Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Time is Midnight Mass?

This article is not written by me, but it is nonetheless heartfelt.  But what can you expect when not only does 'convenience' reign supreme, but even people who really should know better do not know the difference between a vigil Mass and an 'anticipated' Mass.

I do agree that Saturday night Masses do confuse.

Fr. De Souza's article reminds me of the article I wrote after last year's Easter Vigil Mass.

As it turns out, "Midnight" Mass is at 10 pm at our chapel for the first time in years.

Not impressed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent Memories

Today is the First Sunday of Advent.

This causes me to fondly remember a fellow who helped with the first RCIA series I taught.

He was an RCIA veteran, as well as being a retired firefighter.  He would mildly chastise me if I forgot something important like closing the evenings with a prayer (yikes) or if I cut my baby's amazing mop of hair.

He had a charming sense of humour and loved to be of service.

When Advent came that year, he surprised me and the rest of the RCIA group by showing up with a lovely handmade Advent wreath, and kits he had put together for each of the candidates to take home and complete.

And then he presented me with the wreath he had made to show everyone.

I still have that wreath.  I am not always good about having it out and ready on time, but I do always think of it...and the fellow who made it for my family.

I only taught with him for the one year.  He was diagnosed with cancer over the summer and died very quickly.  I suppose that was a mercy for him and for his dear wife.

Advent always brings his memory back.  Rest in Peace, Ray!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Condoms and Catholicism

The mainstream media has once again gotten all excited about what they've perceived as a weakness in the Church's stance on something.  In this case it's condoms.

The Pope, bless him, made a statement about how the use of a condom by a male prostitute may show that he's developing a moral sense.

No, this does not mean that the Church endorses condom use...ever.

But is the Church against condoms?  Is the Church against guns?  Garden tractors?

A condom is a piece of rubber (or something).  In and of itself it has no morality.

It is its frequent use as a means of birth control that is the problem.  If a male (presumably homosexual) prostitute uses a condom, it is not going to be for birth control.  So the Holy Father can actually see the USE of a condom, with the intent to reduce harm, as a sign of a good development.  That there is a condom involved is rather peripheral.  The user is showing concern for the other party and attempting to prevent further evil from occurring, in the form of disease. 

I've seen this likened to someone seeing that a murderer stops torturing his victims before killing them as a sign of a developing sense of compassion.  The murder is still obviously evil, but it is not compounded evil.

The Holy Father, by making statements such as the latest one public, is showing that he believes we have the intelligence to understand what he is saying.  He is not dumbing things down for us.

Let's respond by showing that we do have the intelligence he knows is there, and thinking with the mind of the Church.

And I do thank the poster at Catholic Answers for being the catalyst for this post.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Borrowed: The Story of Halloween

The Real Story!
Father Augustine Thompson, O.P.,

The Truth About HalloweenWe’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on Oct. 31 — as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints or "All Hallows" falls on Nov. 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to Nov. 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland. The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, "All Hallows Even" or "Hallowe’en." In those days, Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in Southern France, added a celebration on Nov. 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory? What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland, at least, all the dead came to be remembered — even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the Church calendar.

But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday centers around dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague — the Black Death — and she lost about half her population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife. More Masses were said on All Souls’ Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality.

All Souls DayWe know these representations as the "Dance Macabre" or "Dance of Death," which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people — popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc. — into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls’ Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life. But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades and even more macabre twist.

But, as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn’t the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did "trick or treat" come in?

"Trick or treat" is perhaps the oddest and most American addition to Halloween, and is the unwilling contribution of English Catholics.

During the penal period of the 1500s to the 1700s in England, Catholics had no legal rights. They could not hold office and were subject to fines, jail and heavy taxes. It was a capital offense to say Mass, and hundreds of priests were martyred.

Occasionally, English Catholics resisted, sometimes foolishly. One of the most foolish acts of resistance was a plot to blow up the Protestant King James I and his Parliament with gunpowder. This was supposed to trigger a Catholic uprising against their oppressors. The ill-conceived Gunpowder Plot was foiled on Nov. 5, 1605, when the man guarding the gunpowder, a reckless convert named Guy Fawkes, was captured and arrested. He was hanged; the plot fizzled.

Nov. 5, Guy Fawkes’ Day, became a great celebration in England, and so it remains. During the penal periods, bands of revelers would put on masks and visit local Catholics in the dead of night, demanding beer and cakes for their celebration: trick or treat!

Guy Fawkes’ Day arrived in the American colonies with the first English settlers. But, buy the time of the American Revolution, old King James and Guy Fawkes had pretty much been forgotten. Trick or treat, though, was too much fun to give up, so eventually it moved to Oct. 31, the day of the Irish-French masquerade. And in America, trick or treat wasn’t limited to Catholics.

The mixture of various immigrant traditions we know as Halloween had become a fixture in the Unites States by the early 1800s. To this day, it remains unknown in Europe, even in the countries from which some of the customs originated.

Witches - 
All Souls - All SaintsBut what about witches? Well, they are one of the last additions. The greeting card industry added them in the late 1800s. Halloween was already "ghoulish," so why not give witches a place on greeting cards? The Halloween card failed (although it has seen a recent resurgence in popularity), but the witches stayed. So, too, in the late 1800s, ill-informed folklorists introduced the jack-o’-lantern. They thought that Halloween was druidic and pagan in origin. Lamps made from turnips (not pumpkins) had been part of ancient Celtic harvest festivals, so they were translated to the American Halloween celebration.

The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, I suggest you tell them the real origin of All Hallows Even and invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it.

Be sure to check out -

This article is written by Father Augustine Thompson, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and reprinted here with his permission. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Who is the Pharisee?

Not long ago, someone used the term Pharisee in my combox.  This term, or its adjective 'Pharisaical' get tossed around quite a bit in the Catholic world.

Its been tossed in my general direction more than once.  I would like to examine what this term seemed to mean when Jesus used it and what it has come to mean today.

In the Gospel of Matthew we hear the term a few times.  It ranks right up there with 'hypocrite' in Jesus' Good Book!  Not a term of endearment then, it is not a term of endearment now, either.

If we are going to toss, or have tossed at us, a term, I think we should know what it means.

The Pharisees were a Jewish sect that arose during the 2nd century BC.  They were not the 'ruling' sect but were known to be keepers of the Law (Torah).  They believed in life after death.  They called to faithfulness to The Law even in the face of potential martyrdom.  They believed in the oral tradition of the Torah, as opposed to the literal view of the Torah held by the Sadducees.  They tried to impose the purity rituals outside of the Temple. They may have had a great effect on the building of the Second Temple.

The Pharisees were the most popular sect among the general Jewish population and we would see their practices today as the most democratic.  We can also see how their beliefs echo in Christianity.  They believed in the resurrection of the dead.  They believed in free will, but they also believed that God knew what would ultimately happen.  They believed that all adults should follow the Law, not just the order to create a holy nation.

Some Pharisees were certainly stricter with regard to following the Law than were others.  In a Jewish document called the Talmud, seven types of Pharisee are described.  Only one of the seven types can easily be seen in a favourable light.  It would seem that Pharisees knew they were not perfect and were not always loving toward God.

I find it interesting to note that after the destruction of the Second Temple, of all the sects that were in the Temple only the Pharisees emerged in any recognizable form.  They are considered by many to be the precursors to Rabbinic Judaism, which is the most common form today.

So what was it about the Pharisees that Jesus was criticizing so harshly?  They are referred to, in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 15 gives us a good look) as a 'brood of vipers', a white-washed sepulchre and other un-kind terms.

There seem to be a couple of things going on here.  Jesus seemed pretty clear that he did not like those who were so intent on the Law that they ended up violating God's other laws (Matthew 15:4-5).  In Matthew 16, the Pharisees got it again when Jesus pointed out that they weren't watching the signs.  According to the notes in the New American Bible (NAB), Jesus was indicating that the Pharisees could not see the coming of the new Kingdom.

Later in the same chapter, the disciples are told to reject the leaven of the Pharisees.  Again from the NAB, leaven is seen to mean teaching.  By telling his disciples to reject the teachings of the Pharisees, He is paving the way for the new, messianic Kingdom.

In Matthew 23: 24, we get the gnat/camel reference.  Jesus is telling them that they are ignoring larger laws by getting hung up on little ones. In verses 25-26 the Pharisees are being called to task for showy, outward displays of piety that have little actual devotion behind them.

It goes on...

In my experience, the invective "Pharisee" is usually lobbed by someone who has a problem with a particular teaching of Catholicism, or perhaps has a problem with her authority generally.

Liturgy is a fine example.  Catholic liturgy, particularly the Mass, has a structure to it.  In the Roman Missal are found the rubrics for the Mass.  In the simplist form, a priest is to "Say the black and do the red", black being the spoken parts of the Mass, the red being the actions of the Mass.

People trying to improve liturgical standards (ie. 'follow the rules') are seen as unbending, uncharitable etc.  Sometimes we probably are, and for THAT we can be chastised.  But should we be chastised for following the rules given to us?

In the case of liturgy, I think this is not a valid chastisement.  The Mass is something we share we all participants throughout the world and throughout Christian history.  It is all the same Mass.  In a sense, the Mass is a window to Heaven.  When one, cleric or lay-person enforces changes of his or her own authority, it is as if they get fingerprints on that window to heaven, and cloud the view.  Liturgical law is there to keep that window clear.  We owe it to all mass-goers through time and history.

In the case of someone who seeks to follow non-liturgical Church law, a similar principal applies.  If something being adhered to is a valid Church law (doctrine, dogma...) we are supposed to do our best to adhere to it.  If we do that with pride and showiness, then certainly the pride is to be chastised.  If someone is merely going through the motions to make him or herself appear good, well that is a sin as well.  Calling someone a Pharisee simply because they insist on following the law is making a judgement call on their motives and the state of the soul...and we are NOT supposed to judge that.

The problem is not adherence to the law. Jesus tells us to follow the commandments, to do as he tells us.  Given the the Church is the Body of Christ with Christ as its head, then we are to follow the Church as well.

And those rule-following Pharisees were the ones who survived the destruction of the Temple.  A sort of Jewish 'remnant'.  Hmmm.

I know there are many different references that could be called upon here with regard to obedience, tradition and law and this post could keep me busy for days.  For now, I will end with this:

We must all be mindful of our tendency to sin, including that always sneaky sin of Pride.  Given what I've just learned of Pharisees though, I'd say that they were not necessarily a whole lot worse than the rest of us.  They had a lot of good going for them that is not mentioned in Scripture.  They were however a visible representation in Jesus' time of the Jewish status quo, and I think maybe that's why they were held up as an example of what not to do.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Naming Hope

I deal with at least three chronic conditions.  None are fatal, but they can render life rather challenging.

In trying to improve my health, lately I have been researching my diagnoses.  I have discovered that many people seem to become 'diagnosis collectors'.

I think I might have this tendency, so what I say bears no malice whatsoever!

One has to wonder why people become collectors of diagnoses.  I think I may have it.  It has to do with hope.

It seems people believe that if they find just find the right diagnosis, the illness can be cured, or at least successfully treated. 

In the case of some illnesses, of course this is true.  In the case of far too many others it is not.  At least not now.  There are a host of conditions which the medical community has trouble diagnosing, never mind treating.  Two different conditions may be given the same diagnosis, depending on the practitioner, and many conditions seem to show up together.

I think people find it important to be able to put a name to what is bothering them.  I know I do.

Many times in life I've found myself bothered by something persistently, and it's not until I figure out the source that the problem goes away...often almost immediately!  I have sometimes found myself restless and it's not until days later that I realize that I have somehow been reminded of something unpleasant, which is trying to pull itself out of the dark corners of my mind.

I think this is why some of us go after diagnoses.

In Madeleine L'Engle's books (the Wrinkle in Time series.  It's been so long I cannot remember exactly in which this book this occurred) Meg, the protagonist, ends up embracing and naming the Echthroi.  If memory serves, this removes the evil power of the Echthroi.

I am not, of course, advocating embracing evil for any reason, but Meg's action of naming the evil that had been plaguing her family really struck a chord with me. 

For those who are ill, I think the search for a workable diagnosis gives hope.  When you have hope, you have a reason to keep going.  For those who do not have friends and supportive family (and I am discovering how truly blessed I am to have both!) hope may be all they have.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

This Canuck is not so happy today.

Arrest of peaceful Pro-Life protesters 

This happened yesterday at Carleton University in our national capital, Ottawa.

Be proud Canadians. 

Can you think of any other peaceful protest that would be worthy of arrest on a university campus?

I can't.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Catholic Encyclopedia on Socialism

From the Christian point of view material necessities are to be kept at a minimum, and material superfluities as far as possible to be dispensed with altogether. The Christian is a soldier and a pilgrim who requires material things only as a means to fitness and nothing more. In this he has the example of Christ Himself, Who came to earth with a minimum of material advantages and persisted thus even to the Cross. The Christian, then, not only from the individual but also from the social standpoint, has chosen the better part. He does not despise this life, but, just because his material desires are subordinate to his spiritual ones, he lives it much more reasonably, much more unselfishly, much more beneficially to his neighbours. The point, too, which he makes against the Socialist is this. The Socialist wishes to distribute material goods in such a way as to establish a substantial equality, and in order to do this he requires the State to make and keep this distribution compulsory. The Christian replies to him: "You cannot maintain this widespread distribution, for the simple reason that you have no machinery for inducing men to desire it. On the contrary, you do all you can to increase the selfish and accumulative desires of men: you centre and concentrate all their interest on material accumulation, and then expect them to distribute their goods." This ultimate difference between Christian and Socialist teaching must be clearly understood. Socialism appropriates all human desires and centres them on the here-and-now, on material benefit and prosperity. But material goods are so limited in quality, in quantity, and in duration that they are incapable of satisfying human desires, which will ever covet more and more and never feel satisfaction. In this Socialism and Capitalism are at one, for their only quarrel is over the bone upon which is the meat that perisheth. Socialism, of itself and by itself, can do nothing to diminish or discipline the immediate and materialistic lust of men, because Socialism is itself the most exaggerated and universalized expression of this lust yet known to history. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches and practices unselfish distribution of material goods, both according to the law of justice and according to the law of charity.

Food for thought.

This link was sent to me by a friend this morning, and I decided to share it.  At this point I have no idea who produced the clip, so if anyone can enlighten me, please do.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Vortex

Hi Folks

I am passing along a link (in the title) to one in an ongoing series of teachings on the Catholic Faith.

Real Catholic TV, so far, has covered many topics of various interest, including current events.  None of these episodes are shy about proclaiming Church teaching as it really is.

Watch and be edified.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Comparison of Masses

I am borrowing another's (Mary's Anawim) blog today.  Please view the link embedded in the title.  You will see a Mass celebrated by a newly ordained priest in Montreal.  While I don't much like the background music, it looks like a gorgeous Mass and procession in honour of The Assumption.  Way to go, Fr. Greg!

The is the stuff which could foster nightmares.  Liturgical nightmares at the very leasts.  I'm glad there did not seem to be any children in the congregation.  They might have been scarred for life.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Page Turner

I have at times come across people who rankle at reading the Bible because it 'jumps around'.

A non-Christian I know will not read Scripture until someone comes up with a version that has no repetition and is chronological.

I suspect the  problem these people have is with the Gospels, which do have topics repeated.

Thing is...we can't remove the repetition in the Gospels, and then provide a totally chronological rendering of the writings therein, and still refer to it as the Bible.

And why can't we?

The New Testament was written by several different authors (as was Hebrew Scripture) and is actually a collection of books.  The Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each wrote the events in Jesus' life slightly differently, in ways which seemed to target different audiences.

The Gospel of John is actually very different from the other three Gospels in its approach to the events and teachings of Christ.  It is not one of the 'synoptic' (same eye) Gospels.

To try to make the four Gospels into one book, would be something like taking four different biographies of one famous person and forcing them together into one, chronologically laid-out book.

Imagine if four biographies of, say, Martin Luther King Junior, variously written by an African American man, a British man, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and another Christian clergyman, existed.  Would they tell the same story?  Hardly likely.  Putting them together into one tale would create an entirely new book.

So it is with the Gospels.  Each writer had a different background.  They wrote explained and emphasised the Gospel events according to their backgrounds the backgrounds of those they were addressing...Jews, gentiles, pagans, etc.

The bible as we know it was originally written as separate books.  We still refer to the sections of the bible as 'books'.  There was much discussion, in the early Church, as to which of these many many books were actually intended by God ('inspired') to be in a collected bible. 

Depending on where you were, the canon of Hebrew Scripture varied.  Christians had to figure out which of their books were intended for Christians.  The New Testament also had to be chosen from a variety of books in circulation.

The Christian canon of Scripture in use since the fourth century, experienced a serious challenge in the West when Martin Luther spurred a revolt against the Church and its teaching.  He removed seven books, or parts of books, from what had come to be called the Old Testament.  He was acting on his own will with this one.  He also wanted to remove some books out of the New Testament.  Apparently even other Protestants didn't agree with him on that one...

Both Catholics and Protestants have the same New Testament.  We accept the same Gospels and Epistles (letters) although there is a wild divergence on what these writings mean.

And I am not aware of any scholarly effort to meld these books into one continuous book.

Great Big C

Hi Folks

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a concert by Great Big Sea,  who hails from Eastern Canada.

I wouldn't call myself a huge fan, but I did enjoy their music a few years back.  This concert was good.

It would seem that their songwriters have some issues with Catholic upbringing.

"Consequence Free" states:
"I could really stand to lose my Catholic conscience.  'Cuz I'm getting sick of feeling guilty all the time"

"When I am King" says this:

"Wake up, without a care. Your head's not heavy, conscience clear
Sins are all forgiven here, yours and mine
Fear has gone without a trace
It's the perfect time, it's the perfect place
Nothing hurting. Nothing sore. No one suffers anymore,
The doctor's found a simple cure.
Just in time"

To me, the aforementioned verse, up until the mention of 'the doctor' sounds like someone is describing Heaven.  Nah.

While the lyrics are about the same things that most popular music sings about, I find the mention of conscience and forgiven sin interesting.  It's a bit difficult to find mention of sin anywhere else in popular culture!

So, what is the 'Catholic conscience' that GBS is singing about?

 It sounds like what we hear so often...big Church inflicting guilt on its pathetic group of adherents by making everything fun a sin.

A few years back my daughter and I were a captive audience to a local merchant.  Finding out that my children had gone to the local Catholic high school, the merchant bluntly stated "I used to be Catholic, but I  left.  Too much guilt!"

My daughter later quipped to me that he really should just stop doing things that make him guilty!

That's my girl.

Guilt isn't what the Church teaches.  We do guilt to ourselves.

[As to using guilt as an excuse to leave the Church, please see here]

Catholics are expected to have a well-formed conscience.  Forming one's conscience is not an easy task!  The Church takes it way beyond the little voice in the head going "unh-uh".

To form ones conscience, one is required to learn what the Church teaches on moral matters.  Ideally, this begins in infancy in the Domestic Church...the home.  This is where we begin to learn right from wrong.

We often hear, sometimes even from within the Church, that we are to follow our consciences in all matters.  This would be fine, if we had well-formed consciences.  We are, however, a fallen people.  Left to our own devices, we incline toward sin. 

When we aren't sure, we have the Church to guide us.  That is the Catholic conscience.  If your conscience is giving you permission to act against Church teaching, you have work to do.  You're part of all humanity on that one.

Guilt is a way of knowing that we're messing up.  Getting rid of that involves correcting what we're doing wrong, and confessing our sins.

So where are sins forgiven?  Some can be forgiven through prayer, attending Mass, blessing oneself with Holy Water.  The mortal, or serious sins require confession to a Priest, who acts in Christ's place to absolve us (assuming we're of the correct disposition...feeling genuinely sorry for what we have done and wishing not to sin again).  Sins are all forgiven here.

Whether or not the Church makes everything fun a sin...that is for another day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting older

Hi Folks

Recently, I was told I needed more work at figuring things out.  I was then summarily launched into a project with very few tools.  I had to 'figure things out'.

It was a huge challenge for me.  The project involved several things which are almost entirely new to me, including learning from the user guides provided for computer programs.

I quickly realized that computer program user guides are not always particularly well written, or well indexed.

After losing a major part of my work because I did not properly save a file (due to my inattention and my difficulty with program interface), the trial work I finally submitted was not very good.

I then had a few days away, so I mulled some things over.

Being told that I needed work on figuring things out carried a little sting.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the words were very true.

I have a Blackberry on which I send and receive calls and the rare, awkward text message.  I also play Sudoku.  I haven't figured out anything else.

I have a nearly new computer purchased for my work purposes (like the aforementioned project) for which I have not made recovery disks.  Didn't figure that out, either.

For many reasons, I've become much too good at either delegating challenges I face, or just ignoring them.

So it's true.  I need more work at figuring things out.

In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we hear the Ethiopian Eunuch ask "How can I (learn) unless someone teaches me?"  He was referring to Scripture, but the same could be applied to nearly anything else.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we are told "Ask and we shall receive, knock and it shall be opened."

One thing I am very glad to not have to figure out, is Catholicism.  Despite destructive action from within and without for two millennia, it is still leading us to a deeper knowledge of God through His Son, Jesus.  Not having to figure out just what the Church expects, leaves us with the spiritual energy to go deeper.  We don't have to be our own Pope!

Whew.  If I have trouble figuring out a computer program, how on earth could I expect to figure out God?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's a Strange Strange World

I was recently captive on a 5 hour jet flight.  Our young son, who was accompanying me, quickly discovered that he could get programmes here that he cannot get at home.  Being a long flight, I let him watch.

Something occurred to me as we watched a well-intended children's music programme which is hosted by some very silly looking adults.

The world of children seems almost designed to create confusion.  We see examples of sexualized childhood all over the place.  No attempt seems to be made to respect a child's latent period (regarding sexual development).

 We have kids who are growing up with silly adults...adults dressed up as children, or in strange costumes which don't actually attempt to hide that there is a person role models.

So, to summarize:  our kids are being forced to behave like adults before they're ready, but which adults are they supposed to emulate?  The ones dressed up as bananas?

I can't think, off the top of my head, of a children's program in which adults look and behave as adults.  I'm sure there must be one somewhere.

This caused me to think back to when I was a child, in the early days of children's television.

Mr. Dressup.  Captain Kangaroo.  Friendly Giant, Romper Room...Adults dressed, and for the most part behaved, as adults.   And children appeared as children.

I'm not sure where I"m going with this, except to suggest that people be aware of what your children are watching.  I know that's been said before.  But if some thought that children's programming was unhealthy 40 years ago, I can only imagine what they'd say now.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sweet Violets


I was just out spending a few minutes weeding my fledgling flower garden.   Violets have become the bane of my existence.

They are spoken of poetically, and I suppose for the two and a half hours (per blossom...) in which they are actually in bloom, they are pretty, nicely scented (although you need quite a handful to catch that scent) and delicate looking, they are worthy of poetry.

The rest of the time they are a nuisance!  They spread both by seed and by tuber. I have spent two seasons now trying to get them out of my flower bed, where left to themselves over the past ?? years they have done their best to choke out everything else.

Today, I recalled something my grandmother once said.  She commented on the irony that girls named Violet tended to be, well, strongly built.  Not at all delicate.

As I continue to roust the purple peril from my flower bed, I think having strong girls named Violet is perfectly appropriate.

But I would rather consider the lilies...

Prayer request

Hi Folks

My friend Greg is being ordained to the priesthood today.  As you know, the vocation for which he has been chosen is not an easy one.

Please pray for him, and for all priests!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Laughter, the Best Medicine?

Happy Wednesday!

We had a busy weekend last weekend.  Still recovering!

On Saturday, I sold my Catholic books at a women's conference.  I sold some great books.  I also heard some good speakers.

And then there was the 'Laughter Yoga" lady.  Yikes.

It was a Catholic Conference.  Yoga is considered 'New Age' and Catholics are not to dabble in any New Age activities.

Laughter Yoga is a form of Yoga (hasyayoga) in which the practitioner induces laughter in himself, not necessarily at the stimulus of humour.

The effect of being in a room full of people forcing themselves to laugh (under the tutelage of a certified teacher) was rather creepy.  It reminded me of those scenes in some old movies were a person is having a dream sequence or a memory where a group of people is pointing at the dreamer and laughing.

It claims to have many health benefits.  It can reduce high blood pressure, relieve stress, improve diabetes, reduces depression, increases oxygenation of the blood, releases endorphins...

As Catholics, we are to give pride of place to Gregorian Chant during liturgy.  We can chant at home, too.
Guess what?  Health benefits will ensue...lower stress, increased oxygen in the blood, increased muscle tone, reduced depression...and we're praying at the same time!

I hope it was ignorance, and not will, that had someone invite a yoga practitioner to a Catholic women's conference.  Why would someone assume they had to look elsewhere for health benefits.

It annoys me that something as basic as laughter could be associated with spiritual practices.  It's a bit like what's happened to rainbows.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I think I Caught a Live One...

Hi Folks

Blessed Trinity Sunday!

I found this in my com box today.  Aside from my excitement of having a comment, I see it could provide me with months of blog-worthy material.

Sadly, I need to eat and sleep:

"Anders Branderud has left a new comment on your post "The Roots of Christianity"

Quote: “ if we have not drifted to far from the Jewish moorings of the Christian faith.”

I want to comment on this. 

Le-havdil, A logical analysis (found in ( is the website of the only legitimate Netzarim-group)) of all extant source documents and archeology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical. 

The original words of the pro-Torah teacher Ribi Yehoshua were redacted by Roman Hellenists, and the redaction is found in the “gospels”. J…. is described in the “gospels”, and le-havdil the teachings of the historical Torah-teacher Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth are found in the reconstruction (using a logical and scientific methodology to create the reconstruction), Netzarim Hebrew Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM). 

The historical Jew Ribi Yehoshua is not the same as the Christian Jzus The historical Ribi Yehoshua was a human.

The above website proofs that the roots of Christianity are Hellenism, not Judaism".

Sorry, Anders.  All this website proves is that the writers knew/know very little of Christian History.

The "core message" of the Netzarim says this:

"The original—and only authentic—plan of salvation is found only in Tor•âh′ . Everything subsequent is a supersessionist "pretend salvation" of Displacement Theology."

Included on the website is a  book quoted called "The Da Vinci Code: A Jewish Perspective".  It is written by Rabbi Michael Skobac.

Where to begin?

At the top of page 15 of the excerpt, we are told that the real title of the 'Book of Acts' is "The Acts of the Apostles".  No!  Really?  Any legitimate, English Catholic Lectionary would have told you the same thing.

Rabbi Skobac says:

Jews for Judaism, Da Vinci Code 18

First, a little tangent.  The Gospel writer Luke did not meet Jesus either.  

History is written by the victors.  Should we be surprised?  As Protestantism increased its hold on the Christian world, anti-Catholicism became rampant.

Denying St. Paul's teachings is just 'Historical Jesus'-speak.  Jesus was most definitely a practicing Jew, as 'revealed' on another part of this website.  Paul was Pharisee.  God's salvation plan was for all people, and in order to get the message out (Some Jews will credit Christianity for spreading the Torah.  The Jews were not doing it)  there would have to be some assistance given once Jesus had ascended.  Saul/Paul was a Jewish Pharisee and a Roman Citizen.  His conversion to Christianity gave him a certain authority which made him able to reach the Gentiles.

The excerpt supplied effectively ignores the presence and teaching of Roman Catholic, and later Orthodox, Church during the first 1500 or so years of Christianity's existence.  The excerpt (pg 17) says that Martin Luther did not wish the Epistle of James to be included in the Christian Canon.  Is the writer unaware that the Epistle of James HAD been included in the Christan Canon since the Canon itself was settled (the full Christian Canon) about 1000 years earlier?  This was sanctioned by the Catholic Church!  Martin Luther was an unfortunate and unsettling presence in Christian History, and many Christian have been limping along with a shorter Bible ever since (although not without the Epistle of James!).

The Epistle of James includes teaching very clearly present in the teaching of the Catholic Church.  So who, other than Luther, was trying to mute James?

Besides, what is this to the Netzarim if they believe that Salvation is written completely and exclusively in the Torah, as stated in their core message?

In another part of  the core Netzarim message:

 "The doctrine that Tor•âh′  is the "law of sin and death" is a Christian canard, the epitome of misojudaism"

This is not a "doctrine" I have ever encountered in the Catholic Church. In fact, The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this:

 121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

Also in the 'core message' is a link to the glossary entry "Displacement Theology".

This is also new to me.  Reading the glossary entry, I am linked to "misojudaism".  We are told here that Christianity is antinomian.  Wrong again! Catholicism actually considers antinomianism to be a heresy.

This is all I can deal with for now.  If anyone cares to look at the site, please feel free, but be warned!

PS  The spacing of the lines you are seeing is NOT what is in my compose box.  Sorry for the spaciness...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rabbi David Aaron: Isn't Humbleness Just Low Self-Esteem?


I am borrowing this article. I think it is an excellent explanation of self-esteem and humility for a Godly person.

It is written from a Jewish perspective, but I think it fits perfectly well into the Christian life.

In fact, it seems to give us the root of the Catholic belief of the Communion of Saints.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Well, it would seem that the turbo booster has been applied to the New Evangelization.


Okay, Europe, time to smarten up.

When will be North America's turn?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Big Picture

We recently returned from a brief trip East, which meant that we spent a good deal of our travel time in Quebec.

I think I have mentioned Quebec before.  For hundreds of years it was a bastion of Catholicism in Canada.  The remnants of that can till be seen nearly everywhere you go in the province.  I am not going to dwell upon what I've said before.

I did have another thought though, as we drove past so many old stone churches in tiny little communities.

The big picture.  Perserverence.

Driving along Highway 20 in Spring is lovely.  Windy, but lovely.  You drive along the St. Lawrence River, which is impressive in its length and breadth.

I was thinking about how cold it must be in the winter.  The wind...and all the old houses that would at one time have been heated with wood, without fancy argon filled double paned windows or fiberglass insulation.  Cold!  Yet for several hundred years, people have lived here.

And they built churches.

Not the modern, spare barns we so often see, but stone churches with bell towers (with real bells).  They are often graced on the inside with many pieces of lovingly carved wood (I'm specifically thinking of the church at St. Jean Port Joli.  Amazing carvings throughout, and added over many years), paintings and real gold.

Even when they were built, these churches were not cheap.  But they arose from the labour and sacrifice of the people who would use them.  And often, it would take more than a generation to complete the work.

Why did relatively few people, with little money, contribute vigourously to the building of Churches they might not see completed? Why would they not spend their money and efforts on their own homes and families?

I think they had a better vision of the 'big picture' than we tend to have today.  We want to see return for our time and money.  We want to see it quickly and we want to see it in an earthly sense.  Eternity takes too long.

In times when infant mortality was higher than it is today, and when diseases we barely think about today could kill you, earthly existence was seen as fleeting.  People had a greater grasp of Eternity.

Besides all that, they had a greater sense of these church buildings being the resting place of the Body of Christ.  The King of Kings.  It was worth it to make it the Church the very best that it could be, even if it took years, and sacrifice.

A slight aside:  A few years back, one of my children brought a book home from school about great Canadians.  One listed was Paul Emile Cardinal Leger.  I will not argue one way or another on his greatness, as I do not know much about him.  I do know that one of the attributes they mentioned which attested to his greatness was that he stopped building elaborate churches, so that the money could be used for purposes which would better suit the here and now.

This distressed me.  I would hope that a man of the cloth, and a Cardinal no less, would be able to see that building worthy, beautiful churches is not wasteful or extravagant, and that it is certainly not exclusive of using money for other purposes such as supporting schools or charity.  If the book I read was correct, Cardinal Leger did not think as I do.

Aside completed

I also think that the Quebecois of earlier generations may have had a better grasp on perseverance.  They got through those winters AND managed to continue building lovely churches...They didn't all move to British Columbia.  I think of how often I complain, who am not very near wintry winds blowing off a large body of water, when the snow plow takes too long to clear the street.

I think that these lovely buildings in tiny little towns and villages are something we can look to in admiration.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Manhattan Project

Manhattan Declaration 
May 7, 2010 
Manhattan Declaration
A Letter to Signers of the Manhattan Declaration
Dear Friends,
We hope you've visited our new website, It is loaded with resources to defend life, marriage, and religious freedom.
If you've been to the website in the last few days, you saw the story of the eight nurses in New York who refused to participate in taking the life of an unborn child by abortion. They were punished, but held their ground. (Later their employer relented and even apologized to them.) Here are people who refused to render to Caesar that which belongs to God! If you didn't get to the story, please read it. More people must follow their example.
The second bit of exciting news comes from England. Weeks ago, a group of British pastors and Christian leaders, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, posted on a website a condensed version of the Manhattan Declaration. They called it, appropriately, the Westminster Declaration. In the first week they had 5,000 signatures. As we write, they have close to 50,000! This is extraordinary. The church in England has not, in recent years, distinguished itself by giving Christian witness on public moral issues. So this was welcome change and big news - all inspired by the Manhattan Declaration.
Around the world we're getting similar reports of the Declaration being picked up and circulated. It has been translated into a number of foreign languages.
Here at home, we're looking forward to a very busy fall. There will be a New Mexico Christian worldview summit, August 24-26 in Albuquerque, bringing together 600 Catholic and evangelical pastors. It is being co-chaired by Archbishop Michael Sheehan and former congressman Bill Redmond, who is a Colson Center-commissioned Centurion. Chuck Colson, along with the eminent Catholic theologian Michael Novak, will be present for this event.
This is the kind of movement-building event that is growing out of the Manhattan Declaration, and that our website will help connect people to. Keep visiting the site and join our online community. It will link you up with like-minded citizens across the country. The movement section will give you blogs and lists of signatories, as well as a feature called Signer Vision. We will be asking people to post comments on our forums and find events related to the Manhattan Declaration.
You may be wondering whether our efforts are bearing fruit. This Declaration has been the most galvanizing force for the Christian church within anyone's memory. It has brought together leaders across the confessional divides to take a clear, unequivocal stand for life, marriage, and liberty. And it is gaining momentum. But we need each signer to get one other fellow believer to sign so that we can swiftly reach one million. Please take a moment today to call the Manhattan Declaration to the attention of a Christian friend. You can share it using our website.
Here's what else you can do:
  • Pray for us regularly.
  • Educate the laity through on-line study resources.
  • Host local events just like the people in Albuquerque are doing in August; and
  • Give as you're led to support this movement. Our only major expense thus far has been for e-mail and the upgrading of the website, which was contributed by two of our supporting organizations. But we do have ongoing costs to support the website and the Movement. As you'll see, there is a convenient way to give on this website.
Please join the movement. Get others involved, and make full use of the website resources to connect with others who share your convictions about the most important and critical moral questions in our lives today.
God bless you.
Dr. Timothy George
Dr. Robert George
Chuck Colson
 Visit us online at www.manhattandeclaration.orgManhattan Declaration

Friday, April 30, 2010

Piux XII, Jews and Catholics

Borrowing from Zenit this morning!  God Bless

Catholics and Jews Renew Dialogue on Pius XII
Affirm Solidarity With Benedict XVI
By Jesús Colina
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2010 ( Catholic and Jewish representatives have re-launched a dialogue, interrupted in 2001, on the figure of Pope Pius XII and his relationship with the people of Israel, particularly during the Holocaust.
At the end of Wednesday's general audience Benedict XVI greeted representatives who are in Rome for a meeting organized by the Pave the Way Foundation.
The founder of this organization, New York Jew Gary Krupp, explained to ZENIT that the audience with the Pope was attended by rabbis and representatives of Jewish communities from the United States, Israel, Australia and Switzerland "who wished to stand in solidarity shoulder to shoulder with the Catholic Church and the Holy Father" during "the attacks against the Church and His Holiness by an over-zealous media."
The meeting, which continued with the questions that the International Catholic-Jewish Historical intended to address in 2001, had an academic character with the participation of several rabbis, but was not an official representation.
The commission was originally appointed in 1999 by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and consisted of three Jewish and three Catholic scholars.
They reviewed the Vatican documents concerning Pope Pius XII and submitted a report in 2000 with 47 questions regarding the Holy See's response to the Holocaust.
However, due to disagreement and conflicting viewpoints, the group was disbanded in 2001.
Now, in a two-day debate session that began April 23, answers were given to those 47 questions posed in 2000.
Those who responded to the questions were Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, historian and relator to the cause  of beatification of Pius XII; Matteo Napolitano, professor of the history of international relations (University of Molise, Italy); Andrea Tornielli, Vatican expert from the daily "Il Giornale;" Ronald Rychlak, law professor at Mississippi State University; and Michael Hesemann, German historian and writer.
All the answers were fully recorded by H2O News and will be given to the Yad Vashem Commission, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, and will be available on the Pave the Way Foundation Web site.
Krupp reported to ZENIT: "We also discussed the Holy See endorsing a family-based initiative of dedicating Friday night dinner with the family. Here two hours will be dedicated to the children. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Pave the Way Foundation are promoting this initiative dedicated to the family."
Moreover, the group met with Monsignor Peter Wells, assessor for the Secretariat of State's Section for General Affairs, and discussed with him the Vatican's efforts to aid victims of abuses.
Krupp acknowledged that "the media has not reported the efforts of the Church to repair these terrible past events."
"Even one is too much," he said, "but this tragedy is not as widespread as the media has led all to believe."
"Monsignor Wells stated that the Holy See considers the original breaking news of these terrible events as a blessing," Krupp reported, because "the Church was alerted then to act quickly to root out these criminals and the errors by some bishops."
"He said that there was too much reliance on outdated psychological and inept legal advisors who advised some bishops that these offenders could be cured," said Krupp.
At the Papal audience David Victor, the chairman of AIPAC, an American Israeli organization, spoke to the Holy Father and asked him to issue remarks condemning the Iranian regime's denial of the Holocaust and its efforts to develop an atomic bomb. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared, during a 2005 speech, that Israel must be "wiped off the map."
The representatives also met with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which oversees the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
In that meeting, Krupp spoke about the loud and dedicated condemnation of Adolf Hitler and National Socialism by Pope Pius XII from the very beginning, noting that it should serve as an example of how the Holy See can respond to a modern day Hitler.
Krupp concluded, "This was a very important day in Rome for our group."
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On the Net:
Pave the Way Foundation:
email this article 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Praise Be!

Good Evening;

(Just a note that this is an older post that I just finished.  The liturgical reference is out of date!)

Today at Mass, I cantored the psalm, which was part of psalm 19.

After Mass, a member of our clergy came up to me and clasped my hand and told me I'd made his day.

"How?" I asked.

He told me that the psalm was well done and what he needed to hear.

I thanked him. Later I realized that God had ministered to this man through me, and I was totally unaware.

My lack of awareness would prevent my interference, no doubt.

Wow. What a gift this was! Something rather mundane (I have cantored a lot over the past 10 years) had been turned into something very special for at least one person.

I wonder how often we effortlessly and unwittingly extend God's touch?
Is it not wonderful that God can use people this way?

Now I must remember that God can work whenever and however and through whichever means He desires.

The story of Balaam's Ass is humbling.  I like the way singer Don Francisco put it in his song Balaam:
 " When the Lord starts usin' you, don't you pay it any mind.  He could have used the dog next door if He'd been so inclined."

I'm still thankful that I was there...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Importance of the Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil can quite safely be called THE Mass of the Christian Liturgical year.  It is the Vigil which is the main Mass of  Easter.  Easter Sunday Mass seems to be the one that most attend, particularly in places where the congregation has not been catechized as to the importance of the Vigil.

If people know anything about the Vigil, it is usually that it is a long Mass.  If all the readings are proclaimed, there are seven Old Testament readings, seven psalms and seven corresponding prayers.  Then, we have an Epistle reading and the Gospel reading.  These readings trace out our salvation history, culminating in Jesus' resurrection.  The liturgy of the Mass is not layed out willy-nilly.  Each of those readings is there for a reason.  Often though, the Vigil is shortened by eliminating some of the Old Testament readings.

At the Vigil Mass the water that will be used throughout the rest of the year is blessed to become Holy Water.  Those who have been going through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults are received into the Church at this time.  There may also be other baptisms and confirmations.

The Vigil can be three hours long.

What is three hours in the course of eternity?  People will spend three hours shopping, at a hockey game, or even viewing a movie.  A priest I know would tell people at the beginning of Mass to take off their watches.  He would remind them that they were moving from chronos time to kairos time.  They were taking a peek at eternity.

He had no problem with the long Mass.

Some will complain about the length.  I think they need to be reminded of perspective.  When I say this, I am assuming a healthy priest and a healthy congregation.  Of course allowances must be made for infirmity.  But if a person can sit at a hockey game for three hours?  I think that blaming the length of the Mass for a small congregation is wrong-headed.  We share the Mass with myriads of myriads each and every time we attend.

In a sense, the Vigil is a family reunion.  At any Mass, we gather together with the Body of Christ, with Christ at the head.  We join with Christians around the world, and throughout eternity.  Those who have gone before us are there.

Removing readings (and the corresponding psalms and prayers) from the Vigil is like telling someone that we don't want to hear their family story.  Sorry Uncle Isaiah, or Auntie Miriam, we don't want to hear from you this year.

And really, just how much time is saved by taking readings out?

Through this Mass, we are not spectators.  There are Psalms and hymns to sing and prayers and a litany (assuming there is someone being baptized) to join in with, along with the responses common to any Mass.  The Mass may actually start outdoors, so there is a procession into the church.

Hearing a Bishop complain about the length of the Vigil reminded me of two very enthusiastic members of the congregation one year; two small children aged 6 and about 4.  They sang, they danced, they took turns 'directing' the choir, and had a lovely time.  Their enthusiasm was quite an example.  Over the years, I've seen many children at the Vigil.  Rarely have they been disruptive or complaining.

All that said, I fully believe that people should be encouraged to be comfortable at what really is a long Mass. Dress nicely and modestly, but don't wear clothing that scratches or shoes that pinch.  Bring a cushion or back support and a lap blanket if you think you'll need it (I know personally what a chill can do to arthritic knees and backs).  Bring books or quiet toys for them, but expect children to fall asleep.

And a point of etiquette.  When a parish has been assisting in an Easter Vigil Mass that uses all the readings provided, and has been doing so for several years, I would be very very cautious about suggesting change.  While no one, not even the Bishop or the Pope 'owns' the Mass, people can become accustomed to practices.  When these practices are in line with what the liturgy spells out, I believe that reducing the Mass is a poor choice.

God Bless

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WWII and the Church

A recent comment left with me has fired a few shots at the record of the Church's activities (or inactivities, according to the writer) during WWII.

He maintains that even opening up the archives to many more documents will not change the record of the Church, which he maintains was "largely inactive in the face of genocide"

I'm not certain, Mr. Wilensky, which inactivity you are referring to.

In 1937, Pope Pius XI issued a statement in German (almost unheard of to this day.  The Pope really was doing his best to make sure that his target audience heard him) called Mit Brennender Sorge which came down very hard on the Nazi Party.

The man who became Pope XII on the death of Pope Pius XI had already been speaking out against the Nazis in word and in print, as evidenced in the archives of Osservatore Romano, since the mid-1930s.

Some Jews were hidden in the Vatican itself.  Others were hidden in other Church buildings, such as Castel Gandolfo, and convents and monasteries.

"The final number of Jewish lives in whose rescue the Catholic Church had been the instrument is thus at least 700,000 souls, but in all probability it is much closer to ... 860,000." (Pinchas E. Lapide, 'Three Popes and the Jews', pp 227-228).

Rabbi Israel Anton Zolli, Chief Rabbi of Rome converted to Catholicism after the war and took the baptismal name of Eugenio,  name of Pius XII.  While his conversion may have been 'encouraged' by other events, he did express his deep appreciation for Pius XII in his memoirs.

I am, for now (as Holy Week events are picking up speed, and I have much to do) going to leave you with this interview which spells out quite a bit and refers to a book you may be interested in. 

I have no fear at all with the opening of the archives.  Heck, if contemporary New York Times could sing PXII's praises over his war efforts, and if can be declared a 'Righteous Gentile" then I'm sure it's all good.

But the Truth will bear out.