January 30, 2008

State of the Family

Wouldn't it have been interesting if President George Bush, for his last State of the Union address the other night, said he was going to talk about the State of the Family?

Yes, it would have been a major downer of a speech but what a way to be remembered! After all, he's probably spending many of the final days of his tenure thinking about his legacy.

The state IS the family.

41%-43% of marriages will probably end in divorce. 43.7% of custodial mothers and 56.2% of custodial fathers are divorced. 23% of children under 18 are living in a mother only household (5% live with father only). In 2002, 7.8 million Americans paid spousal child support in the amount of $40 billion dollars (84% of the payors were male).

When a divorce occurs, doesn't the state usually have to get involved to either handle the legality of the divorce but also to make sure support is paid? In some cases, they have to step in and garnish wages or go after the non-paying parent. The state may have to pay for temporary or permanent care for the children during, or permanently following, the divorce.

If you want to have children or don't want to have children, the state will pay you for all or part of the reproductive technologies, or contraception, or abortion, or adoption, whichever the case may be. You can have children created for you, or destroyed for you, in a petri dish. In some countries, the state will pay you to have, or to not, have children. Italy and Russia are two countries that are giving cash to people who actually have children. China will issue penalties, in some cases, if you have more than one child. The Europe, as we've known it, is facing extinction. Decades of war, genocide, licentiousness, contraception, and abortion are destroying them. Russia lost millions in the Great Patriotic War. I wonder if they lost a comparable number of souls in the decades of abortion that followed?

In the U.S., we are starting to realize that our birth replacement rate is not high enough to maintain our Social Security system in the future. We probably shouldn't be worried, we have immigrant labor to help. But, we are probably going to have to adjust to the fact that Spanish could be a state recognized official language some day. What can we do to complain? We need the young workers. They have us over a barrel. If they want to speak Spanish rather than English, oh, well. We may have to step aside.

Thanks to low birthrates and the family breakdowns, who exactly cares for our elderly and infirm? Increasingly, it ends up being the state. The state has to fund all or part of the nursing facility bill. There may not be enough family members to care for them. It's also a tragedy that a lot of people have the time but just don't want to bother. Who is going to make sure that Mildred Smith is treated with dignity in her nursing home room? The state will have to. Seems like a rather cold and remote entity to bank on in the caring department.

We have no one to blame for this state of affairs but ourselves. We have created a society of artificially created children, disrespect for life at all stages, seperated families, disdain for the commitment inherent in marriage. It's hard to get people to emotionally engage unless they are connected to people by blood or some type of direct contact. Yes, people care, but only in the most abstract sense, if they don't have some direct bond with people. We've transferred our procreative, familial and compassionate responses and responsibilities to the state.

In all this separation and disengagement with the family, in all this loss of sexual expression in the appropriate ways that Christ gave us, we have lost our connections with each other. Some say: We are family. Really, none of us are family. We are becoming a society of unrelated strangers just muddling thru. Can this last? Can anything be done? Should anything be done?

Vaya con Dios, Johan

The news is reporting that pitcher, Johan Santana of the Twins will be going to the Mets in exchange for 4 players. I'm actually ok with it. I think Santana only has another good year or so left in him and he's costing this club a fortune. He can be inconsistent and this last year he was very much so. He's also expressed his displeasure with this club a lot in the last year. Someone like that probably needs to go.

Hopefully, the 4 players we are getting will turn out o.k. It's looking skimpy for the coming season.

January 28, 2008

Dirt on Ice

I hate to do this, I really do, but Terry revealed a deep secret of mine on his blog based upon this post of mine from earlier today.

Terry is a bitter and a sad man. He was never really in a monastery. No. He was in training as an Olympic figure skater for many years. He only said he was in the monastery and had taken a vow of celibacy because, well, he really had to come up with some reason for.....well....the photo below says it all



Terry was banned from the sport because he refused to follow the rules about costumes. He wore costumes that were suggestive and dangerous. But, he was too proud to conform. The last time he competed he dared the judges with this provacative ensemble.


Terry's defiance could not be tolerated and they had to let him go. It's too bad because his flying sit-spin/layback combination was a thing of beauty.

Now, Terry, spends his time at the local outdoor ice rinks, cutting chips into the ice and scaring little children. It's tragic, really.

Jumpin' Blades!

St. Paul just finished hosting the U.S. Figure Skating Championships ("The Nationals"). You may not have known that. Apparently, few did or cared since attendance was much lower then expected.

I read about it all in the paper.

There was a time when I would have actually gone to the event. I've been to Nationals once before and I went to the Olympic Festival when it was held here. A young Nicole Bobek wowed the crowed. Remember her?

I'm not sure exactly when I quit following the sport of figure skating. There was a time when I would have been as glued to the T.V. on the weekend watching hours of figure skating as I am now watching hours of NASCAR.

Today, I can barely tell you who the up and comers are or who the current national champions are.

I think it all ended for me when it became apparent that it was all about the jumps. How many jumps can you cram into a few minutes? How difficult can you make the attempt look? It's not even always about cleanly landing the jumps either. If you wobble and land with your arms flailing, well, at least you tried. Or, if you fall on 2 jumps but make the other 4 that's ok. Or, if you double rather then triple that may not hurt you as long as you land it clean and the other skaters don't. All the T.V commentary does is talk up to the next jump.

I think I could see the end when Midori Ito landed the first Triple Axle for the women and then Tonya Harding became the first U.S. woman to do so. Right around then it became all about the Triple Axle. Men started landing Quads at the same time.

Or, maybe it was Scott Hamilton and his backflip? Maybe it was the entire career of the jumping, French brat and all-around poor sport, Surya Bonaly?

Now, anytime I try to go back to the sport of figure skating, I'm bored and I turn it off. Any given hockey game is cleaner then figure skating these days. If I want to see people hitting the ice for a few hours, I'll film myself skating at Parade Stadium.

There is no artistry anymore. It's all athleticism. It needs to be both.

The talk these days is about how young the women are. I'm not even sure I'd call them women: girls, is more like it. Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, and Katarina Witt, in their respective heydays, look geriatric compared to the young things on the ice these days. Tom Powers, in the Pioneer Press today asks if skating embryos are next. I wonder that myself. I'd be all for that if it would help the pro-life cause.

The costumes on these pre-pubescent beauties are cut so short I feel like someone should be arrested for child pornography.

The talk in the men's division these days is how macho and manly the new male skaters are. What does that mean? I think it means they do more jumping then flourishing. I think it's supposed to mean they look less gay although no one in the press is going to just come out and say that. I just did. It's interesting that many of the past male champions are straight. Clearly, sexuality has nothing to do with how well they skate. It should be artistry and athleticism. With the men, like the women, it's more athleticism then artistry these days.

The scoring system these days is atrociously complicated. Even the skaters in the "kiss and cry" area can't tell if they won or not. I wonder if the day tracing was removed from the scoring system removed some of the artistry as well. I know skaters hated tracing but I wonder.


Bottom line: Boring. I'd rather they brought Gordie Howe out of retirement and put him out on the ice for a few hours of stickin' and checkin'!

Update 7:00 p.m. Terry has conquered his spiritual acedia but replaced it with hallucinogens!

January 27, 2008

Annual Appeal

A cranky Cathy post-fueled by cold medicine and surliness, you've been warned!

Once per year, the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis has its Annual Appeal. This is a, for want of a better term, fundraiser, for the Archdiocese. The money is used to help struggling parishes, seminarians, charities, and tuition assistance for our schools. The parishes collect the money and send it to the Chancery. The parish gets some of the money back but, if you think about it, we all get the money back. No, I'm not running to the mailbox to look for my personal check, but my parish may get some money for tuition assistance and/or our ongoing building maintenance needs.

This is a good thing and many Catholics and parishes are most generous in their response to help our Catholic community.

Well, once again, there are the usual suspects whining that they have to send money "downtown" to the "big bad leaders" that don't support their parish's mission of _______(fill in favorite dissident term here).

Do these whining children, as a form of protest, send any money THEY get from the Archdiocesen Annual Appeal back? You know: Thanks, but no thanks.

No, they don't.

They feel they are entitled to the money because they are so "oppressed" by "the man". I'll show him, I'll take the money and get back at him by using the money to fund something abhorent to him.

If they are so unhappy with the "central corporation" why don't they pack up and vacate the Archdiocesan land and buildings they are sitting on? If they are so unhappy why don't their priests send their salaries back "to the hill" and refuse the Archdiocesan retirement money? If they are so unhappy, why not remove the word "Catholic" from their parish name? Sure, these would be scandalous gestures but, why not just come out with it? You know you want to. You are cowards, that's why.

I think it was Father George Rutler who said in A Crisis of Saints : "It's easier to dissent, when someone else owns the copy machines."

January 26, 2008

One

I had lunch with some of the members of my blog family on the Feast of the Holy Family. It’s perfectly apropos that we all had lunch together on that particular day. Anyway, we were talking about our perceptions of the, for want of a better word: "management", style of some of our Shepherds. It occurred to me later that the terms: pastoral and administrative are, possibly, erroneously understood. I know when I was a dissident Catholic, to be described as "pastoral" was greatly desired, to be described as "administrative" was bad.

"Pastoral", is defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary,: as or having to do with pastors, of shepherds, of rustic life, peaceful, simple. Pretty basic definition is it not? I’m having a hard time reconciling the image of the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis with the peaceful, simple, rustic life. But, at its core, the definition of pastoral is very much an image of David in the hills with his lambs. It’s a truly old school definition.

However, the way most people view the word pastoral these days, especially dissidents, is not that basic and lovely. Most people who define themselves as pastoral, especially of the dissident bent, will say that, yes, they are pastoral, by which they mean: peaceful. I could do a whole post on what “peaceful” really means. Does peaceful mean: calm and centered or does it mean shrieking anti-war slogans on the Lake St/Marshall Avenue bridge every Wednesday evening? I’m getting off topic and starting to get cranky–sorry.

When you hear an Archbishop described as pastoral. What do you think? I wonder if Catholic dissidents and Catholic ultra-trads would think of the word in almost the same way.

These days when we use "pastoral" to describe a priest or an ordinary connote: “wimpy”, “soft” “wussy” “sissified”, “kind”, “flexible”?

Are all these adjectives: good, wrong, bad?

When you hear, let’s pick on an Archbishop again, described as administrative: what do you think?

"Administrative" is defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary, as one who administers, such as, an estate. Administer means: to manage; direct, to give out, as punishment.

Are all those adjectives: good, wrong, bad?

Even without considering the official definition do you think that administrative is usually interpreted as: “mean”, “rigid”, “harsh”, “controlling”?

I’m no ultra-trad, never have been and am not now, but I think that (and I’m probably going WAY out on a limb here) that Catholic hard-line traditionalists really want priests and ordinaries to be more administrative than pastoral. I don’t think they’d come out and tell you that pastoral is bad (they may think so privately) but I think they are always looking for our leaders to start doling out Catholic justice by excommunicating every dissident there is, immediately closing every Catholic institution that doesn’t measure up, removing priests that are moving too slowly implementing Summorum Pontificum. In other words, they look for priests and ordinaries to stop with the discussion and understanding and just start dropping the hammer.

On the other side, and I CAN speak from experience having been a dissident Catholic for a long time, dissidents want all priests and ordinaries to be pastoral. We want someone we can dialogue with, let’s have lunch, let’s talk it to death (well, we’ll talk, you just listen!) until you forget why you called this meeting in the first place. Let us persuade you to soften your position so we can keep doing and saying what we dang well please even if it is contrary to Catholic teaching.

Is there room in the heart of a priest and an ordinary to be BOTH pastoral and administrative? SHOULD he be both? One or the other?

Personally, a good Shepherd (whether at a parish or a higher level) combines the best of both terms. I think he should start with pastoral but not be afraid to start getting administrative when it’s clear that he’s going to have to. For that matter, a good Catholic should be both-even if you are not a leader but just John or Jane Doe in the pews. No one should be so pastoral that they allow erroneous opinions or implementations of Catholic teaching to pass by without comment or trying to change it/stop it. But, I think trying to teach and point out the errors, FIRST, before giving out administrative punishment is the way to go.

I’ve pondered, for a while now, what seems to be to be one of the most revolutionary phrases I’ve ever heard: “Ut Omnes Unum Sint” (That they all may be one)

It seems so simple and so nice doesn’t it? It’s a reference to John 17:21.

That is the motto of our incoming Shepherd: Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt.

Why do you think he picked that motto? Is he expressing a desire to see a reunification of all Christians: East and West? Is he talking about an interior wish of his own? Is he talking about his prayers for this Archdiocese?

Maybe all of the above.

However, I know that in this town you could not put 5 Catholics in a room and have them all agree (in some cases: accept) what is on page one of the Catachism without a fight breaking out. What should His Excellency do? Be pastoral or administrative? Both?

Is it a coincidence that our incoming Archbishop has been in the media lately reminding Catholics about what the Church’s teachings on sin and homosexuality are? Do you think maybe this is his pastoral time? Maybe he’s being a teacher now. Perhaps, he’s trying to be persuasive now. He’s using the media to get the message of Christ to as many people as possible. Does that mean if, and when, he decides to become the administrator the opposition can’t say they did not see it coming? Well, they will probably say that anyway. But, they would be dishonest to themselves.

Is it a coincidence that His Excellency is already being almost solely described, by a certain crowd, as an "administrator". When's the last time you heard him described in the press as "pastoral"? "Never", is the answer I'm looking for.

Is it fair of me project my beliefs of who and what Archbishop Nienstedt really is before I've met him? No. I may never meet him. I don't feel that I'm entitled to. Is it fair of me to judge him before he even takes over? No. But, we see that happening already don't we?

Frankly, I can't remember too many times in my life when I've been so giddily optimistic. However, I'm not entirely sure that is has anything to do with the Archdiocesan leadership or the fact that for the first time in my life I will actually be "on board" during a changing of the guard.

At the end of the day, then, is it our INTERIOR disposition that really matters? Is OUR faithfulness more important then what our shepherds are doing? I'm inclined to say: yes. Look at all the decades of whack-a-doo ---- in this town. Would any of us even still be standing if a few, a brave few, just went along with all the garbage going on but inside, INSIDE, they knew who they were and they knew what THEY had to be. They would follow Christ, even if they were alone.

I'm, by no means, suggesting that what our Church leaders do, or do not do, is unimportant, I'm saying that our leaders can be as faithful, or as unfaithful, as they please but at the end we will only be able to speak for ourselves. St. Peter is not going to ask us: "What did Bishop XYZ do?" He's going to ask: "What did YOU do?"

What I'm saying, most inarticulately, is that no matter what happens, WE (you, I, us) need to be true. We need to be one with Christ even if we can't be one with each other.

January 25, 2008

Blog Retreat and Spa

Is all of blogdom in desperate need of a retreat or spa vacation (both?) or is it just me? Everyone seems so dark and cranky these days or maybe it's just my mood that makes it appear so.

It doesn't help that in the Northland our days are shorter this time of year and it's a TAD brisk these days.

But, the days are getting longer, it's going to be hot this weekend (above zero-yeah!) and Lent is approaching...(LOL! Bwah-dump-bump! Hey, I'm playing the Tiki Room all week!)

If I'm ever unresponsive, call Father, not Mary-Kate Olsen.





I'm being a goofy monkey (that's for you, V!) so don't panic anyone! ;-)

January 24, 2008

Group "Thunk"

*As I ate a roast beef sandwich I composed this disjointed post*

I was thinking today (I know, I can’t believe it either! LOL!) that I’ve always detested group exercises. I know if you've been reading this blog for a while you probably get that. I prefer to have the group gather all the evidence and I’ll go thru it on my own. My approach does not always work as I'd prefer since almost everything these days is group think.

I’ve never liked using a group consensus to arrive at Truth with a capital T. I wonder if my nearly continual dislike of consensus helped contribute to my reversion. Feel free to call me self-centered and a non-team player if you like (I also enjoy running with scissors in my spare time). I've been called both, and worse, before! Clearly, if you use a group to define what they think Catholicism is you will probably leave the gathering as an agnostic.

At the end of the day, is to be truly Catholic an internal exercise? Do we, as faithful Catholics, take the external evidence and make it "our own" but still remain True? If we did not have the Body, would we be incapable of reaching Truth on our own? Do we require the evidence gatherers, the dissidents, the "pain in the neck" people to bounce our perspectives off of in order to acquire acceptance of Truth? Is Faith possible in a total vacuum of individuality? We need the Body but how healthy is the Body if the limbs don’t work? But, can the Body exist without the limbs?

If I say all this does that mean the "lost" fill a purpose for keeping the "saved" in line? That's an explosive idea but there it is. I know we are to try and save everyone and with Christ all things are possible. Does that mean, then, that the "saved" are here for the "lost"?

Gotta go! My lunch hour is almost over! Don't you just love people like me who run in and confuse everyone and flee before completing a thought!?! ROFL!

January 22, 2008

Day of Penance


Today, marks the 35th Black Anniversary of the implementation of Roe v. Wade in the U.S. Please join me in doing something today to honor life in all its forms and make reparation for the tragic fact that, in our world, life is frequently disrespected.

Our Lady of Guadaloupe, pray for us!

January 21, 2008

Ultra-Trads and Dissidents: Separated at Birth?

Are there more similarities than differences between ultra-trads and dissident Catholics?

At their core, I see many similarities between them.

Consider the following:

Upset at Shepherds

Ultra-trads: Upset that our (or should that be: YOUR?) Shepherds are not spending all their spare time excommunicating dissidents and telling dissidents they are going straight to Hell.

Dissident: Upset because our (or should that be: YOUR?) Shepherds are not spending all their spare time doing anything other than telling them they are going straight to Hell.

Ultra-trads: Upset that the Bishop does not do what they want

Dissidents: Upset that the Bishop does not do what they want

Won’t recognize, or only very grudgingly recognize, the authority of Shepherds who don't agree with them or do what they want

Ultra-trads: Wonder if Shepherds are legitimate, or if they are Masonic puppets, but not willing to take any steps to officially leave the Roman Catholic Church and join a schismatic group. It's all a conspiracy against them. They are miserable.

Dissidents: Don’t like any authority unless it’s one of their personal choosing. Even if there were to be a vote and their candidate lost they would still be upset and blame the voting process. It's all a conspiracy against them. Will not take steps to leave the RC Church and join a Protestant church or a schismatic group. They are miserable.

The Extraordinary Form

Ultra-trads: Angry that the Novus Ordo was not entirely overturned and replaced by the extraordinary form in one fell swoop. Also, ticked that people that are not like them and don't think as they do, have more opportunity to share a form of the Mass that they’ve come to think is “their little secret”. Now, in a petulent huff, they want to use the 1947 Missal (By the way, I’m not making that up). Not sure why they don't read the Scriptures in Ancient Hebrew on papyrus but I'm sure that's coming.

Dissidents: Don’t like any "form" of the Mass. They want to be able to celebrate as they want. The Mass is “their little secret” as long as they can keep it under the radar.

Evangelization:

Ultra-trads: Not sure they care about anyone else’s salvation, they just want us to know how holy THEY are

Dissidents: Not willing to “meddle” in anyone else’s personal spiritual space. That would be rude and besides they are too ashamed of the Faith they profess to share it with anyone else.

Authentic Catholicism:

Ultra-trads: They are the true Catholics and they want all of us to know it

Dissidents: They are the true Catholics and they want all of us to know it

January 20, 2008

Kyrie Eleison

My favorite Kyrie in the entire world is the Kyrie from Charles Gounod's Messe solennelle e Sainte Cecile . During Advent just past, I listened to that Kyrie in a continuous loop in my car. When times get tough, I turn to the St. Cecile and listen to it over and over and over. Sure, the underlying violins can seem repetitively annoying at times but the way the voices just creep in and build, increase and retreat. Oh, I can't stand it! I'm no musicologist but I know what I like and I know what moves me.

Today, I got to hear the Mass "live" at St. Agnes in St. Paul. I saw it was on the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale's program for the Mass today and there was no way I'd miss the opportunity to hear it live.

It's at times like that, sitting there, quietly in the pew, with the music of the ages pouring into my heart, that I know exactly why so many from that parish have given themselves to Christ. No words are needed.

The Coadjutor Archbishop, John Nienstedt, was there as well. He sat in choir and he delivered the Homily. Today, was the celebration (a day early) of the parish patron, St. Agnes. His Excellency remembered the late Monsignor Schuler in his homily. He also reminded us to look to St. Agnes as a model of chastity and virtue in hedonistic times.

I needed all of it. I'm glad I was there.

January 19, 2008

Penitential Weekend/Life Events



Praised Be Jesus Christ!

Greetings from Frostbite Falls!

I want to thank, yet again, all the kind people who left comments of encouragement and prayerful wishes on this blog and via email. I've been tackling my issues, head on, one at a time over the last several days. I'm not all the way back yet but close.

I decided to have a pentitential plan for the next several days.

First, I decided I'd smear myelf with dog feces, don Zubaz and a leopard print t-shirt and sit in a pile of ashes in the middle of the ice on Como Lake with a sign saying: "I stink and I sin"

But, it's too blasted cold these days so I abandoned that plan. Plus, the fishing on Como Lake is poor so I couldn't even multi-task and ice fish at the same time as I performed my public penance.

Adoro thought my plan was sound. But, she was out skiing yesterday and freezing her eyeballs off on what passes for a mountain around here so how reliable can she be to give good advice? However, she did offer me the use of the ashes from her Weber grill-most thoughtful of her. (She's going to come by here and hit me-just wait for it! LOL!)

My second plan was to go over to the Wisdom Ways Center, run by the "adventurous" Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and do some drum making, spiritual dancing, yoga, centering prayer and journaling. Maybe, I can even get my palm read! (Meow)

I came to my senses and realized the Church has already given me tried and true tools that may produce the desired result without me having to make a fool out of myself.

I decided that as the Black Anniversary of legal abortion approaches this week (January 22nd) I would spend the days leading up to it praying for a respect for the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. I still plan to do some specific forms of penance on Tuesday itself but I ramped it up a litle due to my current state in life.

My weekend plans involve penance and acts of mercy. I plan to go to Confession (be ready, Father!), Mass, Adoration, and Vespers on Sunday. I woke up this morning and decided to fast today. I plan to do a lot of prayer and I plan to curl up with The Good Book. I'll be giving alms and praying for the dead. I go to Calvary Cemetary, a huge Catholic cemetary near my house, and I pick a name and pray for that Catholic soul.

That's what I'm up to.

Speaking of life, on Tuesday, January 22nd, the big March for Life takes place at Noon at the State Capital in St. Paul. I can't make it but I will unite myself in prayer. I hope you can make it or join them in prayer from wherever you are.

On Feb. 23rd there is a Pro-Life Conference at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN from 8 to 4:15 p.m. FFI: (651) 485-2313

Pro-Life Action Ministries is, reportedly, having a 40-days for Life prayer vigil to end abortions at Regions Hospital beginning on Feb. 7th and ending on March 15th. I saw it mentioned in the Catholic Spirit but I don't see an organized sign-up anywhere. I've also read they are having an all-day vigil on Good Friday, March 21st. I think these events are still sketchy at this point so check plam.org for details.

The annual Good Friday prayer vigil in front the Highland Park (Ford Parkway in St. Paul) Planned Parenthood (an abortion location) will probably take place too. I look forward to a year when we don't have to have these vigils. I look foward to a time when we can just give thanks to God that human life is respected and valued in all its forms.

Why am I mentioning all these life events now? If you are like me and need to plan ahead, that's why I'm mentioning it all now!

God bless you. I, regularly, remember you in my prayers.

January 16, 2008

Times of Trouble

Gentle Reader:

I know I've been scarce lately. My hiatus excuses were legit but not the whole story of what is going on. I'm not going to blog about specifics so you folks who read blogs for all the salacious gossip can go elsewhere, please.

Life is going really badly for me right now. My relationship with Christ has been inconstant to poor since the New Year. I swear I did not make a New Year's resolution to abandon God, yet, I feel like I'm doing just about everything in my power to drive Him away.

I have a tendency when things are going poorly to keep deliberately piling more badness upon myself to the point where I am almost non-functional. Well, these days I'm functional, but I'm not being very Christian.

I think we all have periods like this. I'm by no means suicidal. I feel numb like I'm just existing. Nothing spectacular, this is it.

I'm in a serious state of sin right now and I need to go to Confession. Right now, it looks like the earliest I can get to an open Confessional is Saturday afternoon. I'm just praying I'm not in a car accident between now and Saturday.

Things are bad and I'm low.

These are those dark days we all hear about. Those days that test you. Well, I feel like I'm failing. I'm not giving up but I just feel like I'm losing my grip.

I'm sure this is the most incoherent thing I've ever posted in the entire life of this blog and I'm not always known for making sense as it is, am I? :-)

It's been so tough that I've debated dropping the blog altogether because I'm feeling extremely overwhelmed. But, I decided not to do that because in many ways this blog, as useless to humanity as it is, has been a lifesaver for ME. I don't mean to sound selfish, but I'm usually brutally honest, and there it is. I NEED the blog, more then anyone else. I have to have the public forum to expose myself in to keep myself from going completely back to the way I was before-but worse. I think when we fall back we fall back badder.

Thanks for listening. God bless you. Please pray for me.

January 15, 2008

Misty Water Colored Memories


Terry missed me. Apparently, there was a decided lack of snark and inappropriate humor in the Catholic blogosphere without me and that made Terry sad.

January 09, 2008

Blog Hiatus

Gentle Reader: I need to take a blog hiatus until late Monday Jan. 14th or Tuesday Jan. 15th. I've got a really intense project at work with a tight timeline and I'm traveling over the weekend.

Thanks for the prayers! I remember all of you, regularly, in my prayer intentions.

January 08, 2008

Prayer Request

Gentle Reader: It's been a really tough week for me. I don't want to go into specifics on the blog. If you would kindly remember me in your prayers I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

January 06, 2008

Peter Cottontail's Bunny Trail

I got up much later than usual today. I've been fighting an intestinal upset and losing. Plus, my neighbor's party last night did not help either. The sun was well up when I rose and opened the northside shade from one of the windows in my room.

There are bushes on this side of the house. I looked down between the bushes and the fence. The snow is melting today and I can very clearly see the, er, extensive evidence of the presence of my bunny friends. There's A LOT of it!!!

Not only am I full of it but now I'm surrounded by it too!

It occurs to me that the Laporidae is good eatin' this time of year. Stew, anyone?

January 05, 2008

The Basics: A Post for A Dissident Catholic Friend

Adrienne has a post that inspired me! I know, be afraid, be very afraid...

Anyway, Adrienne's post is an excellent reminder of using the New Year as a check on how we are doing following the Precepts of the Church.

Here they are:

* You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor

* You shall confess your sins at least once a year.

* You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season

* You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church

* You shall provide for the needs of the Church.

I don't think we hear the 5 Commandments (Precepts, if you prefer) of the Church enough. In an old prayer book I own, the Commandments of the Church are nestled in an entire, dead serious, section about "Examining Your Conscience" "How to Make a Good Confession" "The 10 Commandments" "The Form of Confession"

Dissident Catholics, on the rare occasion they even hear about these "rules", roll their eyes and say something like: "Those are from the old days, we don't have to do that anymore" WRONG!!! I know I sure laughed back in my superbad days.

I don't think Catholics hear enough about the Precepts of the Church. What's to be done? As Adrienne suggests there is too much "fluff" in RCIA, too much about our "feelings" Blech. How about the feeling that the flames are coming closer? We don't hear enough about Hell and Damnation anymore either. It works both ways too. If you are going to teach the Faith, teach the Faith!!!! If you don't you are in trouble too. How can people trying to learn the Faith, through no fault of their own, be held to what they never learned? Whose fault is that? That right: you, teacher!!! I'm not singling out only RCIA instructors either. We are ALL supposed to be teachers of the Faith. In our daily lives, at work, at school, shopping, gardening, everywhere.

Is that list hard? Really? Is it asking too much to, in essence, only do a very few things during the year to still be considered a Catholic? I'm astonished to realize that as I'm embarking on my journey towards some semblance of spiritual maturity how EASY the list seems to me now. Absent from it is the truly difficult stuff (at least to me) like: spending time each day with Christ, praying every day and often, avoiding near occasions of sin, evangelizing, avoiding gossip and unfairly judging others.

A true dissident will seize upon the last part of my paragraph just concluded and say: "Ah-ha! I do that!" Understand, I am NOT saying that you do that part without the Precepts. Christ is not saying that either. You need it all. The whole package. The rulebook AND the spiritual growth. Without BOTH you are ill-formed which is the opposite of well-formed. The phrase "well-formed" is in the Catechism section on "conscience". This is the section that every dissident Catholic has only a vague notion of its existence in the Catechism they never read. They just know they hear a lot about "primacy of conscience" from the dissident Catholic authors and speakers around (don't feel bad those folks only read enough of the Catechism to keep their speaking calenders full).

They are told, by these dissident "authorities", conscience is defined by the Church as meaning you can still consider yourself a good Catholic if you just follow YOUR OWN moral code based upon some general outlines (helpfully defined by those dissident "authorities" of course!)like: don't kill anyone, be nice to your parents, give money to the homeless, vote Democrat, pray occasionally, be happy, show up at Mass once and a while. These are not, necessarily, all wrong. They are not all right either. That's the bewitching part of the dissident agenda. It contains just enough Truth to be partially right.

The Church's teachings on conscience do not mean you get to dump what you find unpalatable and still be a full member of the Body of Christ. To do so is to not be in Communion. Do you get an inkling now of why some Catholics get upset when you present yourself for Communion at Mass? When you receive the Body and Blood of Christ you are making a public statement that you are a full member of the Church on Earth. To do otherwise, is to be a public liar. The Church is telling you, you don't HAVE to be a member of Christ's Church if you don't want to but you better be FULLY AWARE of what you are doing before you reject it or even part of it. To reject part of it, is to reject all of it. "Well-formed" in the Catechism means you've been WELL-FORMED. Your conscience must be WELL-FORMED. How can you be well-formed if you don't even know 1/2 of it to begin with?

Don't whitewash and weaken the fullness of Christ's teaching thru Holy Church. That is a violation as well as an offense to God. Why should He have bothered sending us His Son to be crucified and redeem us if you aren't going to bother to even try to live a FULL Christian life? There is no such thing as 1/2 a Christian. We are not a race. If you aren't going to bother can you see that only "many" are going to be saved but not "all"?

January 04, 2008

Point Taken

I went to a Mass of the Sacred Heart this evening. Mass was in the extraordinary form. If you live around here, you probably know that pretty much tells you where I was and who was praying the Mass and giving the Homily.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you are not only totally free of distraction during the Homily you forget to breathe? You are literally hanging on and soaking in every one of Father's words?

I can honestly say, with sorrow, that it does not happen too often that I'm not distracted during the Homily. My mind starts wondering, I start thinking about errands to run, bills to pay, what in the world was she thinking wearing that dress, etc.

Well, tonight I was with Father the whole way. He was preaching about Christ being Sacramentally versus Substantially present. I was just getting my head around that, with difficulty, when he launched into the mid-section of his Homily with such force I can't even describe it. First it was funny, well to me anyway, he went on about liturgical abuse and how we all get upset about that and rightly so and then he got the knives out and said: What are YOU doing? How's YOUR conduct inside and outside of Holy Mass? Can people tell you are a temple of Christ? Can they tell your lights are on?

If Father had stood up there and pointed at me and said "Miss Catherine Alexandria I'm talking to you", I would not have been surprised. Of course, he would not do that. I'm not naive enough to think I'm the only one in the church impacted by Father's words. I'm not arrogant enough to presume that I know their sins. But, I know my sins. Oh, yes. I know my failings and shortcomings, definitely. I know I like to pick on liturgical abuse and I like to feel smug about it all. I don't always hold myself to that same standard.

It was one of those "Stop it, Father, you're killing me" moments. Then, I realized I should be exclaiming: "Keep going, Father, you're saving me!"

I think sometimes the Lord kicks you in the head. I think sometimes we need it. I know I do. I need it more often.

Self-analysis can be a good thing. Criticism can be a good thing. Rebuke can be a good thing. Feeling totally unworthy can, yes, be a good thing if it helps you in your quest to continue to grow in Christ.

Thanks Be to God. Point taken, sir.

First Friday Fast Intentions

*Solidarity with the Dallas bloggers for an end to abortion.
*In thanksgiving for His numerous gifts this Christmastide.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us!

January 03, 2008

Best Weight Loss Program Ever

We all know that one of the favorite New Year's resolutions is the plan to lose weight.

I just got back from Confession and I feel like I just dropped, at least, 50 pounds. It occured to me that the Sacrament of Confession is the best weight loss program there is.

Lose the weight of all that sin in a matter of minutes!!!! You'll feel better and you'll look radiant!!!! AND, unlike most fly-by-night programs, you can use this one year-round for as long as you live!!!!! IT GETS EVEN BETTER: You can use our priestly consultants anytime at no additional cost because the whole deal will not cost you any money!!!!

What diet program can promise those kinds of results in so short a time and at such a great price?



Speaking of New Year's resolutions: Father Welzbacher has some good advice on his Pastor's Page of December 30 .

January 02, 2008

The Impact of Personal Architecture


It was at this moment that Father Ben realized, to his chagrin, that he may want to rethink his vestment wardrobe.

Another in my ongoing series of rants about attire...

Many Catholic blogs have already commented on the recent splendid vestments of the Holy Father. Sadly, he has not always been so well attired. Compare and contrast these two vestments pre and post M.C. change:





It's nice to see the Holy Father attired as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church instead of the leader of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.



No offense to our Protestant friends but I want to our Shepherds to look like OUR Shepherds. Historically, our popes and priests and churches were always very regal, ornate, dignified and kingly looking.

IMHO, when we Catholics let ourselves be persuaded by our Protestant friends that somewhere it says we need to be as plain and as unadorned as possible in order to be holy, the architecture of our parishes and the personal architectures (read: apparel) of our clergy fell apart into the banal hideousness, frequently ridiculousness, that we see all too much of now. When we lived thru the 60s and 70s I think we stole the clothes from Goodwill. For those of you who think the church moves slowly, you're right, that rainbow swooshy crap should've been dumped at least 20 years ago. If I wanted my pastor to look like an Evangelical preacher, I would have remained in the Evangelical church. If I wanted my parish to look like the Presbyterian church across the street, I'd worship over there.

In the U.S.A., I think we let ourselves be influenced by too much of the predominately Protestantism of our culture and our fear of anything that looks too kingly since kingship is what we rebelled against in forming our nation. However, we forgot that monarchy as a political movement is not exactly the same as the regal accoutrements of our Faith. Almost any serious Protestant you meet will tell you they are the same and that plainness is good, ornateness is bad. Over the Christmas break, I was reading about all these local Protestant mega-churches that have these massive Christmas shows/services in their churches complete with ice rinks, skaters, live Nativity's, singing, light-shows, and dancing. Tell me, then, what is ornate? Those services sound pretty ornate to me, even if your parish is plain looking.

Before someone tries to tell me that the "man-lace" of our older vestments is too sissified; if I were a man, I'd wear all the lace in Belgium before I would go in front of everyone looking like a set backdrop from an Austin Powers film. Sometimes, I think even the Lord is saying: "You've got to be kidding me!" when He sees these horrors.

What came first? Bad vestments and then wreckovation? The other way around? I think they occured at the same time. Would you put this priest:

Here?


How about here?


How about this priest:

Here?


Or here?


Until the day comes when all the groovy vestments are recycled into Greenpeace banners, I fear that reverence returning to Holy Mass is going to take some time: even with the extraordinary form making a comeback. Does anyone really want to see Father My-Eyes! from the second set of photos celebrating Mass in the extraordinary form? Frankly, I don't want to see that guy celebrating Mass looking like that period but such is the world we live in.

Is it a coincidence that as priestly vestments became whispy, insubstantial, poly-blend, wash-n-wear that our catachesis did the same? What priest would feel the weight of the elevation wearing a 2 oz cotton garment versus the several pounds of embroidered and quilted vestment? Why would Father need help during the elevation lifting the end of his garment when it is nothing? Really. So, why should the elevation be anything? The visual illustrating the enormity of what is happening went away.

Does attire make a person holy? No. However, I maintain that appropriate attire helps emphasize the miraculousness of what is going on at Mass. I think attire helps us determine how seriously you perceive, and should perceive, what is happening. If Father looks like Bozo the Clown performing in a circus tent, then I have a hard time believing we, or Father, should think any more of Holy Mass then visiting the circus. Apologies to circus clowns, but, Holy Mass should not be treated the same as going to one of your shows. It shouldn't look the same either.

I don't presume to know the mind of the Holy Father, but I can't help think that as His Holiness embarks on this quest to restore the reverence to Holy Mass by rescuing the classical vestments from gathering dust in the archives, will parish restorations be far behind? I know some are going on now but I wonder if there will be more-especially, as the extraordinary form grows in popularity. How can the Holy Father's motu proprio be seriously implemented without the proper clothes and the proper set pieces?

Before someone whines: "We don't have the money to maintain those elaborate parishes anymore or pay for those fancy vestments!" You are kidding, right? Our ancestors built those huge, ornate, parishes literally with their manual labor as well as giving as much money as they could to the church. Same with vestments. True, we had more nuns making the vestments then but the money for the materials had to come from somewhere. Our ancestors cost of living was a lot lower then ours was but so were their wages. They had much larger families to support since they sure as heck were not contracepting. They did all that, why can't we? In many cases, we don't have to build from the ground up, we just have to remodel.

Remodel. No kidding.




*Deep curtsy to Vincenzo for taking the time to create some of the images on this post for me. I think he did a good job of visualizing my concept. Any man who can understand my babblings with little stage direction deserves a big round of applause!!! Heck, any man who will put up with me deserves a big round of applause-and prayers! LOL!

January 01, 2008

It's Time for Good Company.....

with your hosts, the husband and wife team, Steve Edelman and Sharon Anderson!!!!

IT'S BACK!!!!!!

I read in the Pioneer Press today that, 20 years after it breathed its last, this local TV variety show will be making a comeback in 2008!!!!!

Sorry, Steve and Sharon fans, it will have new hosts-probably C.J. and Nick Coleman!

Nope, just messing with you. But, it will have new hosts.

And, it will be back in case you didn't get enough of Gary jumping out of airplanes or Vicki buying some old junk that Gary would have to fix because it was broke the first time around.

For the uninitiated and innocent among us, Good Company was a very much a local TV show. I believe it was on KSTP which is, currently, the ABC affiliate in town. It was not syndicated; for which, I think we should all have a moment of prayerful gratitude. My BFF and I used to just "rip" this show. Sharon had a very engaging personality but, Steve, well, Steve was so stiff I could have used him as a snow board at Afton.

Which reminds me: I believe Good Company was Steve's concept. Does that mean he gets money from this reincarnation or is he somehow involved?

I wonder if Terry, Ray and Adoro could get gigs on this new show? Terry has that, popular, metrosexual vibe going for him. Ray could be the loveable handyman. Adoro's always looking for new stuff. Then, I remembered that Terry was busted on the northside for stealing from homeless men on the Broadway exit. Ray was photographed holding a drill once (except they asked him to pick up the hammer) and Adoro picks up bargains, literally, as her neighbors throw them off their balconies (too uncertain, can't sit there with cameras waiting for that!) Alas, I guess those ideas won't work. Sorry, buddies, I'm always trying to find work for ya!

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God


What Lucifer has lost by pride, Mary has gained by humanity. What Eve has damned and lost by disobedience, Mary has saved by obedience. Eve, in obeying the serpent, has destroyed all her children together with herself, and has delivered them to him; Mary, in being perfectly faithful to God, has saved all her children and servants together with herself, and has consecrated them to His Majesty.

--True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort
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