Thursday, May 18, 2006

Short-term memory loss...

"I don't remember that."

Driving to Kowalski's this afternoon I was thinking how I occasionally would run into a friend with his girlfriend there. The guy actually worked for me and I was startled to see him and somewhat taken aback that an employee was so close to my "private territory." (I try to keep work and my personal life separate.) Anyway - I suddenly realized that I never called his mother-in-law back. (Joe married the girl he was with.) I was supposed to help her with a gallery she is opening. I kept telling her that I'd call and come over, yet, as always, work got in the way. I got so wrapped up in work related projects that I honestly forgot her. I feel terrible - she asked for my help, I more or less assured her that I'd be there, and then I'm a no-show. She wanted me last month.

I've done this before. I'm from a rather dysfunctional family, (at least I can be pretty dysfunctional - why blame it on them) and I rarely see or talk to them. Anyway, one of my favorite nephews was getting married and I promised him I would be there at the wedding. However, I misplaced the invitation, still I thought I remembered the date and even would remember he was getting married. To make a long story short, I forgot the wedding. I simply forgot about it until I talked to my sister around Thanksgiving. Todd has finally started talking to me after several years. (He emails me that is.)

I've forgotten other invitations too. Although some friends are not so forgiving as my nephew.

Is it short term memory loss? I don't think so. I think I just get absorbed in my work and my projects. I have always worked full time, and I paint, I write, I pray. I know other people do this in addition to being married and raising a family, so I have no excuse I suppose. Although, maybe I just forget things I really don't want to do. That could be it and I just forget I decided to forget. No - that's not it either.

I'm sorry everybody!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Warrior Saint

St. Joan of Arc, Patroness of France...
and who?

Yes, it's poor St. Joan that lesbians refer to as their own. Why? Because she dresssed as a man and went into battle. And, in their mind, she defied the male hierarchy of the Church. Witches or adherents to wicca, the pagan religion, also claim her because she was tried and convicted of witchcraft by her enemies. All of these attributions are totally false. The process for her canonization straightened all of that out.

Joan was born in 1412, a daughter of peasant farmers. When she was seventeen, after a series of locutions, she persuaded the Dauphin, Charles VI of France to give her the command of the royal army and lead a campaign against the British invaders. Her military successes enabled Charles to be crowned King of France at Rheims shortly after Joan took command. This was Heaven's charge to the young Joan. Since her duties were over it seem Providence allowed for her capture in 1430. Handed over to the British, charges of heresy and witchcraft were lodged against her. She was condemned to death and burnt alive at Rouen, May 30, 1431. Her case was investigated and declared null and void in 1456 and Joan was exonnerated of all charges. She wasn't canonized however until 1920, and not as a martyr, as many believe, but as a holy virgin.

Where have these lesbians got it wrong? She was not a cross dresser; in her time there was no armor for maidens - women were not warriors in Europe, she had to wear male armor. Our Lord commanded her. She had a mission, she was never in defiance of ecclesiastical authorities, in fact she was very humble and obedient. God frequently chooses the weak, the lowly, and despised to confound the proud and powerful of the world. In this case he chose a peasant girl. And she was never a witch, though she was charged with this crime. As history demonstrates, she was later exonerated - Joan also died embracing the crucifix, dying as valiantly as a martyr in the odor of sanctity.

It is certainly true that the Bishop of Beauvais conspiried with the British to convict St. Joan falsely, however she never defied the Church authorites in the sufferings she had to undergo. In fact, as many saints before and up until now, she willingly suffered at the hands of those who ought to be her advocate and support for the sake of their own good and for the good of the Church.

I do believe however, St. Joan of Arc would be a good patron for those women struggling with gender identity and same sex attraction, but she was not a lesbian or a witch. St. Joan of Arc pray for us!

The myth of St. Sebastian.

Who was he anyway?
Is it true what some people say?

The dates of St. Sebastian's martyrdom are not known. In fact very little is actually known about him save that he was a Roman soldier martyed under Diocletian and he was buried on the Appian Way where his catacombs exist today. (St. Philip Neri used to pass his nights there in prayer.) Sebastian's feast day is January 20. St. Ambrose claims Sebastian was born in Milan, others claim Gaul as his birthplace.

The classic story is that St. Sebastian was an officer in the Roman army and arrested for being a Christian. He was sentenced to death to be shot with arrows. Bound to a column or a tree, the archers left him for dead. St. Irene, the widow of another martyr discovered he was still alive when she went to collect his body for burial. She nursed him back to health and it is said that Sebastian continued to witness and evangelize his fellow troops. (In the ancient hagiographies there is a lengthy exortation to martyrdom supposedly spoken by Sebastian. It's a beautiful treatise and may be found in an Orthodox book called, "The Arena" by Archbishop Brianchinov.) Eventually the Emperor learned of Sebastian's recovery and had him arrested once again and ordered him to be battered to death with cudgels, which finally killed him.

Sebastian has been venerated since the earliest ceturies but it was in the Renaissance that his cult became widespread in the West, due mainly to the many painters who chose to depict his dramatic martyrdom. He is most always depicted as a young, robust, athletic, and handsome man - nearly naked and bound to a tree, shot through with arrows. For centuries he has been the patron of athletes and soldiers and because of his faith and courage he became popular as a role model for boys and men.

I do not know how long ago homosexuals decided St. Sebastian was their special patron, but somewhere along the line they did. There is absolutely no historical foundation for this claim. Anyone may claim a saint to be their personal patron but it is not morally permissable to claim a saint as a patron for a sinful way of life. How did this distortion arise?

To be sure it is the celebration of the male physique when painters depicted him half naked. Homosexuality is much about physical attraction and narcissism, hence the attraction to a naked saint. His being tied to a tree may appeal to the more base behaviors some homosexuals engage in, known as bondage and discipline. I would wager the entire myth is based upon wishful (if not lustful) thinking. There exist fictional stories of his life that claim he was a homosexual officer attached to the Roman Imperial Court. The only tale that could possibly be tolerated is the one that says he was martyred because when he became a Christian he renounced and condemned homosexual activity and therefore was put to death. Naturally active homosexuals reject that story, nevertheless it too is fabricated.

Those who wish to promote the homosexual agenda will claim anybody and everybody as being gay, it's a gradiose lie. As a martyr however, Sebastian's intercession is powerful with God, and since he was a "whole" and uncorrupted man, he would indeed be a good patron for anyone struggling with same-sex attraction - especially men. (At another date I'll dispel the myth about the saint lesbians claim as their own.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

St. Agnes revisited.

Facade of St. Agnes Church, St. Paul, MN

I went to 8:30AM Mass again...can you just hear the lift in my voice like there is something negative to come? But it was very nice as usual. Monsignor has a cold and so came off even older than he did the last time I was there. He had a legion of altar servers again. Fr. Welzbacher had the homily.

As good as Fr. Altier is, Fr. Welzbacher is one I shall truly miss. His homilies and the Pastor's page in the bulletin are always wonderful. He is a very intelligent and knowledgeable man. I always say if one was not fortunate to take any of his classes, or able to be involved in a conversation with him, then his homilies and writings are the next best thing. I also think he is quite holy. His homily this morning was scriptural, and most spiritual of course, while impressing me as rather poignant.

He took from the Gospel of today the image of how the Father trims every fruit-bearing branch. He spoke of Paul being in "retreat" for three years at the begining of his conversion, and how painful it must have been for him to have been "shelved" as it were, for those three years. I wish I had the text of his homily, I can never do it justice with this attempt. However, I felt it was a beautiful homage to Fr. Altier and a lovely explanation of God's will for his life in the next few years. (In three years won't the Archbishop be retired? Now don't focus on the three year time line. Remember how Catholics focused on 1960 and the revelation of the third secret of Fatima? We were all disapointed. God's time, as are His plans, not as ours.) Welzbacher's homily was rather subdued yet illuminated with a certain hope. It helped that he explained how God's will, His "prunning" can be painful at times, things we've all thought about, I'm sure.

Fr. Altier came out for Communion, recollected with his hands in his sleeves as usual. Deacon Peterson was there to assist. I got the impression nothing much will change. The new pastor and his assistant are comfortable with St. Agnes. I doubt that there will be women lectors any time soon. I doubt that Mass will begin and end with a processional and recessional from the back of the Church. Sadly those thoughts rushed through my mind as I approached for Communion - I realized I had been distracted by the sight of Fr. Altier.

It is inevitable that things change - there has been too much controversy over the past few years. We have to re-focus upon the Lord - keep our "eyes fixed upon Jesus". I think everyone must realize by now that things got out of hand at the parish once too often. I don't blame Fr. Welzbacher for seeking the peace of a smaller parish; everyone must be a little battle-fatigued by now, don't you agree?

If I remember correctly the collect for the "old" Mass of St. Benedict Joseph Labre is from Hebrews. It says something like, "Jesus died outside the city walls. Let us go to him therefore, outside the camp, bearing the insult he bore. For here we have no lasting city - we are seeking one which is to come." So lets keep united in prayer and charity, with hope, all the while keeping our eyes "fixed upon Jesus" alone.