rev. Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life, nor am I overly familiar with him - other than hearing lots of praise for him, and that Mike Huckabee really likes him (a plus in my view).

I have heard some of his comments about expanding the issues with which evangelicals are willing to deal, and he is pro-life. Good.

I do have qualms about him giving the invocation at Obama's inauguration given Obama's radical pro-abortion views. But then, perhaps this will provide an opening to get him to moderate. After all, Jesus hung out with unsavory sorts.

Actually, the hoopla over this has me smiling. The Obama supporters are finding out what many of us have known for a while. Obama's views tend to be shallow, he is comfortable using others and associating with people who serve his political needs (until they become embarrassing), and he is good at fooling people.

I'm sure we'll see more of that in the next four years. And maybe this will help the media to overcome its crush quicker and begin to really dig into his past and his views.

Clerihews - and sacramentalism in poetry

I submitted a few clerihews to Gilbert this morning. Compiling my poems led me to think about submitting again - I have neglected to do so in a while.

I will also be sending out some haiku. I still have to edit some of the poems in the new poetry blog. If I am going to claim to be a poet, I need to work at my craft.

Last night, while watching a college basketball game - I am a big fan of Syracuse University, now 14-1 - I was glancing though a collection of recent Catholic poetry - Place of Passage: Contemporary Catholic Poetry.

Edited by David Craig and Janet McCann, this 2000 collection includes some familiar names (at least to me) - Fr. Murray Bodo, Ernesto Cardenal, Annie Dillard, Robert Lax, Denise Levertov, Fr. Thomas Merton, and some Polish poet named Karol Wojtyla. I discovered some new writers as well.

In her introduction, McCann notes that "For Catholics poetry is a major element of daily life, whether we think of it that way or not."

No argument from me there.

She then goes on to touch on something I've been thinking about in terms of Catholic Culture.

"Sacramentalism is the basis for the Catholic understanding of the visible and invisible worlds. For every one of us for the 'casual Catholic' to the most orthodox believer, sacramentalism gives access to the sacred and defines our associations with it. From birth to death, the living symbolism of the sacraments issues forth in words, and gives a sense of the numinous to daily experience."

She cites music as a "further vehicle of our expression. Rhythms of all kinds direct our hearts and words of our belief." I was reminded of the rosary, so important a part of the daily prayer lives of so many; the morning prayers I try to say each day; the hymns we sing and love to play.

"It tends to be this emphasis on the sacraments that distinguished Catholic poetry form other kinds of Christian poetry," she continues. "The symbols themselves are alive, points of contact between the daily and the divine. They allow active participation in the spiritual life."

On reading that again this morning I am reminded of St. Therese and the movie we watched yesterday. Her "Little Way" involved doing the simple tasks in life with an awareness that even the most mundane task can be prayer. We can serve God in every action, and every action, when we are mindful, becomes prayer. I have been working on a poem about shoveling snow as prayer - and it dawned on me that the underlying sacramental idea behind the poem is precisely what St. Therese - and McCann - were talking about. And I am reminded of the notions of the Practice of the Presence of God - praying continually as we do routine tasks, turning those tasks into prayers.

As a writer, as a poet, I have to be conscious of the sacramental nature of what I do. Such a sacramental awareness makes it difficult to be coarse or cruel or crude. Is what I write worthy of the title "prayer"? If not, then should I write it?

That does not mean that everything has to be pious and holy, and, by extension, sappy and sober. Be funny. Be honest. Be real. Be challenging. Be joyful (like those monks in Into Great Silence going sledding).

But be aware. Be conscious. Be prayerful.

Is what I write truly a point of contact with the divine?

Friday, January 02, 2009

St. Padre Pio Chapel; "Into Great Silence"

The good-looking-one and I went out the the St. Padre Pio Chapel today.

There were three women with children there, as well as one of the volunteers.

Turns out the women were sisters, and I had taught two of them years ago at Mercy High School. They remembered me. (Fortunately, they were polite!) One of them was leading her children in the rosary. (I got a chance to say a rosary myself.) They were also showing their children about the chapel, looking at the many statues, and at the tables at the back with items for sale. The kids were drawn to the cards, rosaries and statues on the tables, as well as the statues and flowers all around the chapel. Too few churches have such an abundance of statuary these days.

I got into a chat with the volunteer at the table. I suggested the idea of making the chapel known to local Catholic homeschoolers as it would be a good place to bring children to learn about the faith, and homeschoolers are often looking for group activities and field trips.

I also suggested some gentle discussions with the Diocese of Rochester to try to get regular Masses at the chapel - even just once a month. Even though this sort of chapel is not everyone's form of spirituality, it fills a need. I love going there to pray - even when there are lively children wandering about!

And then tonight at home we watched Therese - one of my Christmas gifts to my wife. St. Therese is not one of my favorites - give me gruff old Padre Pio! - but I recognize her appeal. I pray that some day I may have such love for God. I also envied the family and its devotion, and recognize my own failure in providing a good model for my own family.

I'd also given my wife Into Great Silence, which we watched a couple of days ago. Incredible. The images of monastery life without narration and plot, just vignettes of the monks going about their daily lives of prayer and work, are awe inspiring. And I love when the monks go sledding.

I highly recommend the movie.

I also recommend the chapel for anyone in Rochester or who ventures this way.


I have been busily compiling my poems from various files and blogs, trying to gather them all in one place.

I've found 318 so far. I suspect there are a few more out there.

Some got garbled or lost fonts and colors along the way, so I have to go back to edit some of them.

But the bulk of the gathering is over.


From now on, even as I post in various places, I will put a copy of each poem in the poetry blog.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's haiku

New Year's Eve -
scattering resolutions
like confetti

Labels: ,

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

It is a day to honor Mary, the mother of the Prince of Peace. In light of that, the Church has also declared this the World Day of Prayer for Peace.

As a Secular Franciscan, on this day I naturally think of the "Peace Prayer of St. Francis" (even if he did not write it!):

Lord make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred,Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, Joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
As to console;
To be understood,as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.