September 29, 2006

Buon Compleanno, Signore Merisi da Caravaggio!


Yesterday, was the 435th anniversary of the birth of my favorite painter: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. I, completely, spaced it. Be assured, this is not the first time I've forgotten a birthday.

This painter, is NOT THE Michelangelo of the Sistine Chapel. My guy is "called" by the town he grew up in, Caravaggio, near Milan. Michelangelo of the Sistine Chapel gets to be called by his first name, like Cher.

Caravaggio had a "colorful" life to put it mildly. He was a notorious brawler. He was possibly a murderer, though there are disputes over whether or not it was an accidental killing. The murder occurred during a fight. In spite of his lifestyle he continued to find patronage. He painted several monumental religous paintings. He was a member of the Knights of Malta for a time, until he had to go "on the run" again after a knight was seriously wounded as the result of yet another brawl involving the painter. He was incarcerated for a time. He had many enemies and at least one attempt was made on his life. He spent a lot of his time when he was not painting, fighting and running.

He is, to me, THE master of light and dark, shadow and light in oil. A blog insert does not do his paintings justice, you have to actually stand before the work to get the full impact. My favorite Caravaggio is The Taking of Christ. It's at the top of this post. I saw it at the National Gallery of Ireland in 1990. It was the first Caravaggio, I'd ever seen. It grabbed me from across the room and would not let me go. It gives the viewer a "you are there" feeling and the "glare" is so vivid on the black armor of the soldier with his arm across the foreground you swear that if you look closely you can see yourself in the reflection of a mirror that is not really there.

Caravaggio is also responsible for the painting of my patron saint, St. Catherine of Alexandria, that adorns my blog.

For those who love a good conspiracy (Stephan!), Caravaggio supposedly died of a fever on July 18, 1610. The date is not certain. Caravaggio's body was never found.

Addendum: I forgot to mention this in my original post. If you live in the Twin Cities area, the Minneapolis Institute of Art will be showing a Caravaggio on loan from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut: St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstacy. The MIA show is called: A Passion for Paintings: Old Masters from the Wadsworth Atheneum. The exhibition runs from October 8, 2006-January 7, 2007. The MIA is one of my favorite places to visit during the holidays because I enjoy the Period Rooms' Holiday decorations. The Caravaggio will be an added treat for me this year!

September 28, 2006

A Director of Pope and the Witch Responds-Part 2

Mr. Stephan Golux contacted me again via my blog comments. Mr. Golux directed a production of The Pope and The Witch at Yale several years ago. He originally contacted me a few weeks ago, (read it here)thru a post I did on the University of Minnesota's production of The Pope and The Witch scheduled for March 2007.

I am going to post his letter again as a blog post. I think it is important that we hear what he has to say and I don't want his letter to get "lost" in the comments section.

I deleted one sentence towards the beginning of his letter where he gave me a way to directly contact him. I don't think he wants to hear from everyone!

Dear Cathy:

First off, many thanks for posting my letter in your blog. I must admit -- I had bookmarked the page at which I "posted a comment" originally, and checked back occasionally, and it was only after several days of not finding my post or anything to suggest rejection that I figured out how to get to the main page of your blog. So much for my blogging skills.

Let me assure you, as much as I can, that I am who I say I am. In fact I created my blogging identity some months ago to study how this whole blogging thing works, and then I lost interest (or time) and never followed through. So my blogging ID has, as you say, only been used to respond to your blogs.

So much for that housecleaning!

You ask what I mean by "The Vatican". I can define this quite directly -- I mean the political entity that acts on its own right as a nation in the earthly political world of men. The Vatican has ambassadors to other countries in the world, just as other countries have ambassadors to The Vatican. As far as I understand it, it is a governmental structure which is quite intriniscally and fundamentally entangled with the Catholic Church, but it is not the same thing as the Catholic Church. I cannot conceive of a religion as being a country, and (to the best of my knowledge) there is no other religion which is a country. As such, I strongly believe that there is a discernable difference between "The Vatican" and "the Catholic Church", and to reassure you farther, I see a further difference between both "The Vatican", and "the Catholic Church", and (to quote your concern) "the Catholic Faith". While "The Vatican" may be a nation and an institutional bureaucracy, the Church is also an Institutional Bureaucracy, and the Faith is the religion itself pure and simple.

While you may not agree that such a delineation reflects reality, I am quite sure (having met him) that Mr. Fo does make these distinctions. I happen to agree with him.

Please do not put me (or Mr. Fo) in Dan Brown's camp. I don't think that any of that Da Vinci code drivel is good scholarship or good research. He was trying to write a potboiler, and he did, and whether it is his right to do so is, perhaps, a different topic for a different time. I couldn't even get through it because I found it boring. I must say that another book at which you would probably take offense, namely "Another Roadside Attraction" by Tom Robbins, I found to be quite fun and amusing, but please understand that I do not mix fact and fiction, and I take it to be a completely fantastical and completely fictional romp.

Not having gotten through Mr. Brown's book or finding any aspect of it particularly compelling, do you still think I would gain something from Ms. Welborn's refutation? I would be quite willing to read it, but don't want to take the time if it will merely serve to refute claims that I have no interest in bolstering in the first place.

I would also like to point out that Mr. Fo wrote "The Pope and the Witch" in the early nineties, well before "The Da Vinci Code" was even a glimmer in Dan Brown's eye. I directed the play in 1996 as my MFA thesis project, and you can be very sure that my department would have taken an extremely dim view of my basing any of my research on fictional fantasy! Mr. Fo was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1997. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Fo in Italy in 1998 when working on another project of bringing an unrelated work of his to the United States.

While I can't speak definitively about Mr. Fo's opinions on secret societies at The Vatican, I can say that for my part I do not believe that there are secret groups there who have infiltrated to take over the world. I do believe that there are groups at varying levels of organization within the political structure of the Vatican who work in their own self-interest. This is something I believe to be fundamentally true about all human political structures. I understand that this may be a highly controversial statement for you and for readers of your blog, but (contrary to the poster who left a comment to your posting of my original missive) I do not in any way disrespect those who hold the Catholic Faith merely because I believe the Vatican to be rife with political intrigue. The political intrigue has been there for centuries, and this seems to me to border on established fact. There have even been two popes simultaneously at times, waging war on each other, and the Vatican has itself waged war on other nations for reasons that should not seem to dissimilar to us when we look at the mess the world is in right now.

As far as I understand it, in the history of the Catholic Church, even the concept of Papal Infallibility is quite recent.

As a simple example, even reports in Catholic newspapers about the Second Vatican Council make it clear that the dialog and debate was fundamentally political in a way that mirrors the debate within other national and institutional legislative bodies. This is human. I mean no disrespect in pointing it out.

I believe (and here I am more sure that I can speak for Dario Fo) that the selection of the most liberal pope of all time, John Paul I, left many factions in the Vatican extremely nervous, critical, and ungrounded. And I do believe that John Paul I was assassinated. Again, the notion that there have been papal assassinations, some hatched inside the Vatican and some from outside, over the centuries seems completely uncontroversial to any serious student of history. Whether it is something that is just too "icky" when considering it happening within our lifetime will depend on the person doing the consideration.

Fo believes that under John Paul I, the Catholic Church was poised to take a more liberal turn, and that there were factions within the Vatican, (namely those that would lose power if such an about-face were to happen) who conspired to stop that. This is a far cry from believing that those factions were seeking to take over the world.

Fo posits the fictional idea in his play that John Paul II also takes a liberal turn (this is of course complete fabrication) and is likewise assassinated as a result. This fictional satire is meant to focus attention on the circumstances around the death of John Paul I.

While I don't have all my research from ten years ago on the tip of my tongue, I can remember the most powerful book I encountered, namely "In Gods Name" by (I think!) David Yarrow. This is not a Dan Brown potboiler. It is a dry academic tome that sits dusty in the stacks of university libraries, and exhaustively lays out a great deal of the published and unpublished record around the sudden and untimely and highly suspicious death of John Paul I. I remember that Mr. Yarrow's bibliography was a treasure trove for me when doing my research for my MFA thesis.

By the way, I was not a member of any Yale secret society! For graduate students at the Drama School, there is absolutely no time for such diversions!

Cathy - it pains me (although I understand why) that my original post was sloppy enough to suggest to you that I thought your reaction to be even similar to the Muslim Fundamentalists this past week. Please know that it was absolutely not my intention to put your behavior or response into the same category or even to suggest that your behavior or response are inappropriate (as the Muslim Fundamentalist response categorically is). I meant only to draw a certain parallel to what I see as a mistaken reading of Mr. Fo's play. When you take away the comedy and satire (the tricks of Mr. Fo's trade) there is a serious challenge to the institution of the Vatican and how it functions, which is not (in my opinion) meant to be a challenge to the Faith of Catholics. (I hope I am getting all the capitalization right -- I am dyslexic so this is a big challenge for me!)

I need to offer some information here for anyone seeking to read the play. Within the theatre community, there are huge issues around the rights, especially as they relate to translations, of Mr. Fo's work. When I undertook to do this play as my thesis, there were two published translation/adaptations in English. One was a British version by Andy de la Tour, and the other was an American version by Joan Holden. I found them both unsatisfactory when compared with the original. I found the Joan Holden one was far too politically polemical, and the Andy de la Tour version was camp that got very silly -- almost a Benny Hill or Monty Python treatment of the material. Since that time, I know that there have been additional translations by Ed Emery, Stuart Hood, and possibly Ron Jenkin. I don't know which of these are published and available, but I can only say that just because it is published doesn't necessarily mean that it is a version that Fo himself would like. The politics around publication and performing rights of translations of Fo would be a subject that would lend itself well to a Fo satire, and the situation has only gotten worse since he won the Nobel Prize. I was given the green light to create my own translation and to use the extent English translations to help on the way. My dramaturg spoke Italian, so we were able to come up with our own unique translation/adaptation that, in my opinion, is closer to Mr. Fo's original intent. I was contractually barred, however, when I received these permissions, from ever publishing my translation, so it sits in a binder on my shelf.

I don't know if you are interested enough, but if you are I would be happy to make my version available to you. Based on my contract, however, I would have to insist on the signing of a non-disclosure agreement with you, along with a legally binding promise on your part that the work would not be further copied or disseminated in any way or along any media.

Of course I do not know which translation is being considered for the University production to which you are objecting.

Finally, let me add for the individual who posted a response to your posting of my initial letter reaching out to you: I hope the letter above has answered at least some of your questions. I am confused by your suggestion that I was saying John Paul II was corrupt. I don't think I said it, and I don't think I meant it, and I don't think Dario Fo was saying it. I certainly don't think that Fo in any way meant to suggest that John Paul II was staging a coup to get to the papacy -- I think Fo considers him a conservative who was selected as Pope after the far more liberal John Paul I died.

And I regret that you feel I do not respect you or your beliefs. I'm not sure where you get that either, but I'm sure it came from something I said, and all I can do is apologize. I'll come clean here -- my religious path is that of the Quakers; perhaps better know by some as the Society of Friends. It is completely antithetical to my beliefs spiritually or politically to disregard or disrespect anyone's belief or conscience, or the manner in which they worship, experience, communicate or commune with God. So, again, in all humility, I ask for your personal forgiveness for any offense I have given.

Yours truly,


Stephan Golux


My response:

Dear Mr. Golux:

Thank you for taking the time to write again. As you may have guessed, I have a response to your letter! Sorry, it took me so long to get back to you but I was out of town for several days.

I agree that there is a difference between the Faith and the Vatican. As you have defined Vatican to mean Vatican City, the nation in the middle of the city of Rome, I will use that definition. Vatican City is a nation, with Ambassadors and it's own army, the Swiss Guards. Currently, the Swiss Guards primarily act as bodyguards for the Pope and protectors of Vatican City.

However, neither the Faith nor Vatican City can survive without the other. The Faith needs the organizational structure provided under the auspices of Vatican City for guidance and support. There is no need for Vatican City to exist without the Catholic Church. Vatican City is not a religion in and of itself, it's a nation that needs the Catholic church for it's existence. The first church was constructed in the area now known as Vatican City in 364 A. D. It was a site sacred to Christians even before 364 A.D. It was the site of many Christian martrydoms-including St. Peter.

I suspected you read and agreed with Dan Brown's assertions about the Catholic Church based upon some of your statements being similar to those of the DaVinci Code. I apologize that my suspicion was incorrect and if you were offended. I am glad that we agree that Mr. Brown's scholarship and writing are poor.

I am not familiar with Another Roadside Attraction by Tim Robbins. I am not a fan of Tim Robbins' work. It may surprise you to know that I have read Jitterbug Perfume and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues! You say you enjoyed Another Roadside Attraction and found it amusing. I looked up the synopsis of Another Roadside Attraction on Amazon.com. You are correct.
I probably would find it offensive as it appears to deal with a layperson assuming a murdered monk's identity and then trying to evade a Vatican hit squad. It sounds like yet another work of literature attempting to rididule my faith and my church. I find it interesting that you seem to enjoy a fair amount of literature that makes fun of the Catholic church. In the interest of fairness, do you read humorous tales of the Society of Friends? I'm at a loss to think of any, but perhaps there are some? Speaking of faith, I'm surprised you are a dramatist. Didn't George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, frown upon the dramatic arts as being unbecoming to the Christian?

You made a statement about Dan Brown's right to publish the DaVinci Code but said it was perhaps a topic for another time. Let's talk about it now. Dan Brown has the right to publish the DaVinci Code and I have the right to read it or not. I probably disagree with many of my friends and my local Catholic community when I say that the U of MN has a "right" to produce Pope and the Witch. I have an equal right to either attend or not. Mr. Fo had the right to write the play. I have the right to like or dislike it. I have the right to protest or not.

However, what I have a problem with is the U of MN's attitudes, to date, about the play. The response has been along the lines of "Oh, well, it may be offensive, but suck it up and go away". The U has made no attempt to sponsor any dialogue about the play's potential offensiveness but they have made such attempts in other cases. I also have a problem in the fact that I have no choice about paying for the production of Pope and the Witch. My tax dollars support the U of MN whether I like it or not. I'm paying to produce this play even if I don't attend it. I have a choice whether or not to buy a copy of Mr. Fo's play or Dan Brown's book but I have no choice in where my money is being spent in the case of the public, state-funded institution producing material that appears to be offensively anti-Catholic.

I have ordered a copy of Pope and the Witch and I am going to read it. I expect my copy to arrive in a few weeks. It pained me to spend the money, but I want to be fair.

I agree that Vatican City probably has individuals in it looking out for themselves. In my last letter, I said that the Faith is perfect but the individuals are not. By individuals I mean Bishops, Popes, Clergy and laypeople like myself. Any organization is bound to have sinful people in it. I'm glad you are not the conspiracy theorist I feared you were from your first letter!

Vatican Council I (8 December 1869-20 October 1870) formulated papal infallibility. However, the church always believed the Pope has the authority. The Pope is only infallible on occasions when he speaks "ex cathedra" or from the Chair of Peter.

The Pope has only used this authority a few times in history. There have been occasions in church history where as a result of some heresy a second man called himself Pope. Vatican City has never waged war on anyone. Vatican City has only been in existence since 1929. The Vatican does not have a big enough army. The Swiss Guards only number 110 and there is no Navy or Air Force. However, the predecessor of Vatican City, the Papal States did go to war on occasion. My knowledge of Papal State history is limited but I recall they primarily went to war to defend Italy and Rome against the Lombards and the Ottomans.

If by Vatican Council II debate being political you really mean having implications on the Faith then I accept your definition. VII by itself was not political in the sense of being solely about governmental politics. Some of the documents(in particular, Lumen Gentium) touched upon the hierarchal structure of the Church, but most of the VII documents concerned the theological and devotional life of the Church.

John Paul I was the most liberal Pope of all time??!!! Oh, no, no, no, my friend, no. Liberals consider Blessed John XXIII their hero. John Paul I was only Pope for little over a month. Pope John Paul I was in poor health when he was elected. He, himself, predicted that he would not live long. He was by all accounts, a humble man. I'm somewhat familiar with the conspiracy theory's surrounding the death of John Paul I and I've heard of Mr. Yarrow's book. The favorite conspiracy theory about JPI's death is that he was going to reverse Humanae Vitae (the Church's teaching on birth control). Bunk. No Pope has ever refudiated a predecessor's writings.

You used Mr. Yarrow's book for your M.F.A. thesis? What was your thesis?

Thank you for your offer to let me see your adaptation of Mr. Fo's play. I'll think about your offer after I have read Mr. Fo's play myself.

Dialogue like this is very helpful. I am glad you contacted me. You learn something, I learn something, we all learn something. Too bad the U of MN is not.

Sincerely,
Cathy

September 27, 2006

Geography Meme

Happy Catholic tagged me with this Geography Meme.

1. A Place You've Visited and Your Favorite Thing there.
Ireland. Favorite thing about it: the people

2. A Country You'd Like to Visit and Why
Poland, because it's the ancestral home of my Paternal Grandfather and Pope John Paul II The Great

3. A Place From History You'd Like to Visit and Why
North America before The White Man. I'm part Native American (Anishinabeg) and I've always been curious.

4. A Place You Know a Lot About
Minnesota

5. A Place You'd Like to Learn More About
Italy

6. A Fictional Place You'd Like to Visit
Gwynedd of the Katherine Kurtz Deryni novels

I tag Ray, Adoro, Georgette,
Angela Messenger,
Chris and anyone else who wants to participate.

September 26, 2006

Self-Revelation and the Black Angel



“One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things”.—Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch, Henry Miller

Yes, yes, I KNOW all about Henry Miller. The quote from his autobiographical book fits today’s blog post.

Gentle Reader, I told you I was taking a 4-day blog break because I was traveling with a couple of friends. If you are a current or former resident of Iowa City, Iowa, you may have already guessed our destination when you saw the Black Angel.

To me, the best travel is when you learn something about yourself in relation to your fellow travelers or your destination. It may be a positive or a negative self-realization.

I made the trip to Iowa City from St Paul, MN, with 2 female friends. One is my New Age friend, she of the “safety rock” from my 5 Things Meme, the other is a self-described “recovering” Catholic--meaning she was raised Catholic but blames the faith for her problems and does not practice anymore.

I suspect that both of them are very anti-Catholic but they make an effort to restrain themselves in my presence. Occasionally, the cracks show.

This is one of the few times since my reversion that I have traveled with non-relatives. I did not hide my faith, nor did I openly evangelize the entire time. I just stove to be a quiet witness. I sought out a local church, St. Wenceslaus, and attended the Anticipatory Mass on Saturday. I sensed my 2 friends were not entirely comfortable with my decision to take time-out to go to Mass but they did not say anything to my face.

Nevertheless, I’m still going to have to go to Confession this week. All was not perfect. I fell into some old habits of sin. I’m still wondering how I made it as long as I did without the relief of the Sacrament of Confession.

My revelation for this trip came about during our visit to the Black Angel. The Black Angel is a well-known monument in Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City, Iowa. It is not a strictly Catholic cemetery, though there were some obviously Catholic monuments. It appears to be a non-sectarian burial ground.

The Black Angel monument is very striking and it is worth a trip.

Both of my friends are New Age people. One is stronger then the other, but they are both “believers”.

There are all kinds of legends and superstitions about the Black Angel. Some of them are: she turns blacker on Halloween, a non-virgin will die if they touch her, she was originally white etc.

I knew right away that all the legends were just bunk. The monument was obviously bronze that oxidized with exposure to the elements. The oxidation turned the bronze black. You can still see spots of bronze here and there. Obviously, she was never white. I got no “vibe”. I did not see any “ghosts”. Whether one is a virgin or not and you touch the Black Angel or not, eventually, you are going to die. I touched her and I’m obviously still here.

However, it astonished me how earnestly my two New Age buddies wanted to believe the legends and superstitions. One insisted it was a white stone that turned black. The other insisted it was “ominous” that she was facing the ground and not skyward. I live near a cemetery and I can tell you that monuments are frequently looking down towards the grave. One insisted it was “strange” that one wing was curled in. I said it was a protective thing. The idea of the monument, to me, is that the Angel is protecting and watching over the deceased. I can only hope and pray that I have an Angel looking over me after I die.

I realized how much of the New Age “religion” is taking ordinary events and straining to assign some magical and/or evil interpretation.

I learned something about myself because, in the past, I probably would’ve bought all of the Black Angel superstitions at face value. After the visit, I would have consulted my Tarot deck for enlightenment.

While my two friends stood around and scared themselves I placidly crossed myself and prayed for the souls of the deceased. I also cleared off a beer can and trash that some dope had left at the base of the Black Angel. If nothing else, can we at least show respect for the dead, rather then disrespecting them by littering their gravesites? And slandering them after death with legends and lies? There are actual people buried under the monument.

My friends left the cemetery agitated and remained so for a time afterwards. I realized they had no where to go. When you are a New Ager what “deity” should you invoke for protection and comfort? There is no clear choice. When I was a New Age practitioner, I spent a lot of time reading what God or Goddess is responsible for what situation and when is it proper to invoke them. New Age is a hodgepodge of deities from various religious practices. Let’s see: Bast, Celestine, Mother Earth, Kuan Kung, Satyanarayana? Which one should you invoke? Or all of them just to be safe? For me, now, the choice was clear: God. Period.

Oh, other then being forced to endure hours of “smooth jazz” in the car, no divas made an appearance!

TWINS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT!


AP Photo/Jim Mone

September 21, 2006

Blog Break

I will be offline until Tuesday, Sept. 26th. I'm taking a road trip with 2 girlfriends. I'm hoping it's not an Oprah and Gayle type of adventure. Gayle's cool, but Oprah can just stick to the chaffeured limo.

St. Joseph, pray for us.
St. Christopher, pray for us.

Archbishop Responds of U of MN play

In this weeks Archdiocesan paper, The Catholic Spirit, Archbishop Harry Flynn has a column about the U of MN play The Pope and the Witch. It's a good column. Unfortunately, the Catholic Spirit webpage is being redesigned so I can't post the column. Try and find a copy if you can. Some parishes buy copies or subscribe so you may be able to view it at your parish Rectory. I THINK some of the Catholic bookstores in town carry it, but I'm not positive about that.

Obviously, I'm directing this to my local readers (all 4 of you!) because I think my non-local readers may be out of luck finding the column.

September 20, 2006

Minnesota Catholics Call for a Day of Mild Annoyance

Dateline: September 19, 2006
Location: Church Basement Somewhere in the TC area

(Note: All the individuals quoted in this story requested that their real identities remain a secret. They chose their aliases. Furthermore, they were all wearing snowmobile suits and ski masks)

A group of Minnesota Catholics in the Twin Cities met Tuesday evening, September 19th, to talk about issues of concern to them. They think Catholics may be the target of some anti-Catholic prejudice in their community. Over plates of green jello salad, hotdish, and numerous cups of coffee they expressed their feelings.

"I'm mad as heck and I just can't take it anymore" Polish Catholic Guy from Da Range said.
"Ya, it's very upsetting" Adored Catholic Lady from the Northwest Suburbs chimed in.
"It really gets my knickers in a twist" Desperately Vigilant Catholic Mom stated.

What are these Minnesota Catholics upset about? A sentence in the U of MN ad for a play that says: "[It is] "a wild send up of Catholicism"

"The Minnesota Catholics are taking the sentence completely out of context. They forget the other good things the U does for Catholics. The good things escape me right now, so I'll get back to you on that" U of M Spokesman, Wan Bolter, said.

"There is nothing funny about Catholicism, let me tell you" Underground Priest/Spiritual Advisor said. "Oh, by the way, please don't print my name. I don't want the Chancery to know I'm involved."

How angry are the Minnesota Catholics?

"Well, anger is kind of a strong word, dontcha know?" Polish Catholic Guy from Da Range said. "Really, I"m quite annoyed. Not, extremely annoyed, just mildly annoyed, in general. This is the state of "Minnesota Nice", by the way."

At the end of the evening, they decided to call all Minnesota Catholics to attend Mass this Friday, September 22nd and unite with them in a Day of Mild Annoyance.

How can you express your mild annoyance?

* Mutter under your breath when your Rosary is tangled up.
* Flinch when someone drops their kneeler too loudly after the Sanctus.
* Furrow your brow when a baby is screaming behind you during Mass.
* Respectfully, ask the Homilist if he can start over from the top when someone has a coughing fit during the Homily.
* Sing "Tantum Ergo", instead of "Come, Adore Him" during Benediction.

"Above all, we want it made clear that the Day of Mild Annoyance is not a call to violence" Adored Catholic Lady from the Northwest Suburbs said.

Note: By the way, this satirical post is an attempt to alleviate my own stress. By no means, is it intended to indicate that the U of MN is "off the hook". It's also, a response to the "Day of Rage" that some Muslims are calling for on Friday.

September 19, 2006

2 Books that "Saved" me or Random Conversations Over Gravy

I'm tired. I mean really tired. All this Catholic blogosphere talk of blasphemous plays, 3rd secret of Fatima, and Papal danger are enough to send me to my fainting couch with my tonic and salts. Being the liberated woman that I am, I don't mean lavender aromatherapy and Victorian Smelling Salts. No, I mean Cuervo Especial and Kosher Salt.

Now back to my story....

At one of my big holiday gatherings a few years back, I was standing at the stove with a long-time friend of my parents. He is married to my late Mother's best friend. BB, as I'll call him, and his wife are life-long devout Catholics. I, honestly, don't think they've ever strayed from the truth of the faith.

BB is an adult education instructor at a Catholic parish in Twin Cities area.

He's also a VERY good cook.

Anyway, I allowed him to help me with dinner by stirring the gravy (I don't like people in my kitchen so I mean it when I say: "allowed"). I don't even remember what holiday this was. It was either Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving as those are the holidays where I may invite WAY too many people over for a big homemade dinner. I don't like to exclude anyone. As a result, my small bungalow ends up being stuffed with people.

Well, back to the gravy. Gravy in my family is a serious business. Women, do you feel me? I think an Eastern European nation was probably invaded because someone was caught using canned gravy. Woe, to the female in our family that uses a canned or a bottled gravy and one of the Crones catches you.

BB is helping me by stirring the gravy and somehow the conversation gets around to Catholicism. Don't ask me how because I was in the thick of dissension at this time so I certainly did not bring it up. Now, BB has known me my whole life and he knew what parish I was in at the time. He did not approve but he was restrained about it.

Seemingly, offhandedly, he asks if I've ever been to Leaflet Missal? Nope, never heard of it, said I. Well, he goes there a lot. He's surprised I've never heard of it and he knows I like to read. It's a good bookstore. Catholic materials only. But, they have a great video library, lots of art. Really, I should check it out. It's not far from you. Hmmm, I said and let it go at that.

BUT, I never forgot about it. See, BB, clever guy that he is knew me well enough to appeal to my love of reading. He did not push anything. Just mentioned the existence of the book store and let it go.

So, one Saturday I found Leaflet Missal Company on Minnehaha in St. Paul. I probably spent 3 hours in there. It became apparent right away that this was NOT Present Moment (a New Age store in Minneapolis) or even St. Patrick's Guild (another Catholic book store). I could tell that Leaflet only stocked Magisterium approved material. Nothing by Kueng or Armstrong on these shelves.

SOMETHING induced me to buy two books that day. Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" and Kevin Orlin Johnson's Why Do Catholics Do That?: A Guide to the Teachings and Practices of the Catholic Church To this day, I have no idea why I chose those two items.

I read Johnson's book fairly quickly. I remember I felt like a dummy. Prior to this time, I had no idea why Catholics genuflected. I remember being amazed by him saying we really should attend Mass at our neighborhood parish. I was driving across town to go to "Mass". There was a lot in the book that I had never heard before. I spent most of my time in CCD signing "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" (Oh, if anyone can explain to me where in the Bible or Tradition St. Michael is rowing a boat ashore, please let me know.)

Keating's book FLOORED me. I think it took me a month to read it. I'm a very fast reader but I was so stunned that I frequently had to put it aside and reflect. If you are not familiar with Catholicism and Fundamentalism, it is an Apologetics book intended to be used to refute Fundamentalist attacks against Catholicism. I might as well have still been an Evangelical (I was at one point in my life) because I did not know 1/4 of what Mr. Keating was talking about anyway.

Both of these books planted a seed of reversion in my heart. It still took me over a year to totally come back to the Church. But, it was a seemingly random moment while cooking that started it all. It was also the actions of an evangelist for the faith. Just a regular guy, a working man, helping a friend finish dinner helped start it all.

When I was an Evangelical, Evangelizing was REALLY important. Evangelicals are very good at it. I remember walking around the Mall and going right up to people and inviting them to our church. We, as Catholics, need to channel some of that "fire in the belly". I don't think you need to chase people down on your bike (like the Mormon Elders) or knock on your neighbors' doors on weekday afternoons (like the Jehovah's Witnesses) but you do need to look for opportunities to express your faith to others. You may be rejected, but, then again, perhaps not.

September 18, 2006

Turkish Bishops Confirm Pope's Visit Will Proceed (Click Here for Story)

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly,
"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there."
"Oh no, no," said the Fly, "to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, "Dear friend, what can I do
To prove that warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature," said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say;
And bidding good morning now, I'll call another day."

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.
then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead."

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, -
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head - poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne'er heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

--"The Spider and the Fly" by Mary Howitt

Minnesota Daily Story on The Pope and the Witch

The University of Minnesota's newspaper, Minnesota Daily, has a story on The Pope and the Witch brouhaha: http://www.mndaily.com/article.php?id=69000

My response: I'm very happy to know that Mr. Wolter asked a librarian to search WorldCAT to obtain holding information on the play and Mr. Fo's work. If the best argument for staging this play that Mr. Wolter can come up with is that some Catholic libraries own works by Mr. Fo then I think he needs to work on his persuasive rhetoric skills.

When I see a play staged at the University that is derogatory of what Mr. Rosen holds dear, I may be inclined to share a laugh with him.

September 17, 2006

A Director of Pope and the Witch Responds

This morning I received in my Moderate Comments mailbox a letter from Stephan Golux (nee Genn). Mr. Golux directed The Pope and the Witch at Yale School of Drama in 1996. I know that not everyone reads comments and I wanted to make sure that Mr. Golux's comments are read. I can only assume this is truly Stephan Golux and not an imposter. It appears he created a blog identity for the sole purpose of responding to my post. I wrote a letter in reply to Mr. Golux after his letter. I'm sure many of you will have comments to add.

Dear Cathy:

I directed this play, one of the two reviews you chose as a link in your blog. I can only say that you have misread the play. Or perhaps, more to the point, you have not read the play, and mis-apprehended the content.

Dario Fo uses his satirical farce to offer political criticism of the Vatican, not of the catholic faith. This difference is fundamental. I encourage you to read the play before you assume that the purpose of the play is to disrespect anyone's religion.

I myself received death threats (of course sent anonymously) at the time when I directed this work. The authors of these threats were never found, even though the FBI was called in. (It was a federal case because the mail had been used to send a threat of murder which is a federal offense - a felony in fact). However, much of the evidence that was found suggests that P2 and other Freemason cliques that have established themselves as political forces at the Vatican were the ones trying to discredit and censor and silence this play.

I can only say that if you wish your religion to continue to be controlled by and beholden to the shadowy groups who appear to hold all reins of power at the Vatican, continue to do what you can to have this play (and the research on which it is based) banned. On the other hand, if you are inclined to support the notion that criticism (including satire) can be used to expose corruption in even our most cherished institutions, thereby (perhaps) making them better, more open, and more truthful, then I would encourage you to rethink your stance. You might even consider attending.

Every single one of Mr. Fo's conjectures about the abuse of power at the Vatican are substantiated by reams and reams of independent research. This doesn't mean they are all true -- but they are certainly plausible. And no historian can possibly imagine that the Vatican is (or has been) free of intense and most non-religious political intrigue. Writing in Italy, a Catholic country with a very strong connection to organized crime and freemasonry, Mr. Fo takes a stance of great courage -- far more courage than it took for me to direct this play in the United States, death threats notwithstanding.

Again, I strongly encourage you to hold seperate the difference between criticizing Catholics for their beliefs, and criticizing the Vatican for secretive and hypocritical behavior. The current Pope himself is running amuck of Muslim fundamentalists unable to see that difference in the comments he made this week. Why make the same mistake?

Yours Truly,

-stephan golux


My letter in response is as follows:

Dear Mr. Golux:

Thank you for taking the time to write to me regarding The Pope and the Witch.

You are correct: I have not read the play or ever seen it performed. It was my intent never to read the play or see it. As a result of your letter, I have changed my mind about reading the play. I will obtain a copy and read it. Once I have read it, I intend to post my thoughts about it to my blog. Whether I will see the play or not, remains to be seen.

However, I fail to see how I, as a Catholic, can be reassured by your statements that Mr. Fo is only attacking the Vatican and not the Faith. I'm also not sure how you, or perhaps Mr. Fo, are defining Vatican. Is that the Pope, the Swiss Guard, the City, St. Peter's? All of the above? Would the definition of the term: Vatican also include clergy and religious outside of Vatican City?

If by Vatican you mean the See of St. Peter and the Pope then I take offense. Catholics believe that the Pope is a descendent of the first Pope-namely the Apostle Peter. Jesus, himself established the Catholic church when he gave Peter the "keys to the kingdom". "The Rock" on which the Church was established is believed to be in Rome-namely in St. Peter's in Vatican City.

Is the church perfect? Christ is perfect and His teachings are perfect but the church is not run by divine beings and we all have our faults. I could say the same about every major religion, or even secular business' on earth.

However, I take grievous exception to your insinuations that secret societies that have supposedly infiltrated and taken over the Catholic Church were responsible for death threats against you. In addition, the allegations that secret Catholic societies like: P2, Freemasonry, Illuminati, Priory of Sion, Opus Dei are plotting to take over the world and have infiltrated the Vatican is an unsubstantiated anti-Catholic bias that has been perpetrated for centuries. The Know-Nothing party, the Klu Klux Klan, Christian Evangelicals like Jimmy Swaggert, tract writers like Jack Chick, and authors like Dan Brown are just some of the historical instigators of these lies.

Should I assume, though I have no proof, that because you were at Yale you are a member of Skull and Bones or Scroll and Key? The same conspiracy theorists that love to claim the Catholic church is full of secret societies seeking to take over the world list the Yale secret societies as being collaborators.

I am not making the same mistake as the Muslim fundamentalists this week. I am not responding to something that I disagree with by using death threats and angry rhetoric. I am responding with charity and compassion. Above all, I strive to remain calm and balanced. Sometimes, with limited sucess, but I try to think before I react.

Since you suggested I read Mr. Fo's play may I also recommend that you read Amy Welborn's De-Coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of the Da Vinci Code.

Sincerely,
Cathy_of_Alex

My Letter to the U of MN: Pope and the Witch

Adoro posted her excellent letter to the University of Minnesota regarding The Pope and the Witch. My letter pales in comparison, but I thought it is important to show everyone how seriously the local Catholic community is taking the staging of this play. Also, to prove to you that I "put my money where my mouth is". When I call for activism I mean it. I prove I mean it by doing what I can to help.

September 17, 2006


Mr. Robert Bruininks, President
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Office Of the President
202 MorH
100 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
e-mail: bruin001@umn.edu

Mr. Fred R. Friswold, CEO
Chair, University of Minnesota Board or Trustees
Tonka Equipment Company
13305 Watertower Circle
Plymouth, Minnesota 55441
Email: ffriswold@tonkawater.com

Gentlemen:

I am writing to you both asking for enlightenment. As educators and leaders of one of the most highly respected public universities in the Midwest, I feel you are both eminently qualified to help me.

I fail to see how staging a play called The Pope and the Witch during the 2nd week of Lent 2007 supports the University of Minnesota's mission statement of "providing an atmosphere of mutual respect...free from...other forms of prejudice and intolerance". Lent is a period of fasting, abstinence and prayer leading up to the holiest day on the Christian calender, Easter.

This play by Mr. Dario Fo, a man who by his own public statements not to mention his work, is very anti-Catholic. He uses his art to express his biased and erroneous beliefs about the church's hierarchy, clergy, religious and teachings through buffonery. He attempts to belittle and riducule because the Church's teachings do not correspond to his beliefs. He plays upon centuries of the worst stereotypes of Catholics and Italian-Americans in an attempt to make his point. His point is if only the Catholic Church would repudiate centuries of teachings, teachings instituted by The Christ, the world will be a better place. If the Church would just go away, the major problems of the world would all be solved and everyone will be happy.

In the St. Paul Pioneer Press of September 16, 2006 ("U play outrages Catholic group" by Mr. Paul Tosto), Mr. Dan Wolter, Spokesman for the University, in response to being asked if the University would produce a play that satirizes Islam he says that the U has a long history of a wide range of debate. He gives two examples: one being the upcoming visit of a gay-Muslim, the other being the Humphrey Institute play: The Trial of Osama bin Laden.

Unless he was miquoted, If Mr. Wolter is implying that the University hosting events that may be considered equally offensive by a group other then Catholics should make The Pope and the Witch more palatable-it does not. I am not pleased that the University has events that may be offensive to Muslims, nor Jews, nor Hindus nor any other religious group.

I have no idea who the gay-Muslim is nor what he or she plans to speak about. However, I do know The Trial of Osama bin Laden. To me, there is no comparison between The Trial of Osama bin Laden and The Pope and the Witch.

The Trial of Osama bin Laden was about one man (Osama bin Laden) being confronted by individuals impacted by the attacks of 9/11. It was not a direct attack on bin Laden's faith, Islam. There was no spoof of the Prophet Muhammed in the play or allegations that Muslim clerics are all corrupt. Furthermore, the play was not staged at the University. It was staged by the Humphrey Institute (which is affiliated with the U), off campus, at Old Arizona in Minneapolis. Most of the actors were professional Equity members. In addition, the Humphrey Institute hosted a free discussion of the play with the writers, directors and a local Muslim scholar. I don't see anything similarly planned for the Pope and the Witch: An opportunity for local Catholic Apologists to explain the fallacies in Mr. Fo's play. The Pope and the Witch is going to be performed on campus via the College of Liberal Arts. I assume that means student actors are staging the play and acting in it.

I thought that reputable institutions of higher learning attempted to educate students with facts, not bias. Perhaps, I was mistaken about that being the practice of the University of Minnesota.

I am eagerly awaiting your response.

Sincerely,

September 14, 2006

The Pope and the Witch-Activism Alert!

I TRY, the Lord knows how much I try, to be a Lady but sometimes things happen that set my passions off in a bad direction.

Yesterday evening, Ray from MN, sent me an email about a play that the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has scheduled for March 2007.

Ray has the story.

I have not read this play by Mr. Fo. There are copies available on Amazon for $70. I don't even spend $70/month to have my household garbage hauled so I'm not about to spend $70 on this trash.

Free speech is fine but I think this play is crossing the line into "hate speech". Gee, where's the ACLU when you want them? Probably, gearing up to defend the U's right to stage it.

Ray, has all the info on who to contact. I will be writing. Please join me.

Here are a couple of links to reviews of this play:

http://theater2.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?_r=1&res=990DE2DC163AF93BA25756C0A9669C8B63&oref=slogin

http://director.goluxstudio.com/pope/yale-herald-review.html

In my dissenting days, I disagreed with the Church in many ways and I was often frustrated with its leadership (some days I still am) but I was never this blatently disrespectful. Nor, did I think it was acceptable when I saw people who were hateful towards clergy or religious.

September 13, 2006

5 Things Meme

georgette tagged me for a 5 Things Meme.

5 things in my freezer:

1. ice cream (almost always)
2. frozen perch fillets (caught by yours truly)
3. bags of frozen vegetables (spinach, broccoli, corn, turnip greens, peas)
4. hamburger patties
5. Shaker's Vodka (wheat)-one bottle

5 things in my closet:

1. American Flag (I store it in there otherwise my cats jump all over it)
2. Gauguin print that I need to have matted and framed.
3. Plastic 5-drawer thingies for clothes (2 of them)
4. Sewing machine, my sewing basket and some fabric.
5. My Mother's Wedding Dress in it's storage box (Someday my Prince Will Come...)

5 things in my car:

1. My usual collection of stuff hanging from my rearview mirror (currently 6 strands of beads-some from a cousin's bridal shower, one strand from a bike ride I did last summer, St. Joseph's medal, a crucifix and a buckskin drum with hawk feathers)
2. Case with cassettes for my cassette player
3. Garbage bag for car trash
4. 2 pairs of sunglasses
5. My "lucky" rock. (My New Age friend gave me this polished multi-colored rock that says "safety" on it. I am to keep it in my car, she said. The day she gave it to me, I was in a fender-bender in front of Holy Rosary in Minneapolis! She says it worked because I could have been killed. I say: whatever. I keep it because she looks for it everytime she rides with me.)

5 things in my backpack:


1. This is easy: 2 bike locks and their corresponding keys. That's it. I only use my backpack when I commute via bike.

I tag:

Adoro
Ray from MN
Angela Messenger
Chris
Terry Nelson

September 12, 2006

Dancing with the Stars

And now for something completely different..

I have just seen the ONLY reason I would ever want to see Jerry Springer back as a talk show host.

What's up with that black sash over a black double-breasted suit jacket? Where's Mr. Blackwell, when you want him?

He was so clunky and stiff I thought he must have weights in his shoes.

Watch, he'll win the whole thing.

September 11, 2006

Honor a Living 911 Hero Meme

Adoro tagged me for her Honor a Living 911 Hero Meme

The Rules:

1. Honor a living hero
2. Preference given to Firefighters, Police Officers, Paramedics, EMT's, Dispatchers
3. Not everyone is acquainted with someone fitting into these categories. If this is the case, then honor someone else, a hero in your life who is willing
to "give all" in some way. It can be a priest, a pastor, a teacher, a relative, a friend...etc.

I honor the unknown paramedics who came to my family home to help my loved ones in need. We had to call an ambulance twice to my childhood home.

The first time was in the mid-1980s. My Dad has had chronic back problems most of his life. One morning, he literally could not get out of bed. He was experiencing lower back spasms. My Dad is a very stoic guy but I could tell he was in incredible pain. He was trying not to scream. He would let out this periodic low: oh. If you knew my Dad, you would know how extreme that is! Plus, he did not want my brother, Mom and I to worry. My Mom called an ambulance and I sat with Dad by his bed.

The paramedics came but the stairway was too narrow for the gurney or a cot with Dad on it. They had to come upstairs and somehow get my Dad on his feet. They had to 1/2 drag him upright down the stairs. My Dad always slept in his briefs. Conscious of his dignity the 2 gentlemen dressed him as much as they could and put a jacket on him. They talked to my Dad and to all of us in a very reassuring way.

They got Dad to the ambulance. At the hospital they gave him a cortisone shot and sent him home with some pills. They also had him do exercises.

Ultimately, it was all o.k. and Dad never had an episode like that again.

I'm not doing the situation justice. The mid-80's were a really terrifying time for my family. My only sibling and brother was diagnosed with cancer in 1984. The family and my brother were constantly at the hospital. In fact, the paramedics thought they were coming to the house for my brother. We actually never had to bring my brother to the hospital in an ambulance but we were at the hospital so much that they "knew" us. So, when my Dad, who was The ROCK in my brother's care, went down it was really frightening for all of us. But, the unknown paramedics were a God-send with their calm kindness, their thoughtfulness.

My brother died in 1989 at the age of 17.

My Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1990's. By late 1996 the cancer had returned and spread to her bones. She was completely bedridden and unable to walk or move from February 1997 until she died in November. My Dad and I cared for her at home with the help of several nurses, doctors, home health aides and hospice volunteers (in fact, I add them to this list too!). One day in the late summer she got really bad and her doctor wanted to see her in the hospital. When I say really bad, I mean it, because her downhill slide was really horrible at times. We had to have an ambulance transport her to the hospital because she could not bear to be moved. They had to take her whole home hospital bed with her in it. She was in the hospital for a few hours while her doctor examined her.

During the long months of my Mom's illness, my Dad, her spouse of 30 years, had to keep himself busy to keep from going mad. He decided to terrace the back yard and he made several new garden beds which he then planted. My Dad was no gardener. My Mom was a huge gardener. I think he did it for her because he was hoping she would get better.

We took pictures of the new backyard and showed them to Mom but it was not the same as her actually seeing it.

Later the same day, Mom came home from the hospital in the ambulance. We got to the house and I asked the paramedics if they would wheel her bed around the house (we lived on a corner lot) so Mom could see the garden. They looked at each other, because clearly they'd be liable if something happened if they did anything other then take her from the ambulance to the house. Please. My Mom who was really lethargic perked up and said she really wanted to see the garden too. They shrugged and then smiled.

They wheeled my Mom around the house in her hospital bed dragging the I.V. pump and she got to see the yard. She exclaimed: it's so beautiful! It was her first time outside in over 6 months. It was a beautiful day. I was crying. In fact, I'm crying now. It would be her last time outside before her death.

Thank you, thank you, unknown Angels of God.

Vote

Tuesday, September 12th is Primary Election Day.

If your state or locality has primary elections, "exercise your franchise" and vote on September 12th.

Results in the primaries often factor into a candidates decision to continue to the November elections.

In Minnesota, there are several important Congressional and Senatorial (both State and Federal) races as well as the race for Governor.

For information on where to vote, who's running and how to register in Minnesota the Secretary of State page is very helpful.

In Minnesota you may only vote a single party on the primary ballot. This means, you may only vote for all Independents, all Republicans, all Democrats etc. on your ballot or else the ballot is invalid. I really dislike the one party primary ballot in my state, but that's the rule. Minnesotans: Choose your party wisely.

Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Several states have laws requiring employers to give voting-eligible employees time off work to vote if their work schedule conflicts with the polling place hours. In Minnesota, employees may take time off work during the morning of election day without penalty or deduction in salary or wages because of the absence. (Minnesota Statute 204C.04).

September 07, 2006

Speaking of Web Forums....

After a 3-week absence (due to a hacker attack) the Catholic Answers forums are back! If you joined after April, you may have to re-join. I lost some of my stored PM's, otherwise everything was fine.

September 06, 2006

The Power of Web Forums

Gentle Reader, I informed you in my first post: The Recovering Dissident Catholic that my journey to the Truth was not one moment but many moments.

One of the moments in my journey was via a web forum. This particular forum was attached to my former parish's (Jeanne D’Arc) website. Said website is pretty well known all over the Catholic world.

This web forum at my former parish in south Minneapolis was started with the intent of providing a forum for parishioners and like-minded people to converse on a variety of topics. Some of these threads were church-related, some were discussions of the week’s “speaker”, some were broad discussions of likes/dislikes of the parish itself.

Needless, to say the forum “backfired” almost right out of the gate. The forum was immediately under siege by conservative Catholics around the world. I think some of them had been waiting a LONG time for the opportunity to voice their opinion in the public sphere on this parish with the frequently heretical website.

I’m not even sure the forum lasted for a year.

The forum “bombed” in another important way. I read many of these postings and rather then cement my belief in what the parish was teaching, it had the opposite effect. It made me question what I was being told and practicing in said parish. I did not know more then 3/4th of what the conservatives were talking about. You mean we can’t just do what we want during the liturgy? What’s GIRM? There are assigned readings from scripture every week, every day? Is it true the Mass cannot be in a gym? Non-Catholics are never allowed to receive Communion? We can’t use glass for the wine? We are supposed to be kneeling? We can’t say the words of Consecration along with the priest? The tabernacle should be in view?

I lurked on the forum because I did not know what to say or how to respond. And, I was starting to feel my faith was weak. If I was not even capable of adequately defending my (dissenting) beliefs did I belong in the Catholic church? Was my parish really Catholic?

Around this time I started lurking on the Catholic Answers forums. I don’t recall how I first found my way to them but, clearly, there were a lot of answers to be had on the CA forums and few of them conformed to what I was being taught.

Then, something happened that really made me think that my parish was “all wet”. For over a decade, the slogan of said parish has been: “We Welcome You Wherever You are On Your Journey” Sounds pretty inclusive, right? It’s meant to be. I heard time and time again that all opinions were valued in said parish and that “dialog” was the order of the day.

Yet, when the “heat” was on the parish CLOSED THE FORUMS. Parish scuttlebutt was that the Priest at the time was feeling attacked by some of the opinions on the forum and the Parish Administrator wanted the forums closed. The Webmaster and I were both opposed to the shut-down because we both felt it was antithetical to the parish’s claim of being open and inclusive. We were both outvoted.

I was REALLY angry over the decision to close the forums and my response was to keep reading and learning about Roman Catholicism on my own because I was beginning to get the impression that perhaps there was something out there “they” were afraid of.

Thus, the parish’s website forum had the opposite effect of what was intended. It helped to turn me away from them and towards the Truth.

Thanks Be to God.

I have come to believe that a lot of people questioning or seeking will lurk on Catholic web forums for a while. I think the forums are a REALLY important evangelization tool. I also think it’s important to keep the truly Roman Catholic forums going. In other words, let us NOT rely on the National Catholic Reporter forums or Belief.net forums to spread the truth of Roman Catholicism. Support your conservative Catholic forum of choice!

PS: This will be my last personal post for several days. I am participating in the 2,996 Tribute Project Look for my memorial honoring Mr. Ariel Louis Jacobs in the next few days.

September 05, 2006

To Support Priests of Integrity

I was shopping with my cousin over the Labor Day weekend and she said she had to stop at a card shop to get our Grandmother a Grandparents Day card. I groaned, "I suppose I better get one too, or I'm going to look like a terrible Granddaughter."

I know the card companies manipulate us, guilt us, into buying cards for all manner of events. I know, I know, Grandparents Day has been on the calendar for a number of years (another thing I can "blame" Jimmy Carter for) but my historical track record of sending my Grandparents cards on that day has been poor.

I was at the store browsing the racks, remembering at the same time I owed another cousin a wedding card and another person a thank you card. It's like a virus. Go to the doctor's office healthy, come out with a cold.

I'm looking and suddenly I see a section of cards titled: October is Clergy Appreciation Month. JMJ, does it never end?! When did "they" come up with this "bogus" reason for me to spend more money and buy a card?

I bought my parish priest a lovely card and I sent it to him today. No, I did not wait until October. I have a pathological need for uncomformity and sending it now makes me feel rebellious. Anyway, I'm sure the Rectory mailbox is going to be overflowing with cards next month and I don't want Fr. Ryan to neglect seeing that one from Me, Me, Me.

No, I'm being silly (though I did send Father his card today). Sadly, I have a feeling he may not get that many cards in October. He may not get that many cards at all.

Which (mercifully) brings me to my point: Why wait for this western capitalistic celebration to come around every year? What do YOU do to show your parish priests, brothers or sisters that you appreciate what they do for you all year/every year?

I am sadly neglectful in this area. Always have been. I'm ashamed.

My fraternal Grandparents always made a point of inviting the parish priest over to the house for dinner, for family picnics, for coffee. I have photos of Father eating dinner in their living room. It was something they did without thinking.

Frankly, I thank Father in the Confessional and in the Porch after Mass and that's it. He's living in that big Rectory all alone.

How many other priests are in a similar situation? They live in the Rectory alone? Maybe their family is out-of-state, perhaps even outside the U.S?

Did you know that Goal #2 of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is: To Support Priests of Integrity? As a former member of VOTF, I can tell you that their definition of supporting priests of integrity is probably different from most of the readers of this blog.

Turn the VOTF goal on its head and support your priests of integrity!

Thanks for the Hospitality

Thank you to the parish of St. John the Baptist in Johnsburg, Illinois and the people of the State Line area (Wisconsin-Illinois) for the hospitality over the Labor Day weekend. Thank you to the State Troopers who kept us safe on the roads. Thank you Mr. State Trooper Man for not giving me a speeding ticket between Tomah and Black River Falls, Wisconsin!

September 01, 2006

Labor Day-Fly a Flag

Many of us have a 3-day weekend starting tomorrow. Rather, then spending the entire weekend with family, watching NASCAR, eating and sleeping (ok, that's my usual Labor Day weekend!) please join me in taking the opportunity to reflect on what Labor Day really means.

I'm putting my librarian bun in my hair and my glasses on.....

I recommend you take a few minutes out of your weekend to read Paragraphs 2426-2436 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd edition

Also, the Department of Labor has a good, brief, overview of the History of Labor Day: http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm

Now that you have read, I want to give you something to consider...

Fly your U.S. flag on Labor Day. If you don't already have a U.S. flag, consider buying one. Patriot Day, which marks the 5th anniversary of the Sept 11th attacks is a little more then a week away. Fly your flag 2 September Mondays in a row. One, in gratitude for the struggles and the efforts of your fellow workers, the other to remember the dead and show your pride in our nation's resilience.

Owning and flying a flag is a serious responsibility. Please remember to treat your flag with respect. An overview of displaying, storing and destroying your flag is here: http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html

If you have a flag that is tattered and worn, do NOT throw it in the trash or burn it. Contact your local American Legion, Veteran of Foreign Wars or Boy and Girl Scout troops, many of whom have ceremonies to properly dispose of your flag.

Whatever you do this weekend, be safe, and don't take a break from the Lord!

I will not be blogging until Tuesday, Sept. 5th. I will be busy enjoying the hospitality of my family and the people of the state of Illinois.
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