View from the choir

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kill a pro-lifer??

I understand that feelings are high, but this is something posted on a pro-life site and sent to me:

From: DoctorDefense

When we find out who the shooter is, I wanna see someone kill his family. The abortion "war" has been one-sided for far too long. It's time for right-to-lifers to learn that WAR means you shoot the enemy BUT IT ALSO MEANS THE ENEMY SHOOTS YOU.

Kill a right-to-lifer--any right-to-lifer--TODAY!.

This is a threat - and another example of some of the violence shown by some in the pro-choice camp.

But they probably won't make the Obama administration's potential terrorist list.

Dr. Tiller Killed

Dr. George Tiller, the controversial abortionist, was shot and killed at church today. Police have apprehended an alleged shooter. No word yet on who that person is or why that person might have shot Tiller.

Whatever the case, murder is uncalled for and unjustified. I oppose abortion, but I condemn this shooting.

Pro-life leaders like Father Pavone are also condemning this crime.

“I am saddened to hear of the killing of George Tiller this morning. At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it, whether an angry post-abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry, or a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution. We should not jump to conclusions or rush to judgment.

“But whatever the motives, we at Priests for Life continue to insist on a culture in which violence is never seen as the solution to any problem. Every life has to be protected, without regard to their age or views or actions.”

I pray it was not a deranged individual who calls himself "pro-life" who shot Tiller. Such a person would not merit the title "pro-life," and if this is the case it will only serve to damage the pro-life cause.

This is murder, plain and simple.

Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday –
cantor turns red when she
sings the wrong note

(An oldie)


Huckabee, American Idol, and the Beatles!


The Sotomayor Nomination: Be Careful

Now that Barack Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, folks on both ends of the spectrum are searching for reasons to criticize her.

I'm hoping that the pro-life community will be careful and not overreact.

I know the temptation is to respond in a knee-jerk way to anything Obama does, but in this case going on the attack immediately would be a mistake.

Frankly, we don't know enough about her positions yet.

So far, there are no decisions, opinions or articles written by her to say definitively where she stands on issues like abortion, the death penalty, torture, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, etc., or that she has engaged in blatant judicial activism. Maybe a paper trail will eventually emerge, but for now, nothing significant has.

As for that Latina/white man comment, or the one about policy being made by courts, come on, haven't we all said dumb things? When I look back over previous posts I've seen plenty of things I've said than make me cringe. I'm not prepared to get worked up unless there's evidence such views have shown up again and again, or in her judicial rulings.

At the moment, I don't see sufficient reasons to go to the mattresses (ah, The Godfather!). Obama could have chosen someone more openly offensive and outspoken (on the wrong side) on life issues.

Moreover, ethnicity does come into play here: Do pro-lifers really want to take a chance on offending the Hispanic community without cause?

Keep digging. Look at her record closely. There may be legitimate reasons for opposing her based on her decisions and writings.

But unless something new surfaces, she will probably win confirmation, and we'd be wasting time and energy in fighting it.

Save those for any offensive candidates who could be nominated down the road.

Diocese of Rochester Ordains 6 Deacons

The Diocese of Rochester ordained six new permanent deacons Saturday: Thomas Behe, James Carra, Robert Colomaio, Dennis Donahue, David Squilla, and Craig Stratton.

God bless them. I wish them well - and many years of service.

I pray more men and women here and across the nation will discern a calling to vocations as priests, deacons, brothers, and religious.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Double Tragedy of Father Cutie

Father Alberto Cutie, the charismatic Miami priest who was caught breaking his vows of celibacy, has joined the Episcopal Church and will apparently begin functioning there as a "priest."

It is tragic that he broke his vows and is leaving the Church.

But it is also tragic that the Episcopal Church is willing to accept him so readily as a priest. He is a man who broke his vows, a public fornicator who has shown no signs of repentance. He was until recently an outspoken defender of the Catholic Church.

Yet the Episcopal Church seems ready to accept him with no period of discernment, no expressions of remorse for his sins, no regrets about breaking a vow, with his girlfriend standing at his side, no less.

Will she just move into the rectory with him? Will she sit in the front pew as he preaches about sin and morality - or are those concepts the Episcopal Church avoids?

Will members of his congregation be able to keep straight faces? Or will they take inspiration from him as they engage in similar activities - "Hey, if it's okay for Father ..."

The sarcastic part of me notes that this was a church founded because of adultery anyway, but that was centuries ago. Henry's sin is not the sin of the many good people who have belonged to this denomination since. This is just another sign that the Episcopal Church has lost direction - and credibility.

Yes, we all sin. Fornication is a common sin these days. But it is a sin, and I think most would agree that it's inappropriate for an unrepentant sinner to present himself as a spiritual leader - and for a church to hold him up as such a leader.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Apb. Sheen: An error of broadmindedness

Broadmindedness, which sacrifices principles to whims, dissolves entities into environment, and reduces truth to opinion, is an unmistakable sign of the decay of the logical faculty. - Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Moods and Truths

A recent discussion of homosexual marriage in the local newspaper and in blogs (including this one) was marred by accusations of hatred.

The charges were invariably leveled by the pro-marriage side. It didn't matter how mild the statement in opposition to homosexual marriage was, it didn't matter if the opponent said nothing against homosexuals themselves, or even expressed love and respect for them. No, if you dared to oppose changing the law to allow homosexual marriage, you were labeled as "hate-filled" or a "hate-filled Catholic" or a "hate-filled bigot." Foes were also called "ignorant," "blind," "unthinking," and "uncaring."

Oh, and sometimes the comments were accompanied by gratuitous criticisms and insults aimed at religion and the Church in general, or references to pedophile priests.

There were a few attempts to engage in an actual discussion, but for the most part the pro-marriage side quickly resorted to insult, stereotyping, and parroting specious arguments.

One common charge is that the foes of homosexual marriage are "closed-minded," the implication being that those who support it are "open-minded" or, in other words, "broadminded."

But all too often the broadmindedness they espouse seems prompted by whims and opinion and to be influenced by a permissive amoral environment and not by actual independent thought and logic.

Perhaps such folks need to keep in mind that the people of faith they describe as "intolerant" are, as Archbishop Sheen observed, indeed "intolerant"- of error. But at the same time these people of faith are tolerant of the erring individuals.

In other words, even as they oppose the error of homosexual acts, and the sanctioning of homosexual marriage, these people of faith can care deeply about the people suffering from homosexual inclinations.

The homosexual marriage proponents need to keep in mind that one can be motivated by love for the person when addressing the error.

But making such a differentiation requires independent thought and a functional logical faculty.

I for one pray that they will discover how to use these gifts when discussing moral issues - just as I pray for those who are afflicted with the desire to engage in intrinsically disordered acts that are contrary to the natural law (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357).

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A Pro-Life Invitation To Two Deacons And A Bishop

Deacons Thomas Driscoll and Anthony Sciolino have drawn criticism for their involvement with noted abortionist Morris Wortman in a Holocaust program.

There's one way they can show they are really pro-life, and that perhaps Wortman's abortion record got lost in their concern about the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis: They can join us June 13 and march for life.

Imagine the message they could send to Wortman, and the healing they can provide to the Catholic community.

Imagine how this would link the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust with the abortion holocaust of today.

So Deacons Driscoll and Sciolino, please join us.

And I would love to see Bishop Clark also take part. He is pro-life, and this would help to make a real statement for life in Rochester. It would also help to silence some of his critics.

So please Bishop Clark, join us.

If all three made it, what an event that would be!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

March for Life in June

The weather is getting warmer.

The Obama abortion agenda marches on.

It's time for another ---

March for Life in Rochester.

This one is set for June 13 at 1 p.m. beginning at Our Lady of Victory Church, 210 Pleasant Street and then proceeding silently through downtown Rochester to Planned Parenthood, 114 University Avenue.

Come early and attend noon Mass at Our Lady of Victory.

It would be nice if we increased our numbers even more this time. 200? Why not.

Father McNamara: A Happy Life

I went to the viewing for Father Robert McNamara yesterday. It was a happy time. People were talking, laughing, celebrating a life well-spent.

I saw no tears. None were needed.

I chatted with relatives about a biography of him that is in process - among the last acts of this dear 98-year old writer and historian was proofreading portions of it! He remained active right up to the end.

I suggested that they compile his short saint stories. They said I was not the only one to suggest that idea. Perhaps they will.

I told one relative that Father McNamara was someone who always came to my mind when I thought of good and holy people I'd like to be like.

I said prayers for his intentions, remembered his smile and how often he chuckled with delight when he talked, then left.

The funeral is today. In between classes I will say a few more prayers for him.

It was good to know a saint.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Sin-phonic Reflection

Consider an orchestra.

Many instruments. Some loud. Some soft. Some played throughout each piece. Some coming in at just the right time, to add just the right effect.

The orchestra plays day after day, trying to inspire souls with the beauty of the compositions.

The Composer is always there, listening to how the musicians interpret his scores. The conductor and his staff are there to make sure that the musicians follow the scores - playing the right notes at the right tempo at the right volume at the right moment, making sure all the instruments, all the voice, are working together. The scores allow for some creativity, but that creativity must fit in with the overall intentions of the compositions. The Conductor will sometimes consult with the Composer to make sure that the orchestra is following what He wanted.

All must work together for the music to most effectively touch those listening souls - and maybe to draw in those who at first were not listening.

But sometimes musicians make mistakes. Sometimes as they play day after day they get careless or sloppy. And some of the musicians decide that a different note would be better at a particular point, that the tempo needs to be different, that a particular note should be played louder or softer or longer or shorter than indicated.

As a result of these variations, the compositions sometimes don't work. They have moments of beauty, but the have moments of disharmony. Sometimes they move listeners, sometimes they turn the listeners off.

The Conductor tries to get the orchestra back on task. He calls for practice. He takes the repeat offenders aside. He may even publicly call them out. And if the offenders persist, he might tell them they should not play with the orchestra until they are willing to follow the score.

The Composer sometimes cries as He listens to what has been done to his creations. If only they would follow the score. It's all laid out for them.

I thought of this as I debated how to respond to some comments about sin. One argument is that some sins are lesser than others. True. But even small sins can affect the whole, even as a few wrong notes can affect an entire composition. The Pope and the hierarchy try to keep the faithful in tune to the score handed them by the Composer of all.

And the Composer weeps when we fail to follow the guidelines he gave us.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Memorial Day Senryu

veterans' graves
receive some once-a-year care -
Memorial Day

(We should honor veterans every day, not just this one day.)

Another Franciscan Canticle

As part of our ongoing formation at my Secular Franciscan group, we have been studying the writings of St. Francis.

He is famous for his "Canticle of Brother Sun" - which we looked at last Friday.

But another Canticle we looked at was the "Canticle of Exhortation to Saint Clare and Her Sisters."

Listen, little poor ones called by the Lord,
who have come together from many parts and provinces.
Live always in truth,
that you may die in obedience.
Do not look at the life outside,
for that of the Spirit is better.
I beg you through great love,
to use with discretion the alms which the Lord gives you.
Those who are weighed down by sickness
and the others who are wearied because of them,
all of you: bear it in peace.
For you will sell this fatigue at a very high price
And each of you will be crowned queen
in heaven with the Virgin Mary.

There was much to think on and talk about in connection with this one, but one section struck me given my life in the last few years.

Those who are weighed down by sickness
and the others who are wearied because of them,
all of you: bear it in peace.

It is so easy to despair when you are sick.

It is also easy to grow weary when you care for people who are sick. It is easy to grow impatient, resentful, angry, frustrated, and just plain tired. I've had to deal with all of those feelings.

People who work with the families of the very ill are aware of this. There are so many wonderful respite programs available to help keep up one's spirits, to give one a break. I have not used such programs - yet - but I have found time alone, time in nature, time in prayer helpful.

It's interesting that St. Francis included this in his Exhortation. With what were the Sisters dealing? Possibly a number of members who were sick, maybe some who went too far in their fasting and penitence and who made themselves sick (imagine how easy it would be to get mad at those sisters with "self-inflicted" ills!).

And maybe he was thinking of his own infirmities and the effects they were having on others.

This reminds us that even saints must deal with many of the same problems us less-than-holy folks face.

It's easy to forget that while they are holy they never cease to be human.

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St. Padre Pio Birthday Follow-Up

I was not able to make the St. Padre Pio Birthday Celebration yesterday, but the Good-Looking-One did, and she said it was great - and packed.

The Democrat and Chronicle did do an article about it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rochester's Catholic Mayor Counters Church Teachings

Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy is popular and well-respected. He is also a Catholic.

Unfortunately, he stepped into the middle of a debate and came down solidly against Church teachings on one of the "Non-Negotiables."

Homosexual marriage.

In an op-ed piece in today's Democrat and Chronicle he urges the passage of legislation that would allow homosexuals to marry in New York state.

He notes that the legislation in question involves civil marriages only, and that no member of the clergy may be compelled to to perform any marriage ceremony.

He's being naive.

Given the tactics and the trends involved with this and other such issues, if this law is passed there will be lawsuits alleging discrimination - endless headaches and heartaches, and lots of money - and other laws pushed and plenty of social pressure exerted that will seek ways to "force" clergy to perform such ceremonies.

The mayor points out that he was raised in a deeply religious family, and that his mother was a former "Catholic nun." And he says, "I am well aware of the Church's teachings."

So, with knowledge, he is going against what has been called one of the Five Non-Negotiables.

The Non-Negotiables are five key issues on which Catholic voters are supposed to judge a candidate (or elected official).

They are: Abortion, Fetal Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning, Euthanasia, and Homosexual Marriage.

As the Voter's Guide for Serious Candidates (put out by Catholic Answers) notes: "Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates."

It's particularly galling when the candidate/official is Catholic.

On this particular issue, the Guide says:

"True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other form of "marriage" undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.

"When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral" (UHP 10 - Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Duffy will not vote on this issue; he is not in the legislature. But his public support for this law helps to move it along, and his declaration that he does so as Catholic who knows the Church's teachings is a direct challenge to the Church.

So unless his future opponent takes the same position or endorses one of the other Non-Negotiables - in which case Catholics should take other issues into consideration when deciding how to vote - Catholics in Rochester should not vote for Duffy.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Palin in Auburn

Well, looks like Governor Palin will be coming to Auburn June 6.

No times announced yet, but I plan to be there.

When I mentioned it, my wife (a Hillarite who voted for Obama!?) basically asked why I wanted to go.

Hmm. It could have something to do with that McCain/Palin sign that used to be on our lawn.

I asked if she wanted to come with me.

She said if she did she might bring a Hillary sign.


I don't know if Palin will run in 2012 - and I'd support Huckabee first - but it would be interesting just to see her in person and to hear if she has anything new to say. And she'd get my support over Romney or Giuliani (and, of course, Obama).

As a bonus after hearing her, on the way home I can pick up some mead at the Montezuma Winery.



St. Padre Pio Birthday Celebration

The St. Padre Pio Institute of Rochester will hold the Second Annual St. Padre Pio Birthday Celebration Mass at the St. Padre Pio Chapel, 141 Frank DiMino Way (off Manitou Road) in Gates ( a Rochester suburb) Sunday May 24, at 1 PM.

Father Geraldo Carusso from Pietrelcina, Italy, will celebrate the Mass, with assistance by Deacon Angelo Coccia and the music of the Father Beatini Choir.

Following the Mass, there will be food and entertainment on the chapel grounds.

Everyone is invited (alas, it doesn't look as if I can make it myself). Even if you are from out of town, wander over that way.

My Blah Blog Award

There's all these blog award competitions going on these days.

I did get nominated for one a few years back, but this year, I'm not up for any of them.

So they must be worthless, right? (Grrr.)

Anyway, I decided to have my own competition and award myself a special trophy.


Franciscan diapers

Sometimes things converge in mysterious ways.

Yesterday morning, the local daily had an article about a new diaper service that will provide - and clean - cloth diapers. It will be the first such company operating locally in more than a decade.

My three daughters were patrons of the previous company. They outgrew diapers, and though there's likely not any connection, the company went out of business in 1998.

I always considered cloth diapers - even with the cleaning needed - more environmental than the landfill-clogging disposables. But for many families, washing cloth diapers themselves was not a practical option. I am happy to see this new service.

As a Franciscan, I always try to be conscious of the environment. After all, St. Francis is the Patron Saint of the environment.

The environment was one of the issues that occurred to me as I read about this new diaper company.

Last night, I attended my Secular Franciscan meeting. We were discussing several of his writings including the Canticle of Brother Sun - his great song in praise of creation. I noted that I had been listening to a discussion of the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus' commission to the Disciples was "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation."

Preach to all creation - not just men and women. Think of Francis preaching to the birds, or St. Anthony preaching to the fish.

Part of Franciscan spirituality is awareness of, appreciation for, and care for all of creation. That's what environmentalism is.

That means being conscious of how we pollute as a society and individually, and seeking ways to reduce our negative impact on the environment. That means being aware of global warming - not the "straw man" extremist position that's often used to help dismiss the idea, but the actual verifiable changes that are taking place - and looking for ways we can help reduce the speed with which it is happening. That means trying to preserve nature where we can - planting trees, not using poisons on our lawns, driving less, setting aside lands for parks and nature preserves, and more - though keeping in mind human needs as well.

You have to be reasonable about environmentalism - but you have to be conscious of it.

For some families, cloth diapers might be a good way to start.

Using such diapers certainly seems to me to be a more Franciscan way.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Father Robert McNamara, 1910-2009

I just got word that Father Robert F. McNamara, one of the Diocese of Rochester's great priests and a good, humble and gentle man, died this afternoon at age 98.

He was the Diocese's historian and archivist, having written the definitive history of the Diocese (as well as many other works).

I had the pleasure of interviewing him a number of times back when I was a reporter - including for my series of stories about Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the former Bishop of Rochester.

Father McNamara was always gracious and friendly. He was not only full of knowledge, he also had a wonderful sense of humor.

A Corning native, Father McNamara was born Nov. 3, 1910. He attended Georgetown and Harvard universities, as well as the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He received his licenciate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He taught church history at St. Bernard's Seminary from 1938 until the seminary closed in 1981.

It was an honor to know him.

DOR - Not looking good

I thought of commenting on this issue earlier, but Eugene Michael filled the gap.

But now it's gone national - with the Diocese of Rochester looking at best foolish, and at worst, well, morally blind comes to mind.

Judy Brown of the American Life League has picked up on the story of Jewish-Christian program, “The Two Thousand Year Road to the Holocaust.”

The program, which was covered in the Democrat and Chronicle, was designed in part to to raise awareness about the Holocaust that occurred during World War II.

No problem there. The Holocaust was an horrific event. We should never forget that crime.

We must never forget.

Involved in the program are Deacons Thomas Driscoll and Anthony Sciolino, and Doctor Morris Wortman.


The notorious abortionist Wortman.

One of Rochester's leading abortionists and public advocates of abortion Wortman.

The man whose abortuary is the subject of regular rosary vigils by McQuaid Jesuit High School students, and of the annual Good Friday March for Life in Reparation for Abortion.

How in good conscience can two Catholic deacons work on a program about the Holocaust with a man who is part of a modern holocaust - a slaughter that has claimed not six million Jews or 12 million people all told, but some 50 million children?

Brown raised some questions.

"Dr. Wortman’s "Holocaust Road” bio states that he is a child of Holocaust survivors and the coordinator of The Holocaust Study Group.

"Dr. Wortman’s professional background shocked me into wondering how he could possibly be involved on one level with a project designed to remind America of the horror of the German Holocaust, while at the same time participating in the American holocaust, which has, by far, robbed many more innocent people of their lives.

I further wondered how representatives of the Diocese of Rochester, New York, could possibly justify collaborating on a project with a man known to the community, not only as the child of Holocaust survivors, but as a doctor who makes his living killing innocent babies prior to birth."


Brown quotes Michael at this point - noting that both Deacons spoke at the specific event being covered, and citing something Deacon Sciolino reportedly said.

"Here is what Deacon Sciolino had to say about the event:

"Something then went terribly wrong for Christianity during the Holocaust. And what resulted from the obvious disconnect between Christian belief and Christian behavior was the worst catastrophe in human history. Jews ponder the Holocaust and rightly ask: Where was God? Christians must to do the same and, in addition, ask: Where was the Church?"

Where was the Church? It was represented by the many members of the hierarchy, priests, nuns and lay people who hid Jews, who smuggled them to safety, who kept silent about where Jews were hiding, who in some cases ended up in camps themselves, many of them dying.

And "the worst catastrophe"? Certainly one of the worst. But there have been others - including the deaths of 50 million children in the U.S. in the last 36 years.

Brown continued:

"Obviously, there are deep-seated reasons why some do not want to compare the Holocaust of yesterday with the Holocaust of today.“Strange bedfellows” indeed! If I had to ask questions about this Rochester, New York conundrum, it would be Bishop Matthew Clark, shepherd of the Catholics entrusted to his care, to whom I would go for answers. I would ask quite simply

"Your Excellency,

"How can it be that two of your ordained deacons are collaborating with an abortionist on a project dealing with the World War II Holocaust when the parallels between the German Holocaust and the American Holocaust are so vividly evident? What good can be accomplished as long as a perpetrator of the current Holocaust is so publicly identified with your deacons? What sort of a message does this send to the Catholics in your care, not to mention the entire community?

Sincerely awaiting your response,

I am respectfully
Judie Brown,
American Life League Inc."

So there you are. A black eye for the Diocese.

Maybe a fitting way to respond would be for the good deacons, maybe even Bishop Clark, to join us next Good Friday - and perhaps surprise Doctor Wortman.

And the rest of us.

Oklahoma to ban sex-selection abortions?

The abortion on demand crowd won't be happy about this one - if it becomes law.

The Oklahoma legislature has passed a bill banning abortions based on a child’s sex, and it only awaits the signature of the Governor Brad Henry to become law.

The law passes overwhelmingly in the Senate 35 to 9 and the House 88 to 6.

My only concern is that the law might hit a snag because of some of the other provisions - provisions with which I agree, but which might make it easier to oppose or overturn.

The law would also require the abortionist to report to the state Health Department the age, marital status and education level of the mother; the number of her prior pregnancies; the reason and method for the abortion; and the nature of the mother’s relationship with the baby’s father.

In addition, the law would require the reporting of the method of payment, the type of medical health insurance coverage, the cost of the abortion, and whether an ultrasound was given.

If signed, the law would go into effect in 2011.

Of course, there would be ways around the law. A mom's real reason for wanting to abort her baby might be because she doesn't want that boy she is carrying, but she will be able to legally justify killing the child by saying it would affect her "health" (under the loose interpretation given to the health provision, that could mean she would be bummed out, or she might be unduly worried how being pregnant might ruin that Caribbean cruise).

Still, it's a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely we could get a law banning sex selection alone passed in New York. But maybe some legislators will have the courage to at least propose such a bill - and the Church could then back it publicly. Then the discussion could begin here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Daze of the Weak

I spotted this over at A Bit of The Blarney.

Without God our week would be

How true!

Another poll shows pro-life shift

A new Rasmussen poll is showing a shift towards the pro-life position in America - the fourth recent poll to show such results (joining Gallup, Pew and Fox News).

Released on May 5, the Rasmussen poll found that 58 percent of Americans say abortion is morally wrong most of the time. Just twenty-five percent disagree. The rest of those surveyed had no opinion.

According to the survey, women are more strongly pro-life than men. 64 percent of women believe most abortions are morally wrong, while only 51 percent of men did so (but still a majority).

In other words, a majority of women believe this supposed "right" is wrong.

Of those who identify themselves as pro-life, not surprisingly 88 percent say most abortions are morally wrong. Even on the pro-choice side, 29 percent say most are morally wrong!

In a second question 52 percent of those survey think it is too easy to get an abortion in America. Two years ago, 45 percent thought it was too easy.

Just 13 percent now say it’s too hard to get an abortion, while 21 percent believe the current availability is about right.

68 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of those not affiliated with either major party said abortion is too easy in this country. 37 percent of Democrats say it’s too easy, 17 percent too hard and 27 percent about right.

In a third question, the Rasmussen poll asked Americans about the recent decision by the Obama administration to allow 17-year-old girls to purchase the morning after pill without consulting with a doctor or getting parental permission.

Some 66 percent of Americans say 17 year-olds should be required to consult a physician before taking the pill while just 27 percent said no. Another 64 percent of Americans agreed such teenagers should consult a parent before taking the morning after pill while only 30 percent said no.

The majority of Americans support parental notification.

I've heard some folks suggest that electing a pro-abortion President - I say pro-abortion because of his extreme positions on abortion - may have helped to focus attention on the issue and got people to think about what they actually believe.

My sense is that a majority of Americans uneasily support limited access to abortion - first trimester, for the life and health of the mother (even though the courts have broadly and idiotically defined "health") - but also support limits and restrictions (not for sex selection, not on demand for any reason, not late term in most cases, not by certain methods, not with taxpayer money, with parental notification, with waiting periods, with full disclosure).

In other words, they do not support the Obama/Planned Parenthood/NARAL extremist positions.

These surveys help to confirm the more specific the questions, the more people know, the more pro-life Americans are.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Huckabee shines in poll

Fox News/Opinion Dynamics conducted a poll May 12-13, and came up with the following results that look great for Huckabee.

I’m going to read a list of potential candidates for the 2012 Republican nomination. Please tell me which one you would like to see as the Republican presidential nominee:

Among Republicans:

Mike Huckabee - 20%
Mitt Romney - 18%
Newt Gingrich - 14%
Sarah Palin - 13%
Rudy Giuliani - 12%
Too soon to say - 7%
Don’t know - 4%
Mark Sanford - 4%
Jeb Bush - 3%
Bobby Jindal - 3%
Someone else - 3%

Among Independents:

Rudy Giuliani - 19%
Mike Huckabee - 16%
Too soon to say - 14%
Mitt Romney - 12%
Sarah Palin - 10%
Don’t know - 9%
Someone else - 9%
Newt Gingrich - 5%
Jeb Bush - 2%
Bobby Jindal - 2%
Mark Sanford - 2%

Overall (include Democrats):

Rudy Giuliani - 16%
Mike Huckabee - 15%
Mitt Romney - 14%
Don’t know - 11%
Someone else - 10%
Sarah Palin - 9%
Too soon to say - 9%
Newt Gingrich - 7%
Jeb Bush -3%
Mark Sanford - 3%
Bobby Jindal - 2%

Polling was conducted by telephone May 12 - 13, 2009, in the evenings. The total sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.

Giuliani leads among independents and overall (including Democrats), but I don't think he has the credibility to win the GOP nomination. If he runs for governor, that might boost his chances. He certainly would not get my vote - for governor or President - however.

But the word about Huckabee is getting out - and as people get to know him, the more they like him.


Sister knows what to wear


Dancing priest (not a liturgical dance!)


May God's Force be with you!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Subscription decision

Back on April 19 I mentioned that with one magazine subscription running out I was looking for a different one to add to my current list of periodicals cluttering the nightstand next to my bed.

I got some good suggestions - on the blog, and personally.

As I was deciding, the income tax refund came in, and, well....

I'm going with three!

All appeal to my literary side (with a dash of Catholicism):

Acorn (not Obama's buddies - a haiku magazine!)
Modern Haiku
Saint Austin Review

The checks went out today.

They join:

bottle rockets
St. Anthony Messenger
Catholic Worker
Catholic Digest

Speaking of those current subscriptions, both Gilbert and Catholic Digest came in today. Reading time. (It's nice to be in a school system with ties to Canada - Happy Victoria Day!)

I'm in "Gilbert"!

The latest Gilbert Magazine arrived, and one of my clerihews made it!

In those woods, Robert Frost
Really was lost.
But looking always to make a dime
He stopped to scribble a rhyme.

Ah, fame.

But as my wife reminds me, don't quit my day job!

Books Catholics Should Read

Over at the Saint Austin Review site, Joseph Pearce said he was asked to provide a "Top 10 list of books I think Catholics should read".

Here's his list:

1. Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine by Archbishop Michael Sheehan
2. Apologia pro Vita Sua by John Henry Newman
3. The Divine Comedy by Dante
4. Aquinas by F. C. Copleston
5. Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton
6. The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton
7. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
8. The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
9. Collected Poems of T. S. Eliot
10. Confessions by St. Augustine

Hmm. I've read 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and parts of 3 and 8. I'm happy to see two Chestertons and a Lewis on the list.

Interesting that there's two non-Catholics on the list - Lewis and Eliot (I don't know Copleston's affiliation).

And I've never heard of Copleston and Archbishop Sheehan (probably due to my own ignorance).

Who or what do I think should be on the list? I'll have to think on that.

Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain?
Thomas à Kempis's The Imitation of Christ?
Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory?
Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings?
One of Henri Nouwen's books - Like The Wounded Healer?
St. Therese of Lisieux's Story of a Soul?

I can think of other books that have touched me -

Pope John XXIII's Journal of a Soul
Miles Connelly's Mr. Blue (don't laugh!)
Georges Bernanos's Diary of a Country Priest
Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi

But are they classics all Catholics should read?

And what about the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

I'm sure I could come up with more. So could folks who are wiser and better read than I.

Haiku to you too

As part of my planned avoidance of the Obama/Notre Dame lunacy yesterday (though I did say a prayer), I attended the Rochester Area Haiku Group meeting to talk about the upcoming chapbook we are producing. No title yet - we have to vote on that - but we read aloud our poems that will be in it (I have 4!). It's due out this summer.

We also learned about an opportunity for a public reading.

We will be pat of the program at Asian Pacific American Heritage Family Day celebration, Sunday, May 31, from 2:30 - 3:15 p.m. at the Memorial Art Gallery here in Rochester.

I'll be digging out some oldies, as well as the ones going in the chapbook.

Stop by if you are in Rochester. I'm the overweight guy with a white beard who looks suspiciously like someone who might sit on a throne at the mall around Christmas time.


Going through the "Closet"

I read all sorts of eclectic materials. Magazines – Catholic and Religious, Peace and Justice, Music (Folk, Rock, Bluegrass, Punk and more), Haiku, Art, Mysteries, Political, Horror and Science Fiction, News, Sports, Humor, etc. - newspapers, newsletters and just about anything else I stumble across.

If it’s there, and it’s not porn, I’ll skim through it.

While exiting the library the other day I snagged free copies of a local weekly newspaper for which I used to write (City), and the local newspaper of the homosexual community, The Empty Closet.

After going through that Closet – and the usual articles promoting homosexual marriage, HIV issues, adoption, outreach to young people, and encomiums on the joys of masturbation - here’s a few tidbits I dug out. None of them are surprising, or even new, but they caught my eye.

New York’s pro-abortion Catholic Senator Kirstin Gillibrand was the keynote speaker at Empire State Pride Agenda’s Spring Dinner. She continues to show that she supports things counter to Church teachings, even as she identifies herself as Catholic.

Among the businesses “who support our mission and vision,” the Gay Alliance listed St. John Fisher College – a formerly Catholic institution and my alma mater – as a “Silver” honoree. The homosexual friendly Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church and the Third Presbyterian Church only rated Bronzes, so Fisher must have been doing something extra special. (Where’s that alumni donation envelope?)

Reverend Denise Donato of the schismatic Spiritus Christi Church had an ad declaring “You deserve to have your Marriage Blessed & Celebrated” and notes she has “14 years experience preparing and celebrating gay and straight marriage.”

14 years? Hmm. Wasn’t that before the Corpus Christi schismatics officially broke with the Church?

Spiritus Christi also has an ad. It promotes itself as “A Catholic (?) Community Where All Are Welcome.” I was reminded of a conversation with a man whose wife and children were Jewish, but who received Communion at the pre-official break Corpus even though they were Jewish because, he explained, the Host was just a symbol.

Thomas Warfield, noted liturgical dancer, was scheduled to take part in a benefit concert called “Changing the World Through Music” to raise money for PeaceArt International. The concert was to include a “special guest performance” by the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus.

I don’t know if this concert came off: I was singing at the 9th Annual Westside Benefit Concert with members of various church choirs. We were raising money to benefit Cameron Community Ministries, which provides a variety of ministries in one of Rochester’s poorest, most crime-ridden sections.

Continuing through the Closet, I spotted the habit of “Reverend Mother.” Reverend Mother is Phyllis Contestable, a former Sister of Mercy who played Reverend Mother in Nunsense, and developed around that role a comedy routine for roasts and appearances at dinners and celebrations for a number of groups, including Catholic ones. Her mention here came for taking part in the “True Colors” Banquet of the Pride at Work AFL-CIO to honor Jim Bertolone for “his stalwart support of Pride at Work and ongoing advocacy for equal civil rights for GLBT workers.”

Speaking of women religious, I also spotted the name of Sister Kay Heverin, SSJ, of St. Mary’s Church in Rochester. Sister Kay was listed back on May 10 as being the “lay presider/preacher” at the Dignity-Integrity Roman Catholic Sunday Celebration In the Absence of a Priest.

A Catholic woman religious serving as Presider and Preacher at a church service when there are many valid Catholic services available?

And to do so for Dignity, a group that promotes things counter to the Church’s teachings about homosexuality and which is not an accepted Catholic group? I seem to recall a 1986 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, which declares:

All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges.

Maybe she did not consider her actions a form of “support, or even the semblance of such support.”

I’m sure there was more to find in this particular Closet, but I’ve spent enough time on it already, and I need a newspaper to stick under the cat’s litter box.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today's agenda

Let's see. ...

I have to play and sing at Mass this morning.

I have a haiku group meeting at 2.

I have rehearsal at 5, then a 7 p.m. community choir benefit concert at 7.

Is something else happening today?

I just have this nagging feeling there's something going on. Oh well, I've got other things to do. I'll say a prayer later just in case.


Ginger - Good for What Ails Ya

Researchers at the University of Rochester (locals) have determined that Ginger helps ease feelings of nausea for chemotherapy patients.

Ginger is an old folk remedy that has been used for years to help with nausea caused due to such things as morning sickness and motion sickness, but, well, that was folk medicine, and what do common folk know?

But now, they have a government-paid-for (i.e. our tax dollars) official-shiny-real-science study that confirms what Grandma knew for years.

Hey, at least the money didn't go for embryonic stem cell research.

Anyway, kidding aside, it's good to know there's something that will help folks battling cancer deal with at least one of the side effects. They have a bad enough time, and if this helps make life a little bit easier, I'm all for it. An added positive is that it's natural.

But while I like Ginger

I was always a Mary Ann guy.

Of course, some critics claim Gilligan's Island was good for inducing nausea.

Maybe someone should do a study of that.

Better that our money get spent on something like that than on embryonic stem cell research.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Marie Osmond performs - Hugo Ball!


Hugo Ball: Catholic Dada Catholic

"I have examined myself carefully, and I could never bid chaos welcome." - Hugo Ball


Now That's Worship Music!

Hang in there for the version of "Silent Night" (about 2:25 in)!

(Tip of the hat to The Ironic Catholic.)

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Ups and downs

It was an odd day.

A long week due to an exam snafu affecting some of our students, parents voicing opinions over what courses their children should take next year, and trying to create a schedule for next year - on top of multiple church commitments over the last few days, and a friend's parent's suicide attempt.

It was a good day at school, though - a dress down day. The kids were full of energy but in a positive way. And I got to talk with the friend.

I then met with our CEO to go over next year's schedule. As principal I had to figure out how to stretch too few teachers to cover too many classes.

He seemed pleased with the tentative schedule I worked out. At that point I raised the sensitive subject of lay-offs that had been hinted at earlier this spring due to the budget.

I was prepared to go to bat for the staff.

But no arguments were needed: The trustees have decided no one will be let go.

I went home exhausted, but happy.

Then last night I got a phone call. It was my dad, who never calls that late.

He accused me of ruining his life, of somehow causing him to get a dishonorable discharge because I would not wash the chocolate out of his pants??

I tried to talk him down, but he kept accusing me.

A fever? Another stroke?

I told him that he should call the nurse. He didn't know what I was talking about. So I told him I was going to hang up and call the home.

I did. The nurse said he'd seemed normal just a little while earlier, but that she would check on him.

She called back about 10 minutes later. She said he'd said some of the same things to her, but then she got him to remember that he'd left the navy back in the 1950s, and that this was now 2009.

I'll be going over to the home this afternoon. I don't know what I will find.

Gallup - Americans now pro-life?

The latest Gallup Poll is not likely to make the pro-abortion crowd happy.

The new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42 percent "pro-choice."

This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995, when the pro-death position lead 56-33. Since then, the Life side has generally trended up, the Death side down. There was a tie at 46 percent back in 2001.

Just last year, the Death side lead 50-44. Perhaps the election of Obama and his Death Squad and all the coverage in the last year has helped to open some people's eyes.

Meanwhile, also for the first time, by a slight majority more Americans now say abortions should be illegal in all circumstances - 23 percent - than those who say it should legal under any circumstances - 22 percent.

53 percent say it should be legal under certain circumstances. That figure has held pretty steady, showing that most Americans don't take the absolutist positions of Obama and the Democratic Party, or of pro-lifers like me.

I'm sure the spinners in the pro-abortion camp will be out trying to niggle and nuance the responses.

The problem is that they are part of the 22 percent - and not of the 23 percent, the 51 percent, or the 53 percent of the rest of the country.

And they are gradually trending toward being even more of an extremist fringe.


Countering "Don't like abortion, don't have one"

I like the citing of moral relativism!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

A Wanted Man (With Money)

Driving home I turned on my local Catholic radio station.

A pledge drive preempting regular programming. Grr.

I switched to the Christian station I sometimes listen to.

A fundraiser. They played some music in between pitches, but ...

I turned to my local PBS station (and former employer) to catch the news and latest reports.

Membership drive. With some breaks for news and reports.

They all want my money!

It's nice to be wanted.

But it also hit me their pleadings all sound somewhat alike, just with a particular spin suited to the kinds of people believed to listen to their stationd.

There's always one constant, though: The threat that without MY MONEY that station might not be there in the future.


I decided to send something to the Catholic station. We're lucky to have one here.

Then I switched over to my cd player and listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival instead.

I'll return to those stations when regular programming returns.

"... bring a nickle, tap your feet. Down on the corner, out in the street ..."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You mean - it might be a choice?

Here's a new twist in the ongoing twisted attempts to justify aberrant behaviours.

An American Psychological Association publication now includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene."

If they are right - and given that it's a psychological association you never can tell - that would mean that homosexuals are not born that way.

Which would imply that homosexuality is more of a choice than the psychological establishment had tried to lead us to believe.

The APA has previously said that homosexuality is not a psychological disorder (see my earlier comment about their reliability). But now in a brochure - "Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality" - the APA states:

"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles...."

Back in 1998, the APA opined: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."

Now they say there is no such evidence? Gee, what happend to the information upon which they based their previous learned opinion?

Before we get all excited, remember, these are the same type of folks who endorsed electro-shock therapy, lobotomies, and the belief in the emotional "inferiority" of women.

Still, it's a step in the right direction.

Now I've always held that some folks may have some sort of a disorder that inclines them toward being homosexual - the same way that some people may have a disorder that inclines them toward being alcoholics or drug addicts. But just as taking a drink or using a drug is generally a choice (unless you are subject to some form of secret CIA "interrogation" involving needles and narcotics), committing homosexual acts is a choice.

Sin enters not with the predisposition, but in the choice to act on it.

So will the APA now admit that homosexuals can change?


Hugo Ball: Catholic Dada Catholic (flying fish)

Seahorses and flying fish

tressli bessli nebogen leila
flusch kata
zack hitti zopp

zack hitti zopp
hitti betzli betzli
prusch kata
fasch kitti bimm

zitti kitillabi billabi billabi
zikko di zakkobam
fisch kitti bisch

bumbalo bumbalo bumbalo bambo
zitti kitillabi
zack hitti zopp

Hugo Ball - Catholic Dada Catholic

Born a Catholic, Huga Ball drifted from the faith even as he continued to search for meaning in the insanity surrounding World War I. He helped to found the Dada movement in 1916, and was noted for his "sound poems."

He disagreed with the direction of the movement and separated from it. He returned to Catholicism, and began to study saints of the early Church. He died in 1927.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gay whales? Nuke `em!

People thought I was kidding when I said I'd actually seen a bumper sticker like this - something to offend everyone.


The Pope Speaks (Israeli Edit)

(If the Pope spoke as some of his Israeli/Jewish critics apparently think he should speak.)

In the predawn hours in the Vatican apartments, Pope Benedict's secretary, Father Shultz, knocks on the doors to the pontiff's bedroom and enters.

"Holy Father?" he says cheerfully. "Good morning. It's 5:30."

"Mmm. Ah." the pope mumbles. "As a member of the German race that slaughtered six million Jews in the concentration camps and now needs forgiveness, good morning."

"The papal kitchens will have coffee and oatmeal ready after Mass. Father X and several members of the staff will meet you in the chapel for the Mass."

The Pope stands up, stretches and looks out the window at the twinkling lights of Rome. He suddenly falls to his knees and bangs his head on the floor.

"Six million Jews can not enjoy the beauty of this morning because the Nazis murdered them in the camps, but this unworthy reluctant member of the Hitler Youth who will go to the chapel to say Mass and beg forgiveness of the God of Israel, says thank you," he laments as he forcefully slaps his cheek several times.

"Very good, you holiness. Oh, and Cardinal X asked me to tell you the final report on your visit to the Holy Land is ready."

The Pope picks up a knotted cord from his night table and begins to scourge himself vigorously, saying as he does so, "This abject representative of the Church that did not speak loudly enough and save more Jews from the murders perpetrated on six million members of God's Chosen People by the Nazis in concentration camps while the world turn its head will look over that report after breakfast so that he will see if he was sufficiently contrite and must make further atonement for the sins of his Church and his people."

"Speaking of that," Father Shultz says brightly, "some representatives of Native American groups from the United States have asked for an audience so they can reprimand you for not apologizing enough for the Spanish missions. They brought along clubs and tomahawks so you can walk a gauntlet in retribution."


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sex selection abortions

Sex selection abortions are being done already even here in the U.S. - you can bet on that - but quietly. This latest news will just help to legitimize them more. is reporting that Swedish health authorities have ruled that it is legal to kill a healthy unborn child based simply on its gender.

You don't want that healthy boy?

Kill him.

Got too many girls?

Kill that perfect unborn one.

What prompted it was a woman who had two of her children killed in utero for being an undesired sex. She already had two daughters, so, perhaps she was bored with pink clothing. Or maybe she didn't want to buy blue blankies - it's not made clear which gender of child she found distasteful.

She found out the genders of the children during an amniocentesis requested to determine whether the child had a disability.

Some doctors then asked Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare for guidance in instances in which they are pressured to examine the baby's without a medical necessity.

Note that: No medical necessity.

We're not talking life or health of the mother. Those smoke screens are not in play here.

The babies are just the wrong genders.

The medical board said such requests must be accommodated.

You see, Swedish law says abortion is legal on any basis whatsoever up to the 18th week of gestation, so doctors cannot deny a mother seeking to have an unborn child killed because it is the wrong gender.

Apparently mothers have already been heading to Sweden from Norway to abort unwanted girls - something they can't openly do in Norway yet.


I'm certain mothers can buy such abortion s here in the U.S. already. I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear that a few Planned Parenthood counselors have already given women advice about the right things to say to get one.

I wonder, however, how long before a proposal like this openly surfaces in the U.S. and passes the Obama sniff test?

Up Around the Bend - Battling the Blues

I didn't write yesterday. My mind was preoccupied with issues at work, and a phone call.

A friend's parent attempted suicide. The parent failed, but has threatened to do it again. And the hospital, which is going to release the parent, when told what the parent said, basically says they can't do anything about that.

The friend is devastated. Plus, the suicide attempt uncovered all sorts of other issues involving the parent that are forcing the friend to change plans, a career decision, and more.

I offered what comfort I could. I said I was there if the friend needed help.

I don't even know the parent, but I feel the effects of the attempt. I feel sad, helpless.

The ripple effects of suicide. Not only does it affect the person who, for whatever reason, feels driven to it, but also relatives, loved ones, friends, and the friends and loved ones of everyone directly affected.

I prayed for the friend and the friend's parent. I will continue to do so.

I'm not judging the parent. I know some of the difficult circumstances that led to this, but I can't get into the parent's mind or soul to fully understand what pushed that parent over the edge.

I do know that I am subject to moods myself. I have all my life. I've learned not to make rash or life-changing decisions during emotional downturns - though, to be honest, I have fallen at times. I know that when those moods hit, I need to pray and trust in God.

I also turn to music. There are certain songs and pieces that help.

During one particularly dark period - a period during which I did make some very bad choices - there was one song that helped me from doing even worse things.

"Up Around the Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The lyrics are hopeful, with a message that there's something better ahead.

There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
Just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you're goin',
Leave the sinkin' ship behind.

I didn't take this as a call to leave as in suicide myself, but rather, as a reminder that there is a place I can get to where the darkness is left behind - in my mind, heaven.

Come on the risin' wind,
We're goin' up around the bend.


Bring a song and a smile for the banjo,
Better get while the gettin's good,
Hitch a ride to the end of the highway
Where the neons turn to wood.



You can ponder perpetual motion,
Fix your mind on a crystal day,
Always time for a good conversation,
There's an ear for what you say.

Now that's a vision of heaven. Where you can ponder perpetual motion - things make sense - and you can fix your mind on the beauty of a crystal day. You can have genuine conversations, and people will really listen.



Catch a ride to the end of the highway
And we'll meet by the big red tree,
There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'
Come along, come along with me.



And there's an invitation to others. Come along. It's for all of us. A gift given through Jesus dying on that tree, a tree where we can all meet.

Yeah, I know, I'm reading a lot into the lyrics of a rock and roll song. But they resonated with me.

What also resonated with me was that opening guitar riff. I still hear in in my mind. I used to play that part of the song over and over again. That riff alone was sometimes enough to chase the blues away.

I still think of that song sometimes when I'm down. I thought of it yesterday after my friend called.

(And yeah, I used to be that hairy too!)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Francis's Admonition 2: Self-Will

The second Admonition of St. Francis of Assisi focuses on "The Evil of Self-Will.

The Lord God said to Adam: "Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat. But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat." Adam therefore might eat of every tree of paradise and so long as he did not offend against obedience he did not sin. For one eats of the tree of knowledge of good who appropriates to himself his own will and prides himself upon the goods which the Lord publishes and works in him and thus, through the suggestion of the devil and transgression of the commandment, he finds the apple of the knowledge of evil; wherefore, it behooves that he suffer punishment.

The last section is translated slightly differently in Francis and Clare: The Complete Writings.

"... what he eats become for him the fruit of the knowledge of evil. Therefore it is necessary that he bear the punishment."

As the name of this Admonition suggests, self-will is evil. In the Garden the fruit was not the source of evil. It was the decision to eat the fruit in disobedience that was evil. The sin was Adam and Eve's appropriating to themsleves the fruit they had been forbidden.

In my own life I so often stumble when I appropriate to myself something that, in and of itself is not evil, but in which I should not partake. Sin comes when I willfully choose to disobey, to follow my own path out of lust and greed and selfish desire.

Francis chose to follow the path of complete poverty. He chose to appropriate nothing to himself - luxury, sexuality, comfort, food, and so on, things that are of themselves not evil, but which can be the subjects of self-will. They were things that Francis believed he coveted out of his own desire, and not out of the will of God. God help me to follow Francis's lead and not follow the dictates of my own self-will, for that is when I am most likely to sin.


Dolan interview - Gotta evangelize

There's an interesting short interview with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan over at The Wall Street Journal.

He talks about schools - a sore topic here in Rochester - and about vocations and Mass attendance/Church participation among the young:

... he has two other problems that are troubling for the Catholic Church. The first is the growing number of 20- and 30-somethings, raised in the faith, who are not attending Mass or getting married in the Catholic Church. The second is the sharp drop in people choosing Catholic Church vocations.

I asked him what he thinks has gone wrong. For starters, he says, the Catholic Church for too long took for granted the Catholic culture, "when it was presumed that you would go to Sunday Mass, that you would marry a Catholic and be married in the Catholic Church, when it was presumed that you would always remain in the faith, with tons of priests and nuns and Catholic schools to serve you."

Those days are gone, and now he says its time to "recover the evangelizing muscle that characterized the early church." This means putting an end to the "wavering" that has too often characterized the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council and a return to a clear and confident message.

"Very often even the word Catholic even the word church has had a question mark behind it," he says. "Does it know where it's going? Does it know what its teaching? Is it going to be around? There was a big question mark. A young person will not give his or her life for a question mark. A young person will give his or her life for an exclamation point."

This "recovery" in confidence, he says, began under John Paul II and continues under Pope Benedict XVI. In his new role, Archbishop Dolan intends to keep it going. Being a Catholic is an "adventure in fidelity," he insists. The Catholic Church, he says, has "a very compelling moral message. She calls us to what is most noble in our human makeup, dares us to become saints, challenges us to heroic virtue."

I like the optimism, the determination.

We all need to help provide that "exclamation point" for young people. We need to evangelize, to proclaim in unwavering voices the truth of the Church's teachings the way the early Christians did.

(Tip of the hat to Mike at DOR Catholic.)

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Mets fan smiles

Okay, okay, I know it's early in the season.

I know they are only three wins over five hundred.

I know they are technically tied with Florida.

But after a six-game win streak, the Mets are finally in first in the NL East.

And while Boston's not in first in the AL East, it holds the the American League wild-card lead.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Life: Imagine the Potential (part 2)

Another great positive pro-life video from the folks at


ND Polls - Swayed by the question/information

Two polls, two different results. Thanks to the way the question was worded.

A Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life survey found that Catholics supported the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree by margin of 52-28 percent.

Sounds like the Bishops are out of touch with the thinking of the average Catholic, right?

Well, a subsequent Rasmussen Reports poll found that 60% of Catholics - and 52 % of Americans - believe that the University of Notre Dame should not have made the decision to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree.

A possible cause of the difference?

Rasmussen Reports told survey respondents that the university was violating the US bishops’ guidelines:

Guidelines established by U.S. bishops state that Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame should not honor people whose actions conflict with the church's moral principles. Given these guidelines, should Notre Dame award President Obama an honorary degree?

The Pew Forum, on the other hand, simply asked, “Do you think it was right or wrong for Notre Dame to invite Obama to give their graduation speech and receive an honorary degree?”

So when informed, Catholics - and Americans - gave the decision a thumbs down.

Sort of like when they're informed about abortion. Or the Church's teachings on other issues.

Makes me think we need MORE education in homilies, parish bulletins, and bishops' statements.

St. Francis - Admonition 1, and the Mass

St. Francis of Assisi did not write (or dictate) a great number of documents, letters, and so on that survive. In Francis and Clare: The Complete Works, his writings and sayings fill a scant 166 pages - and that includes editor's introductions and footnotes.

Among the writings he clearly considered important, and which he asked to be written exactly as he dictated them, were the Admonitions. The Admonitions - as the editors of Francis and Clare note, provide "Saint Francis's doctrine on the spiritual life."

The First Admonition - Of the Lord's Body - is the longest one. One translation reads:

The Lord Jesus said to His disciples: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me. If you had known Me you would, without doubt, have known My Father also: and from henceforth you shall know Him, and you have seen Him. Philip saith to Him: Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus saith to him: Have I been so long a time with you and have you not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me seeth [My] Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Father?" The Father "inhabiteth light inaccessible," and "God is a spirit," and "no man hath seen God at any time." Because God is a spirit, therefore it is only by the spirit He can be seen, for "it is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." For neither is the Son, inasmuch as He is equal to the Father, seen by any one other than by the Father, other than by the Holy Ghost.

Wherefore, all those who saw the Lord Jesus Christ according to humanity and did not see and believe according to the Spirit and the Divinity, that He was the Son of God, were condemned. In like manner, all those who behold the Sacrament of the Body of Christ which is sanctified by the word of the Lord upon the altar by the hands of the priest in the form of bread and wine, and who do not see and believe according to the Spirit and Divinity that It is really the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are condemned, He the Most High having declared it when He said, "This is My Body, and the Blood of the New Testament," and "he that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath everlasting life." Wherefore [he who has] the Spirit of the Lord which dwells in His faithful, he it is who receives the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord: all others who do not have this same Spirit and who presume to receive Him, eat and drink judgment to themselves.

Wherefore, "O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart?" Why will you not know the truth and "believe in the Son of God?" Behold daily He humbles Himself as when from His "royal throne" He came into the womb of the Virgin; daily He Himself comes to us with like humility; daily He descends from the bosom of His Father upon the altar in the hands of the priest. And as He appeared in true flesh to the Holy Apostles, so now He shows Himself to us in the sacred Bread; and as they by means of their fleshly eyes saw only His flesh, yet contemplating Him with their spiritual eyes, believed Him to be God, so we, seeing bread and wine with bodily eyes, see and firmly believe it to be His most holy Body and true and living Blood. And in this way our Lord is ever with His faithful, as He Himself says: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."

As I reread this one, I was reminded of something I heard on a radio show. One person observed that while we talk about the departed Saints who are with Jesus, perhaps with a bit of longing to experience what the Saints are experiencing, we actually are already with Jesus on a regular basis. Every time we are at Mass, every time we receive Communion, we are with Jesus just as fully as the Saints.

Imagine if we acted at Mass exactly as we would act if we were in the presence of Jesus. But then, we are in the presence of Jesus!

Imagine if we focused on that celebration exactly as we would focus on Jesus were He before us. But then, He is before us, in Flesh and Blood, on the altar!

He is with us, as Saint Francis says, "in this way our Lord is ever with his faithful.

Wherefore, all those who saw the Lord Jesus Christ according to humanity and did not see and believe according to the Spirit and the Divinity, that He was the Son of God, were condemned. In like manner, all those who behold the Sacrament of the Body of Christ which is sanctified by the word of the Lord upon the altar by the hands of the priest in the form of bread and wine, and who do not see and believe according to the Spirit and Divinity that It is really the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are condemned, He the Most High having declared it when He said, "This is My Body, and the Blood of the New Testament," and "he that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath everlasting life."

... And as He appeared in true flesh to the Holy Apostles, so now He shows Himself to us in the sacred Bread; and as they by means of their fleshly eyes saw only His flesh, yet contemplating Him with their spiritual eyes, believed Him to be God, so we, seeing bread and wine with bodily eyes, see and firmly believe it to be His most holy Body and true and living Blood. And in this way our Lord is ever with His faithful, as He Himself says: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Catholic tea parties

One response to the ongoing Obama/Notre Dame Scandal is prayer.

There's a site,, now calling on Catholics across the U.S. to pray or to hold prayer meetings - ideally at the same time President Obama is being honored at Notre Dame May 17.

The promoters of the initiative say what they'd like to see is a nationwide, prayerful “Catholic Tea Party.”

The site has a prayer:

“Dear 44th President, we pray that you may see clearly and defend the value of all human life, from the moment of conception. God bless you.”

Respectful. I like the idea. I hope as many people as possible take part. I'll be praying that day.

If you'd like to organize a local “Catholic Tea Party” contact

(Culled from a CNA report.)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Father Corapi on Notre Dame and Obama

Wonderful commentary. Thank you Father Corapi for your clear words and your message of hope.

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National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer.

Say one for your love ones, and for our nation.

Maybe say more than one!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Judy Blume Insults Mothers

Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion business, sent out the following letter allegedly from Judy Blume (with a few comment from me in bold):

Dear Friend,

If you are the daughter whose mom had the guts to give you the answers to questions you couldn't quite figure out how to ask...

If you are the son whose mother raised you to love and respect your sisters and wives and daughters...
(That's why I'm pro-life, not pro-abortion.)

If you know a mother who is struggling to raise strong, independent, and confident children in the face of unbelievable odds... (Give her some help, not dishonor her in this way.)

...Say thanks. Say thanks this Mother's Day with a gift that honors her courage by making a donation to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in her name. I guarantee you that she'll be pleased. I know I would be. (My mom would have given me a pained look had I insulted her this way.)

I'm a mom, and I'm also a writer and an activist. Nothing has made me prouder than seeing my own children — and really, all young people — grow up to be healthy, educated, and in charge of their bodies and their lives. That's where Planned Parenthood comes in. There is no organization that I know of that supports motherhood and all that it means more than Planned Parenthood. (On the Bizarro World, maybe.) That's why I'm honoring (?!?!??)moms everywhere with my gift to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund today.

It's not easy to be a mother these days.
(Planned Parenthood is working hard to make it easy not to be a mother these days - with they help of tax dollars.) And right now — with more and more women seeking care from Planned Parenthood health centers — we need to do all we can to support them. (Including centers that break the law and conceal rape.) By honoring a mother in your life with a gift to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, you'll be making a gift that protects and advocates for the health of millions of mothers and families. That's a gift any mother will appreciate.

Judy Blume

Planned Parenthood and Mother's Day? What an insult to mothers everywhere.

As for Blume, if this is indeed a letter from her (you never can tell when Planned Parenthood is involved), another reason not to read her books.


Huckabee goes pro-life on Obama (and the flu hype)

This is the kind of thing that got me campaigning for him in 2008 - and looking forward to doing so again in 2012!

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Father Mugavero at the Focus Pregnancy Center

Father Anthony Mugavero - the fellow holding the walkie-talkie above and a real pro-life champion in Rochester - will be celebrating Mass as the Focus Pregnancy Help Center, 86 University Avenue, Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m.

If you can make it, do so. Father Tony has battled for life for years - even to the point of arrest.

He's one of my local heroes (don't tell him, he's a modest fellow!)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Rock of Faith - God of Wonders

Rock of Faith will be leading the congregation in "God of Wonders" at the May 24th Mass.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Pray a rosary for the unborn

Speaking of saying the Rosary, the St. Michael the Archangel organization is trying to get One Million Rosaries said by the end of today for unborn babies.

The three day event - May 1-3 - has only some 50,000 Rosaries registered. What a shame if they don't make a million.

If you are a pro-life Rosary prayer, consider going there and registering, and praying today for the unborn.

Great "St. Anthony Messenger" Rosary Article

There's a great article about beginning to pray the Rosary again in the May issue of St. Anthony Messenger - "Rediscovering the Rosary" by James Rurak.

The fishing/Rosary analogy resonated with me - as did the idea of the rosary being a link with his parents.

"The Rosary's a lot like this. The prayers themselves are beautiful. They are like casting a line out. You seek an adventuresome prize, namely, a conversation with God.

"... Just as casting your line into the water makes it possible to catch a fish, praying the Rosary creates a space to listen to God."

Apologia pro meus blog

There are many dangers with blogging. One of them is that the blog lends itself to the spontaneous, unedited expression of opinions and feelings, that, unlike a diary entries, are there readily available for all to read.

Sometimes blog entries are written in a hurry, or on the spur of the moment, or in the heat of the moment. Back when I was a reporter/editor, a fellow editor always checked over my work. There's no such check here.

I don't know how many times I've written something and later realized it was not right. If it's a matter of correcting a spelling error, removing excess words or letters that got left in, or adding in words that accidentally got left out, I have no problem going back at any time to fix it. It does not change what I was saying.

But when I use an unfortunate word or phrase, or word something in such a way that readers might be offended or hurt, it becomes more problematic. If it's something I just wrote, then jumped in the shower or had a cup of coffee and realized I needed to make a change, I sometimes do. But if it's been a while - I wrote it before I went to school, and it's now 4 p.m. - and especially if people have already read it, then I leave it as is unless it's completely offensive or inaccurate. In some cases I might add a correction or a clarification.

Writing for readers is by its nature an egotistical art. The assumption is that what we write is something people might want to read - or should read! Couple that with arrogance and a tendency to be sarcastic and mocking - both of which I have in abundance - and you compound the problem. I have frequently gotten in trouble for my mouth/words - in my daily life, and in blogs.

I have no problem if I have indeed expressed what I meant to say fairly, accurately, and respectfully. Good people can disagree strongly over issues.

But for those times I have been careless in what or how I wrote, when I have been judgmental or sarcastic, I apologize.

Part of my journey of faith - and as a Franciscan - is trying to trust in God more and not to fall prey to my demons. Attacking with words is one of my great failings.

When one of my other demons arise, I often begin praying over and over, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner" until it passes.

Maybe I need to do it more often as a write.

Gratitude for Yard Work

Yesterday was a lovely day - time for yard work.

I dug a few holes for plantings, replanted a rose bush, dug out and moved some large rocks (we're working on a rock garden shrine), moved an old arbor that had broken in the last couple of wind storms, and mowed.

I'm not one of those methodical mowers - you know, straight lines, section by section. Nothing wrong with that, but I mow where the spirit moves me. I move back and forth between sections, cut in straight lines, change directions and instead of going from side to side go from front to back, circle round the trees and keep expanding those circles, or even create square sections in the middle of the lawn and cut around the edges of the squares moving inward as in a maze.

Maybe some lawn expert will tell me I'm doing it wrong, I'm not following the guidelines. Or that esthetically I should mow in straight lines in a single neat patern, creating a manicured look. Unless I find out I'm harming the lawn, though - beyond, of course slashing living grass with a whirling blade! - I will continue my eclectic ways.

Why does this remind me of music?

As part of my weaving and moving about as I mow, I take care near the bird feeders and a couple of spots where birds are trying to nest. There's one birdhouse next to our little Mary shrine where a new couple has moved in. They kept bouncing about in the bushes yesterday, trying to draw me away from the house. I try to get those areas done quickly so that I cut down on disturbing the birds. Yesterday as I turned off the mower for a moment and moved some debris I found myself talking to the birds, reassuring them that I would be gone soon. I wondered if the neighbors overheard me and if they did what they thought!

I like to mow. No riding mower for me. I have to push the beast. Just as I refuse to get a weed whacker. Do it by hand!

I like to dig. There's a certain strange satisfaction in creating a hole, watching it grow, cleaning it out. Or getting down deep enough that I can finally remove that large rock. And I enjoy the sheer physicality of it - the same way I enjoy shoveling snow off the driveway (despite my wife's constant fretting that I might give myself a heart attack and suggestions I should get a snow blower or hire a plow service. Hire someone else to do what I enjoy!? Would I hire someone to read Chesterton or play my guitar?)

I also find it's a good time to pray. I find myself constantly thanking God for the blooms in the garden and on the bushes. I find myself thanking God for all the birds and even the squirrels at our feeders. I find myself thanking God for the neighbor's dogs barking and guarding their yard even as they wag their tails, because, after, it is just me, the guy who pets them regularly. I thank God for the glorious variety added by dandelions and other so-called weeds that some folks seem obsessed with eradicating with toxic chemicals. I find myself thinking grateful thoughts about my wife for all the work she has done to create the flower beds, plant the bushes, and keep the birds fed.

And I thank God that I'm still young enough and healthy enough to do these things. Maybe some day the ailments of age will force me to cut back, but for now, Thank you Lord.

And when I do have to cut back, I'll find other ways to thank God. Like do the dishes.