Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is a Novena?

A novena is a series of prayers, said for nine consecutive days, for the purposes of requesting special blessings.  Since I'm a Lay Dominican, and the Feast of Saint Dominic is August 8, nine days away, I'll begin a novena, today.

First Day
The Faith of Saint Dominic
"Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. xi 6)

With his mother's milk, St. Dominic imbibed that greatest of virtues, divine faith.  Blessed Jane of Aza was a woman of remarkable piety, and her son was a faithful imitator of his holy mother.

Fortified by his strong faith, St. Dominic undertook all those works which resulted in such wonderful blessings to the Church, and in such great glory to God by the salvation of so many souls.  Nothing dismayed him.  His confidence was unbounded.  In His name he accomplished all.  And though he sighed for martyrdom that he might seal his faith by shedding his blood, God did not will this sacrifice.  In the thousands of his children, however, who offered their lives for Christ, St. Dominic may well be considered a martyr.


Our Lord tells us that we may know ourselves by our fruits.  What are the fruits of our faith?  Are they such that we may have confidence that we are pleasing God?  What is the motive of all we do?  Do we live, as the just man, by faith?  Are we strong in trial and faithful in temptation?  Do we rely on God or seek human motives and human means in the good we do?

Let us learn a lesson from St. Dominic.  Let us ask of him to obtain for us the gift of a lively faith, his unshaken confidence in God.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seal of Confession

There's an uproar in Ireland over clerical sex abuse.  (I'm from Boston--been there,done that.) As a result, the government wants to pass a law to force priest to break the seal of confession.

Think about this.

Isn't this the dumbest idea, ever?  Let's say it becomes law.  Then who would be stupid enough to confess that they did commit a crime knowing that the priest is going to turn you in.

Think about it.

Missing the Point

"What do you think?" is the question I ask, when people say they read my Letter to the Editor.  "I thought it was good."  they respond.

???????  What are they thinking?  They miss the point.  I wrote a letter to my Archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot, commending Stephen Kent's opinion article, "A Catholic newspaper is a necessity."  I commented that I agree with Stephen Kent, that most Catholics don't know the Catholic perspective on current events.  Catholics don't keep up with the Catholic explanations on pertinent issues.  All they hear is the secular, often anti-Catholic sound bites, that Catholics are anti-women and anti-gays, etc.

You can't expect catechesis in a homily.  That's not what they're for.  People have to keep cognizant the same way they do with sports, or politics, i.e., listen and read.  Stephen Kent was saying that that's the value of a Catholic newspaper.  It's a way for Catholics to get their news based on a background of dogma and tradition.  That's one way.

My letter was agreeing with Kent.  Stephen Kent's article is the one my friends should have read, not my letter.  I guess I failed.  How can I direct people to read the article I'm referencing?  

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Dude

He talk tough
that ain't nuff

No Dude cool
inside.  Fool!
just talkin
need walkin
make a name
climb to fame

Cellmate's bad
he ain't had
no mama
no papa
no lovin
why bummin.

+ Poetry from the 4th Annual OPrize for Poetry, The Preacher Poets, p. 104.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


The car's fuel gauge was almost on empty.  I was on my way to work, but I just had to stop and fill up.  While filling the tank, I was also calling work on my iPhone, to tell them that I'd be a little late, because I had to stop and get gas.

Well, I didn't know I was popular.  Co-workers on their way to work all beeped their horn and waved.  I was on  the major route through town, so friends and neighbors also beeped "hello."

I was thinking that maybe I should run for mayor; it seemed that people just had to beep at me.

However once I got into work and listened to the voice messages on my phone, and read all the e-mails, I realized that everyone wasn't beeping "hello."  They were trying to tell me that you don't pump gas and use your phone at the same time.  It is hazardous to use a phone near the pumps.  There's a potential for static electricity to spark off and ignite the fuel.

Who knew?  I guess I won't be running for mayor, any time soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chihuly @ MFA

Went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, today.  It's amazing what the glass artist Chihuly can do.  I loved the ceiling the best. It's a bare room with the glass colors and shapes in the ceiling.  That's the only light in the room.  Look how it's reflected EVERY WHERE.
It just looks like it's traveling down the walls.  The glass objects are placed on the glass ceiling with light above them.  This is the only light in this empty, little, room.  Beautiful, just beautiful!
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011


This is a hash tag for a new Twitter group, I just discovered.  I lurked tonight and the hour flew by.  They discussed using social media in church, what needs to be in place, and QR which is the Quick Response codes or bar codes products have.  I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I gather that this chat takes place every Tuesday night at 9:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).  Any interested person can participate (or not, like me) and it's for all denominations that like to discuss topics of mutual interest.

The hash tag #chsocm is easy to remember if you associate it with Church Social Media.

I kept thinking of my parish.  It's not that I don't think we couldn't have the latest social media; I just don't think it's needed.  People like the bulletin.  That's where the vast majority are getting their parish news.  I don't see anyone (unless it's the teen Mass) checking their iPhone for updates, during the homily.  And we're doing alright.  We have one of the best, if not the best parish web site ever made by man. We have online registration for joining the parish, and other activities.  The pastor sends out important notices and appropriate messages via email.  Ministry schedules are on-line.  The parish is on Face Book.  Our entire Religious Education communicates via email.  We have what we need.

So if social media reflects the culture of the parish, then St. Mary's is up there.  Let us pray for those who fear new communication initiatives.
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Come Eat

It's lunch time and I'm reviewing the Readings for this Sunday, the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  They all have to do with food.  Food is important and I'm getting hungry.  Maybe that's why these Readings appeal to me.

The First Reading, Reading I: Isaiah 55:1-3  is about an eschatological banquet.  This is the one I'm proclaiming.  Pray that I do it justice and that the people are open.  I fully understand what eating without satisfaction is.  Trying to eat food that is low on carbs, calories, and yet is nutritious, often does not satisfy.  But none of this food will satisfy anyone spiritually, anyway.  Nowadays people are so conscious of what they eat.  They read the nutrition labels on the packages.  They watch their portions.  They count points, exchanges, calories, carbohydrates, and what not....    All for naught, if they're not eating the best for spiritual health.

The Eucharist  is the bread and wine transubstantiated into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  It will satisfy your hunger and thirst.  And there's another reason I'm glad I'm Catholic.  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vacation Advice

The Holy Father offers vacation advice.   It wasn't what I expected.  It was simple and a little paragraph and easy to do.  I was expecting advice like don't go too far away from a church building because you should celebrate Mass everyday.  Bring religious DVD's, books.  In fact,  spend your vacation at a religious retreat place.
But it was none of that!  It was go enjoy the culture of where you are vacationing.  Uplift your body and soul by renewing and resting.  Enjoy family time.  Thank God and meditate on His goodness.  Well, it was so brief that here's its entirety.

VATICAN CITY, JULY 24, 2011 ( Benedict XVI is offering some tips on how to live one's summer holiday, says a Vatican spokesman.
On the most recent edition of Vatican Television's "Octava Dies," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi spoke of the "brief but important suggestions" that the Pope has made over the past few weeks about vacation.
"First of all, [the Pope] invited those of us who can, to use our vacation time in a way that helps renew our relationships with others and with God," said Father Lombardi. "Interrupting the hectic and frantic pace of daily life, we can take time to dedicate ourselves to others and to God.
"The Pope even suggested we include a copy of the Sacred Scriptures in our suitcase. He also invited us to contemplate the greatness, and admire the beauty, of creation around us, recognizing in it the wonderful presence of the Creator."
"We need to observe this magnificent gift," Father Lombardi said, paraphrasing Benedict XVI, "with the same attention Jesus did. He knew how to interpret the language and signs of Creation, which is a gift we must respect, protect and care for, in the name of God, humanity and future generations."
"Finally, Pope Benedict suggested that pilgrims and travelers apply their intelligence and curiosity to discovering the monuments of the past -- witnesses of culture and faith, as he called them, examples of our spiritual roots and heritage," the priest said. "Cathedral and abbeys, in particular, are places where beauty helps us feel the presence of God and inspires us to pray for the rest of humanity, on its pilgrimage through the Third Millennium.

"The enjoyment of friendship, reading, nature and culture helps to nourish and restore our spirit. It gives us the strength to continue our journey refreshed and renewed."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saintly Spouses

There's hope for married churchgoers, who go it alone.  I'm talking about a husband or wife, who pray by themselves.  Their spouses don't go to church, aren't very religious, or are even atheists.  This was exactly the case of Elisabeth and Felix Leseur.

Elisabeth Leseur learned soon after she married Felix, that he was an atheist.  Why didn't he tell her before?  Knowing how much her religion meant to her, she probably would have broken off the relationship.  Felix probably was so sure of himself, that he figured he'd convince her of the foolishness of religion soon enough.  But the opposite happened.  Because Elisabeth had to defend the faith, she studied apologetics and stood her ground.  She had a personal library that rivaled her husbands'.  Only her library was filled with theology, whereas his was secular and atheistic.  She held her own.

    By the serenity and strength that I mean to acquire I will prove that the Christian life is great and
    beautiful and full of joy.  By cultivating all the best faculties of my mind I will proclaim that God is 
    the highest Intelligence and that those who serve Him can draw without end that blessed source
    of intellectual and moral light.            From Elisabeth Leseur's first journal 1899-1906

Besides knowing her stuff, she wasn't an "in your face" apologist.    She dressed attractively--on purpose.  She wanted to attract people.  She wanted people to come to her and if it took fashion and makeup, so be it. After the dress, people were attracted to her joyful and happy spirit.  This she attributed to her "interior secret."  She was in love with Jesus and He loved her.  She hoped she radiated this love and joy.  And for all reports, she certainly did.

She was sickly.  She suffered from intestinal problems and eventually cancer took her life, at age 48.  But she said that her physical sufferings were nothing to the spiritual suffering she felt because the person that was closest to her, Felix--her husband, wasn't beside her praying, going to church, and sharing their spirituality.  She actually lived the life of a Lay Dominican--without knowing it; she adopted a regular program of prayer, meditation, study, and sacramental participation.  Her prayers for her husband are poignant.

     O Lord, once more I implore thee to come to him, to come to them, and let them live,
     let them live the interior life deeply, and also an outer life renewed by Christianity.  The
     harvest is plentiful; my God, let them be blessed laborers in it; let their life and mine be a 
     work of beauty and love, and let us labor together for the coming of Thy Kingdom in 
     the world and in souls.          From the first journal

    My God, wilt Thou give me one day the joy of this solitude for two, united in the same prayer
    the same faith, and the same love?   From the first journal

It wasn't until after Elisabeth died, that her husband converted.  But she knew this.  In fact, she offered her sufferings up for his conversion.  Felix read this.

    ...I threw myself into reading of them; I read and re-read them, and a revolution took place
    in my whole moral being.  I understood the celestial beauty of her soul and that she had
    accepted all her suffering and offered it -- and even offered her very self in sacrifice --
    chiefly for my conversion...

Felix was blessed with grace.  Like St. Monica, Elisabeth's prayers had touched the hard heart of their loved one.  Felix turned into a prayerful, pious Catholic.  He read not only Elizabeth's journals, but also the books in her library.  He ended up becoming, not only a priest, but a Dominican friar.

And that's not the end of the story.  In 1924, Fulton J. Sheen, who would later become an archbishop and popular American television and radio figure, made a retreat under the direction of Fr. Leseur.  During many hours of spiritual direction, Sheen learned of the life of Elisabeth and the conversion of Fr. Felix.  Sheen subsequently repeated this conversion story in many of his presentations, in particular in regard to the role that spouses play in the sanctification of each other.

One last note, Felix found, after her death, was meant for him to find.  "In 1905, I asked almighty God to send me sufficient sufferings to purchase your soul.  On the day that I die, the price will have been paid.  Greater love than this no woman has, than she who lay down her life for her husband."

BTW, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen became a Lay Dominican.

The Treasure

A few days ago I posted about today's Readings at Mass.  I focused on the buried treasure and how it didn't rightfully belong to the person who coveted it and eventually bought the land.  I know that wasn't the point, right from the beginning.  But listening to Father John this morning, made me  realize how really off the mark I was.

Father John told us a story of how precious a pearl is.  It is so dear that as far back as man can remember, mankind has appreciated and valued the pearl.  It has been called the third eye of Buddha, the divine word to Muslims, and a treasure to Christians.

And consider how it is made.  It is all because of an irritant.  Something enters the life of an oyster that doesn't belong there.  The oyster will try to expel it.  If it can't, it will encapsulate it in layers of nacre, and as the oyster grows in size, so do the layers.

Apply this to human life.  When the "bad" enters our lives, we need to oust the irritant.  If we can't rid ourselves of the sickness, temptation, addiction, evil, we need to encapsulate it in God's love.  We need to turn it over to Him.  Offering up the "bad" and growing closer to God makes that "bad," our treasure--our pearl.
We can make our sufferings, our pearls.  

Take a look at the video.

Friday, July 22, 2011


This is crazy.  But it worked for all 13 of us ladies.  It was "weigh-in" today.  We noticed that when looking down at the scale, we weigh .2 more, than when we looked straight ahead.

Crazy.  Try it.

And what difference does it make?  Well if you weigh 104 pounds, and the scale says 104. 6, you are recorded as weighing 105.   But if you look straight ahead, the scale read 104.4.  Then you are recorded as 104.

See?  And that's another reason to stand straight, and tall and look straight ahead.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Today, July 21, is a Memorial of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi.  In this morning's Readings is a sermon by him.  Besides saying that "...without faith it is impossible to please God."  St. Lawrence gives some profound thoughts about preaching as an apostolic duty.

And faith is not conceived unless the word of God is preached.  Faith comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ.  The preaching of the word of God, then, is necessary for the spiritual life, just as the planting of seed is necessary for bodily life.

Preaching, therefore, is a duty that is apostolic, angelic, Christian, divine.  ...  It is the source of faith, hope, charity, all virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all the beatitudes of the Gospel, all good works, all the rewards of life, all the glory of paradise: Welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.

All this wisdom from the seventeenth century holds true today.  St. Lawrence was the minister general of the Capuchins and is a Doctor of the Church.  Preaching is also giving witness to the word of God.  Living according to the word is preaching.  But that's not enough, that would certainly be a cop out, to be satisfied with just  living a good life.  Having an apostolate would be preaching personified, e.i., prison ministry, singing, writing, teaching religious ed, etc.  Let us pray for more preachers.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair

Appearances aren't what they seem, as this line from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act One closes with.  I'm referring to my dinner today.  I had a perfectly wonderful day.  For dinner, I ordered fish with zucchini.  It arrived beautifully presented, as the picture shows.  However, it had no taste.

What a disappointment!
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

This Sunday's Readings

My parish has two Lectors at each Mass.  That's not my preference but that's the way it is.  It's a gimmick to show the people that we're diverse, i.e., one old/one young, one male/one female, etc.    Or in my grumpy morning temperament: one casual dresser/one formal, one no one can hear/one drama queen, one who doesn't know what he's doing/one show off, etc.

I digress.  What I wanted to post was my thoughts on the Readings from the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  My part is the Second Reading, Romans 8:28-30.  At first glance, I noticed that it's the shortest of all the Readings.  So, you think it would be the easiest, but it looks sing/song.  I'll have to be careful.  My second reading of it struck me.  There is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

"All things work for the good of those who love God." How many times has this sentence given me courage and comfort?   Whatever comes my way, the thought of God's love has sustained me.  Now I have to pray for the ability to proclaim this message to His people.  Holy Spirit speak for me.

Now look at the Gospel, Matthew 13:44-52.  I wonder what message the homilist will give.  For sure, it won't be my take on it.  I see a man who covets what is not his, i.e., someone else's treasure.  It obviously is not "Finder's keepers; losers weepers."  The man sells everything?  How stupid can you get?  Everything?  Everything to obtain something that isn't yours?  To me this is wrong.

I'll post the message Father gives on this Gospel, Sunday.

    Sunday, July 17, 2011


    Thomas Aquinas depicted in stained glassImage via Wikipedia
    Summa Theologia, I-II, 40, 4 and II-II, 17, 1 and II-II, 17 2 were our topics in Chapter, today.  My "cloistered brothers," with the help of Fr.Nic and Dr. Holly Coolman, from Providence College, discussed Hope and Despair.  These subjects are treated a little differently by Thomas Aquinas, than the current definitions of hope and despair.

    Despair is not really just the opposite of Hope.  It's more of seeing something as not a good thing.  It's more despair, even depression, and sin.

    Hope, according to AQ is wanting to attain something.  This something has to be attainable.  I can't hope to be young; that's impossible.  Hope is also wanting something good.  In this way, Hope is a virtue.

    It was in discussing Article 2. "Whether eternal happiness is the proper object of hope?", that I had my epiphany.    You see I never understood 1 Corinthians 13: 13.  Faith, Hope, and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.  This isn't true, if you are talking spiritually. Spiritually would be agape love.  It is necessary to have Faith to have agape love.  So doesn't it make sense, that Faith would be the greater virtue?

    Faith to AQ means "see."  Ah!  I see it therefore I believe.  I see God; therefore I believe.  I see what you are saying; therefore I believe.  Hope is wishing for an attainable good.  Hope would be wishing to go to heaven.

    The epiphany comes in heaven.  In heaven, I see (faith) God.  I have attained the good (hope.)  What's left?  God Himself (Who is Love.)  

    The greatest virtue is Love when you are talking about "presence."  

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    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Archbishop Dolan is our David

    I'm comparing the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan to David--the David who fought Goliath.  David won; not so, the Church's David.  However, sometimes when you lose, you win.  The Church still has its teachings secure.  The Church didn't lose; society did.

    The Church has always fought for families.  It certainly is not anti-gay; it's pro-family.  Dolan points out that the Church fought against: no-fault divorce, contraceptives, co-habitation, and now the re-defining of marriage.  All of these initiatives have weakened our traditional families and given rise to our current promiscuous culture.  The Church is actually prophetic because what it feared would happen...did.  Please read Archbishop Dolan's entire post.

    Some Afterthoughts

    July 7th, 2011
    Almost two weeks ago — hauntingly, on the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist, whom King Herod would behead because the saint dared to defend the God-given truth about marriage — our state sadly attempted a re-definition of marriage.  Is there anything left to say?
    For one, thanks to those courageous millions who valiantly fought this unfortunate project of social engineering.  You can hold your heads high.  Sanely, civilly, thoughtfully, vigorously . . . you did not cave-in.  The forces on the other side were a Goliath indeed — with tons of money, “glitterati” from entertainment circles, political powerbrokers, and the media — but you proved a worthy David.
    You will understand my special word of gratitude to people of faith — evangelicals, Mennonites, Jews, Moslem, Catholics, Amish, and so many more, led often by African-American and Latino believers — who simply believe that marriage is a given, at the very foundation of civilization, which the state has the duty to defend and protect, not to mutate.
    My brother bishops of New York were particularly prophetic.  When I arrived here a little over two-years ago, they told me realistically that we faced a looming battle over the defense of marriage.  They advised me that the odds were not in our favor, and that some experts were even suggesting that we give-in and not put up a fight.
    But they were also resolute in their conviction that such would have been a dereliction of duty.  As Blessed John Paul II often commented, the Church is “counter-cultural,” like Jesus, often at odds with what passes as chic, enlightened, and progressive.  In their writings, sermons, personal lobbying, interviews, and our common statements — backed up by indefatigable efforts by our New York State Catholic Conference, bolstered by ecumenical and inter-religious cooperation, and, especially, supported by countless thousands of our faithful Catholic people (one legislator told me he received 47,000 e-mails against the measure from the Catholic Advocacy Network) — the bishops were on the frontiers.  We have been bloodied, and bruised, and, yes, for the moment, we have been defeated.  But, we’re used to that.  So was the Founder of our Church.
    Two, the Church neither has nor wants political “clout.”   As Cardinal John O’Connor commented, “The only ‘clout’ the Church really has is God’s Truth, the assurance of His grace, and the simple yet sincere conviction of our people.”  Blessed John Paul II again reminds us that “The Church never imposes, she onlyproposes.”  And as our current Holy Father has often observed, all the Church wants is its freedom to serve humanity by bringing the light of the gospel to the world.
    But, three, we do worry indeed about this freedom of religion.  Editorials already call for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty, with crusaders calling for people of faith to be coerced to acceptance of this redefinition.  If the experience of those few other states and countries where this is already law is any indication, the churches, and believers, will soon be harassed, threatened, and hauled into court for their conviction that marriage is between one man, one woman, forever, bringing children into the world.
    Four, the real forces of “intolerance” were unmasked here.  The caricature, of course, is that those defending traditional marriage were the right-wing bigots and bullies.  However, as one out-of-state journalist, who was following the debate closely, commented to me, “From my read of the columns, blogs, and rhetoric, it’s not your side that’s lobbing the grenades.”  A Catholic who wrote to criticize me for my defense of marriage still conceded, “But I must confess that I am sickened by the amount of anti-Catholic venom that has surfaced in this debate.”  As one respected columnist has observed, the problem is not homophobia but theophobia— a hatred by some of God, faith, religion, and the Church.
    Five, though, if we did hurt anybody in our defense of marriage, I apologize. We tried our best to insist from the start that our goal was pro-marriage, never anti-gay.  But, I’m afraid some within the gay community were offended. As I replied recently to a reporter who asked if I had any message to the gay community, “Yes:  I love you.  Each morning I pray with and for you and your true happiness and well-being.  I am honored that so many of you are at home within our Catholic family, where, like the rest of us, we try, with the help of God’s grace and mercy, to conform our lives to Jesus and His message.  If I have offended any of you in my strenuous defense of marriage, I apologize, and assure you it was unintentional.
    Point six, the Church has always stood-up for marriage — one man and one woman, united in lifelong and faithful love, leading to new life in children – whenever and wherever it was in danger.  Veterans my age and over can remember sixty years ago when we fought widespread, no-fault divorce, convinced it would lead to a cheapening of the marriage bond and harm our kids (as, of course, scholarly studies now report has, indeed, happened).  Recall how the Church resisted the “contraceptive mentality,” fearing it would rupture the sacred bond between love and the procreation of children.  Then, remember how the Church sounded the alarm over rising rates of promiscuity, adultery, pre-marital sex, and cohabitation prior to or instead of marriage.  And now we ring the steeple bell again at this latest dilution of the authentic understanding of marriage, worried that the next step will be another redefinition to justify multiple partners and infidelity.  If you think I’m exaggerating, within days of the passage of this bill, one major newspaper ran a flattering profile of a proponent of what was called “nonmonogamy.” Apparently, “nonmonogamy” is the idea that society is unrealistic to think that one man and one woman should remain faithful in marriage, and that openness to some infidelity should be the norm!
    Let me say it again. None of this is anti-anybody, but simply pro marriage.
    (By the way, as Professor Robert George at Princeton University eloquently points out, in warning about promiscuity, divorce, cohabitation instead of marriage, adultery, and “same-sex marriage,” the Church is hardly some shrill, bitter, reactionary, naysaying prude, but actually prophetically right-on-target.  Recent studies by people such as Myron Magnet and Kay Hymowitz show that the weakening of stable marriage and families is the cause of most social and cultural woes, especially burdensome on poor women and children.)
    Finally, last point, for us in the Church, not much changes.  We continue to hold fast to the God-given definition of marriage, and acknowledge that no unfortunate legislative attempt can alter reality and morality.  Yes, we have a big catechetical challenge, in that we have to admit that quite a few people no longer hold to this timeless moral truth.  (Although I still believe most people do; thus the fear of areferendum on the issue by those who still claim this is a “grassroots movement” sweeping the nation.)  Yes, we do have our work cut out for us, as even some Catholics, and, scandalously, even political leaders who claim to be Catholic, tell us the Church is “out of it,” and has no claim on truth.
    So, we try our best to witness to the truth, encouraging our married couples and their kids to be loving, radiant, “lights to the world.”  We acknowledge that, as St. Augustine taught, if something is wrong, even if everybody else is doing it, it’s still wrong; and, if something is right, even if nobody else is doing it anymore, it’s still right.  Like St. Thomas More, we’re willing to take the heat and even lose our head from following a conscience properly formed by God’s revelation and the teaching of His Church, even if it is politically incorrect, and clashes with the King’s demands to re-define marriage.

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    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Idolatry of Celibacy

    I was going to put in a picture of a chastity belt from Zamanta's public domain file, but, ugh! they're all ugly.  I would think all you'd need is something to remind you to change your focus, e.i., an elastic around your wrist, or something.  Good grief, just google "chastity belts," and you'll see why I'm so repulsed.  What contraptions!

    Anyway, why am I looking for pics of chastity belts?  Because I want to tell you about the idolatry of celibacy.   Idolatry is excessive devotion to something.  Well, recently, my "cloistered brothers" and I were discussing people who are so proud of their celibacy that they're beating their chests about it.  "Look at me.  I've given up wife and family to live a life that is pure.  I've given up children.  I'm strong.  I've done all this for God."

    Not only are some of the "cloistered brothers," guilty, but so are some priests.  Idolatry isn't only worship of golden idols, or money; it can be the inordinate pride one has in their celibacy.

    In fact, Fr. Robert Barron, in quoting Fr. Andrew Greeley (?????) says that celibacy is what's so fascinating in the priesthood.    He calls it mystical.  

    See.  You have to be careful.  Celibacy is a state of being.  "Mystical" borders on making it idolatrous.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Wonderful Woman

    A friend sent me one of those male-bashing e-mails.  I did like the closing remarks.  I cleaned it up a bit.

    "Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm,
    she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If
    you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile,
    she'll give you her heart. 

    She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, be careful what you give her."  

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Ten Reasons for Going to Confession

    A penitent confessing his sins in the former L...Image via Wikipedia
    I just love the Confession App on my iphone  I use it nightly, as an examination of conscience.
    And just being Catholic, I go to Confession, often.  So I read with interest, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' post on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  And also, Father's Z's 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession.   I'm kind of feeling left out.  That's why I made up my own list.  From the Book of Faith, Ten Reasons for Going to Confession.

    1.  Going to Confession proves that you are trying to be a better person.
    2.  Examination of Conscience forces one to be realistic about their shortcomings.
    3.  Confession is confidential.  Priests have gone to jail rather than disclose information revealed in Confession.
    4.  It's private; One on one.
    5.  The priest offers another perspective that you may never have considered.
    6.  It unburdens you.  You get that monkey off your back.
    7.  The priest gives advice.  Who needs a shrink?
    8.  After Absolution, you are free to start a new life.
    9.  It doesn't cost you any money, whatsoever.  It's free.
    10.  You receive sacramental grace.
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    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Confession and Spiritual Direction

    It's beneficial to begin spiritual direction with confession, but during regular confession times, it takes up too much time.  So if you want to do both, make an appointment with the priest.

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    What does it all mean?

    See what you make of this: happiness, sadness, gospel.

    This morning upon leaving my home, I stopped dead in my tracks.  There before me the sun's rays were fingering through the trees branches and falling on the sparkling dew wet grass.  It was breath-taking.  I tried to take a picture of it on my iPhone, but the sun's rays didn't come across.

    Approaching my car I was quite dismayed to see a small pile of something on my car's roof.  A dirty bird?  Sap from the tree?  It was kind of too big to be bird poop, or sap.  It was a gray pile of matter about the size of my fist.

    I went in the back yard and picked up my granddaughter's pail and shovel.  I carefully scraped up the disgusting mass of whatever it was.

    It was a poor little bird.  It looked kind of embryonic.  Some predator bird must have picked it out of its nest, and it was too heavy for it, so it dropped it on the roof of my car. ( I'm creating a story for the entire incident.)

    Anyway, I started to say a pray for it.  Then thought.  Aquinas says birds don't have immortal souls so what am I praying for?  Is AQ wrong (perish the thought)?  But shouldn't some sort of remembrance be made for a creature's life.  So I prayed for my understanding of it all.

    At Mass, the Gospel was Matthew 10: 24-33.     "...Are not two sparrows...  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge..."

    Ah............Nietzsche is wrong.  Religion and reality do come together.

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    The Eucharist

        Holy Communion
    by Sister Mary Fisher, O.P.

    It lies nestled in my hand,
          This white Host,
    For precious seconds as we measure time.
       During that infinitesimal moment,
           Gazing at It, I firmly believe
              Christ, whole and entire---
         Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity---
              Rests on my palm, and
          I am Mary, Virgin-Mother,
              Caressing her Newborn;
            A sinner, clutching His robe;
                Martha, preparing a meal,
            Magdalene, bathing His dusty feet,
        Veronica, wiping His dear, weary face.
           I am myself, weak, needy, yearning
               For union with Him.
               "Come, Beloved, come!"
          And kissing the Host, I receive Him.

    from Justitia, Poetry from the Second Annual OPrize for Poetry, p. 61.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Living to the Very End

    On the Threshold of EternityImage via Wikipedia
    Back in the day when I worked in Human Services, I took a course on Death and Dying.  My friend Eileen and I worked on a project together.  We went to a home where a young man was dying of Aids.  We spent some time with him and were impressed with the amount of papalliative care he was given.  He was determined to live his life to the very end.

    Today's article "Fighting to Live Versus Dying to Die," in Zenit, reminded me of that time.  The article gives us the USCCB's approved policy on Physician Assisted Suicide, and Euthanasia.  The Bishops' statement is called "To Live Each Day with Dignity: A Statement of Assisted Suicide."  This statement debunks the illusion that killing one's self is expressing freedom of choice.  That's a sad misconception.  Helping someone to die is not compassion; it's a delusion.  The Bishops propose a better way.  They make ten salient points:

    1.     Those requesting to die are very vulnerable.  They commonly suffer from clinical depression.  They should be treated for depression, not allowed to kill themselves.
    2.     Chronically and terminally ill patients are liable to suffer undue influence from the biases and expediencies of those who are impatient with their weaknesses and disabilities.
    3.     Proposals to legalize Physician Assisted Suicides define a small class of people--those with "terminal illness"--as legally exempt from laws against assisting in the suicide of another.  But clinical definitions of "terminal illness" are nototiously unreliable and ambiguous and risk sweeping up into themselves chronically ill patients who could live a long time if given proper care.
    4.     "The assisted suicide agenda expectation that certain people, unlike others, will be served by being helped to choose death."
    5.     But human life is always good and sacred.  "By rescinding legal protection for the lives of one group of people, the government implicitly communicates the message...that they may be better off dead."
    6.     But we cannot devalue some lives by saying through law that they are better off dead.
    7.     In countries where assisted suicide is legal, a dangerous lack of scrutiny and oversight exists.
    8.     Mercy killing invites a slippery slope toward ended the lives of people with non-terminal conditions.
    9.     Thus the bitter truth of the right-to-die movement is this: It ended up posing grave risks to those whom it claims to serve, namely, people with serious illness.
    10.     Rather than investing in more efficient ways of killing infirmed patients, our society should invest in improving palliative care.

    Choose the natural way, will you?  Reject the siren's call to "end it all."
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    Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    Confession for Priest

    You know how I was complaining about the Examination of Conscience for married people on my iPhone app.  It's blah.

    Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley hears confession of a priest.
    So I use the Examination of Conscience for priests.  That's the best one on my app.  Well B16 has come out with a better Examination of Conscience for Priests.  It's above whatever I could use.  So it's definitely focused on only priests and spiritual directors.

    Take a look at the Table of Contents.

    1. Contemporary importance, moment of grace   .    .    .    .    .     8
    An urgent invitation [7-8]   .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     8
    Christ’s Mission operative in the Church [9-11]     .    .    .    .     8
    Opening ourselves to love and reconciliation [12-13] .    .    .     9
    The witness and commitment of pastors [14-18] .    .    .    .     10
    The example of the Curé of Ars [19-20]  .    .    .    .    .    .    .     12
    The ministry of mercy [21-23]      .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     14
    2. Fundamental approach   .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     15
    The nature of the Sacrament of Penance [24]       .    .    .    .     15
    Paschal celebration, journey of conversion [25-27]   .    .    .     15
    On the journey of holiness [28-31]   .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     16
    A mystery of grace [32-35]      .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     17
    3. Some practical guidelines      .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     19
    The ministry of awakening proper dispositions in the peni- 
       tent [36-40]  .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     19
    The liturgical celebration [41-43]  .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     20
    Practical norms established by the Church: an expression of 
       pastoral charity [44-47]    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     21
    Orientation on the journey of holiness in harmony with the 
       action of the Holy Spirit [48-50]     .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .     23
    Ministerial availability and fatherly welcome [51-57]  .    .    .     24
    A renewed and up to date training for priests so as to be able 
       to guide the faithful in different circumstances [58-60]    .     26
    New circumstances, new graces, new fervour of priests [61-63] 2

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    Fun Comedy of Errors

    Ducks swim at Bayside, too.

    It all started when I over slept on Friday, July 1st.  I usually  wake up before the radio alarm at 5:30 AM.  Friday, my bed seemed extra cozy and comfortable when I awoke.  I thought I'd just snuggle down under the covers and wait for the radio to go off, and maybe I'd listen to the news and weather.

    It seemed that it was awfully bright, however.  Mmmmmmm.  Usually it's dark at 5:00 AM.  So I rolled over and looked at the radio clock.

    7:30 AM !!

    Yikes!  I shot out of bed, threw on my clothes, and flew to work.  (I didn't even brush my teeth!)  And from then on, all weekend, it seemed like I was racing from one thing to another.

    Work was crazy!  Everybody I needed was on vacation.  Fiscal Year 2011 closed yesterday--June 30th.  Do you know how many unpaid invoices are still coming in?  Do you know how many 2011 Purchase Orders don't have enough money to pay those unknown bills?  Do you also realize that that week was a split payroll--two Fiscal Years on one pay check?

    Better that you don't know.  It would make no difference whatsoever to have more people stressing.

    After work, I rushed to a T.O.P.S. meeting.  We had more gained than loss for the month of June.  The goals we set for last week weren't met, so why make new ones?  My weight was the same, but I had expected to lose.  Bummer.

    After T.O.P.S., some friends unexpectedly invited me to lunch at a new restaurant in town.  WTF??

    By the time I finally came home, I was too tired to drive down the Cape.  I hadn't finished packing, anyway, and the radio was reporting traffic back ups.

    I thought I'd get an early start Saturday, morning.  I didn't even go to my usual Mass at the Abbey.  I was on the road to the Cape by 7:10 AM.  Do you know I ran into traffic!  An hour drive took me three hours--at 7:00 in the morning!

    But it was worth it.  Once I crossed over the Bourne Bridge, I kicked the dust off my sandals and sang
    Old Cape Cod.  I thought I'd be waking everyone up, but no one was home.  The boat was still moored but the canoe was missing.

    Well, I thought I'd go to the beach to relax.  I drove to Menauhant--closed--the parking lot was full.  OK.  The next beach was Bristol--closed--the parking lot was full.  That was it; I went home and stretched out in a chaise lounge, in the back yard.

    After awhile, I thought I'd unpack and look around to see what I could prepare for supper.  Guess what?  I forgot one of my suitcases.  Bummer.

    I made a wine cooler and sat down to read a book on Kindle.  Kindle told me my battery was low.

    But I can read on my iPhone.

    iPhone also told me that my battery was low.  I may not have brought a charger for my Kindle; nor a charger for my iPhone, but I had a charger in my car for the iPhone.  Errrr, I didn't have the fuel to waste though.  And I was not planning to get more gas on the Cape.  Who do you think I am--a tourist?  Everything on the Cape is more expensive than at home.


    It's a good thing that "I'm smarter than the average bear," because I brought my lap top.  At least I can blog.

    Well....I could have if I had a router.  My husband took it home for some unknown reason.  When I asked him about it, he answered, "What's a router?" have to just love him.

    Mmmmmm.  No Kindle, no iPhone, no computer, no beach, ..... I went for a bike ride.  The damn contraption skipped in second gear.  OK, my thigh muscles needed strengthening anyway.

    Finally, family and friends came home: sunburned, salty, sandy, sweaty, and surly.  But that's nothing that a few wine coolers for the adults, and some chocolate milk for the kiddies couldn't cure.

    After showers, and supper, and s'mores, we sat around the fire pit and chatted.   Actually, we sat around the remains of the fire pit, and chatted.  You see, the fire pit that I gave hubby on Father's day (not even a month ago) was run over in the dark, when hubby was backing up the truck in the back yard to unload sand for our Granddaughter's sand box.

    It's nice to sit around a fire in the dark, on a cool night, when you feel your sunburn cool down.  It's nice to have family and friends around you.

    The next day was Sunday and I planned to go to the earliest Mass to avoid all the people.  It's a good thing I went early because the Mass became so full, there was standing room only--at 7:30 AM.  People parked in the cemetery!  After Mass, some of our guests left.  They only planned to stay one night which was a good thing because my other daughter and her family came down.  Yay!!!! My granddaughter came; she's going to be "one" in a few weeks.

    Sunday wasn't a sunny day so the beaches weren't crowded.  We went to Nobska Lighthouse beach.  We only stayed for awhile because without the sun, it was a little chilly.  This was little Lucy's first time in the ocean.  She loved it!  She didn't understand how come this water didn't taste like her water.  It was funny to see her expressions.  She'd stick her fingers in a wave and then suck on them and look puzzled.  She didn't know if this was yucky or not.  It looked like water.  It felt like water.  It kind of taste like water.  But....

    The next day we planned to take the boat to the island, but it wouldn't start.  Again!  Hubby was so angry he called the marina to trade it in.  So we went to the little association beach, a walk away.  Bayside Beach is perfect for toddlers like Lucy.  But you know, she was afraid of the water.  Yesterday, in the open ocean with waves, she loved it.  Today, no waves and she was afraid.  There were people and children everywhere and Lucy liked to just watch the other kids.  She was tired and fell asleep on a towel.

    My daughters' family went home that night, leaving hubby and me alone for a day.  We were glad because we had cleaning and straightening up to do.  We had run out of propane in the barbecue; it's a good thing we had a spare.  Since I had forgotten the suitcase with my work clothes and shirts, I had to do some laundry.  I wore my bathing suit all weekend--even to church.  Of course I put a skirt on, but the top was my bathing suit.

    And it was good to be alone.  Did I tell you that the Fourth of July is our wedding anniversary?  Yup.  What do you think the fireworks are for?

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Habemus Papem

    XXVI World Youth DayImage via Wikipedia
    I've written about Christian Manga and Jonathan Lin before.  His Manga, Habemus Papem is going to be given out at World Youth Day in Madrid, Aug. 16-21.

    It's a great way to grab the youth's attention.  Manga is a combo of comic book and instruction.  The kids love it.  Some of the stories are about Pope Benedict XVI, St. Paul, Judith from the Old Testament.
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