Saturday, March 31, 2007

The heart of our Faith (Sunday homily)

We know Easter is near; for some, it’s already here.
The “joy” of Easter means very little without Holy Week.

This week is the heart of our faith—
If we want to penetrate our Faith better,
I encourage you to set aside time,
and participate in this week.

Many of us have seen the film, “The Passion of the Christ.”
It is a vivid, powerful movie—but it is still only a movie.

A few years ago, that film, the “Passion of the Christ,”
played on hundreds of movie screens across the country.
But the true Passion of Christ has been “playing”
on this altar and every altar throughout the world, for 2,000 years!

This is the real thing!

This week, I invite you to Holy Thursday Mass,
the beginning of the Mass;
I invite you to keep watch through the night,
through the three hours our Lord was on the Cross,
to worship at the Cross on Good Friday.
I invite you to participate in the Easter Vigil.
Yes, I know it’s late—9 pm—and it will go long.
But it is the Mass of all Masses;
it is the central act of worship of our Catholic Faith.

I hope to see you there.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Another week goes by...

Sorry, this'll have to be brief.

Lots going on, including hours of confessions (which are more tiring than you may realize), planning for Holy Week (have to call lots of folks -- to serve, to have their feet washed, to assist in other ways), plus tending to normal parish business.

In a few minutes, will head over for Stations, then have Mass later for Cursillistas; in between, I hope to stop at Fish Fry. Am waiting for a load of laundry to dry -- ran out of clean black shirts, haven't done laundry for awhile.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Well, did you enjoy the Feast of Annunciation?

Today is supposed to be my day off. Ha ha!

The great privilege of a day off is being able to sleep late; only this morning, the chaplain at the Catholic high school called to remind me about confessions this afternoon. I had to stop in the office to sign a check, then visit with the school children at lunch, because to celebrate la festa, I had the principal provide ice cream for the schoolchildren; so I wanted to have some with them, and explain why we were having ice cream ("because Mary said yes!"). I should explain the additional reason for the ice cream is that this is the patronal feast for one of my parishes.

At 7 pm, we had a "solemn, high Mass" for the feast day. Lots of incense and chanting. After that, I stopped by the RCIA group, answered a few questions about the first confessions for the candidates for full communion, then headed home for dinner around 9 pm.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Lazarus, Come Out!" (3rd Scrutiny)

When Jesus tells Martha,
“everyone who lives and believes in me will never die,”
He isn’t talking about whether we experience death,
But about the power it has over us.

Do we fear death?

When my father who died two years ago at 97,
He had planned his funeral years in advance.
He wasn’t afraid.

But sometimes I visit people, they’re very sick,
it’s obvious death isn’t far away—
But no one will talk about it!

That only makes even more frightening.

Talk about this with your family, before it’s too late.
And if you want my help? Let me know.

Death can frighten us;
but there is a power, and a peace we can have,
in the face of death, and it comes from Jesus Christ!

Look at the cross: everyone faces it.
No one escapes death.

But when we see Jesus on the cross—
We know we do not have to be alone.
When Jesus is at the center of our lives,
Why should we be afraid of death?

You heard it say, “Jesus wept.”
The Greek text is a lot stronger:
It says—this’ll surprise you:
He “snorted”—like a horse!

The idea is that he wasn’t just “sad”—but frustrated,
Frustrated that Mary and Martha were so focused
on the power of death,
that they didn’t realize His power.

Lazarus remained in the tomb four days.
Sometimes we wait and we grieve;
And we wonder, “When will the Lord come?
What’s he waiting for?”

He can come and abolish death forever,
whenever he wants. And one day, he will.

We’d like it to be today.
We’d like that very much.

But that means no more chances
for people to recognize Jesus,
to turn to him for salvation.
They’d be out of luck—too late!

So, yes, Jesus waits. And we wait.

But we don’t have to wait to know him—
Not one minute, not one second.

Right now, right now! you and I can know Jesus
the Source of Life.
I said a moment ago death
comes faster than we expect.

Why wait to know Jesus?
I don’t mean, know his Name—
I mean to know Him.

Why wait?
Invite him into your life; receive His life into yours.

Let him call you out of the tomb of your fears,
Let him untie the sins the bind us hand and foot.

Why wait?
He’s calling you: from the tomb; from darkness, from sin:
“Lazarus, come out!”

The Mass forms His People in Christ's Righteousness (Sunday homily)

In the first reading, God says,
“I put water in the desert for my chosen people to drink…”

We seek this Water, above all, at Sunday Mass together.
We come together as His People.
Sunday Mass is the non-negotiable center
of being a Catholic.

That’s why I encourage bringing the whole family.
I don’t understand why we have Catholic families
sending their children to a Catholic school,
but not bringing their children to Mass on Sunday!

Isaiah gave his prophecy so that God’s People
wouldn’t get too comfortable in Babylon.

Centuries before, when they came out of Egypt,
several times they looked back, and said,
“we liked it better back there, in slavery!”

There are always plenty of Babylons and Egypts
to draw us away from being part of God’s People.
Sunday Mass helps keep us on track.

Notice the reading talked about God forming his people.
As much as we want Mass to be pleasing,
it’s far more important that it be life-giving.
And we are not the best judges of that!
God gave his People Manna in the desert—
do you know why they called it “Manna”?
The word means, “what is this?”—
they didn’t know what it was!
They didn’t always like it—yet it was what they needed.

Now, about the Mass.
It’s true that there has been
a lot of upheaval in recent years.
All that is confusing for everyone, including priests!
But notice, what the Church has gone through,
is what society at large has gone through?

Somewhere along the line, someone, like Isaiah,
has to call us back to our identity, as God’s People.

So, as far as the Mass goes, our bishops and pope
have, in recent years, given us more direction.

So, about 10 days ago, Pope Benedict issued a letter
on the Eucharist and the Mass.
If you didn’t see much about it,
that’s because the Media wanted a political angle,
and they missed the boat!

Our pope is calling us to a fundamental rethinking
about the Mass, to recognize what it truly is.
He didn’t re-write everything;
rather, he is calling us to remember some things
we may have forgotten;
such as our own, Catholic Tradition.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll have some evening discussions
when we can study what the pope said.

In the second reading, St. Paul said,
“I consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

To be a Christian is no longer
to claim our own righteousness—
that goes in the garbage!
Rather, we come as beggars to be transformed
by the righteousness of Christ!

Without that mindset, we cannot understand the Mass—
because we can’t understand the Christian Faith!

What happens at the climax of the Mass
is the heart of our Faith, as we’ll proclaim in a moment:
“Dying, you destroyed our death;
Rising, you restored our life: Lord Jesus, come in glory!”
So, at Mass, we join ourselves to His Offering.
When the bread and wine come forward,
put yourself on the plate and in the cup, to be changed.

The transubstantiation on the altar
happens in an instant;
the change in us takes our whole lives long.
That’s our share of the Cross.

In the Gospel, what the Lord did was shocking.
The woman committed a grave sin.
The pharisees’ actions were detestable;
and Our Lord—as if with a wave of his hand—
wipes it all away.

It isn’t just the Pharisees who say, “It isn’t that simple!”
We say the same. And that is true.

It seems so easy because he will die for this woman—
and her partner—and the pharisees!—and for us!

And the “price” you and I pay is to embrace his Cross!
Instead of dying—eternally—for our own sins,
we embrace His death in our lives.

We accept that in baptism.
We renew it in confession.
By the way: remember our Penance Service this week!
This is what confronts us when we come to Mass.

Christ renews his Sacrifice—
once on the Cross, now on this altar—
and we are confronted as the woman,
and the pharisees were:

Will we claim our own righteousness?
Or, accept his? That means we let him
make us part of him, which means we die with him?

The Mass confronts us with this mystery,
and that’s why we need it every week!

And the Eucharist, his Body and Blood, is shown to us…
If we come forward and say “Amen!”…
this “package deal” is what we say “yes” to.
To be His People, and no longer our own.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Who else is using Latin and chant in the Mass?

Since my arrival in Piqua, one of the things I've asked parishioners to do is to include a bit of Latin in Mass; we've used the Latin Agnus Dei and Sanctus, and had an occasional hymn or other prayer in Latin. In conversations with the handful of parishioners who have expressed comments on this, I get the idea that they perceive this to be something very unusual; I suspect some may be saying, "but no one else is doing this."

In fact, quite a few parishes around the country are doing this sort of thing, and a lot more in this vein. For those who care to, they can visit these sites here, and here, for recent posts, where people from around the country and elsewhere report happenings in their parishes. And I know of several parishes in this Archdiocese that are doing as much, or more, and I am confident others, of which I am unaware, are doing likewise.

Still, I got curious--just how many parishes are there, dabbling in this? Rather than wait for someone else to solicit the information, that's what I'm doing with this post...

If you know of a parish (i.e., it's either your parish, or you go there regularly) that is using any Latin on a regular basis, or using any Gregorian chant, please post here
. (I'd ask that this not be a place for folks to post opinions pro and con.) I ask that you identify the parish by name, city and diocese. If you can provide a link to a webpage or something else with more information, even better!

Oh, just to be clear--nothing against the classic, "Tridentine" Roman rite, but I'm not talking about that, either; that has to be in Latin. I mean celebrations of parish Masses (i.e., not private/special occasion Masses) according to the current, Vatican II rite of the Mass, And if that is being done with any--or even, all--in Latin, by all means, include that.

I'm going to keep updating the "when posted" date, so this stays toward the top. I'm hoping folks will link this on their pages, since the only value this has as a collection of information is if lots and lots of people come here and give their reports.

Update and reminder: Again, I am simply looking for celebrations of the current, Vatican II (so-called "Novus Ordo") Mass, with any amount of Latin and chant included. Nothing against the Tridentine or other rites, but my purpose is to find out how widespread is the inclusion of Latin in the current rite of the Mass...

And thanks for the many reports received, and the links that brought you here! Keep it coming!

Update, Thursday early am: this was originally posted Tuesday evening, but I'm moving it forward so it stays at the top of the page...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Liturgy help needed!


My music director liked my bright idea of chanting some readings at the Easter Vigil. Now he quite reasonably asks, er, how does one set the text to music? Is there a resource somewhere, for that?

Meanwhile, me--with the bright idea--has no clue where one turns for that sort of thing.

Suggestions? Referrals?


Liturgy-nerd question for priests...

I am planning to lead "daytime prayer" for some area priests on Holy Thursday, before we have dinner together. I consulted Peter Eliot about appropriate vesture and ritual, since this is not an hour one often leads publicly. I was surprised that he recommended wearing merely an alb (i.e., over street clothes), but no stole!

Brother priests (and any seminarians or others with the chops to answer, chime in): does this sound right to you? Comments?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

*@@* Congratulations, 100,000th Visitor *@@*

(Cue fireworks and oompa band...)

Congratulations, you are the 100,000th visitor to the Bonfire of the Vanities!

(Cue sound of crowd roaring...)

I don't know you're name, but:

* You live in or near Aurora, Illinois (isn't that the home of those two great theologians, Wayne and Garth?)
* You came here from the Shrine of the Holy Whapping!, and...
* You stayed for one second!

Thanks for visiting Bonfire of the--
hold it, he's gone already, oh well . . .

Party on, Wayne! Party on, Garth!

Suggestions for Latin, chant settings for Sanctus and other prayers

A poster in my survey thread asked for suggestions on settings for Mass, using chant and Latin; if memory serves, he was especially interested in the Sanctus.

I deleted his comment, there, because I wanted that thread to focus on the survey I am conducting. But I would welcome any such suggestions here.

My suggestion: Jubilate Deo, the booklet issued by Pope Paul VI. Also, check out the New Liturgical Movement site, linked in my section of bookmarks. That's all I can offer very quickly.

Who cares about Latin & chant?

...Apparently, a whole lot of you do!

As of 5 pm, I've had over 800 visits today, and I expect a lot more by midnight. As it stands, I've never had that many visits on one day, and it's all been about the survey about use of Latin and chant at Mass. Yes, it helps that several popular sites have linked this post; but the point remains--a whole lot of folks are really interested in this subject.

Sometime later this evening, someone will be my 100,000 visitor! Thanks for your interest.

Update: As of 11:15 pm, over 1,200 visits today, on top of about 100 last night, in response to the survey below on Latin used at Mass.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Thanks for the lamb butter mold!

This is a shout-out for Kasia, who kept her promise to send me a butter mold.

It actually arrived a bit ago, I'm sorry; I set it aside for a thank you, and time got away from me!

I am looking forward to using it.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Spirit helps us see (2nd Scrutiny)

A lot of blind people in the readings today.
In the first reading, pretty much everyone is blind:
nobody sees anything special in the youngest son,
not even the Prophet…Samuel.

In the Gospel, lots of people think they can see.
But what do they see?
A man born blind;
a man who must be a sinner—
or else his parents must be.
Someone of no importance.

Only one person really sees in the readings:
God sees—in the first reading,
And God in human flesh—that is, Jesus—sees.

Of course, the blindest one of all isn’t the blind man.
He’s sees better than most—
he sees who Jesus is.

No, the blindest ones are those
who think they see just fine.

Boy, isn’t that us a lot of the time?

As last week’s readings—filled with water—
recalled our baptism,
so this week’s readings, especially the first one,
recall the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The prophet comes to anoint a chosen one;
And the Spirit rushed upon him.

That’s for everyone here preparing for confirmation—
either at Easter, or on April 22.
For those of us who have been confirmed,
we, too, have been chosen;
we have been anointed by God;
and the Spirit has rushed upon us as well.

The connection between the readings is this:
When we are guided by the Holy Spirit,
We will see as Christ sees.

Do you want to see?
Ask Jesus to open your eyes.
But be careful what you ask for.

You may see someone in need—
and realize God is calling you to do something about it.
That’s why people never see the “elephant in the room”—
because that’s how we avoid doing something about it.

You may see something, in your own life,
and see it as God does—and realize, it has to go.

The Holy Spirit who rushed upon David,
wants to rush upon each of us as well.
All we have to do is ask.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Aren't you glad he's prodigal? (Sunday homily)

I want to focus on one word: “Prodigal.”

Many of us think we know what “prodigal” means:
someone who wanders off—
someone who is lost—right?

Let me read you Webster’s definition of “prodigal”:
“Exceedingly or recklessly wasteful;
extremely abundant; a spendthrift.”


Nothing about “being lost” there;
nothing all that sinful—is there?


Of course, it’s because the boy spent his fortune
that he was called “prodigal”—but that wasn’t the sin;
the sin was, first, turning his back on his Father;
and second, giving away God’s gifts the wrong way.

And doing that always leaves us empty:
We use the gift of speech—
with vanity or ugliness or falsehood—it leaves us empty.
We hoard gifts for ourselves
that we could have lavished them on others—
we feel empty.

There is nothing wrong with being “prodigal”—
after all, who is more “prodigal” then the Father?
He really is “recklessly spendthrift”—
both with his property and his love.

Which is exactly what the older boy resents, isn’t it?

How often we can be that way.
Someone else “gets off easy”;
someone else gets a free ride—
we can resent it.

But maybe we should challenge ourselves:
Will God really “let them off easy”?

Someone bitterly asked me this about two sisters:
“Joan” doesn’t care about God—or other people—
yet God lets her off easy;
while “Jane” tries to be faithful—and has it so hard!

My response?
What if “Joan” has an “easy” path to hell;
while “Jane” has a hard path to heaven?

We see really very little;
God is doing things we know nothing about.

Ultimately he is both truly just and truly merciful.

But if God, the Prodigal Father,
aches and weeps for all his lost children—
who are we to resent that?

God is “prodigal”—
“recklessly and exceedingly wasteful”
with his love, his forgiveness, and his gifts.

Aren’t we glad?

If he weren’t, where would that leave us?

Rose for Laetare Sunday

How's this?

If you don't like it, relax, I probably will get rid of it Monday...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Some plans for Holy Week...

This is one of the few times I'll post online some plans for parish liturgy that I haven't put in the bulletin yet; but nothing here will be controversial (I hope!) and I won't be able to write about it, in the bulletin, for another week, and even then, rather briefly.

Also, more of my parishioners are reading this blog, so this will "get the word out."

And there may be folks who find this interesting--and you can feel free to give me suggestions if you like...

Palm Sunday

Each parish will have a procession at one of the Masses. Processions are a great idea that are both "old school" but still popular, and yet have fallen out of use in particular places. One of their charms is they tap into the kinetic part of us--some of us learn, not by reading or hearing, but by doing; and for youngsters, moving about is often more fun than sitting still.

For the Passion narrative, we still do it the new "old" way: the people are given a part. My understanding is that this isn't really how we're supposed to do it, but rather, have three readers, one of whom is a deacon or priest. But for now, we'll keep this familiar way in place. Changing this practice won't be easy.

"Spy Wednesday" is when the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle in St. Boniface, after the evening Mass--since the tabernacle is to be empty for Holy Thursday evening Mass, and we will have the Blessed Sacrament in our perpetual chapel. (I.e., the Sacrament has to be moved, so why not after the Wednesday evening Mass?)

So we'll have Wednesday evening Mass at 7--an hour later, both to allow more confessions before, and also to accommodate folks for whom 6 pm is too early--then, after Mass, I'll lead a simple procession around to the chapel (in the basement below the church). The Eucharist will be removed from the monstrance, placed in the ciborium, and that will be replaced on the throne for exposition. (It is permissible to have exposition with a ciborium rather than a monstrance; and the reason for doing this is that the ciborium is being brought from the tabernacle.) The monstrance will be returned, right after the Vigil, with a host consecrated at the Vigil.

Holy Thursday, we'll have Morning Prayer, no morning Mass, in St. Clare Chapel at St. Boniface. Additionally, I'm going to try leading Office of Readings beforehand; it'll take about the same time, altogether, as Mass would have. Plus, the norms for the Liturgy of the Hours especially recommend Office of Readings during the triduum (yes, I know Holy Thursday day is not part of the Triduum...). Our music director is working on some musical resources, which are not as readily available for Liturgy of the Hours.

At 3 pm, at St. Mary, I'll be welcoming the priests of the area for dinner; we'll begin with None, which is the old name for what is insipidly called "mid-afternoon prayer." After that, the Eucharist will be removed from the tabernacle, and moved to a secure place of reposition in the sacristy. Then the church will be "stripped." The Mass of the Lord's Supper will be at St. Boniface, so St. Mary's will be made ready for Good Friday at this point.

At St. Mary, we'll have Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, for whoever is interested, on Good Friday, followed by confessions, other prayers, leading up to the solemn liturgy (not Mass) of Good Friday at 2 pm. We'll have more confessions later, followed by the Good Friday liturgy at 7, at St. Boniface.

On Holy Saturday morning, I'll lead Office of Readings and Morning Prayer for the catechumens and candidates, after which I'll rehearse the Vigil liturgy for the sponsors and servers, while the catechumens and candidates go home. Based on how I'm told they did in the early church (talk about "old school"!), they simply show up, and their sponsors get them through it; it's worked fine the past few years I've done it this way.

The Vigil will be an extravaganza, as well it ought to be; I really hope many parishioners will come, both to support those to enter into the Church, or into full communion, and for a beautiful and especially meaningful liturgy. I've been telling folks: if for no other reason, come because it won't be so crowded as Easter Day!

One of the things I've considered is having someone chant one or more of the readings, something that rarely happens, yet is entirely proper to do. We'll see if that happens this year... I do plan on chanting the Gospel. God willing, I won't have a vocal "blowout" before the last Mass of Easter, as almost everything will be sung for Easter!

Thankfully, our fine music director has done a good job leading our choir, which is growing (especially when both parish choirs come together), and we aim to continue to grow; plus, it is deepening its repertoire, and the members seem to enjoy both the challenge of some of what we've done, and the thrill of pulling off harder pieces. I don't know what music is planned, but I know it will be good; I heard glowing reports about the Midnight Mass I was too sick to attend at Christmas.

Now, I just have to find out who knows how to turn off the bells between the Mass of the Lord's Supper, and the Vigil...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just for Virginians...

Here's a shout-out for my good friends in Vuh-jin-yuh:

What the heck was former governor James Gilmore doing, today, sucking up to the Fire Fighters union, talking about how he's "from a union family," and boasting he's "going to get this union's endorsement"?

This from a governor who boasted being for Right to Work?

Y'all know about this?

What will the Governor do about JOBS?

I just read the report in the Dayton Daily News about our new governor's "state of the state" speech. In fairness to his excellency, I don't assume a brief report in the press gets the story right. But the story is more money for senior citizens, fewer charter schools, an end to vouchers, more government-funded health insurance and . . .

What about jobs, governor?

"Also, he proposed targeting $250 million a year in tax exempt bonds for four years to invest in job-creating energy projects."

How many jobs will that create, governor?

Does anybody have anything to add, from what Governor Strickland said?

Is this it?

This was the governor's "state of the state" address. The state of the state, governor, is that we need jobs and economic development.

What are you going to do, governor?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bulletin item about the Holy Father's letter on the Eucharist...

Pope Benedict on the Eucharist. This past week, the holy father issued a long-awaited letter called Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love). It is a lengthy meditation on the Eucharist. Parishioners may be interested to know he recommends some things we are already doing:

• Perpetual adoration of our Eucharistic Lord.
• Following the rubrics closely.
• Gregorian chant: “I desire, in accordance with the request advanced by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy.”
• Latin: “the better-known prayers of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally,* I ask that future priests…receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.”

Some wonder why I asked you to learn some prayers in Latin. I reiterate: Vatican II said to do it; so did Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and now Pope Benedict XVI. This is not “going back,” it’s continuing to embrace our tradition, rather than leaving it behind.

After I’ve read the holy father’s letter more closely, I will propose a way we can study it together. The successor of St. Peter is teaching us about the Mass; shall we not learn from him?
—Father Martin

* Update, 6 pm: A comment to this post highlights what I suspect will be the "hermeneutic of restriction" likely to be offered by those who don't like the idea of using Latin in the Mass: "oh, he was only talking about large, international gatherings." As I say in the comments, sure he did talk about them, but he's not only talking about that. That said, I decided I won't give anyone an easy target: so I edited the item for the bulletin, and hence, I likewise edited the post, above (deleted text is grey.)

Sacramentum Caritatis

I just quickly read through the holy father's exhortation. It covers a lot of ground, and is mostly about a proper theology of the Eucharist and the Mass.

Those who expected a series of prohibitions or very specific mandates will be disappointed.

However, it has a lot to say about the Eucharist, which will be skipped over by some, I suspect. (I am skipping over it for the moment!) It does offer support for several aspects of the "reform of the reform":

* preference for Gregorian chant--all music not created equal (42);
use of Latin--priests should learn and use it, and teach the faithful to do the same (62);
* churches should have perpetual adoration (67)
* encourages locating the tabernacle in the apse of the church (69);
Read it for yourselves (just posted) . . .

One has to wonder at some advanced claims about the contents of this exhortation that have not been borne out--that it would offer a sweeping series of mandates concerning the Mass. Likewise, one wonders why the holy father took so long with this letter.

I have a feeling there is more coming from Pope Benedict on the Mass; he has written far too much about the liturgy. But this should be a cautionary tale about relying too much on rumor and speculation.

(Biretta tip to Rorate Caeli.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

What is the pope going to say about the Eucharist?

Many people are eagerly awaiting the holy father's apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, due to be released publicly, from Rome, tomorrow. Sometime around 7 am, EDT.

I have found it very puzzling that nothing much has come out about this document in the past few days. Assuming the holy father wants it embargoed (why? leaking out exerpts and details is one way to heighten interest and generate lots of media attention), I find it hard to believe he could entirely succeed in that desire -- when the document has to be translated into several languages, including English, and printed up in large quantities, not to mention distributed worldwide -- it seems to me far too many people have to have access to it for the contents to be kept secret.

The U.S. bishops' site is already taking orders for it: the document will be 100+ pages long, it says, and sell for $6.95, if memory serves.

There are lots of rumors about what it will say, but none of them come from close to the source.

Some bloggers at another site said, oh the secular media isn't interested. Could be; but the secular media likes controversy, especially in the Catholic Church. What's more, there are Catholic media that would be interested. Nobody is reporting anything. Hmm.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Share the Water (Sunday homily, 1st Scrutiny)

Turn on the TV, or go online,
And you’ll hear how “dehydrated” we’re supposed to be.

Go to Ulbrichs, see how many brands of water!
So much water;
yet we have to push ourselves to drink enough of it.

If this be true with ordinary water;
How the Living Water the Gospel describes?
Are we getting enough of that Water?

The woman at the well asks,
“Where do I get this Water?”

Our Lord said: “The water I shall give
will become in you
a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Jesus wants us to be fountains of God’s Spirit,
Welling up to eternal life!

This gift we receive in baptism.
That’s when each of us becomes
a geyser of the Water of Life.

In our midst is someone anticipating the day
he will receive this gift—
a gift the rest of us might take for granted.

At the Great Vigil of Easter, Holy Saturday night,
he will be baptized.

Many of you have not been part of the Vigil Mass.
Yes, I know it takes longer, and it’s late.
Still, I really encourage you to come.
Here’s a practical reason—
we won’t have standing-room only
as we will on Easter Sunday!

But a better reason is to participate in
the most important celebration of our Faith.
Many say they wish they knew their faith better.
I promise you, if you participate in Holy Thursday,
Good Friday and the Great Vigil of Easter,
it will open up lots of meaning for you.

All the Water—I mean the Holy Spirit—
that the Lord gives us, is not just for us.
The Gift is for us to share.

How about giving a cool cup of mercy to someone today?
When rage and anger break out,
How about pouring his Water on those fires?

We have plenty—share the Water!

Sometimes it is as simple as an actual cup of cold water.

Too many people all over the world,
and right here in Piqua, lack the basics:
clean water, clean clothes,
work, food, health care, a home.

The causes of poverty aren’t that mysterious:
broken families, drugs and addiction;
young people dropping out of school,
having families before they are ready.

Some of our neighborhoods are facing these problems.
If we’re safe from them,
the Spirit nonetheless compels us to go back
and make a difference.

Our schoolchildren are participating in the Rice Bowl,
to help feed the hungry.
Many here help St. Vincent de Paul, and Bethany Center.

We also make sure our business and political leaders understand
we want them to address root causes:
to be truly compassionate to the mentally ill—
not just dump them on the street.

We insist our political leaders
feel the urgency to create jobs.
To take bold action to improve our economy.

You and I are called to share the Water of Life.
How many today are drinking from polluted wells:
the Internet brings pollution into so many homes.
Many seek solace in a bottle, or a pill, or their jobs,
rather than their family.

The commercials tell us we are dehydrated;
so many around us are spiritually dehydrated!

You and I have plenty of Water to share
with thirsty people all around us!

It’s easy: invite someone to the Stations of the Cross,
or a Bible Study.
Let them know our all-night chapel
is open to absolutely everyone.

If we don’t know how to share the Water,
Just ask the Holy Spirit inside you how to do it.

In our journey, we come each week to Mass.
We come to the Rock who pours out the Water.
The Eucharist is Jesus,
The Source of that pure and abundant Water.

Ask him for the Water;
Ask the Spirit inside you to well up and flow freely.
Christ calls us to share the Water.
He’ll know how to make it happen.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Be fruitful in pursuing justice (Sunday homily)

If you want a one-word summary
of the readings today,
may I suggest that word be Justice?

Moses saw God in the Burning Bush—
it was a moment of personal conversion for him.
But right away God told him what it was for:
You will go and lead my people out of slavery!

Justice means “to each his due”:
So, if I go to confession, and I admit,
“I spread a false story about someone”—
justice requires I do something to repair that:
to correct the facts.

Justice means we recognize our relationship to others.

One of the flaws of our society
is that we are so individual-focused
that we forget about the common good.

How often do we first ask, not, “is it good for me,” but:
Is this good for the community?

An example would be changing the Mass schedule.
Last week, I had an insert in the bulletin,
alerting you to the need, at some point, to deal with this.
I appreciate all the responses, pro and con.
I had one conversation where someone said,
“oh, don’t cut that Mass…”—
well, then, what about this one?
“No, not that one, either…” and so it went.

So I smiled, and said,
“Tell me—how do I cut the Mass schedule
without cutting any Masses?”
And he smiled. He understood.

But some folks haven’t been smiling.
“Change someone else’s—not mine!”
For example, if we move the 7 am Mass
from St. Boniface to St. Mary—that will be a big change.

But the only practical alternative
is to have three Masses at one parish,
and only one, at the other.

And I believe that will do damage to the parish
that has only one; and that will damage our whole effort.
See the problem? Can we make some sacrifice,
for the sake of the well-being of the whole community?
That’s the common good.

While we give energy to the Mass schedule,
our local community, and our world,
face far bigger problems.
That first reading reminds us
that when people are oppressed—God hears their cries!
On Judgment Day, he will ask if we heard them—
and what we did about it.

In Darfur, in Africa, folks are being targeted for death;
and the world’s leaders just wring their hands!

We’re in a mess in Iraq; some say, just leave, now.
Might be better for us, but would it be better for Iraq?
That I don’t know, and I don’t know who does know!

But I would argue that our leaders should be guided,
not only by what’s good for our own nation,
but by the common good of the whole world.

At home, we have many opportunities to work for justice.

Many of us are involved in the prolife cause—
because if human life isn’t safe, what other rights are?
The Church calls us to avoid use of the death penalty;
not because the criminals don’t deserve it;
but because we are better off, as a society,
if we kill fewer people, rather than more.

How we respond to the poor is also a question of justice:
do we insist that our politicians actually work
to lift people out of poverty?
Are we pushing them enough to create jobs?

While we work for larger solutions,
what can we do, now, as individuals?

Here is something very practical we can all do:
When you eat out, or have a pizza delivered—
leave a good tip!

That may not seem like a big thing;
but it’s within our reach. We can do that, today.

The final words of the Gospel today
are both a word of hope—but also warning.

The gardener in the parable is the Lord himself;
if he chops at the ground around us, if he prunes us,
how do we react? “Ow, that hurts! I don’t want change!
Go somewhere else!”

His purpose is that we repent; that we change our lives;
we deepen our roots in the Lord, and our nourished,
through prayer, through confession, the Eucharist.

If we will not bear fruit; we will be cut down;
but he’d rather we do bear fruit—especially for others.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I went to prison

It's been another heavy-duty week. I'm tired.

The payoff is accomplishing things.

This week, as I hinted last week, I had an opportunity for a business deal to benefit the parish. It involved a piece of property, abutting the church parking lot, that--by our acquiring it--would mean more parking. It has been on the real estate market for awhile -- our area is depressed -- and I had been in touch with the realtor about making the deal.

The seller--an international bank that got it back via foreclosure--decided to put it up for auction. So down to Fairborn--a suburb of Dayton--I went, along with a parishioner who is also a realtor. Neither of us had ever been to one of these auctions, but we felt pretty confident. I knew how much I would bid, and either we'd get it, or not.

The auction was at the Holiday Inn; and ever since seeing the movie The Blues Brothers, I can't think of Holiday Inn without thinking of "Murph and the Murphtones." Well, guess what we encountered, walking into the room for the auction? There was a fellow, on a keyboard, playing elevator music! All he needed was the fur trim on his keyboard, and it would have been perfect.

I thought it odd that they'd go to the trouble of having a keyboardist to entertain us while we waited; turns out, he was to play during the auction! Only a lot louder. Clearly the idea was to create excitement and get the crowd ginned up. The first few properties went for ridiculously small amounts--less than a car goes for, as the parishioner with me observed--and that got my hopes up.

Well, that wasn't the case with the property I wanted. Another fellow was bidding it up, and we soon reached my limit. When I stopped bidding, the realtor said, "keep going, let's get it." When I explained I was at the limit, she said, "I'll make up the difference." So we kept going, and won it with the highest bid.

We had to sit through the rest of the auction before we signed the papers. I looked around; the gentleman bidding against us had left.

The paperwork part was pretty clearcut, and off we went. I made some calls to follow-through, prepare for demolition, etc. You'd think it would be cut-and-dried? Not so. The bank had the right under the terms of the auction to come back with a counter--i.e., ask for more money. I was stunned.

The reason for my reaction is simple: the area is depressed, the house is a wreck, and it has sat and sat, for months. There were only two people interested, and the other person stopped bidding! Plus, I had proposed a deal on the property that would have been very favorable to the seller (not hard to figure out what it was--we're a tax-deductible institution...) but no interest.

My comment to the realtor was, "tell them to jump in the lake." She is, thankfully, more diplomatic than that.

So, where do we stand? Still waiting.

As I have written before, there are lots of interactions a priest can't talk about: personal problems someone brings to me, sensitive matters, complaints (I could talk about them, except if the person making the complaint saw my post and recognized the situation, it could hardly help things to see it online), and so forth. Also, I have things I'm looking into that aren't ready to be publicized. Anyway, my week was filled with such things.

I do have good news: our parochial vicar, Father Tom, is feeling better. We all got a scare at Mass today, when at the very beginning, he tripped over the altar cloth, and took a header, but he was fine, except skinning his knee. But it did put a chill on Mass, as you might guess; and as it was the school Mass, everyone will be talking about it. He did get up and make a funny comment about it, I hope that reassured everyone. He and I talked about getting him back into the daily and Sunday Mass routine, which is good news. Wait till he sees the work I've got for him; he'll be sorry he said anything!

Seriously, he has very serious health issues that aren't going away. So upturns like this are a gift, and we hope they last quite awhile. But it is still good news.

Well, no doubt you are waiting impatiently to find out about prison. That was today's special project.

A parishioner from my last assignment went to prison for a very serious crime--serious enough that he got 10 years. We had several conversations, back when the situation first arose, and we have exchanged letters since then. He asked me to visit, and while the prison is about 50 miles away, it's the sort of request I felt obliged to honor.

I've only visited a jail once, never a prison. It started with an exchange of letters--I had to fill out an application, and send along various things to prove I am who I say I am. Then I had to call, and schedule a visit. Had to be there by 2:15 pm, or else no visit that day.

Well, off I went to Lebanon Correctional Institute. As I drove along S.R. 63, racing the clock (I left late), I saw, "Warren Correctional Institute." Lebanon is in Warren County, so I figured, pretty close. Not till I parked and walked inside did I find out they aren't the same. Back in the car, racing down the road.

What does it look like? Just like what you see on tv, except not as interesting. I mean: tv shows and movies at least try to make a prison look interesting, even if scary. This was just drab-scary: boring buildings, surrounded by extremely serious-looking guard towers, fences, and lots and lots and lots of razor wire.

Did you see Dude, Where's My Car? Remember the DMV clerk that wanted to chop off one of the dude's arms for reaching under the glass? It was a lot like that, except that the clerk softened up considerably when I was polite to her, and explained I'd never been there. You have to figure these folks can get hardened by their experiences, not to mention on edge.

Well, after that paperwork, then to the guard by the metal detector. He was pleasant enough; only everything had to come out of my pockets, and pretty much only my hankerchief could stay in my pocket. (I knew beforehand I couldn't bring him the Eucharist; I hoped I could bring my oil for anointing; no dice. Couldn't bring my breviary--prayer book--either.) What to do with the rest? "For a quarter you can put it in a locker." Well, I didn't have a quarter; I had no change, and no cash in my wallet. So I had to take it all back to the car. The guard held my keys. Then, to pass through the detector, my hankerchief went in one of those bins, my pockets had all to be turned out, then I walked through. (Wait till the TSA agents see this--that'll be next for our lovely outings at the airport.) Then through one big, heavy, clanging gate, where I had my hand scanned, to verify the stamp I'd received at the first window, then into the area where the prisoners met their visitors.

It wasn't awful; it looked a lot like a cafeteria in a air hanger, that sort of thing. Only there were bars everywhere. While I waited, I read the rules, posted on the wall. No inappropriate clothing; proper underwear at all times. A hug or kiss at the beginning, and end, and hand-holding inbetween, that's all. The prisoners have to sit facing the guard station.

Well, of course I can't say much about the conversation, except that the gentleman I visited looked good, and had grown spiritually in the near-year he's been behind bars. I stayed until the guards said we had to leave; but actually, that meant the prisoners--they left first. Then the visitors left, eight at a time. What's more, the visit ended along with a shift for workers, and they get to leave first. So we ended up waiting; a couple of folks groused at the guard, which struck me as a particularly bone-headed thing to do. He was only doing his job--and this is hardly the place where you can be breezy about rules!--and even if he was been a hard-case (which he wasn't), why irritate the man?

He was counting off people right before me, and just my luck, I was number nine! So I was the very last. We chatted a little; he told me they had air-conditioning, only it comes on April 15, stays on till October 15, then heat takes its place. Prisoners complain when its too hot or too cold (parishioners do the very same thing), and there's not much he can do about it (same for pastors).

The other thing--which doesn't suprise me once I thought about it--were the little reminders that this was, after all, just another place of work: home-made signs here and there, doo-dads at work-stations, the little things we do to personalize things. Not saying it was pleasant--but it had just that much humanity about it.

The good news is that the man I visited reported Mass twice a month, communion services the other weeks; plus Bible studies led by Catholics, including sometimes a priest. Priest comes periodically to hear confessions. Prisoners can get books, and they have a little Catholic library. Not saying its posh, but again, some humanity about it.

Got back here almost 5 pm, did a little work; now to the Fish Fry.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Glory & Commitment (Sunday homily)

In today’s Gospel, one minute,
Jesus looked as he always looked—
the next minute, he is enveloped in glory.
Then, just as quickly, it’s over.

The point, of course, is that the glory was always there—
hidden within the ordinary—
but unfortunately, we usually fail to see it.

These readings are not only about glory;
they are about commitment as well.

That strange first reading is confusing
until you know that a covenant was being formed.

Those making the covenant
would walk between the animals—and through the blood.
“May this happen to me if I break the covenant.”

Notice who passed between the pieces?
It wasn’t Abram: rather, it was God who made the vow!

That’s commitment!
When we realize how committed God is to us,
We dare to risk such commitment in response.

Today, as you know, I invite you to consider
supporting the Archdiocesan Fund Drive.
You might wonder how that connects.
May I suggest it is connected to glory…
and to commitment.

Peter, James and John saw the ordinary Jesus—
for them to see that Jesus is a lot more than that,
they needed God’s help.

You and I see ourselves—our local church—
and we see the ordinary, nuts-and-bolts—
and we, too, need God’s help to see beyond that:
to see all the ways God is at work in it all.

Beyond our parish is a larger church—the Archdiocese,
which in turn is part of a worldwide Catholic Church.
The fund we give to, today, supports that larger effort.

For example, our seminary, in Cincinnati.
If I am any good at what I do, as a priest,
you can thank the seminary for training me,
and more than that, helping me hear God’s call.

Who pays for our seminary? You do—with this fund.
Many parishioners come to me with problems,
and it becomes clear they need guidance
beyond what I can give.

That’s when I refer them to Catholic Social Services,
which provides counseling.
Who pays for that? You do—through this fund.
This fund also helps pay
the pensions for our retired priests.
Father Caserta gets no salary from this parish.
All we give him is help with groceries and so forth.

The pension he gets from the Archdiocese—
who pays for that?

You do—with this fund.

Now, all that seems very ordinary:
Yet see beyond: the lives I influence, as priest,
I hope and pray, will be changed for eternity.
Do we need priests? Then we need a seminary.

Families in conflict find counseling and hope—
who can doubt the eternal value of that?
See how there’s a lot more,
to this fund, than first meets the eye?

Giving to this Archdiocesan Fund
may not seem very “glorious”—but if it helps save souls?
What greater glory is there than that?

I also said it was about commitment.
God showed Abram his commitment:
God pledged his life to be faithful to his Covenant.
And on the Cross, God honored that commitment.

You and I are saved, for eternity, as a result!
We, in turn, show our commitment to God
by helping his people in their need.
And our gratitude enables us
to make that kind of commitment.

So back to “nuts-and-bolts”:
Today, I invite you to make a commitment
regarding the Archdiocesan Fund.

Our parish goal is $12,000.
If every household gave $20 to this fund,
we will make that goal.
Of course, some cannot do that,
but others can do far more.

Our parish goal is $20,000.
If every household gave $30, we will make that goal.
Of course, some cannot do that, but others can do more.

There are forms and pencils in your pews.
In a moment, I’ll stop talking,
So you can decide what you want to do.

If all we see is the ordinary…
then we don’t see Jesus as anything more than a man;
the bread and wine never become anything more;
and you and I never become anything more than we are.

And there is little point in having hope to change things,
because we all see plenty of reason to be cyncial.

But you would not be here if that’s all you saw!
You are here because you know who Jesus is:
He is glorious Son of God!
And he is here in our midst—
He will feed us with his own Body and Blood;
and through us, he can and will remake this world!

Just as Jesus helped his Apostles to see more;
So helps us see more.

The glory is always here, hidden in the ordinary.
Lord: help us to see!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Weekly Standard: throw prolifers under the bus

In this article, the Weekly Standard comes out of the neo-con closet on the abortion issue: time to throw the prolifers under the bus.

The Weekly Standard has promoted itself as a conservative journal, and often publishes articles in that vein. But it's neo-conservative roots are beginning to show.

"Neo-conservatism" is a movement that has its roots in disillusioned liberals, coming out of the culture shock of the late '60s and the '70s, who basically said, "we never thought it would go that far!" They "moved to the right" insofar as they stayed put, while their fellow liberals continued lurching leftward. (The whole "left/right" thing is a questionable paradigm, but it's too familiar, and I don't care to dissect it just now.) In fairness, the neo-cons did move somewhat rightward, but not so much. Just because Ralph Nader called Al Gore a "rightie" doesn't make it so. Look at what they believe.

Neo-cons tended to be more hawkish on foreign policy, in distinction to those they broke ranks with, who really went wobbly on the Cold War; also, they tended not to be rapturous about every latest mutation of the counterculture, nor constantly apologetic for being white, American, heterosexual, middle class, and Western. So there was a basis for them to line up with conservatives and the GOP, particularly in the Democratic Party of McGovern and Jimmy Carter.

That said, the neo-cons were themselves wobbly on issues that have always been essentially conservative. Conservatives really don't like big government; neo-cons say, "eh!" One of the litmus-test issues that, in the past, divided a neo-conservative from a conservative was how you handled Big Labor. Conservatives have little use for the way unionism works under existing laws, as it tends to be compulsory-collectivist, class-warfare-oriented, and it works from a lumpenproletariat mindset that simply can't fathom that workers can really succeed as individuals, so they should shut up and fall in line with the union, for their own good. Neo-conservatives, in the past, have always been embarrassed by the Right to Work issue, and have always tried to have it both ways; maintain the present, conflict-promoting, coercion-imposing labor-law system, but restraining its worst excesses.

Likewise, conservatives don't advocate new government programs to advance conservative objectives; they want less government: as President Reagan said, "government isn't the solution to the problem; government is the problem." Neo-cons went along with that because they agreed with Reagan on the Cold War. This present Bush administration is essentially neo-conservative.

Conservatives derive their views on abortion, pornography, homosexual "marriage" and related issues from religion, in effect, Christianity. (Yes, I know that not all conservatives are Christian, and there's no need that they be; but Christianity remains the source nonetheless. I don't know how athiests who are conservative rationalize this, but probably something like Oriana Fallaci, who was an athiest, and yet essentially identified with Christianity, because she valued Western Civilization, and she considered the latter impossible without the former.)

Neo-cons are of various religious beliefs (it's a nasty crack to try to suggest "neo-con equals Jew," and I don't see it that way), but it sure seems they don't feel as visceral about the so-called "social issues" as conservatives do. Indeed, conservatives don't even like to call them that, since that diminishes their importance. Neo-cons tend to view such issues as more peripheral, where conservatives view them as far more essential. (These terms are not meant as a dichotomy, as if everyone who is some sort of conservative is one of these two categories; there are, in fact, quite a variety among conservatives, including so-called "paleos" and those who tend to be strongly libertarian. And then, of course, you have those who seem to belong to more than one category at once.)

Anyway, I offer all this both to explain what I mean by "neo-conservative," which I don't intend as a pejorative--at least in this article!--and to preface my remarks on the Weakly Standard (oops--how did that extra "a" get in there? Must be this sticky keyboard...).

Now, onto the article itself...

It is all part of the fever that infects more and more folks as elections near: the sense that winning the next election is so supremely important that more and more must be thrown overboard in order to do it. Thus the condescending lectures that are being given these days to various conservative folks that they should just get over their concerns, and get on board the Giuliani (or Romney or McCain or fill in your own name) bandwagon.

It perpetuates the lie -- I'm sorry, that's what it is -- that somehow, the "litmus test" of the 100% prolife position is an albatross for the GOP--that the GOP would be better off if it weren't forced to nominate prolife candidates for president.

Now, it is true that not all professions of support for the prolife cause are equally sincere, and I think there are some signs that prolifers themselves are getting savvier about that. The torpedoing of hapless Harriet Meirs--who may, in fact, have been good on the issue for all we know--shows that, I think. And it is true that prolifers are not immune to the fever I described above, especially when it comes to the presidency--so our current President has gotten something of a pass for not really being 100% prolife (he supports legal abortion for rape and incest).

The article either betrays a laughable credulity on the part of the author, or the author expects his readers to be gullible dolts, when it says, oh, sure, Giuliani is pro-abortion, but he'll choose the kind of judges prolifers want! Hold on, hold on...

First: Giuliani said he'd name justices like Alito and Roberts. Hasn't anyone noticed that these judges have yet to demonstrate they are the kind of judges we hope for, and were promised?

Second: and we're supposed to be impressed that Giuliani says this? What do you expect him to say? "I tend to favor nominees like Ginsberg and Thurgood Marshall." I think if you go back, you will find GOP nominees always say the right things about who they'll nominate as judges--the elder Bush did, so did Reagan. And Reagan has street cred as a conservative--yet of three he named to the high court, two were bad; Bush the elder was 50/50.

So please, how stupid do they think we are? "I'll pick great judges" Oh, well, glad that's settled...

Third: the article sidesteps the question of why Giuliani is pro-abortion. I don't happen to know why he came to that view, but I do know how he justified his support for gun-control: he said, well, it was New York! I.e., he tailored his views so he'd get elected.

Oh, but of course, he'd never do that once he's president...he wouldn't want to get pro-aborts on board with anything he wanted, by trading away a supreme court justice? No, not Giuliani...

Another glaring flaw of the article--it's really insulting, because it is as if the author thinks we're too stupid to notice--is that it suggests that all conservatives have to object to is just this little ole difference, it's not so great, really... I mean, it's not like Giuliani is only a teensy-bit pro-abortion.

Only a few years ago, Giuliani was appearing before the National Abortion Rights Action League, proud to identify with them. "But he hasn't done that lately!" Yeah, I wonder why?

Now, if you read those remarks--yes, they are brief--but they show him rather an advocate of the GOP being "pro choice" on abortion. If he was sincere, that suggests to me he will not be content to be a lonely pro-abort in a sea of prolifers. And of all the things you can assert about Giuliani, the idea that he's going to leave the levers of power unhandled is pretty hard to swallow. If he becomes President, you can bet he'll shape the party as he believes. Of course, he might not have been sincere in those remarks; fine--then don't argue he's sincere in what he promises you, now.

Also, the WS article expects you to be too inattentive to notice that Giuliani is lousy on more than abortion. As noted, he's a gun-grabber.

The idea that he is simultaneously in favor of punching holes in the Second Amendment, and also some sort of libertarian, is more cognitive dissonance than I can endure, but perhaps you are made of sterner stuff.

While I don't for a moment accept his libertarian justification for being "pro-choice," whatever persuasiveness it has evaporates when one comes to guns, and thus his credibility evaporates as well. What some people fail to realize is that the right to own a gun is essentially inseparable from the right to use one in self-defense (i.e., despite the incompetent argumentation of the NRA, gun rights are not essentially about hunting and sports, but about self defense); and that, from the right of self-defense itself.

It is, in fact, a question of self-possession, vs. being a ward of the state. Because gun rights--however distasteful many find the idea--are about your autonomy when it comes to preserving your own life. If someone comes after you with a big, nasty gun, do you have the right -- legally, and morally -- to use an equally big, nasty gun, or even one that is bigger and nastier, to stop that aggression? The answer is, yes you do. No, you may not run around and hurt people with that big, nasty gun; but you have every right--and even a positive duty--to stop someone who aims to rape and kill you and others. And in the real world, you need big, nasty guns to do it. The gun-grabbers say, "let the government do it for you." Well, when you cede control, to government, over the maintenance of your life, what is left of your own liberty? As it happens, the government clearly does not guarantee to arrive in time to stop the thugs from killing you and yours, so the duty to be prepared remains your own. (By the way, there is something rather distasteful about the idea that while the Second Amendment is fine for most folks, it's not for those people in cities. But I guess the NAACP has its hands full with Lacrosse.)

Then you have Giuliani's position on "gay rights"; and where he stands on Right to Work, I'll leave for another day. My point is, the argument that he's otherwise a conservative is untenable. It's a well-used one--Schwarzenegger got the same promotion for awhile, till it became totally laughable (and was no longer needed). (Maybe all we need is to say, no Republicans with unspellable names.)

The Weekly Standard article is one of many showing up here and there, trying to sell conservatives on Giuliani. It reminds me of the scene in A Man for All Seasons, where one of the nobles got irritated with Thomas More (this is a paraphrase): we've all sold out, it wasn't so hard--why do you have to be so prissy?

Who knows what will happen--but my gut is that if Giuliani somehow were to get the nomination, I think the GOP could be in for a big, nasty surprise in November 2008, especially if the Democrats were to decide 2008 were the year to stop being so aggressively pro-abortion (say, they nominated Obama, who seems to be playing a rhetorical game akin to Giuliani's).

Comment Verification Problems?

Have you been having problems with the comment verification thing?

I noticed some problems when I post on other blogs, also hosted by "blogger" so I wonder if you're having that problem, here. I can't tell, as blogger no longer makes me verify myself, when I post on my own blog (which is nice).

So, I turned off the verification feature since, if you are having problems, you wouldn't be able to tell me otherwise.

Alas, that opens the door to all those idiot bingo and casino spam posts and other irritating things. So the verification will be turned back on, probably tomorrow sometime, at the latest, Monday.

Friday, March 02, 2007

It's Friday?

Well, it's been one of those weeks, only moreso.

I won't even try to give you a day-to-day. As has been usual lately, there are lots of "balls in the air" right now, and that is stressful, frankly. That said, I like the way a number of these projects are headed, so that's encouraging:

* A couple of parishioners and I went down to Dayton to meet with an expert in "development" -- meaning, involving people, stewardship and -- in that context, financial giving. We wanted to talk about a project I want to pursue; we decided, driving back, that some other things should happen first. So, a set back in a way; except the two gentlemen were not at all sorry for the outcome, they came away encouraged, and that encourages me. But it means a new project before the other project happens...

* Since the whole world has access to this, I will be cagey: there's a possibility for a business deal that would benefit the parish; only there's a deadline. Had a lot of conversations and meetings, all week, over it. At one point, a conversation with folks from the Archdiocese seemed to suggest we'd run out the clock before I could satisfy their concerns--and that meant alot of stress. Well, this is where an attorney is a great resource; a parishioner who has helped me on matters (just in passing, you cannot imagine how much help I get all the time from parishioners with all manner of expertise!), said he'd make a few calls. The sun came back out! Hurray! Now, there remains the business deal itself, which will likely come to fruition next week, for good or ill...

* Property redevelopment: one of the parishes owns a piece of property with a delapidated house. The house will not be renovated; it must come down. I was concerned that this would not be well received by the neighbor. A parishioner met with the neighbor, and all is soothed. We can proceed. Only now I have the project of demolition, and more importantly, determining what will be done with the space--parking or green space, or something of that sort. Not a huge project, but a project.

Now, all this is in addition to the usual stuff: phone calls with problems; discipline issues at school that come to my attention; a funeral; meetings; requests for meetings; not to mention the obvious things: prayer, Mass, personnel matters, etc.

This could sound merely like a tired complaint, but I hope not. Oh, there's a side of me that is more than happy to waste time doing next to nothing; maybe not you, but there is that lazy part of me. Instead, I have plenty of interesting and worthwhile things to work on, too many really, but a good chunk of that I can't blame on anyone but me: a lot of the projects I'm juggling were my idea! As it is, with all I'm doing, I've started a couple of new ones lately.

I do hope this paints a realistic picture. Perhaps you can see how a pastor can be so "worldly"--he has so many "worldly" concerns to deal with. I wonder if its really true that some people are surprised by this. (If that's you, post anonymously and tell me so, please.) Perhaps you can see how a pastor can be seduced into being rather worldly--I don't mean in his taste for nice things, that's different. (That is often readily offered by others.) I mean that sometimes priests seem to be too much about money, business, real estate, and not about spirituality. Well, it's understandable.

This is why I pay attention to liturgical matters, and why I have a weekly Bible study. And, of course, it's why it's important to be prayerful.

Someone also might think all this is "too worldly." Well, except that we don't have to divide reality that way. There is one reality, and it includes both the spiritual and the temporal. A good, Catholic spirituality seeks and discovers God in the world, and sees how these "worldly" matters relate to the kingdom.

And there's the fact that a huge part of being a pastor--or, really, being a human being--is all about relationships. In all these matters, there are human interactions. Are they positive? Is Christ in them? Is the Holy Spirit at work in them? One of the things many pastors will tell you is that a lot of folks come to faith, not through a mission, or a book, or a video, or a homily, but mainly through the development of these relationships that lead them to see themselves as part of the Catholic Church. Sometimes its sudden, but often it's gradual.

Anyway, it's overwhelmingly a mystery. So you plug away, and figure God's pretty creative--after all, look what he uses to make flowers grow!