May 31, 2007

Liberate Father Juno!


Friends: I'm starting a campaign to liberate Father Juno Aroymba from the Spirit of Vatican II parish in Knoxville, TN. Who's with me?

Hopefully, we can use the concept of "liberation" to our advantage persuading these dissidents to let Father go. It's apparent to me, that he's being held prisoner in the Rectory.

If there's one thing dissident Catholics "understand" it's "liberation". I know they are probably well read on the subject. I used to be back in my dissident Catholic days.

Liberate Father Juno!

May 30, 2007

Fr. Tim Vakoc

Ray has a phenomenal post on Fr. Tim Vakoc's continuing recovery. Ray also gets a comment from Fr. Vakoc's sister, Anita. Stop on over and bring your tissue as well as your prayers.

Update: Ma Beck has started a Novena for Fr. Vakoc on her blog! What a beautiful idea. Isn't Catholic media just a grand instrument for connecting all of us? I'm always astounded at how we all step up and pull together when there is a need.

Get Your Cameras Ready!

Tonight and tomorrow night, for the first time in it's history, the Cathedral of St. Paul will be illuminated from 8 p.m. to Midnight as part of the upcoming Centennial celebrations this weekend. 100 years ago, June 2nd, the cornerstone was laid.

I'll be taking photos. The Cathedral is not far from my house. It's usually dark at night so this is a big deal.

Rest in Peace Nick Mancini

Yesterday, St. Paul restaurant legend, W 7th St historian and all around character, Nick Mancini, died.

I just ate at Mancini's Char House and Lounge last week. Mr. Mancini was not there. His health had deteriorated in the last several years.

In his heyday, you could always count on him for a big smile, an escort to your table, a hearty laugh, and some fantastic stories. He was a walking encyclopedia of the W 7th and old Upper Levee neighborhoods. He could tell you all about the characters, the breweries, the life he'd known. It was not unheard of for Mr. Mancini to buy the first round of drinks.

St. Paul will be hard-pressed to fill the void he leaves behind. An old-school gentleman and businessman. He will be missed.

His funeral will be next Tuesday at Assumption Catholic Church in St. Paul. If you plan on going, expect a big crowd.

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him, O Lord, and Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon him. May he Rest in Peace.

May 29, 2007

Welcome Letter to Our New Coadjutor

You know it's a tough crowd when blogging about the new Coadjutor Archbishop is a safe topic! I have no idea what Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt is currently wearing.

The Pastor of my small parish of St. Andrew in St. Paul wrote a letter on May 21st to Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt welcoming him to our Archdiocese. My parish does not have a website so I'll retype the letter below:

Dear Archbishop:

On behalf of St. Andrew's parish and on my own behalf, I wish to extend a most sincere welcome to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. You are certainly no stranger to the Twin Cities area and will take the fulminations in the media for what they're worth, very little. Know that, while the challenges you face are real, you have the earnest prayers and wholehearted support, not only of St. Andrew's Parish, but of the great majority of priests, religious and laity in this Archdiocese.

Welcome!

Yours Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Patrick J. Ryan, Pastor


I'm really happy that Fr. Ryan wrote this letter and shared it with the parish in the bulletin. It's a fine example of a proper welcome to our new leader. Sadly, there are some Catholics in this Archdiocese who could learn a thing or two about manners from it.

Steppin' Out

I'm continuing the fashion rampage I began here and continued here.

Altar Servers: Don't you feel honored to serve at the altar of the Lord? You should. Now, will you PLEASE were nice trousers and appropriate enclosed shoes?

I have lost track of the numbers of times I have seen altar servers, both girls and boys, robed very nicely (server attire can vary pretty dramatically which is why I just say, robed, here) and then you look down and it's "Hey, a pair of Heely Atomics with the skates! Great, for skating across the sanctuary or the ambulatory!" or "Look, it's a pair of Hello Kitty flip-flops like I had in grade school!"

Or, maybe the footwear is subtle and very nice but there is a frayed pair of jeans hanging down above it or, worse, a bare leg.

Parents, what are you thinking?

Or, the footwear is too slippery and the server whipes out right on the steps. Heels are not a good idea. I've seen EMHC's wear the wrong footwear for the job too. A good rule of thumb is to dress in shoes that are not only appropriate but STABLE.

I will also add: QUIET shoes are nice. I don't need to hear your shoes clacking across the marble while you are helping to serve anymore then I like hearing folks talking behind me. Both to my ears, are noise that can be avoided.

I am amazed at the numbers of people whom I've heard from in response to my last two posts, as well as those blogs who linked to me, who justify appropriate attire as being t-shirts, sneakers and jeans at Holy Mass as long as they are modest and clean. I'm still not buyin' it. To my mind, the folks who dress like that want to be sure they aren't late for the baseball game after Mass so they want to save time by dressing interchangeably. These are also, possibly, the same folks who leave right after they've received Communion. Don't shortchange the Lord. Don't insult the Lord.

May 28, 2007

How Catholic Media Helped Me

I'm back, baby!

A few weeks ago, Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register interviewed me about the impact of Catholic media on my reversion. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. The story appears in this week's issue

May 27, 2007

Debonair Blogger Has a Birthday



Surely, it is no coincidence that Ray shares his birthday with the Feast marking the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

Stop on over at Stella Borealis blog and wish Ray a happy birthday! You can see from this photo why Mr. Terry of Abbey-Roads blog tries so hard to discredit Ray.

May 26, 2007

Memorial Weekend

I will be offline until Tuesday, May 29th. I'll be in the Spicer, Minnesota area with some friends. We will be remembering our dearly departed loved one, Kathy, who died just before Christmas last year. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I blogged about her during that difficult time.

In the U.S., Monday is Memorial Day which is a great day to take the time off that many of us get from work, to perform an act of mercy and pray for the dead. It's usually a time to decorate or visit gravesites. Because I'll be out of town on Monday, I made my trip to Fort Snelling National Cemetary yesterday evening to lay flowers on the grave of my mother and brother. I also prayed for them and for the deceased around them.

Have a good and safe weekend! Remember, to dress reverently on Pentecost Sunday, WHEREVER you are! Even though I'm away from home and staying at a resort, I'm packing my dress clothes! If you see any Sashers, pray for them.

Because I'll be away, comment moderation is enabled.

May 25, 2007

Matthew 28:19

Ray has the text of a story that was in today's Pioneer Press. The text itself when you read it online provides an overview of a situation that most of us already know exists. Catholic schools are facing enormous challenges etc. etc.

However, if you see the actual print version of the paper the story is very confusingly laid out. It's THE front page lead story with a big headline: Can Catholic Schools Endure? Accompanying it on the front page is a huge color photo of a procession at the Graduation Mass at St. Agnes. The caption under the photo says: the inner-city institution is struggling to keep its head above water financially. There is also a graph showing increased enrollment since 1970 in non-Catholic and minority enrollment at Catholic schools.

I thought: where are they going with this? The article runs all over talking about the urban/suburban dynamic, financial challenges, good news/bad news. The chart on the front page does NOT have any corresponding info on Catholic enrollment since 1970. It does mention that St. Agnes is saved in the article but anyone doing a quick glance at just the front page is going to think they are still doomed. I don't think they emphasized that is was only the high school at St. Agnes that was in danger, NOT the entire school.

The headline is problematic and worrisome. Not because most thinking Catholics don't wonder if Catholic schools can endure but because I think it fails to raise the most critical issue.

The unspoken issue is not lack of demand for education in a Catholic school. The unspoken issue is the lack of Catholic education in the Catholic school. This point is not mentioned at all in the article.

The usual problems are lack of money for our schools and declining enrollment. Would we have more money to spend on good Catholic schools if we weren't throwing our money at Catholic schools that are not teaching the Faith? Would more parents that are homeschooling opt to send their children to a Catholic school if they were assured it was, actually, Catholic? Would we have more Catholics to send to these good schools, if we were evangelizing?

I think it's a scandal that our school system is being used as a refuge from the public school system. I think it's terrible that we are missing the opportunity to evangelize by allowing non-Catholics to come to our school and avoiding the chance to convert them. I realize evangelization is a dirty word these days. Look what happened to the Holy Father when he talked about missionaries bringing Christ to the indigenous peoples of Brazil.

Aren't we CHARGED with making disciples of all nations? Let's get on with it then. Why are we so ashamed of our Faith? Why are we so timid?

Beware Scandalmongers and Gossiphounds

In the last couple of weeks, I have received via my blog email several missives of dubious repute from Anonymous or people with really creative and obvious aliases.

I don't mind the sincerely questioning emails that I get from blog readers. Nor, do I mind the folks who email to chat because they think we have something in common.

However, I want to go on the record right now by saying that this blog will not be a bulletin board for half-truths, manufactured scandals, fictions or outright lies about individuals, groups or institutions.

I try to use my blog for educational purposes and amusement. I'm frequently short on either due to my occasional incoherence and inability to be witty. I apologize for my numerous shortcomings.

I'm not going to post anything that is not legit. As a librarian, be aware that I know how to do my own research into what you send me. So, those of you who have your personal agenda (I'm talking to both "trads" and "progs") get your own blog, go to someone else, or, better yet, meditate upon the 10 Commandments. To my fellow bloggers: I, sincerely, advise you to use caution and think carefully about what you want your blog to be before you post.

Congratulations to Our New Priests!

Tomorrow, May 26th at 10 a.m., 8 men will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Archbishop Harry Flynn at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

You can read their inspiring stories in the May 24th issue of the Catholic Spirit.

I have a special affinity for Deacon John Floeder who will be among those ordained tomorrow. I met him at Holy Trinity during my Confirmation process this year. I was so nervous the evening of my Confirmation that I had to make a trip to the ladies room 4 times before the Easter Vigil started. On my last trip, I saw the Rev. Mr. Floeder near the baptismal font. I'm not sure who looked more like they were trying harder to remember everything me or him! Ha-ha! At that point, I thought if HE can look nervous, what am I afraid of? I don't have to sing the Exsultet. LOL!

I pray that you keep that great smile soon-to-be Father Floeder and that you use it often in your service to Christ. God Bless You.

Please pray for all of our priests both new and old.

30 Years Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far, Away....

Hail, Sci-Fi fans! 30 years ago on this day, Star Wars* opened. But, you knew that already didn't you, geek?

I did not see it on opening day. Seriously, who knew? I saw it, eventually, at the now defunct Cooper Theater in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

May the Schwartz (er, sorry, wrong movie)..May the Force Be With You.

*Technically, Episode IV: A New Hope

May 23, 2007

Attire At Holy Mass

Father Zuhlsdorf linked to my post on Gang Colors at Holy Mass from his fine blog the other day. To my surprise, there were a few people who took my post as an opportunity to talk about about attire in general as well as veer into gestures and posture. To my complete lack of surprise, I realized that it is still true that people don't read what is actually on the page but what they think is on the page based upon projecting their own selves into it. In my original post, my intent was to express my displeasure at those who use the colors they have on to make a statement of their infidelity to the Faith. I, further, expressed my dismay that these same gangsters feign surprise when they are censured for doing so.

However, I never shrink from a challenge and I'm cranky today so long time readers of this blog know what that means....

A CRANKY CATHY POST!


Ladies and Gentlemen: Because I think that's what you are. Why don't you dress like ladies or gentlemen? Why do some of you look like you came to Mass wearing what you had on in bed? I've seen people at Beer Busts that are better dressed then some of the faithful in the pews.

Now, before you start with the But, But, But, Cathy ....

Why? Why do you dress in a stained Budweiser t-shirt, frayed denim shorts and flip-flops when you go to Mass? Is it because you are on vacation? Gee, did you fail to realize that Sunday comes every 7 days and it caught you by surprise? Are you too pressed for time to put a nice outfit in your luggage? Yet, you just spent 60 minutes trying to hook up your boat and organize DVDs for the trip.

Is your attitude thus: "Well, no one should say ____about my attire because I am here. At least I came" Yes, you did and do you feel like we need to fall at your feet for that? Well, aren't you special. And, no, we won't.

Would you talk like this to your Mother? "Well, Mom, you should not be upset that I came 2 hours late to dinner with no valid excuse because at least I deigned to make an appearance. Too bad, that you had to keep the chicken warming in the oven and it dried out to accomodate my lazy ---" If you DO talk to your Mother like that slap yourself upside the head.

The same disrespectful attitude is at work in both of the examples that I outlined above. The Lord should be grateful that I bothered to show up even though I'm fully aware that I did not make my best effort in doing so. Really, I made no effort at all. And my attitude is belligerent defiance.

Really. Belligerent defiance. Have you ever had to talk with someone about the inappropriatness of their attire? I have. That's exactly the response you will get if they are not genuinely clueless. Why? Because they KNOW that what they have on is not appropriate but they are furious that you have dared to tell them so. Even though, frankly, they've been daring you to say something all along.

I see this in my workplace. Give an inch, some take a yard. My workplace is thinking of going back to business formal attire from our current practice of business casual because too many people are dressing completely inappropriately for work. Midriff bearing shirts, t-shirts, sports jerseys, capris that are really shorts, cleavage bearing tops, spaghetti straps, wife beaters, micro-minis, ripped jeans, flip-flops.

This is the workplace; but I bet all of us have seen these clothes at Mass haven't we?

If it's not appropriate for work, is it appropriate for Mass? If it's not modest, is it appropriate for Mass? Are you going to Mass to be noticed by God or the cute guy in the 3rd pew?

Would you dress slovenly for a job interview and expect to get the job? If you dress better for a job interview then you do for Mass what does this say about your priorities and how much more you value and respect your career then honoring your Lord? Your career is a gift to you from God and THIS is how you thank Him?

A few frequent excuses:

* No one else "dresses up". (This is so junior high. No one else wears jeans from Sears. Baa, Baa, Whine..Whine..)

*I want to be cool (Babe, you're a Catholic. You are SO not cool to begin with. You ARE the counterculture so look like it!)

*I don't have time (Yes, you do. Put your clothes out the night before. Get up earlier. This mean you who have kids too)

*Society has become more casual, thus it's ok for me to look sloppy. (Society has become more casual. Is this a good thing? Someday, I may blog about the perceived correlation between the decline in the dress code with the decline in civility)

*Since Vatican II we don't have to dress up (Actually, that's not true. Since Vatican II you don't even have to wear clothes. We have reverted back to the Garden of Eden. Kidding! But, I can see some numbskull trying to blame VII)

The all-time King of either-or threats:

Well, is it better if I just not go at all rather then sit here and worry about what I have on?

If there is a personal choice between not seeing you in all your disrespectful "glory" and looking at your underwear that is peeking thru the hole in your jeans, I would rather you stayed home. But, it's not for me to be judgemental about you. You must judge yourself. However, look at your attitude. You are saying: If you don't want to just let me do what I want without saying anything and be who I want to be I just won't bother and I hate you (and now you are exactly like the gangsters). If that's your position: Why are you a Catholic? Why do you even have a membership in the Church? Any church? Why do you believe in Jesus? Why do you hope for heaven? If we could all just be who we wanted without any thought or consideration given to anyone else or consequences why bother with Christianity? Why strive to be better? To be a part of a Faith is about fighting our natural inclinations. My natural inclination is to sit around at home on my butt all day and eat. However, the Faith I profess tells me that laziness and gluttony are sinful. If your natural inclination is to look like a prostitute or a griller at a Vikings tailgate party before you go to Mass, fight it.

What if one day all the priests showed up to celebrate Mass in T-shirt and shorts and did not vest but just wore the t-shirt and shorts at the altar? Would you be upset? Think about it. You should be. He's offering our prayers to God and he's consecrating the Host and he looks like that?! The priest is required to make an effort with his appearance. Why can't we?

I've seen homeless people make a better effort at dressing for Mass then those of us who are blessed to have a roof over our heads. I know a poor widower who wears a suit that's 40 years old to Mass but it's his best piece of clothing and it's clean.

Wear the best and the most appropriate clothing you have. why BE like everyone else? We are Catholics, we are NOT like everyone else. We are beautiful, reverent and modest, so let's look like it!

Here endeth the rant.

Team Vianney

One of my favorite priests is Father William Baer, Rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, MN. I have never had the honor of meeting Fr. Baer but I greatly admire him from what I hear about his work at Vianney. However, I have met some of his seminarians and they are quite an impressive group.

I blogged briefly about Fr. Baer's interview in one of our local Catholic newspapers last month.

Here he is again in the May 2007 issue of the Catholic Servant talking with Barb Ernster about the concept of authority and how seminarians react and ponder the issue. (My comments are in parentheses)

...In light of seminarians and authority, this generation tends towards fidelity and loyalty to Church teaching. For many of them it's a postive thing, and they don't feel they have to conduct their own investigation to see if they agree.

(I LOVE this part)This can be difficult to understand for some older Catholics, especially for some older priests and those active in church work. They would like to see seminarians continue with their same questioning, even dissenting, approach to Church teaching, and they find it disappointing that these young men do not want to do the kind of research or theological reflection that would lead them to dissent from Church teaching.....

In some cases, this could lead to an anti-intellectual approach, and that is something we have to deal with here at the seminary. We do not in any way want to discourage these men from doing serious work in philosophy and theology and all the necessary fields, but we do not encourage what became popular in some circles, namely a hermeneutic of suspicion (like my college theology days!). But, rather, we tell them that theology is as the classic definition says, fides quaerens, intellectum-faith seeking understanding.


Pick up an issue and read the whole interview! The Catholic Servant does not have a website. You should think about subscribing. It's a monthly and it's not a big newspaper but it's magisterium faithful and well written. It's focus is evangelization and apologetics. It's only $15/year to subscribe. Catholic Servant PO Box 24142, Minneapolis, MN 55424

St. John Vianney has Team Vianney events for men 9th grade to college age who may be interested in the priesthood. They are held at the Seminary which is located on the grounds of the University of St Thomas in St. Paul. FFI: contact Annette in the SJV office at 651-962-6825 of sjv@stthomas.edu or Fr. John Klockeman at 651-962-6832

The upcoming Team Vianney days are: Sept. 6, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Dec. 6, 2007 and Feb 7, March 6, April 3, May 1, 2008. All are from 5:45-8:30. Pizza, a short talk on the Faith, Benediction and Mass are part of the Team Vianney event.

I would normally put this type of post on Stella Borealis blog but I get so stoked about our seminary that I just can't help it! Plus, I'll do anything I can to get the word out so we can get some more good priests.

May 22, 2007

Is this Liberty or is this Death?

A post about Lybrel (TM) by Wyeth-Ayerst
(levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol)

A new oral contraceptive to stop women's periods may be on the market soon. It's brand name is Lybrel. FDA approval may come today. Am I the only one worried about this?

Wyeth-Ayerst's application for approval of Lybrel by the FDA was postponed last year because of the lack of submitted data on the manufacturing process and clinical detail. Lybrel is manufactured at a plant in Puerto Rico which has undergone scrutiny by the FDA for quality-control problems.

I have yet to see any actual data or study results related to Lybrel as far as the side effects or long-term implications of stopping a woman's menstrual cycle altogether. What I have read indicates that some women on Lybrel will continue to have what they call "unscheduled bleeding". It takes about 3 months after stopping Lybrel to begin menstruating again.

Here's the standard party line with oral contraceptives:

Serious risks of all birth control pills that can be life threatening include blood clots, stroke, and heart attack. These risks are increased in women who smoke cigarettes, especially women over 35. Women who use oral contraceptives should not smoke. Some women should not use oral contraceptives, especially women who have had a heart attack, stroke, blood clots, certain cancers or liver diseases, unexplained vaginal bleeding and those who are or may become pregnant.

What bothers me most about Lybrel is that a lot of women will rush to get this pill because it's already being touted as "emancipatory". The name, Lybrel, itself, according to Wyeth-Ayerst, is meant to evoke "liberty". What scares me is that there are just so many unknowns related to the long-term implications of stopping menstruation. Most of us women already know that birth control pills, which can regulate the period, are not entirely safe.

I was on birth control for about 10 years. I put on 10 pounds, it did not stop my period entirely or the bloating or irritability. The possible link between it and breast cancer is what got me to stop taking it. I would never take them again now that I have finally embraced celibacy as our Church teaches.

But, the second I mention to an OB/GYN that I'm having any "problems" with my period the immediate response is that I should take "the pill" again. Is the pill really the answer to every "female problem? or are we just being conditioned to think it is?

Personally, I've solved a lot of my menstrual problems by exercising and watching my salt and caffeine intake.

Ladies: Think and reflect long and hard before you jump on this bandwagon, please.

May 21, 2007

Another "MeMe" Meme

Adoro tagged me for a meme:

1. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

"World Peace, Mr. Parks."

Persuade a dissident Roman Catholic that they may be wrong by using my prior experiences and what I learned as examples of what not to do or believe about Our Faith.

2. Are you a spiritual person?

I equate this question with the folks who never go to church but claim to be "spiritual". However, yes, I would say I'm spiritual.

3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you?

Drinking Water
Box of Matches
Radio

4. What’s your favorite childhood memory?


I have so many, I can't pick just one. Probably, any of them with my late brother. I would say spending the summers with my Grandparents and my brother at my Grandparents lake home provided most of my favorite childhood memories.

5. Are these your first (tagging) memes?

No.

8 random facts.

1. I'm an exceptional hunting spotter.
2. I have to flee the urban jungle about once/month. My ideal living situation would probably be a Unabomber like cabin. All the books I want to read with a supply of water and food and I'm good to go.
3. I biked almost 1000 miles in each of the last two summers.
4. I have a caustic wit. If you've been reading my blog for a while you may have figured this out already, but I'm even worse in person.
5. I'm a very early riser. 4:00 a.m.
6. If I'm having a party, I invite far too many people-in Regency England a "crush". I hate to exclude anyone so I tend to invite everyone.
7. I'm WILD for dancing. This is a family trait. I can get into a lot of trouble, but I can't help myself once the music starts.
8. I surround myself with people that challenge me.

I'm breaking the rules! I'm not going to tag 8 people so sue me! If you want to do this meme, you should! Once a rebel, still a rebel.

May 20, 2007

Gang Colors at Holy Mass

It used to be that the only person in the Church during Holy Mass who gave serious thought to what color they had on was the Priest. The Priest still does but now he is joined in color by some of his parishioners.

Pentecost is next Sunday and you will be hardpressed to find a similar day in the Liturgical Year where gang colors will be on parade.

You will more then likely have the rainbow group representing those misguided Catholics who think GLBT individuals are oppressed in the Church because they can't practice their sexuality the way THEY want to without the "big bad" Church objecting. This gang uses Pentecost as a day to be really disruptive and wear rainbow colored sashes and pins and stand around like a group of pouting children when they are told they can't receive Communion dressed like that because they just made a public statement by their attire that they are not in Communion with the Church.

You will have the purple sash or headscarf group. Folks who think women are wronged by the Church because they can't be ordained. Rather then just wear a ladylike mantilla or go someplace else, they will show up and sit right up front. They growl and stamp their feet when they are told they can't receive Communion because they are so obviously making a statement that they disagree with the Church's teachings as handed down by Jesus Christ.

You have the folks who think they need to wear flame colors so they can be like the Holy Spirit coming down with tongues of fire. I don't know about you, but I'm not arrogant enough to think that the clothes I have on are enough to put me on the same plane as The Paraclete.

I've yet to see someone dressed like Ephesians 6:10-18 at Pentecost but if people think they can dress their kids in Halloween costumes and bring them to Mass like that in October the day will probably come.

Back in my clubbing days, people with certain colors on that signified alliance with a gang and the potential for possible disruption or violence were not allowed in to the club.

Do we need bouncers at the doors of our Churches? Why do folks think that the Mass is about them?

We can barely get people to dress respectfully for Mass, but tell them they can look ridiculous to make a political statement and change the focus of Holy Mass to their selfish selves they are all for it.

This year in the United States, Pentecost Sunday is in the middle of, what is for many, a 3-day holiday weekend for Memorial Day on Monday. This means, a lot of people will be traveling. It usually means that people tend to show up for Mass this Sunday dressed in their summer worst.

Here's my modest proposal: Please make an effort to dress up this Sunday if you normally don't. Ties, suits, dresses, skirts, blouses. Dress modestly and appropriately. Let's try and counter what has become the annual ritual of idiocy with reverence and taste.

May 19, 2007

What a Finish!

How about that Preakness?!? I thought we were going to have a Triple Crown race this year. It was so close. What a finish!

May 18, 2007

The Old Family Manse Sold.

My Dad, finally, sold the home I grew up in this week. The housing market here is really tough for sellers. My Dad bought a house in northern Minnesota last Summer and has pretty much lived there since.

My childhood home has been totally vacant of furniture for sometime. Strangers have tromped thru it, examined it, admired it, criticized it. Finally, a young couple with 2 young children bought it. My parents were a young couple with 2 young children in 1971 when they bought the house from an elderly couple. The neighborhood has seen a lot of people come and go. My family was one of the oldest ones still left.

No more.

I could not afford to buy the home even if I wanted to and, surprisingly, I really did not want to. I like my bungalow in St. Paul. Also, my Dad's neighborhood is fly-over for the Airport and there is no decent Catholic parish for at least 8 miles in any direction.

I pray that the new family will live a full life in that house as mine did. Joy, sorrow, the whole package.

As I walked around thru the home when I checked on it during my Dad's absence. I felt no sense of loss. A house cannot be a home if the people you love are not there.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

Fr. Welzbacher's Pastor Page on Archbishop Nienstedt

Fr. George Welzbacher, Pastor of the Church of St. John on the East Side of St Paul (childhood parish of Terry of Abbey-Roads!), writes his opinion of the David Hanners article in the Pioneer Press on May 7th on his Pastor's Page of May 13th. I blogged about that same newspaper story earlier and was quoted in the article.

Father Welzbacher holds nothing back regarding a certain priest of this Archdiocese whom I also thought did not distinguish himself in the newspaper story.

May 17, 2007

In Your Face Catholicism

I'm sorry to report but we are, collectively, a limp-wristed family of Christians. It used to be that "they" knew we were Catholics by our outward signs, our attire, our demeaner, our gestures, our visible Sacramentals, our statues, our processions, our attendance at Mass at "weird times", our rules, our regular fasting.

Now, with perhaps a few exceptions during the litugical year, we can get away with only going to Mass on Sunday (and we gripe about that). You can wear clothes you would wear to the laundromat to church. We think it's irrelevant to have statues in our church or in our home so we've removed them. We can barely bother to fast for one measly hour before receiving Communion (and some of us spend a lot of time guesstimating exactly when). We never carry a Rosary with us all the time. We don't wear crosses, scapulars or medals anymore. We don't cross ourselves before praying in public. We don't pray in public. We don't carry the Lord into the world with processions anymore.

Ask yourself: When you tell people that you are Catholic, are they surprised? Do they say: "I never would have guessed?"

What we need is "in your face Catholicism". It's critical that we are interiorially disposed towards the Faith and we live it and believe it with our whole being. However, we need to quit hiding out. Quit acting like Catholics skulking in the Catacombs. The last time I checked Queen Elizabeth I was still dead so quit acting like she's going to send her troops to kill you for practicing your Faith. And, even if someone is going to kill you for practicing your Faith should you fear that? Think about it. If the Apostles had decided to lie low because they were afraid of death and persecution we would not have a Faith. Almost all of them died horrible deaths. They knew that would probably happen, yet they kept on.

We need to dress like we are going to something REALLY important when we attend Mass. Are you dressing better for a job interview then Mass? We need to surround ourselves with Catholic art and statues at our homes and in our offices. We need to plaster our vehicles with Catholic bumperstickers. We need to pray in public and cross ourselves. I don't care if you are at an ecumenical prayer service: be a Catholic and act like one. We need more Processions. We need more people praying the Rosary (and holding one) while they walk their dogs. We need to read a Catholic Bible on the bus and tell people it's a Catholic Bible. We need to create more teaching and evangelizing moments. We need to quit being sissies.

The liberals have absolutely no problem expressing their opinion. I look around and, I think, there are more shrines to the late Senator Paul Wellstone in this town then to the Virgin Mary. Clearly, something is wrong.

My home has prominent paintings of the Holy Family, Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as a large crucifix with a corpus. Eventually, I hope to have backyard statues. I publicize Adoration at my parish and I have a regular hour. I have a Relevant Radio bumpersticker on my car. Someone keeps stealing it and my Rosary sticker. Currently, I need a new Rosary sticker.

I can always do more. I resolve to keep being a local big mouth about the Faith. I resolve to start praying in public more and crossing myself. I resolve to carry my Rosary and pray it when I walk around Como Lake near my house. I resolve to wear my chapel veil or cap more. I don't always wear it. Sometimes, I forget to bring it. I should do like my friend, Adoro, does and keep one in my car.

What can you do?

Archbishop Nienstedt's Not Going to Take It

Our new Coadjutor Archbishop responds to his critics again in the Catholic Spirit. Ray has the story.

I hope this means he's going to continue to be outspoken after he takes charge. He asks us to pray for him. Please join me in doing so.

Update: Adoro te Devote has a post on the latest letter as well.

May 16, 2007

Letters to the Editor in the Pioneer Press

The Pioneer Press letters page has been very active lately. A lot of letters about the Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt. I would say the letters are leaning more in his favor then against him.

Keep sending those cards and letters to the editor in. It makes for exciting breakfast reading for me. (me, me!) I'm always happy to see people getting involved. I'm even happier to see faithful Catholics getting involved!

Local Blog Boy Has Birthday!



A certain local blogger has a birthday today! Stop over at his blog, that is functioning, and wish him a happy one, will you, please?

I hope he is not too angry with me for posting this photo of what he actually looks like. I could not help myself. I wanted to share with you his sense of style and the way he carries himself. Not every straight man can sell a look like this, know what I'm sayin'? He is proof, indeed, that lay celibacy can be attractive!

Happy Birthday!

May 15, 2007

All About MEme

Both Sanctus Belle and Angela tagged me for this meme. Sanctus Belle was more direct, Angela just said if you have a vowel in your blog name you are tagged. I checked, and I think I do!

All About MEme

(the story of my blog!)

1. Male or Female: female last time I checked

2. Married or Single (or religious): single, but I pray that I'm religious!

3. Dream vacation: Rome and Vatican City.

4. Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America.

5. Area I live in currently: South Como neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, United States of America.

6. Someone you wish you could meet: blog buddies I have not met yet and the Holy Father. Better include Jesus and God in here too, eh?

7. Biggest "pet-peeve": hand-holding during the Our Father, people that take the last of the coffee at work and don't make more.

8. Favorite Religious devotion: Sacred Heart

9. Favorite Saint (besides the Blessed Mother): St. Augustine.
LOL! No, really, it's St. Catherine of Alexandria though St. Augustine is great. So, all you Augie fans, don't flame me, o.k.?

10. Favorite sport that you play: Eating.
I am fairly athletic but I don't play a sport regularly. Unless, my bowling and volleyball teams at work count? If so, there it is. I prefer volleyball over bowling.

11. Favorite food: Ice Cream-big time! Anything starchy: rice, pasta, potatoes.

12. Tridentine or Novus Ordo: Either, as long as they are reverent and there is no modification to the appropriate missal.

13. Would you (or are you) home school or public school: I would send my kids to a Magisterium faithful Catholic school if I had kids and there was an acceptable Catholic school nearby. If not, I'd probably home school.

14. How many kids do you have: 2 cats, 1 Dad. Hey, don't laugh, parents are tough to raise these days!

15.Ever been in an auto accident: Yes. 3 of them. All 3 of them caused by me, I'm sorry to say.

16.Ever seen a Pope in person: No

17.Languages that you know fluently: I'm not sure I can say that I know English fluently! There is so MUCH to know. We have such a rich language. I have studied: French, Spanish, Japanese and Anishinabeg though I would not call myself fluent in any of them. I'm, currently, studying Latin and revisiting my French and Anishinabeg.

18.Last movie you saw in theatres: Into Great Silence

19.Favorite Blog: Not going there.

20.Your thoughts on Barney, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus:
Easter Bunny: Sure tastes good in the crockpot!
Barney: No wonder our society suffers from collective stupidity. Barney makes Big Bird look like a rocket scientist.
Santa Claus: I can't even think of Santa without thinking of a shopping mall and a skinny man in a poorly fitting fake beard. Now, Krampus, is cool or, rather, hot! LOL!

I tag: Terry from the Abbey, Adoro, Winnipeg Catholic, Richie D and Histor the Wise.
If you want to post your answers in the comments, that's fine.

May 14, 2007

Pray for Rain and Safety

The walleye fishing opener in Minnesota may have enjoyed prime weather for fishing. However, it was not optimal weather for firefighting. It was windy, and it's been dry and hot. The fire danger in northern Minnesota is currently rated: extreme. The Ham Lake fire in the BWCAW and Ontario border continues to burn. Even where I was, nearly 100 miles to the southwest, it was smoky and hazy from this fire. There is rain close to that area on the radar now. However, in the Cities it is really windy. If it's this windy in the fire area, it's going to continue to be a tough fight.

I read, today, that over 600 firefighters from 35 states are fighting that fire.

Please join me in praying for rain and praying for the safety of our firefighters and first responders in that area.

Though many homes, buildings and trees have been lost, thankfully, no one has been killed.

There are also dangerous fires in California and on the Florida/Georgia border. I pray for those people and first reponders as well.

If you are a northern Minnesota camper this summer, be really cautious and keep a close eye on your campfires. Make sure it's all the way out before you leave. Don't leave the fire unattended. It wouldn't surprise me, if we don't get some rain, if some northern Minnesota parks and campgrounds start restricting campfires.

Serious Evil

Gentle Reader:

Back in my dissident days, I was a big fan of New Age practices. I practiced some of them. I had illusions of being this great, tuned-into nature, supernormal, Earth goddess.

About 15 years ago, I was spending the night at my then boyfriend's apartment (No, I was not there to discuss the architecture of Cesar Pelli.) and a horrifying event occurred.

I woke up at one point in the middle of the night to see this crone looking woman with long stringy brown/grey hair, and a disfigured face, sitting on the bed between me and my boyfriend. She pointed one of her gnarled fingers at me and laughed. She was wearing the exact same nightgown I had on.

At that point in my life, I did not acknowledge the reality that there is evil, living evil, around us. I, definitely, did not accept that there was such a thing as sin.

However, even I knew, then, that this visitation was bad. Something or someone was trying to tell me something. It scared me so much that I never forgot what that demon looked like. For I know now that is what it was. Did I leave my boyfriend's apartment and immediately reform my life? No. That was several years ahead of me yet.

Other events were happening at this same time. Objects would move in my bedroom. My bed would move. A deer head at my parents house flew off a wall and across the room one evening when I was visiting and asleep in that room. My bedroom would get so hot that the varnish would pour down the walls. I would hear footsteps outside my bedroom door at night. I thought nothing of this and thought this was all proof of my great paranormal power.

These manifestations occurred over a 3-year period.

It took me a while to make a connection but I realized not all that long ago that the occurances began when I started reading Tarot cards. I bought a deck and a how-to book and I would read them for myself nearly every night before I went to bed. I read them on my bed. The occurances stopped when I quit reading the Tarot.

I used to laugh at people said Tarot cards invite evil.

I'm not laughing now.

Friends, Tarot cards are serious evil. I"m so convinced of this that I refused to give a friend of mine a ride in my car a little while ago because she was carrying a deck in her bag.

I burned my Tarot deck and the "how-to" book in a backyard bonfire a while back. I had not used the deck for a while but I still had them in my house. I was afraid to just throw them out because some other unsuspecting person could get a hold of them.

My good friend, Adoro, and I were talking about evil last week and I remembered my experiences with Tarot and decided to blog about them. Adoro had an unforgettable post on Tarot last year. I highly recommend you read it.

Fishin'

(Nationally) Enquiring minds want to know: "How was the fishing?" Fine. We did not catch any walleyes in my boat but I caught 25 big perch. Not a one was less then 2 pounds (that's big, for a perch). I did not see anyone bringing walleyes in at the boat landing either day. Too bad, the largemouth bass season is not open yet. I caught 2 big ones but had to practice catch-and-release on them.

It was a little windy yesterday, but you could not beat the weather. Sunny and in the 70's.

That's all you are getting out of me as far as location-Ray! :-)

May 11, 2007

Cathy's Boat Launch and Fishing Tips/Etiquette

I'm offline until Monday, May 14th (because of that, comment moderation is enabled). I'll be Up North (that's Northern Minnesota to you non-natives) seeking the elusive walleye across the beautiful sky-blue waters. I just had a vision of the Hamm's Bear (from the land of sky blue waters...) ok, ok, I won't sing. Yes, I will have some beer but not in the boat! I never drink while operating a boat. One of the few instances where I will turn down a brew. Be safe and alive not stupid and dead. WEAR the life vest don't just stash in it the boat bin and forget about it. It's been a long winter and I know some of us are still carrying that winter fat (me). Make sure the life vest still fits before you start taking on water.

Also, make sure the plug is in the boat. Imagine the horror of pulling away from the boat landing in 20 feet of water, the plug isn't in and your life vest doesn't fit, the water is about 5 degrees if you're lucky. Don't worry, at that point, there will probably be a lot of guys standing around the boat launch to help you tow the boat off the bottom after they get done laughing their a---- off. I could be speaking from personal experience here: Grandma, did you put the plug in the boat??!!!!

Put all your **** in the boat before you start backing up towards the boat ramp. I don't need to sit there and watch you pull all your tackle out of the truck, organize your rods, your lunch and whatever, while I'm waiting in a LONG line before dawn to launch.

Drain all your livewells, dump your buckets, and clear off your boat, trailer and vehicle of any vegetation before you leave the lake and go to another. Millfoil is a serious problem here and it spreads by people carrying it from lake to lake.

Make sure you have a fishing license and your boat tabs are current. Lots of law enforcement out on the water on opener. Check those regs for the limits on your lake.

Dress for the weather. Layers are a good idea. I'm sure if you fish you know this by now but it always amazes me the numbers of people on the water that are not dressed for the weather conditions. Opener in this state is usually cold. I remember wearing my snowmobile suit on more then one opener as I watched the sleet come down. I, also, remember openers with shorts and t-shirts.

Remember, fishing is supposed to be fun! The sport is in decline and it will not increase thanks to your crabby face and your profane mouth complaining that you did not catch enough fish or not enough of the fish you wanted.

This has been a public service announcement of Cathy of Alex.

Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child

When you loved your Mother, when you knew your Mother, when she was an active part of your life, and, then, she's gone, the absence can be devastating. My Mother's been dead for nearly 10 1/2 years and I think about her and pray for her soul every day.

Mother's Day is tougher for me then her birthday or the anniversary of her death.

I'm sure it's because I've been inundated for the the last month with ads telling me I need to buy my Mom something on Mother's Day, I need to call her (wouldn't that be an expensive call!?), I need to send her flowers.

In my family, Mother's Day was always a special day. My Mom worked so hard to keep our home clean, our gardens beautiful, clothes, that she made herself, on our backs, good food on the table. We went all out on Mother's Day to treat her like an Empress. Breakfast in bed, we cleaned the house, we cooked dinner. I, remember, one year I washed her car for her. She loved it all. I can still see the big smile on her face.

God really blessed me with such a Mom. I"m lucky. There are many among us who never knew their Mothers, lost their Mothers at a very early age, or whose Mother's are indifferent.

I'm fortunate, in that several older women in my life really stepped in to fill the void left by my Mom's passing. So much so that I send them Mother's Day's cards every year. But, I never call them Mom, only Mother. There is only, and will ever only be, one Mom. I'm grateful that I'm not really a Motherless Child. Plus, don't forget, all of us Catholics have the Blessed Mother!

What makes a Mom? Hmmmm..that's a tough one. But, I'm sure we all have some good ideas. Mine are: a good listener, someone who puts your needs over their own, a homemaker, a good friend, a leader, a role-model.

I think men have mothering traits too. But, women make the office of motherhood special and unique.

Here's to all the Mothers out there! God Bless You.

Cranky Cathy's Sports Notations

NASCAR: What is DEI without DE Jr? What's going to happen to my guy, Truex Jr? Stay tuned.

St. Paul Saints: You can stream the games on your cell phone. See their website for more info. No word on if you can stream a massage from Sister Roz at the same time.

Twins: You KNOW it's bad when the only enjoyable action on the field is Gardy being thrown out.

May 10, 2007

....You Just Might Get It.

"I, so far as I can sense the pattern of my mind, write of the wish that comes true, for some reason a terrifying concept, at least to my imagination. . " James M. Cain, Preface to The Butterfly

During Lent I read the Autobiography of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Thanks to the Lord revealing his Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary and her superiors keeping her journal (despite her desire that it be destroyed), we have the Sacred Heart Devotion that we know today.

St. Margaret Mary's life was not, what I would call, easy. If I may be so bold, I would say that St. Margaret Mary's relationship with the Lord is very close to that of a masochist with her demanding Lover.

St. Margaret Mary was continually asking for suffering-both physical and mental-in order to lessen herself and experience a taste of what the Lord suffers because of us. She rejoiced in being ridiculed and chastised. I can understand why she asked for these things but it's the apparent relish that she took in it that I find difficult to fathom.

St. Margaret Mary must have inspired me more then I realized. A few weeks ago, I told the Lord in prayer that if there was any way He could use me to spread His Truth would He condescend to do so, please.

He has delivered in droves lately.

It is, as Mr. Cain said, a terrifying thing to have a wish come true. Sounds strange does it not? A wish received can be terrifying?

I do not naturally crave public attention so it's scary for me when I get it. Yet, I am, strangely, compelled to push for it on behalf of that which is far greater than myself. Perhaps, it was somewhat similar for St. Margaret Mary.

What's the point of having a Catholic blog if you aren't in it to spread the Truth and glorify Him? If I'm in this blogging business for myself, then I have it all wrong. If I'm in this life for myself, then I have it all wrong.

It's easy at times to get a big head and rejoice that anyone reads MY blog. I have to consciously remind myself, it's not MY blog. It's HIS blog. It's not MY life, it's HIS. I am His. All that I have is His. All that I must do, should be for Him.

Maybe this is what my singlehood is all about? I have no one person on Earth pulling at my time. No religious order, no spouse, no family, no children. I can devote myself to Him more so then some who are not single and unattached.

May 09, 2007

St. Agnes High School Saved!

The news is probably well out by now, but St. Agnes High School raised more then $3 million dollars and will not have to close! A couple of donors gave very substantial gifts, but all gifts, large and small were generous.

A fine example of what we can accomplish if we all pull together.

God Be Praised!

May 08, 2007

Coadjutor Selection

In today's Pioneer Press (don't look for it online yet, it's not there), there is a letter from a person who says they are disappointed that Archbishop Flynn selected Archbishop Nienstedt as his replacement.

Archbishop Flynn did not select his replacement. No Archbishop does. The Archbishop may have submitted a list of recommended names to the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States (currently, Archbishop Pietro Sambi) but the final decision is out of his hands. We don't know if the Archbishop submitted a list of names or whose name was on it. We may never know. Honestly, we don't have to know and we aren't entitled to know.

Then the letter writer goes on with the usual stuff about how hierarchical and autocratic the Church is and how we need structural change etc. etc.

The Catholic Church is not a democracy. We don't get to vote for our leaders any more then I get to vote on whether my fellow Catholics are worthy to be members of my parish or not. This is not a nation state. It's not a tennis club.

For evidence of how well the popular vote in a church is going these days, look no further then the Anglican Communion. Even when folks are allowed to vote, they still aren't happy.

The ability to vote or not is not the real issue.

The real issues are a lack of trust and submission (I know those are controversial words in this day and age). Not everyone can be in charge. Ultimately, none of us are in charge anyway. God is.

May 07, 2007

Back in the Paper Again

Hey, it's me. Janice Lynn Catherine LaDuke a.k.a. Cathy_of_Alex. I'm in the Pioneer Press again this morning. David Hanners interviewed me last week about Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt. Ray has the full text.

Let me be clear that I said that SOME Catholics hope the Coadjutor Archbishop will really crack down on dissenters. I did not say that I hope that is the case. We could really use some strong Catachesis around here first. I also said that we have nothing to base our opinions upon Archbishop Nienstedt except his public record. He has not done anything here yet.

IMHO, Father Michael Tegeder, of St. Edwards in Bloomington did not distinguish himself by his nearly hysterical comments in this piece. Think he's worried?

I also think the article tried a little too hard to make us fear the new Archbishop. If the worst they can come up with is that he actually lives the Creed and follows the Magisterium, hey, I'm all for that!

If you are new to my blog you may want to read my very first post

If you are new to our local, vibrant, Catholic blogosphere, check out the fine blogs in my sidebar under "Support Your Local Blog"

Be nice to me, today is my 39th birthday!!!! ARRGH! Really, it is 39. Lying is a sin. Quit laughing, Ray! We'll discuss your age later.

May 06, 2007

Assimilation or Not?

A quick post as my mind is still racing at Richmond!

Yesterday, in addition to being May 5th and First Saturday, was also Cinco de Mayo. Many cities around the country, including the West Side of St. Paul, hosted events honoring Latino culture.

I've been thinking lately about how many Catholic parishes in my city have Masses in Spanish. In fact, there are more Masses in Spanish then Latin around here. It seems to be less "controversial" to start a Mass in any language other then Latin any place. Hmong? Sure. Vietnamese? Sure. Korean? Sure. Spanish? Sure. Polish? Sure. Latin? No way-too backward.

Huh?

I know there is a lot of fear in the hierarchy that if we don't offer Masses in Spanish we are going to lose one of our fastest rising Catholic populations in this country to the Evangelicals or other Protestants groups. Shouldn't the hierarchy be worried about losing any of us and not just one group?

We are either all Catholics together or we aren't. What's the deal with all this dissimilation? Yes, there always have been culturally based Catholic parishes. But, I'm questioning whether that was ever a good idea or not. What's the point? Is this country the great melting pot or isn't it? Is our Church ONE or isn't it?

Is our Mass the same no matter what language it's in or isn't it? Do we need to just go back to Latin only? I'm starting to think that, yes, we do need Latin only. I think our church is becoming too segmented into the various cultures that make up the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Thoughts?

Richmond-For Cryin' Out Loud!

Richmond NASCAR race: Is this a stock car or a bumper car race?

Did you hear me screaming towards the end? My guy, Martin Truex Jr., was running pretty much in the Top 10 all day but he ends up being involved in a late race melee and stalls in the grass. He finished but way down. AAARGH!

Well, my Twins aren't lookin' much better...

May 05, 2007

Rained Out at Richmond

Well, there went my evening plans for a late night of NASCAR watching...How 'bout that Derby today?

St. Agnes High School Update

A blog reader informed me via email that he saw "Beauty and the Beast" at St. Agnes last night. He pronounced it very good. He also informed me that the extra show on Thursday, May 3rd brought in $100,000!!!!!

There are 2 shows remaining: tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow, Sunday, May 6th at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and proceeds go to the High School's operating fund.

Tuesday, May 8th is the day the decision is made whether to keep the high school open or not. I have to say things are looking promising!! Keep those gifts and prayers coming!

May 03, 2007

Coadjutor Archbishop Nienstedt Responds to Pioneer Press


I just got my May 3, 2007 issue of the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit and there is a brief interview by Maria Wiering with Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt in it. I found this particular exchange interesting.

Question: The Pioneer Press article that ran the day after the coadjutor announcement called you “hard line” [“Hard-line Bishop to Succeed Flynn,” April 25, 2007]. How does that initial perception strike you?

Coadjutor Archbishop Nienstedt: It struck me as being very harsh. I don’t see myself as being a hard-line person. I believe what the church believes. And unfortunately, in this day and age where there is such pluralism and individualism in our society, a person who believes in a creed as we do as Catholics, is somehow considered hard-line or a fanatic — a zealot, if you will — because they believe what they believe, they believe what the church believes.

I have worked ecumenically with the Lutheran bishops in New Ulm, and on the national level I’ve worked on religious affairs. I’m on a committee — I have been for about 10 years — with the Jewish rabbis. But, I believe the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church of Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t have given up my life, I wouldn’t have given up a family and a wife, if I didn’t believe that.

And so, that isn’t to say that we don’t find truth in Judaism — we do. Spiritually, we are all Semitists, Pope Pius XII said. It’s not that we don’t find truth in the reformed churches. But I believe that the Catholic Church reflects the body of Christ as he intends it to be reflected.

As I said in the press conference, I’ve given all my affection to the church, and I will do what she asks me to do because I believe that her message and her mission need to be heard.

I hope the readership of The Catholic Spirit will find me as a compassionate person, as an understandable and reasonable man. I don’t think I’m harsh at all, but I do stick to my guns. If confronted by questions, I answer them truthfully. If I’m confronted with people who disagree, I argue our point of view because I think our point of view is right. I would hope that more would be willing to accept it.

Kersten Column on St. Agnes H.S.

A fan and supporter of St. Agnes and a reader of this blog alerted me to Katherine Kersten's column in the StarTribune today:

At this time of year, you stop counting the pro sports teams, big corporations and malls that claim to be irreplaceable Minnesota institutions, and so entitled to hefty public subsidies. But the hungry crowd at the Capitol doesn't include one truly indispensable institution -- St. Agnes High School, a landmark in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood since 1938.

St. Agnes is a victim of the financial and enrollment squeeze that is hitting inner-city Catholic schools around the country. Eighty-five percent of its 200 high school students and 220 K-8 students receive tuition assistance, and in recent years the parish that operates the schools has incurred a debt of more than $1 million in subsidizing them.

On May 8, a decision will be made to close the high school unless something dramatic happens to improve the financial situation, says the Rev. John Ubel, St. Agnes Church pastor and school superintendent. The grade school will stay open.

Is St. Agnes worth saving?

Yes, says Mary Collins, whose daughter Tomica graduated last year. Collins is a single mother of nine.

They were adopted and born with medical problems. Each attended St. Agnes at some point, and four graduated from the high school.

"My kids would have been lost in a large public school," says Collins, who credits her children's success to scholarships from St. Agnes. "My kids needed a strict but loving environment, and a spiritual education that would help them grow up to be a whole person," she says.

At St. Agnes, Collins adds, teachers worked tirelessly in and out of class to give her kids the academic support and confidence they needed. Last year, Tomica capped her high school career by being chosen homecoming queen.

Today, St. Agnes families come not only from the inner city but also from 60 ZIP codes, including Ham Lake, North Branch and Somerset, Wis., according to Ubel.

David Johnson, who teaches second grade at St. Agnes and has directed the school's musicals for almost 20 years, embodies the school's rich tradition. His grandparents were founding members of St. Agnes Church in 1888, and his mother attended the grade school, which was founded in those early years. Johnson's father wanted him to go to a public high school, so Johnson paid his freshman-year tuition himself. He earned $95, a substantial amount at the time. He graduated 50 years ago.

Today, says Johnson, the school still offers what attracted him back then -- a strong religious environment, high academic standards and dedicated teachers such as Sister Patrice, a teacher who inspired a love of the stage that still nourishes him. Johnson is directing the high school's current musical extravaganza, the Broadway hit "Beauty and the Beast."

Johnson and his wife, Nancy, have 12 children; six of their own and six they have adopted, including a group of four sisters and two with special needs. Nancy, a former St. Agnes first-grade teacher, is the show's assistant director. Johnson's son Andrew, a 1997 St. Agnes graduate, designed the set, and three other offspring who are recent graduates do make-up or serve on the stage crew. Two Johnson children perform in the show.

Other families have also pitched in to make "Beauty and the Beast" a reality. Parents built the elaborate set, which includes a forest that descends from the ceiling and an enchanted castle moved by living gargoyles. And they sewed many of the costumes, including 120 peasant outfits. "One grandmother sewed 71 pirate shirts," marvels Johnson.

Some young cast members have opened their piggy banks as well. Gregory Fink, a 7-year-old homeschooler in the children's chorus, exemplifies their dedication, says Johnson. After hearing of the school's plight, the boy donated his entire savings of $31 to a save-the-school fund, along with $44 he earned last weekend at a lemonade stand. Another generous donor has also stepped forward to aid St. Agnes' campaign for survival. On Monday, the school announced an anonymous gift of $500,000 from a benefactor who wants to encourage other supporters' gifts.

Tonight, St. Agnes will stage a free performance of "Beauty and the Beast." The kids will be singing their hearts out and passing the hat, in hopes of saving their school.

You can be sure that anxious St. Agnes families are saying lots of prayers: Prayers for miracles, prayers for "angels."--Katherine Kersten

Some Georgia Public Schools to Offer Bible Study

There was a story on the AP Wire a few days ago that I found interesting.

Muscogee County in Georgia decided to offer Old Testament and New Testament courses in their public schools this Fall. I found out that this plan is a rarity among the school districts that already offer Bible courses in the public school because this program will be funded with state government money-not local school district funds.

Lawmakers in Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas have considered similar plans, though none has been approved yet.

We can all guess what the ACLU makes of this.

My Dad told me a story a few years ago that shocked me. In his small town, after World War II, students were allowed to leave the public school in the middle of the day and go to their respective churches and receive instruction in their Faith. My Dad and his siblings trekked over to the Catholic Church for instruction by the priest. In the meantime, the Protestants went to their respective churches. These were all public school children. Can you imagine that happening today? I can't either.

I hear the reasons why Georgia and the other states want to do this. They are saying it's because the Bible is a part of history. It is. They are claiming that instruction will be non-denominational and no attempt will be made to indoctrinate students.

I am not in favor of this idea.

Why?

Note that these states are in the Bible Belt. What's the dominent faith in those areas? Southern Baptist. Protestant in any case. I'm highly doubtful that it is possible to leave any talk of personal belief and sectarian interpretation of Scripture out of these courses. Furthermore, I'm uncomfortable with the thought of Catholic children being outnumbered in these classrooms and possibly hearing and being confused by Biblical interpretations that are contrary to Catholicism.

One of the reasons Catholics started their own schools in this nation, was that Catholics did not like their childrens exposure to the fundamentalist Protestant and anti-Catholic overtones in the public education system.

May 02, 2007

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) Part I

Imagine you are an elderly Catholic widow who has lived in your urban home for 50 years. You enjoy it because it's comfortable to you, your garden looks nice, you are close to a grocery store and your doctor's office. You smile at the memories of all the children you raised; who went to the Catholic school down the street. Your late husband is buried in the Catholic cemetery 3 blocks away-close enough for you to visit for prayer and flowers. The house is paid for. You are not wealthy but you are independent and financially comfortable. You don't have any serious health issues though you cannot drive due to some eyesight issues. But, it's fine, you are on a busline. Your grandkids visit on occasion. You can walk to daily Mass and receive the Sacraments at your Catholic parish down the street. The same parish you were wed in, your husband's funeral Mass was in, and that your children received their Sacraments of Initiation in.

Sure, some of your old friends have died or moved away. Yes, registrations and attendance at your parish and its school is falling because fewer of the people moving into the area are Catholic or practicing Catholics.

Eventually, your Pastor of many years retires. You look forward to the new Pastor with the usual slight apprehension but you've seen many new Priests come to this parish over your decades of faithfulness. You will be just fine. Your parish will be just fine.

You go to daily Mass one day and discover that Father Hip-Hop Side Your Head has decided to do away with daily Mass because it's not worth his time setting it up for only a handful of people. He has better things to do with his free time like: oh, working on his book about the "Errors of Every Council Before Vatican II" and working with his architect buddy on how to get rid of all the statues in the church as well as totally modernizing the Sanctuary.

Well, o.k.

You ask Father Hip-Hop Side Your Head if he's still hearing Confessions each day since they used to be heard before every Mass. No, he says, I have a vision for a purification ceremony, like the one I saw once on the Leech Lake Reservation in place of the outdated mode of Confession. I will do that twice/year and bring in a woman Shaman friend of mine to do it. I'm also removing the "boxes". You know, the old Confessionals-too scary.

You were raised not to question your Priest so you don't. You figure he must have the approvals necessary to do this. He's better educated then you. He must have your best interests at heart.

You go along with it all for a while. You notice that enrollment and attendance at the parish is up. But, it's strange that parking becomes a major problem in your neighborhood on Sundays (now the only day there is a Mass even on weeks with Holy Days of Obligation in the middle). You realize you never see these parishioners before or after Mass. They drive in, set their car alarms, go in, leave and drive back to suburbia where they spend a lot of time worrying about Freeing Tibet and AIDS in Haiti.

It starts to bother you and scare you. You can't receive the Sacraments you need and that you want. You are unable to drive. You can't afford to move. You don't want to burden your kids.

You speak with Father Hip-Hop Side Your Head, (who now insists you just call him, Hip) about your concerns, your feelings of bereftness without the Faith and its Gifts. He poo-poos your worry. He tells you that you need to get with the program.

You tell him you are not going to live forever and that you would really like to be certain that you will get the Final Sacraments that you need. What if you become ill and can't make it Mass? Hip tells you don't worry, I'll send a layperson by when they have time with a piece of the pita bread we use. That'll be your Communion with us, your community. Well, is that even valid? Is that consecrated? That's not as important as being a part of your community, Hip says.

Gentle Reader: Do you see where I'm going with this? Can you imagine the horror of being elderly and/or disabled and the parish you've known all your life changes overnight into some free-for-all? What if you can't simply drive somewhere else? I think many of us have seen notices in our Bulletins for an elderly or disabled parishioner seeking a ride. Why is that? It could be because they can't abide what they have in their neighborhood parish.

I can't imagine anything more terrifying then being on your deathbed and you ask for a Priest and some character like Father Hip comes in and tells you that you don't need to make a final Confession or be Anointed because your place in Heaven is assured without it.

Yet, how often does something like this happen? I can look at a map of the city of my birth (Minneapolis) and there are miles of adjoining neighborhoods served by parishes that used to be authentically Catholic and now I don't know what to call them.

In my observed experience, dissenters will move into an inner-city parish because they see it as ripe for the picking. The parish probably has low enrollment and probably not enough of a group that's going to protest (being too low in number and too vulnerable). They move in and make the changes they want. Meanwhile, what are the faithful who can't be mobile left with? Nothing. They either have to become totally reliant on the charity of others, they don't go to Church at all, or they go to a church but it's the Lutheran Missouri Synod church down the street that still looks a little like the Catholic Church they remember.

Dissenters spend a lot of time worrying about society and the Church wronging others. They should look in their own mirror.

But, all of us should think, seriously, about the impact of these barely Catholic parishes on some of our more vulnerable brothers and sisters in Christ.

May 01, 2007

Recommended Reading from This Rock

If you can obtain a copy of the May/June 2007 This Rock, I highly recommend the article "The Church Militant or the Church Belligerent?: How Fighting for the Faith Can Destroy Charity" by Fr. Paul Scalia. I don't think the issue will be free online for a while.

Fr. Scalia talks about how some of us get so consumed with gossip, liturgical abuse, and the latest church scandal, that we forget about our own holiness and our mission to lead others to Christ. We become so worried about winning for "our side" that we forget why we are here in the first place. "The hallmark of Christians is charity, not churlishness. The pagans were moved by the Christians: "See how they love one another" --not "See how they complain to one another."" Father is NOT saying that there is nothing to fight for. He's just advising us to be on our guard. "The danger is not of fighting--but of only fighting, and fighting in the wrong way"

Father mentions those of us for whom just following the norms is not enough. For instance, those who think Communion in the hand is wrong under any circumstances and don't think it should be allowed, taking the step of deciding on their own that it will not occur in their U.S. parish--despite the fact that the practice is allowed in the U.S.

"The risk is to cease becoming the Church Militant and to become instead the "Church Belligerent""

There's much more!

Challenge Gift for St. Agnes H.S.

In this morning's Pioneer Press: An anonymous benefactor, with no connection to the parish of St. Agnes or its school, has donated $500,000 to St. Agnes High School in the hope that their gift will spur others to donate and save the school. God Bless this person!

Contributions in support of St. Agnes High School may be sent to:

Fr. John Ubel
St. Agnes Schools
530 Lafond Ave
St. Paul MN 55103
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