December 31, 2008

Pack It In

During these holidays, I have more time off work and I'm catching up on my reading. Prior to Christmas, I had a huge pile of reading to catch up on (like 4 months of This Rock among others).

I finally got around to reading the Holy Father's remarks during his Weekly General Audience on December 10, 2008.

The Holy Father manages to write, in one session, what I've been babbling about, most inarticulately, on this blog, for the last several days.

Read the English translation here

I'm so amazed and humbled at the wisdom of the Holy Father. Honestly, I should just pack up the blog and let The Expert do all the talking. I'll just listen and learn.

Maybe one day, God willing, I will actually get to hear the Holy Father speak in person. If he wants to read the Rome phone book, fine, I'll listen!

I'm amazed how anyone seriously thinks they can argue theology with this man. If you are going to engage the Holy Father in a theological discussion (to use a hockey analogy): You better bring a big bag of knuckes in front of the net!

Family Life

Family Life is under attack these days. Not a shocker. You know this already. Married life is under attack too. Not a shocker. You know this already. The Roman Catholic Church is under attack too. Not a shocker. You know this already.

How are these related incidents?

The Church is a family. The Church’s relationship with Christ is a marriage. Is it an accident that marriage imagery and family imagery is so prevalent in the Gospels? No.

Is the relationship of the Church as Bride to Christ as Bridegroom perfect? No. Is our individual or communal relationship with the Church perfect? No. Because it’s not perfect and the quest for perfection seems to escape us, does that mean perfection should not be attempted? No. We MUST attempt perfection. We MUST attempt Sainthood. We MUST reach for Heaven. The alternatives are not desirable.

We need to work on our relationship as a Community of Faith as much as we need to work on our relationships with our blood family, with our neighbors, with the people we work with. We should not just give up and accept disorder because it’s the “way it is”. We should not compromise principles, in a misguided effort to get along, rather than argue or fight for what we know to be right.

If the Church is not doing what you want should you just leave and go it alone? No. We are called by Christ to be members of The Body. A limb separated from the body cannot survive. Sure, you may be able to survive physically but spiritually, where it really matters, you will die. We need the Community to sustain us. We need to be a member of family. Even if you try and fool yourself that you can do it on your own, you always feel alone. The origin of the word ‘Church’ means: community. The word ‘community’ does not mean: one.

Maybe this is what always called me back. Even when I left the Church, I always felt a connection to it and that I had to return. I always felt I should be there but was never sure why. I have similar ties with my blood family. I may not always see them or be with them, I may not always get along with them, I may not always want to be with them, but I feel compelled to try and make it work.

Who wants to be alone?

There is a difference in being alone with God, in an Adoration chapel, or in the Confessional, or in a hermitage, or in a hospital bed. There you may be physically alone, but spiritually when you are united with the Church you are never really alone. When you are united to The Body you are never really alone. Being physically present does not matter so much as being SPIRITUALLY present. When you show up for Mass (yeah, good for you!) but sit there and mumble about the Gospel reading because you find it personally offensive, then you are not, at that moment, a member of the Church. You just separated yourself. However, staying home altogether from Mass because you’d rather sleep in but saying: “Well, I’ll unite myself spiritually” doesn’t work either. Ideally, you should be both spiritually and physically present in Community. You should give your whole self like Jesus gives us HIS whole self.

Think about this: What if Jesus said: “Well, I won’t actually enter the Bread and Wine during the Consecration. I want to sleep in. I’ll symbolically show up. That’s good enough”

We want the whole package from Jesus, but really, why should He give us anything for our half-assed attempts? We expect, and indeed, demand, Heaven but we fully expect to find it without following the directions. Good luck programming that into your GPS!

Why do the people who want to change the Church to conform to their ideas insist on remaining in the Church, on calling themselves Catholic, even though they reject most of what the Church teaches? They don’t want to be alone, that’s why. Furthermore, these same people have had some “success” in persuading society that some of their ideas and beliefs: gay marriage, same sex practices, contraception, women’s ordination are acceptable and attainable. Like they want their blood relatives, people they work with, to accept their ideas and beliefs without argument, they want the rest of their family, The Church, to do it too.

They fail to realize that without the approval of The Head, The Leader (and I’m not talking about The Pope here) they will never get the acceptance from the Family of Holy Church that they want. Individual members may cave in to their demands but the Community, as a whole, will not. It’s not in my power, it’s not even in the power of the Holy Father, to change the teachings of Christ.

As members of the Roman Catholic Church, we are not living in a democracy. When you enter a Church, check your political and personal credentials at the door, you will not need them. The only cred you have is: Roman Catholic Christian. You profess it: LIVE it!

Should you just go to another denomination that will give you what you want? Heavens and earth why would you want to?!? The Roman Catholic Church has three things going for it that you will not find anywhere else: 1) The fullness of the Truth, 2) Established by Jesus, 3) Opportunity to receive Jesus: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion. These three things will never change-even if sinful people want them to. Nope.

December 30, 2008

Romans 12:1-2

On another blog, the author contemplates whether it is possible to remain in what he perceives as an immature Church. This blog author fights to make the Roman Catholic Church accept the PRACTICE of homosexuality. I know he reads this blog and this post is for him and all others who wonder the same.

Is the Roman Catholic Church immature?

If your standard of maturity is age, than I guess you think a couple of millenia is young. But, I'm being sarcastic since I know actual age is not what you mean.

You think that because the Church has not conformed itself to this present age it has not evolved. You think because the Church refuses to "get with the times" and accept the practice of homosexuality it is not mature. You think because so many other denominations have become "enlightened" and ordained women and accepted the practice of homosexuality the Roman Catholic Church should too.

Wrong all wrong.

To be a Christian, in and of itself, does not mean conformity. It never did. Even the chosen of God, the Jews in the Old Testement, were not in conformity with the ages they lived in. They were outcasts. Exiles. How popular were, and are, the followers of Christ? Look around. Christianity is under siege worldwide. It always is. To live an authentic life in Christ means to be an outcast. It means exile. Still does, always has.

We have to fight our inclinations as much as evangelize the present world. We have to evangelize ourselves. Our bodies need to be sacrifices. We have to sacrifice our will and our desires and conform ourselves not to the world, the present age, but God. We are not to conform to the present age anymore than we should conform to ourselves. We are to conform to God and His Church.

We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are NOT to conform God to the image and likeness of ourselves.

We need to conform to God, we are not called to make God conform. Yet, I feel that the roots of dissent are often born from the frustration that because I CAN NOT or WILL NOT conform than I will try to make everyone else conform to ME. By extension, I will try and make His Church and then God Himself conform to me also. We are not God. Just because we will it, will not make it so. Not on that large of a scale. However, we can will ourselves to conform or not.

Deeper growth, maturity, into the Church will not come thru dissent. Thru dissent we only move further away, not closer. Acceptance and conformity to the will of God brings maturity. When we open ourselves and our minds to the Word we grow. How can you move closer to something, or truly know it, when you spend all your time fighting it and denying it and running away from it? When you close yourself off from the Word you diminish, you never advance, you remain immature. When you read the same dissenting literature (new decade, different author, same gripes, same distortions!)you stagnate.

I used to think I was so smart because I read a lot about the Church. Granted most of what I read was from people with "issues" with the Church. I read a lot but there was no substance in it. Most of what I read was "careful" to seperate Faith from the Church, always claiming that the Faith is fine but the Church wrecked it by not getting what Jesus intended. Miraculously, these authors always seemed to know exactly what Jesus really wanted but that the Church "ruined"! Amazing that they don't have a book of Scripture named after them or that they are not Doctors of the Church-must be that old oppresion again!

Nothing I read was from anyone with real love for the Church, nor by extension Jesus. How can you claim to love Jesus but despise the Church He founded-founded for US?

There is a huge difference between reading about the Faith and actually LIVING the Faith. There a HUGE difference between claiming to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church and actually living like it. The ideal is to do both: read about it (claim it) and LIVE it. I'm starting to think, put the books down, and just live it! Living it is harder. Living it is the hardest. Reading it, claiming it, even talking about it-easy. Living it-difficult. Sometimes it's impossible. If there were no challenge than we would be Saints and I know I'm not.

Isn't the Original Sin a fine example of "caving in", of conforming to what someone else said, of giving in to OUR desires? How can you claim to be mature when you haven't even evolved from the Garden? How can you level immaturity at the Church when it's been trying to save you from yourself for centuries?

The Homeless

A continuation of my post from yesterday....

So, you decided to just walk away from all "organized" religion, now what? Paganism? New Age? The Church of Your Own Feelings? The Church of I Am My Own Magisterium?

You still feel homeless though don't you? I know. I've been there. I wondered alone for many years.

You feel, in your inmost soul, that you should be part of a community of believers but there isn't one that believes everything YOU do is there? Just as there may be no life partner who thinks exactly like you do, there may not be a church that does either.

And, so, you wonder alone. Part of no one and no thing.

You can call yourself "spiritual" but you are not sure that you are because there is no gauge in which to measure it except your own. You think you feel good about yourself because you are doing what you want and you are not hurting anyone, but you feel alone. You can't go into any church because then you'd be a liar. You left and rejected it so why are you still there? Why do you sneak back on occasion? Because I know that you do. I did. I crept around the fringes of the congregation like an escaped convict for many years.

You can't feel part of it, but you can't leave it either. Why? Meditate on the "why".

Is it REALLY because it's like a cultural thing or it's such a habit that you can't break away even though you want to? Are you sure about that?

Is it possible that we all, each of us, as children of God, have an innate instinct to be with our parent, with our family?

The head may want to walk away, but the soul can't.

Come Home.

December 29, 2008

[Insert Your Name Here]Catholic Church

There is a resurgance in the "buzz" calling for a "new" Catholic Church. In my dissident days, there was often, in my crowd, a call for an AMERICAN Catholic Church.

For those of you who think that way, what exactly do you hope to gain? True community, a new order, or just attainment of what YOU want?

In this new church, who is going to be the authority? Ok, Jesus Christ.

Then: what?

Who is going to determine what Jesus meant in your new Church? Every community? Each community leader? Each individual person? You?

It is always possible to get what you want. You can reject the Church and get what you want, you can go somewhere else until you get what you want, you can keep arguing about it until you what you want.

In the end, what is accomplished? The confusion about what or who is the real authority will remain. If you are unable to accept the Magisterium authority of the Holy Roman Catholic Church what makes you think that anywhere else you go is going be more palatable to YOU? In the end that is what your seperation is all about; your pride and refusal to accept the rules. Everywhere you go there will be rules. You will spend your entire life searching and you will never find a home.

Think about interpretation and authority. Really think about it. If the only authority you can accept is your own, when you get to Heaven are you going to argue, at that very moment, by what authority God will tell you that you must go to Hell or Purgatory or, even, Heaven? If you are saying, at this point, that you don't believe there will be any Judgement then you still have a problem with authority because you can't even accept that there is responsibility for your own actions. For every action, there is a consequence, right? Even you rational scientist types have to agree with that.

It is in questioning authority that many have converted to Catholicism. True. The flawed "logic" of too many individuals claiming to DEFINITIVELY KNOW the mind of God and His Son became untenable and they only found order and Truth in the Catholic Church.

Think about what authority means in relation to Faith. Pray on it.

Please Pray...

...for fellow blogger Tom in Vegas. His beloved canine companion, Little Critter, died late last night.

December 28, 2008

There is No Other Way

Gentle Reader: In the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, His Excellency, Archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, armed his priests with material they WOULD present during homilies at today's Masses in the Archdiocese. I hope your pastor delivered a squirm-inducing sermon. I wonder: shouldn't ALL sermons, in a way, be squirm-inducing? Shouldn't we all feel uncomfortable? After all, there is always room for personal improvement isn't there? Should a sign of homiletic sucess be if several people get up and walk out? There's a part of me that thinks homilies have been soft-pedelled for FAR too long. Bring it ON, Father!

Our pastor is out of the country at the moment. However, he left us an instructive bulletin column about the TRUE expression of family: husband, wife, children. He also said, and I as a singleton always like to hear this, that singles and widowed are family too. We are ALL of us, no matter our state, called to uphold, affirm and assist the traditional family where and when we can. If that means speaking up when we see a disordered family relationship so be it.

We had a visiting priest today and he delivered a squirm-inducing homily about how: cohabitation, same-sex relationships, adultery, sex outside marriage, relations with yourself, divorce, all damage and undermine the family unit that we, as professed Catholics, are called to uphold. I know this homily was squirm-inducing because the guy behind me was literally squirming, I heard a couple people muttering, and one women got up and took her young child, who was not fussing or crying, out about 5 minutes into the homily. She came back when it was over.

Praised Be Jesus Christ!

I'm not happy that people mutter and walk out but it's about time that we are forced to examine ourselves thru the glass of authentic teaching. It's PAST time that really strong no-nonsense, Jesus loves you no matter what you do, homiles are coming to an end.

It's a dangerous thing isn't it? I am in a small parish and we have faced a threat of closure before. It's scary to think that authentic teaching may reduce our numbers further to the point where we have to close and merge with another parish, but I'd rather see our parish closed and reborn again somewhere else, and stronger, than hear the lukewarm wishy-washy dreck that is, all too often in many parishes, the norm.

Our current pastor and our last one are very solid. We lost members when our last pastor had the audacity to actually follow the GIRM. There were parishioners who wanted him removed because of that. They failed in their efforts and they left.

However, we have many new members, young families, who are attracted to the strong preaching on life that we have. I see hope in the orthodoxy.

We may be small but we are strong.

Same with the Church. We may lose members who will not hang on and they will be swept away by the current tide of Catholic Reformation, but the remnant will be stronger.

Some people, who find the teachings are hard and think they are following their "conscience" by going somewhere else, must know that there is no other way. An Angel will not tell us to go home by another way, the Catholic Church IS home. For those of us, single like me, the Church, in many ways, must be MY Holy Family.

I must work to uphold, affirm and defend it.

December 27, 2008

Darkness Visible

Advent has ended and we are in the Christmas Octave. I've begun a ritual of making a plan for Lent and Advent in order to try and focus my attention on the Season and enter deeper into the Mystery about the unfold.

Here's my Advent plan.

How'd I do?

Well, I only managed to get my lazy butt out of bed on one Saturday morning. Also, I only made it to Novena twice.

Everything else on my list went off as planned.

But, the most important part of this list is assessing how I feel. Not "feelings" like in the gaggy poppy psychobabble way but applying feeling to a spiritual status: a spiritual check-up.

I feel really disconnected. I think my personal baggage is really getting in my spiritual way. I'm trying to let it "go" but I don't think it's working. I'm spending more of my energy just trying to survive each day without falling into a well of despair. Yes, I'm praying daily and going to Confession when I need it but even the Absolution seems like it's not enough. Absolution is not giving me the usual sense of relief and unburdening that I normally feel after Confession.

I know I am experiencing a long darkness-a dry spell. I don't have any answers or witticism to say about it. It is what it is.

Persevere. The daily Rosary and daily reading of Scripture do provide a time of detachment from my wordly cares. They help keep the darkness in my soul from overshadowing my entire being. Persevere. Keep it going. That's what I need to do and WILL do. Fight the darkness which, if unchecked, leads into sin and hell.

Go away troubles in mind
Come Hope
Bring the light back

December 26, 2008

Send Father Tegeder a Card!!!!

Ray sent me this post Tuesday. The post contains a link to a StarTribune commentary by Father Michael Tegeder, Pastor of St. Edward's in Bloomington, MN.

Initially, I was really angry and composed a quite inflammatory post draft as a response. I decided my anger was totally misplaced in this Season of Hope. Not hope for Mr. Obama, Hope for the coming Lord and Savior.

I've taken a new tack. I've decided to call for a postcard campaign to Father Tegeder reminding Father, in charity, why I think his commentary is entirely misplaced.

If it's true, as Father claims, that FOCA has little to no reason of actually passing, does that mean we should just sit around and do nothing? What if it does pass, can we, as pro-life Christians, live with ourselves knowing that we not only did NOT do what we could, we did absolutely nothing? I know I can't. I won't. I'm not going to just sit back and be quiet under the excuse of "unity" and deny my entire Faith because I should me making nice with everyone and not, possibly, casting a sad cloud over the impending Inaugeration by daring to remind my incoming President, and elected officials, of a critical issue.

FOCA is a possible bill that all of us, yes, YOU, my non-Catholic brothers and sisters, should all be working against. Yes, YOU, my non-United States brothers and sisters, please join us in prayer and fight in your own countries because FOCA, or a like minded bill, could be coming to your country soon. The United Nations is not, exactly, a fan of life and neither are many regimes around the world.

Even without the looming specter of FOCA the pro-life battle goes on. January 22nd is fast approaching-the sad 36th anniversary of Roe v Wade-which remains law in the United States.

Note also how Father mentions "reducing abortions" NOT stopping them entirely. It sounds like Father is reading straight out of the "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" playbook-an organization that has made inroads in some parishes in town.

Reducing abortions is not an acceptable goal. Stopping abortion entirely is. Education is a large part of the effort. Father may need some help understanding this.

Please join me in writing a card or a letter to:

Father Michael Tegeder
Church of St. Edward
9401 Nesbitt Ave S
Bloomington MN 55437
United States of America

When I say: BE CHARITABLE, I MEAN IT! If I hear of anyone writing something ugly or inflammatory or making a personal attack on Father I will block you from this blog and my Facebook page. I will also deny I know you and refuse to have anything to do with you hereafter. You may not care that I just said I'd cut you out of my life (and trust me, I've cut people out before and I'm not afraid to do it again), but I want it made perfectly clear that I am not condoning or calling for meanness or cruelty against or towards Father or his parish. Father Tegeder is a priest and should be respected as such.

However, we are entirely justified in charitably correcting a member of The Body when they are in error and that is what I want us to do.

Here is my letter, as an example, so you get the idea what I'm going for and you can also see that I'm serious (Of course you will not know for sure that I mailed it but, most of you know I'm pretty active. If I say it I mean it and I'll do it. I'm mailing it right now.):

Father Tegeder:

It is with sadness that I read your recent commentary in the December 22nd StarTribune. At a time when we celebrate the birth of a Child, Our Lord and Savior, I think your attempt to mitigate the seriousness of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is sadly misplaced.

January 22nd looms large, a date that commemorates the legal murder of a child in the womb. Did anyone think in 1973 that Roe would really happen or realize the full enormity and horror of it until it was too late?

We cannot, under the excuse of Christian unity, deny the fight for life as it is attacked on all fronts. We, as Catholics, are called to stand and fight for life.

I applaud our Bishops, my Shepherds and yours, for their efforts on behalf of life. I intend to fully support that effort any way I can-in words and in action. I pray that you will do the same.

December 25, 2008

The Nativity of Our Lord

Anno a creatióne mundi, quando in princípio Deus creávit cœlum et terram, quínquies millésimo centésimo nonagésimo nono: A dilúvio autem, anno bis millésimo nongentésimo quinquagésimo séptimo: A nativitáte Abrahæ, anno bis millésimo quintodécimo: A Moyse et egréssu pópuli Israël de Ægypto, anno millésimo quingentésimo décimo: Ab unctióne David in Regem, anno millésimo trigésimo secúndo; Hebdómada sexagésima quinta, juxta Daniélis prophetíam: Olympíade centésima nonagésima quarta: Ab urbe Roma cóndita, anno septingentésimo quinquagésimo secúndo: Anno Impérii Octaviáni Augústi quadragésimo secúndo, toto Orbe in pace compósito, sexta mundi ætáte, Jesus Christus ætérnus Deus, æterníque Patris Fílius, mundum volens advéntu suo piíssimo consecráre, de Spíritu Sancto concéptus, novémque post conceptiónem decúrsis ménsibus, in Béthlehem Judæ náscitur ex María Vírgine factus Homo.

Natívitas Dómini nostri Jesu Christi secúndum carnem.

December 23, 2008

Christmas Webcam Greeting from Vincenzo

Mystery, always, mystery!

December 21, 2008

The Faithful Remnant

I'm not dreaming of a white Christmas. No need after the snowfall we had yesterday added to what was already on the ground. I read we've had 15" of snow already this year. I love snow! When I see the fresh white powder on the ground, I wish I could ski like Adoro . But, then I recollect how the last time I went downhill skiing I wrapped myself around a tree....never mind....

When I was growing up (I know-LOL!), but, seriously, when I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at my paternal Grandparent's house. It was not unheard of for us to be snowed in. They lived 3 miles off the highway and they were 5 miles from town. Doesn't sound like much but when you are among the last roads to be plowed out, those 8 miles seem like 80. Grandma always watched the weather reports and if it looked like it was going to snow hard on Sunday we went to the Vigil Mass Saturday night just in case....

I still have that mindset because Saturday as I watched all that snow fall and I heard it may snow into Sunday I thought I better go to the Vigil Mass just in case....

I knew I should have had my snowblower tuned up this year! I had trouble starting it but, eventually, it fired. I had it running twice already this year with no trouble but now, of course, when I really need it or else I can't get the car out of the garage...I figured this was the work of Satan trying to keep me from Mass and prayed accordingly. It worked.

However, I was later than I thought due to the delay and I ended up going to a later Mass at a different parish having missed my parish Vigil Mass by 15 minutes as I pleaded (strongly and assertively! See you before Christmas, Father! *hangs head in shame*) with the starter on the blower.

The going was tough. I almost got stuck twice. It was hard to see. There were only a few people there for Mass. Maybe 40 people. Normally, there are probably several hundred there.

I could have made it to Mass today. It turned out not to be as bad as I thought but, remember, always conscious of the possible weather....

I hated to miss seeing, worshiping and receiving the Lord. I was astonished at the change in myself. Just a few years ago, I would have looked at the weather and stayed home. Like Goldilocks...too cold, too windy, too hot, needs to be just right for ME. I don't want to make any extra effort or go to any extra trouble.

For so long I had no idea what I was missing. Now, I was determined not too miss it- Him.

Father called the few who made it to Mass "The Faithful Remnant"

I wonder. If the Mass were removed to a great distance how many of us would travel far and make sacrifices to go to Mass? How many of us would risk our lives or our personal safety to go to Mass?

There are Catholics who make such efforts every Holy Day. We, I, am so spoiled. One day out of many I needed to make an effort and here I am congratulating myself.

Speaking of "The Faithful Remnant"--give a prayer of thanksgiving for the parish of St. Stephen in Minneapolis!!!! This parish was a dissident hotbed for many years. A new pastor was asssigned this summer and he's really turned things around. Some of the parishioners left in a huff and decided they would just go form their own "community" down the street. However, some remained and some returned. I'm sad that some think they are their own Magisterium and walk away. But, if the return of a seperated parish isn't a great gift to Holy Church I don't know what is. I got this information from a blogger who was St. Stephen today but I see he continues to only email, not POST, his best material!

December 19, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Blog Post

Terry reprints the of my faves...brings a huge smile to my face!

December 18, 2008

Euthanize NASCAR?

Ray sent me this article yesterday while I was hopped up on cold meds. Ray always does stuff like this-sending me stuff when I can't be coherent. Ok, so he sends me stuff all the time because I'm rarely coherent! 'nuff said.

Mitchell really wanted to get my opinion seeing as how I'm a huge NASCAR fan.

What do I think about abolishing NASCAR because of high gas prices?

I'm not ready to go there. I think full-scale abolishment of NASCAR is an extreme idea that I'm not ready to embrace.

If we stop NASCAR simply on the grounds that it's a fossil fuel burning sport, where do we draw the line?

The sport of NASCAR itself does use gas as part of the sport. It's integral. No gas, no event. Period.

However, think about all the fossil fuels that are burned for any sport. How much gas is burned to fly sports teams to "away" events? How much gas is consumed to fly team members who live in other states back to the home state for training camps and the season? How much gas went into carting the Vatican Splendors museum exhibit around the world? How much gas is consumed flying orchestra members around the world? How much gas do the Olympics consume in flying athletes all over the world as well as reporters and fans to cover it and see it?

It's true that fuel is not generated from a naturally renewable energy source. We need to think about alternative energy. Maybe one day we will see Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart propelling cars down the track like Fred Flinstone-using their feet! Or, maybe we will go back to the classic days before the big teams, before the entourages, before the big money sponsorships, when the driver had to work on his own car to keep it running for the race and had to scrape together the funds to even race.

If times are tough, I'm all for scaling back. I'd totally support reducing the field from 42 cars to 30 or 35 to cut down on the amount of fuel consumption needed. But, the drawback with reducing the field is the drama of more cars on the track = more potential disaster is lessened. A lot of NASCAR fans enjoy a tense race and fewer cars could lessen that reason many tune in. However, I think the restrictor plate has made the races safer (read: boring) so an argument could be made that at this point reducing the field will not hurt a sport that has already slowed down due to the aerodynamic drag of the plates.

I 100% agree with the Slate article that some of the ratings reduction has been that many fans are bored with the drivers. I can't think of too many fans who are happy that Jimmie Johnson won the title yet again. I know many who tuned out when it became apparent he was going to win it again. However, I don't think it's fair to intimate that all the drivers are milquetoast. Look at Carl Edwards. Seems like a nice guy but is he really? The cracks in his persona showed a few times this year. Harvick vs. Anybody is a fight always waiting to happen. Montoya was dull this year-not like him. I know Jeff Gordon fans are still as mad that he did poorly this year as his many haters are happy that he did poorly this year.

I know a lot of the hardcore fan base is upset that the classic tracks like Darlington are not on the schedule anymore-so much so that some of them refuse to watch NASCAR on the weekends that used to be assigned to the old-school tracks. This anger, not anything on the drivers, could account for the ratings being down.

I know a lot of fans are upset that foreign automakers were allowed into the sport but I don't know too many that decided to just turn it off when that happened.

I think picking on one sport to take the brunt of gas prices and the nonrewability of the resource by just disappearing altogether is unfair. I would support any and all sports (as well as ANY of US) taking a good hard look at our gas consumption and working to reduce it. For me, personally, I combine more trips now and I'm not driving much outside of going to work.

There's a part of me that thinks, even though the author is a fan, that NASCAR is an easy target for a lot of people to talk about abolishing because there's the constant debate over whether auto racing is really a sport or not. There's also a lot of snobbery typically involved. NASCAR has the unfair rep of being a blue-collar, redneck, poor white trash sport. Auto racing is not considered a highbrow or even an intelligent sport-even though it is-think of all the mathematic and engineering knowledge that goes into a race and the car design. It's not just a guy driving around in circles-though it's looks like that to the unintiated. Holy Mass looks like an aerobic workout to the unitiated but it really isn't. You need to see and learn both to understand them.

I'm REALLY curious to know what Bobby has to say.

December 17, 2008

Feed The Starving Children!

Mac, our sister across the pond, has a post about how 'children's' liturgy should be done. Very nice. The priests involved get a deep curtsy from me.

It occurs to me as dumb downed as we've made the liturgy for ADULTS, what exactly is the point of having children or teen liturgies? So we can raise them to think they are as incapable of "getting it" as we, adults, are? So, we can enfold them in with us in the ritual of mundanity?

Friends, even the animals in Scripture recognized beings sent from God when they saw it. But, at what point did someone decide we were as incapable of understanding or following along as the 'dumbest' animal and decided we were lower than the 'dumbest' animal?

Seriously, when someone intimates that you are too dumb to "get it", don't you get MAD? Where's the righteous anger?

So, here, instead of teaching our youth the reverence and solemnity of the worship of the Lord we teach them that silence and beauty are unattainable to them. Silence and reverence are to be feared. Quiet prayer and reflection-oh, no, not that!

We add musical dissonence to our ear drums with Life Teen Masses and awkwardly uncomfortable Children's Masses. Both of them continue to perpetuate the always popular, and still erroneous, belief that actively participating in Mass only means physical and outward action. We teach our youth nothing about the REALLY difficult participation in Holy Mass: the interior action, the mental and spiritual union with the Divine. Running around is easy, making noise is easy, talking is easy. Even singing and reading are easy (reflecting at the same time on what you are singing and reading is harder).

Silence and meditation are hard. Uniting yourself with the Sacrifice is truly challenging. But why make them seem like they are impossible? Why are we feeding our kids junk food rather than manna?

Honestly, after 40 some years, aren't we ALL, regardless of age, starving? Starving for reverence, starving for truth. We are all God's children and we are all hungry. It was not God who witheld the nourishment from us, it was US, WE who replaced substance with fluff. We have grown fat on ignorance.

I know you Spirit of VII types all think that the worship of the last 40 some years is filling enough. Is it? Why did so many leave the Church? Do you ever stop to think that replacing worship of God with worship of the community may have had something to do with people leaving? If "doing church", if "being church" is all about your fellow man, why bother to go to Church? I can be with my friends at the bowling alley, at the bar, at Grandma's house, at the football game, on the street, just as easily as in a church! Why bother to get up early every Sunday to see PEOPLE?

We are hungry for God! Let us feed each other. Let us be fed by Him as He intended. Let us, all of us, with quiet reverence, approach His Holy altar and worship Him.

December 16, 2008

New Blog!

One of my Facebook buddies, Agnes Bullock, just started a blog! Check it out at Dignitatis Mulieribus!!!!

A Reed Shaken with the Wind

It is said that reverts, those who left the Catholic Church for a while but then returned, are among the most ardent Catholics.

I am a revert.

But, even in my reversion journey I was not always an ardent and believing Catholic.

I'm a cradle Catholic, I was born into a Catholic family and grew up attending Mass with my family. But, my catachesis was poor. When I was tested by the world-especially in college-I left the Faith.

Correction. Sometimes, even in college, I still attended Mass. Maybe it's not correct to say I "left". In many ways, I don't think I was ever THERE. I was so poorly taught that not only did I have no idea what I was missing, I had no idea why I should miss it.

For a year, in my early 20s, I was an evangelical. I read a lot of Scripture during this period. I read Scripture with three eyes. I was reading Scripture as an evangelical. I was reading Scripture as part of my college courses, curiously (since it was a Catholic college), their interpretations were not evangelical or Catholic; they were feminist. I was hearing Scripture when I attended Catholic Mass with my parents when I went home. Yes, I was still going to Mass. Keep in mind, my poor catachesis and that I had no idea what I was doing.

I knew two things with certainty: confusion and babble. What does a person do when they are being pulled in multiple directions? That's right: pick one.

I went back to the Catholic church. I was lucky. I know others who have walked the same path chose to leave. Leave all faith. The babble and the confusion were too much.

I said I went back to the Catholic church. Well, technically. I ended up at one of the most notoriously dissenting Catholic churches in existance.

For me at the time, the message of dissent was what I wanted to hear. Nothing too judgemental. Nothing too challenging. Just as much faith as you want. It was empowering because it flattered ME. The perfect lover: nothing too demanding and I could leave whenever I wanted. I could make an appearance whenever I felt like it. I could arrange the faith around my life-not the other way around.

This was 15 years ago. It is only in recent years that I've come to finally recognize that I hungered for something. Something I did not have the knowledge to define or articulate. Something I could not recognize. Even in my absence, I still "felt" Catholic. I felt like an imposter as an evangelical.

I threw myself into dissidenthood. I signed up for a lot of action. I marched. I yelled. I made signs. I volunteered. I reported. I wrote. I was popular. I was known.

Still something bothered me. Where was prayer? The noise of it all started to get to me. The irreverence. The emphasis on the community. Where was the Lord? I was told He is here. Where? In the din? In the noise? In all this racket? I can't hear Him. I had trouble seeing Him in others the way I was told I should. I just felt stupid. For some reason, I did not seem to get it. I realized that, despite all my seeming popularity, I never really fit in. I still felt like an imposter.

I realized that the problem was ME. Something was lacking in me. I had to retreat. I had to withdraw. I had to learn. I've always been an interior thinking person so I had to find out and think it through. I started reading books that I had been discouraged from reading in college. I started reading the Church Fathers in their entiriety: not snippets taken out of context to justify lies. I started reading the encyclicals of our Popes. I was stunned to realize that these "old white men" had a message that resounded as Truth regardless of century.

Somewhere along the line I learned what The Real Presence really meant and then my faith as popularity contest, as "action news at 5" was all over. I needed to seek the Lord by making myself ready to see Him. When we are ready, He will come.

I needed to work on me. I needed prayer and silence. I needed Confession and Absolution. I needed Magisterium. I needed to stretch within the boundary of His love rather than flounder around in the limitless directionless void that is our world when we don't have The Christ.

I've been meditating a lot during the last several months on the life of St. John the Baptist. The Baptist knew two things with certainty: The Messiah was here and he, John, was not Him.

The Baptist was popular in that people were, probably despite themselves, drawn to his message. However, I can't say he was popular because of the food he ate or the clothes he wore. He shunned company and he was not exactly a joyful guy to have around. Can you imagine inviting St. John the Baptist to a party? First he shows up in camels hair and a leather girdle (not even Madonna could pull that off!) and he either refuses to eat your food or he only wants locusts and wild honey (find that at the co-op!). Then he proclaims such joyful news as: "You brood of vipers!"

I think inviting St. John the Baptist to your party would be like inviting one of those homeless, unkempt, smelly and dirty street preachers to your home for a formal dinner. You may like their message for the messages sake but, seriously, disapprove of the messanger.

Still, St. John the Baptist knew that following Jesus was not a popularity contest. The Baptist knew that doing the Will of God meant not doing his own. It's possible that The Baptist longed for a roof over his head and a good meal every day. Maybe he wished that people would quit running from him when they saw him coming. We can only project what we know into what we don't know about The Baptist. I know that I spent much of my life doing what the Baptist rejected: following my own will, caving into societal beliefs and expectations, believing "popular" theology rather than actual. Unlike St. John the Baptist, I was a reed shaken with the wind.

The Baptist tried to tell the people that the Messiah was already among them but they did not recognize Him. The Baptist recognized The Christ even while he was still in the womb of his mother St. Elizabeth. How can we, I, recognize Him if we are too busy looking at ourselves (myself)? How can we know He is here, among us, if we don't recognize Him when we do see Him: at Mass in the Blessed Sacrament? We receive Him, yet we know Him not. He was here, He is here, yet we are still looking around in the wrong places.

December 14, 2008

Coffee Moments with Cathy

I'm sitting before my computer sipping a cup of Mystic Monk coffee waiting for the big snow storm to start and agonizing over what to wear to Terry's annual Christmas Ball and pondering what I can say or do to get Adoro's blood up (it's the little things, friends, it's the little things...*tee-hee*!)

Ter raised the bar of sartorial splendor so high at last year's Ball that even Ray had to go out and buy a new tie!! True, all true-that I'm a goofball.

As I was driving home from Mass this morning, I saw a group of neighborhood boys (Hey, why aren't they in Church?!?) making a snow fort. Conditions were prime for that effort this morning. We still have snow on the ground and it was raining this morning. The rain helps freeze the snow into the fort shape.

There was a time when I knew those things. There was a time when I had the creativity and the freedom to do such things. I marveled, again, at the mind of the child. From a few simple things they can create an adventure, an entire world. Why do so many think that kids need STUFF? So much STUFF! Lots and lots of STUFF! As though the more stuff you give a child guarantees happiness, as though the more stuff you give a child is a gauge of your love for them. I've seen a child play for hours with an empty ice cream bucket and one doll. My Dad's family was so poor they did not even have toys, but he had no doubt, never any doubt, that his parents loved him by their attention and their actions and the sacrifices he saw them make to even put food on the table for their 8 children.

God's love for us has nothing to do with STUFF either. So we didn't get that Wii we wanted, does that mean God doesn't love us because He did not arrange it for us to receive it? No.

God has a better gift to give than STUFF. God has the gift that, if we are good little boys and girls (because we are all children in God's eyes), will keep on giving. The gift of eternal life. Don't look for it on sale the day after Christmas. You will be challenged to find it in any store.

I wonder if God did offer "Eternal Life!" in a retail store would anyone get up early and wait in line for it or would we rush past it in our mad quest to get "Rock Band"? We convince ourselves and we buy into the idea that we need STUFF this time of year. The Christ Child's impending arrival is ok and fine but it's not enough. We need STUFF. Give us STUFF!

The economy is tough these days isn't it? For those who buy into the idea that without more STUFF for Christmas we are failures, this is a brutal time. How many are depressed because they are forced, by their wallet, to scale back on STUFF this year?

Retailers are practically giving STUFF away and still people cannot buy what the retailers are offering.

God's practically giving IT away too and how many are using this opportunity, when we don't have as much money to buy STUFF, to take Him up on his offer? How many will accept His gift? God's gift will not cost you any money. Not one thin dime.

Rejoice and be glad if this time of adversity means you can see the true meaning of Advent and Christmas!!!! It's not about STUFF. It's never been about STUFF. It's about Him.

With the simple gift of a Child, by saying "Yes" to Him, you can join a world and an adventure beyond comprehension.

December 12, 2008

Respect Your Elders

I've come to realize that dissenting Catholics (I was one for a long time so I'm not without experience in this regard) have no respect for their elders.

Our ancestors, our Catholic ancestors of the last two THOUSAND years or so, must have been the stupidest most gullible people ever. They were not as enlightened as we are. Talk about the Dark Ages! Sheesh.

So convinced are we that they are inauthentic that we spend our lives making apologies and excuses for them. Oh, they didn't know how to pray so they had to rely on that tired old repetitive Rosary. They didn't send real flowers, they just sent Spiritual Bouquets. They were under the thumb of Rome and their priests so they were FORCED to see the same tired inflexible liturgy every day. They mumbled along to meaningless Novenas. They were so unenlightened.

Has the enlightenment of dissent really made you any happier than your parents or your grandparents or your great-grandparents or all the ages of the world past?

I say: no.

Has the "freedom" of smaller families afforded by contraception guaranteed personal happiness? Has shuttling kids between their Dads and your house on alternate weekends been a good thing for all concerned? Has freeing up your Sundays by not going to Mass been a positive thing in your development of personal discipline? Has refusing to spend even one minute a day in prayer guaranteed you are going to make more money? Has having sex with as many partners as possible really made you feel valued?

All you have done is try to remove your personal sense of shame by trying to convince as many people as possible to turn away from The Truth into the same darkness as you. Why? Do you think having friends in Hell is going to make that whole experience more pleasant for you? Oh, I know, you don't believe in Hell. You should, you've created one for yourself. The next one will be worse....much worse.

December 11, 2008

Out of Context

People who read items out of context: Scripture, Catechism, tea leaves whatever...It can be done and perhaps you may gain some insight from it but it's like having pasta with nothing on it. You are missing the impact of enjoying pasta for the delivery vehicle for explosive flavor that it can be. Cream cheese on nothing.... why? Fat with no substance.

So it is with the folks who read a few lines of the Catechism without any context. What else can you do but try to give it your own context in an effort to make sense of it? Yes, that's very Prot but this is also what happens to Catholics who read a little bit of Scripture or Catechism or Enycylicals or even a few sentences from the Holy Father's latest weekly catechesis in the dark. They refuse to read by the light of the Magisterium because they:
* think it's ridiculous to be encouraged to do so, or
* they always think they are right, or
* they usually don't like what the Magisterium has to say because if conflicts with what they've decided

This may sound like a minor thing but this out of context reading is how Catholics end up personally out of context with Holy Church. They may be in Church every week and listen to the same readings but they are not really there. They are running thru it all in their heads trying to justify all of it in their own minds using context they've decided as truth all on their own.

This is how dissent is born and propagated. You can be a member, technically, but not really attached to the same Body. A limb separated from the Body cannot live on it's own. However, there are slithering creatures who crawl on their bellies who can be cut in half and both halves can still twitch for a time though both halves be dead.

December 09, 2008

Church in the Round

I've attended Masses "in the round" and you may have too. What's the point? There is no point. God forbid we have conclusions or points or edges. It all needs to be rounded and smoothed. Rather like the preferred theology of this architecture. Don't give us any absolutes for crying out loud!

Is this the environment that breeds the circular argument? The dreaded "dialogue"? Talk it to death, run around in circles, never end anywhere, never get anywhere....

Architecturally these churches are built so that the altar is in the middle of a huge circle of pews (you are lucky if it is pews with kneeelers, often it's moveable chairs so we can set up for the concert later)

No matter where He is, all eyes are going to be on Him anyway. We could all sit in a drum circle with Christ as a member in the circle, sitting right next to Joe and everyone will be looking at Christ anyway. He can't help Himself, He's that kind of guy. The Christ shows up at a party and all the playas may as well go to another party because no one is going to care they are there.

People who built these churches in the round failed to realize that rounding it off does not make Christ any less the focus to someone who is totally focused on Him. But, that's where these architects suceeded, they succeeded in weakening the visual reference point. Now, we are not just looking at Him, now we are looking at everyone else. Hey, look, Joan's pregnant again! Nodding and waving at Jon and his family! Nice denim outfit, Harold! Frank is late!

The benefit to worshipping in a space that is completely and only oriented towards the altar-all the pews face one way-is we don't have quite as many opportunities to look anywhere but at The Sacrifice. Terrifying isn't it?

I know The Sacrifice makes us uncomfortable. It's supposed to. I know for some of us The Sacrifice is dull and you'd rather look at all your buddies, I bet there were a lot of people at The Crucifixion who looked away and chatted with their friends too. It's unsettling stuff. You bet it is. It's supposed to be. Train yourself. The mind is a powerful thing. Don't be afraid to focus on Him, to look upon Him, to see the Victim. You are not at Holy Mass to see your friends or your family or Father Johnson or Deacon Spelt or your kids serve at the altar or hear the choir. You are there to see Him. You are there to listen to Him. You are there to worship and adore Him. If you are properly disposed you may even receive Him.

December 08, 2008

The Crack on the Noggin'

Gentle Reader: Has this every happened to you?

You have the world's crappiest day.

Consider the evidence:

* the boss spends the entire day (like every work day) making you think her dog's turd is of more value than you are,
* you spend 2 hours in the car trying to get home thanks to a snow fall,
* you are in a complete panic that the long and SLOOOOWWWWW commute is going to make you late for, or miss altogether, Mass on this Holy Day of Obligation

Then, you go to Mass and the liturgy washes over you like warm bathwater and you feel better.

Then, you come home and hear from a friend that his health is very seriously bad and realize that it could be worse. You remember times when it was worse, MUCH worse.

Jesus did not drop The Cross and run away did He?

Thanks for the crack in the noggin' Angel!

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Et quidem decebat omnino, ut perfectissimae sanctitatis splendoribus semper ornata fulgeret, ac vel ab ipsa originalis culpae labe plane immunis amplissimum de antiquo sepente triumphum referret tam venerabilis mater, cui Deus Pater unicum Filius suum, quem de corde suo aequalem sibi genitum tamquam seipsum diligit, ita dare disposuit, ut naturaliter esset unus idemque communis Dei Patris et Virginis Filius, et quam ipse Filius, Filius substantialiter facere sibi matrem elegit, et de qua Siritus Sanctus voluit et operatus est, ut conciperetur et nasceretur ille, de quo ipse procedit. --Ineffabilis Deus, Pius IX, 8 December 1854

Go to Mass today, your Mother and Her Son want to see you! This is NOT a request!!!

December 07, 2008

How The Other Half Dies

Ray shared this post with me last night.

A priest of a well-known local parish (my former home) wrote in his most recent bulletin column to his parish his thoughts about the Sacrament of Confession.

Some people have a hard time accepting forgiveness, even in the Confessional. But, good grief, should these people be priests? Is it possible, that a priest made it thru Seminary with no knowledge of the Sacrament of Confession and, certainly, not much insight into its necessity?

If General Absolution made people vote with their feet and go to parishes that offered it, doesn't this just prove the argument that the day when Holy Church becomes a democracy we are all going to vote ourselves straight into Hell?

I'm very jaded by dissent. I think I've heard it all and even I'm blown away by this column. It's tragic on so many levels. Tragic that a priest is not advocating for the Sacrament; instead he is projecting his own personal beliefs and experience to dissuade its use. Tragic that a priest is forgetting his vows and his responsibilities to his flock. Tragic that he's buying the party line. Tragic that he does not have enough spine and a big enough mouth to stand up and proclaim what he knows to be Truth head on into the face of The Enemy.

I know full well Father is playing to his audience and I pray for him constantly.

Since when does an individual Catholic parish determine what is the appropriate use, or nonuse of a Sacrament? Never. If they are truly Catholic, they are one with all of us. Only Protestant parishes try to exist in a vacuum-look around the news, and see how they are dying

December 7th

Ruben Rosario has a story in today's Pioneer Presss about a veteran who was on Oahu at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The veteran, of a different theater, was five at the time of the attacks-a sad reminder that the vets who actually fought in World War II are dying and any memories we have of WWII are soon going to have to come from the very young, non-combatants.

Pray for a vet today!

December 06, 2008

Book Meme

Mary Rose tagged me for this Book Meme sometime back..sorry!

Here's the rules (which of course I usually break!):

Pass this on to 5 blogging friends. Open the closest book to you, not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment, to page 56. Write the 5th sentence, as well as two to five sentences following that.

The book closest to me is the Bible. Really. It's sitting right by my computer. Page 56 in my Bible is the Exodus passage where God tells Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh and advise him to let the people go free or else He will slay the firstborn of Egypt. We all know how that turned out. Well, you should BETTER know.

What else is nearby....hmmm....Ah, yes...
The Retrial of Joan of Arc: Evidence for her Vindication by Regine Pernoud.Page 56 5th sentence and a few following:

"He was shown a copy of the text imprinted with his sign manual, and he recognized the signature, declaring that he had affixed his signature to this copy and certified its contents. He also recognized the signatures of Manchon and Boisguillaume. He declared that this text was composed in its present form a long time after Joan's death, but exactly when he did not know. I received ten francs for my pains and labors, although I had been told that I should get twenty. These ten francs were given to me by a certain Benedicite, but where the money came from I have no idea"--The evidence of Nicolas Taquel

I tag anyone who wants to participate! See, see, how I break the rules!!!!

December 02, 2008

We Four Trads

Gentle Reader: You are not seeing things, this photo has been modified from the original in order to satisfy the discomforted. I feel like singing!

You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear
Voices singing "let's be jolly!"
Deck the halls with boughs of holly!

[Photo from left to right] Chris, Adoro, Me and my Dad at the entrance to Mary's Chapel in the Church of St. Agnes, St. Paul, Minnesota on November 30th, 2008. We were there to mark the return, after nearly 40 years, of a public Mass (I know some priests have used the '62 Missal at St. Agnes for private Masses inside of those 40 years) following the 1962 Missal.

Friends, you know what a stickler I am for appropriate dress at Holy Mass and I have to say this crew looks pretty well turned out.

Ray was there too but we did not hook up with him until after Mass when we met downstairs for coffee. I meant to take his photo along with longtime family friend, DJC and his wife C, but I have to admit that when I get a chocolate donut with lemon filling in front of my face all coherent thought flees my brain.

Chris has superb photos of the Mass. Adoro and Ray have posts up about their experience and impressions.

I did not take any photos during the Mass itself. If I had taken photos during the Mass, the Altar Boys would've missed all their cues having gone blind by my flash!

I don't know if I will post more about the event or not. The 1962 Mass is not new to me. I attend the EF at Holy Trinity/St. Augustine fairly regularly. But, every Mass is "new",or should I say "REnewed" in a way isn't it?

The larger issue is: I'm tired and it's been a LONG day. Maybe more later....


Projection Screen Free Zone!

Deep curtsy to the super-talented Chris, who inspired by a conversation we had on a previous post, created this photoshop.

An unsubstantiated rumor says she was trash talkin' Vincenzo, I don't believe that!

December 01, 2008

We Need a Catholic Mr. Blackwell

If you missed Archbishop Niensted's Homily for the First Sunday of Advent you can view it here on the Archdiocese home page.

The Homily was to be played at all Masses in the Archdiocese this past Sunday. If you are surprised to hear this, feel free to ask your Pastor why you did not hear it. If you defiantly wonder why you should have to do as your Ordinary requests, than you got other problems-lack of obedience to your Church is one of them.

Most parishes probably only heard the audio. I was at St. Agnes for the momentous occasion of the first High Mass using the 1962 Missal in about 40 years and we heard the audio of the Archbishop's Homily-no video.

At St. Agnes they take the beauty and quality of their vestments very seriously. They are unapologetically Catholic in dress at the altar. I'm happy that, mercifully, we did not see the video in this venue.

Gentle Reader: I have only the highest respect for Archbishop Nienstedt and his office. You've heard me state that time and again. But, heavens and earth, do we need to take up a special collection for His Excellency's vestments?!?! Do those look like vestments that should be on OUR Ordinary? Our CATHOLIC Ordinary?!

Prots and dissidents don't bother to respond, I already know what you are going to say: you love them because he looks like a man of the people, he doesn't look regal, it looks like a shirt you owned during the Summer of Love, blah, blah, blah.

He's THE Shepherd of the Roman Catholic Church in this Archdiocese. I want him to look it. I don't want him to look like (I'm cranky!) a [bleepin'] Lutheran pastor!

If the Holy Father has made enormous strides in the quality of his vestments lately, let us encourage our Bishops to follow his example. If that means, we (I) have to open our wallets so our Shepherds can buy nicer vestments so be it.
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