Saturday, October 21, 2006

Political divide...

Yesterday I ran into one of the managers carrying into the Store two huge yard signs for political candidates for Congress. Kennedy and Bachman. I asked him, "Where are those going?"

"They are for my yard, not the Store."

"Do you endorse these two then?" I asked.

"Of course, they are the only pro-life candidates running. As a Catholic, there is no one else to vote for." He couldn't tell if I was putting him on or what.

We just got in a book entitled, "Can A Catholic Be A Democrat?" No one has read it yet. It's a provocative title however.

Election time is always an interesting time where I work. You can be sure of who is committing a mortal sin if they say they are going to vote for the "wrong" candidate, or who is going to hell depending upon their politics. At least that is what comes out of some mouths if you're so foolish to discuss politics at work. I suppose a person can afford to be smug when they vote the 'correct' way.

Sometimes I think the doom and gloom theorists are correct about "The Chastisement". It seems to me that being coerced to vote for pro-life candidates only dooms us to the inequitable policies of the Government we have to live with. It's a chastisement in itself.

I can't think of a political candidate that I trust.

I wonder if a person is going to hell if they abstain from voting as a conscientious objector? I'll have to ask the theologians I work with.

Friday, October 20, 2006

To wear - or not to wear....

That is the question in this neo-Benedictine age.

"When in Rome..."

I'm not a priest so I don't know much about these things. I was a monk for awhile - and when we went into town we never wore the monastic habit. When we worked, we wore jeans and work-shirts. Several novices were taken with the habit, one liked to wear the hood up when he walked through the cloister - very "Nun's Story-ish". Another took his with him when he left monastic life - for Halloween? I never figured that one out.

All of our seminarians in this Archdiocese are required to have a cassock. I would say every priest I know has one for liturgical functions when they wear a surplice over it. (Albs and a stole are more the fashion since Vatican II.)

When I was little, the priest always wore one, even in the rectory - but never on the street. Supposedly the Council of Baltimore forbade that. The rule today is no longer in force - it maybe expired. Many good priests I know do not like the cassock, much less the biretta, and seem to be suspicious of those who have an affinity for wearing them. Although, many young seminarians embrace the custom heartily. Younger people and converts seem to love traditional clothing.

I was talking to two priest friends of mine one day when a young priest came in and was wearing a full length coat over his cassock. We asked where he got the coat and he said in Rome. It was like the Pope's white coat, only black. (It was a beautiful coat.)

One of the priests I had been speaking with called me a day later to ask about cassocks. I told him we sell many. We discussed them. Then he asked about the priest in the coat and also asked how many priests come into the Store wearing cassocks, which is not many. I realized the cassock is sort of a litmus test. Who wears one, the why and wherefores, etc. It was an interesting conversation. (My friend thought it pretentious, but I wonder if that has more to do with our age and training? Maybe, with the younger new priests, trained in a seminary where the cassock has been worn, may think otherwise.)

Although, when the seminarians started wearing cassocks, another well respected priest friend of mine, who had been rector at the seminary, thought it absurd and said he would never be caught dead in a cassock. While another dear priest friend, when he visited our Store at my invitation, spied a biretta, called me over and jokingly whispered, "It's a mortal sin to wear one of these!" He has never been back since.

I'm ambivalent about what a priest chooses to wear. If I were a priest, I would hate wearing any sort of clericals, and never would wear a cassock except for liturgical functions. But I'm not a priest. Because a priest may wear a cassock doesn't make him more of a priest in my eyes. If a priest is out of clericals, meaning the suit, I don't care about that either; although I've heard people say to priests, where I work that is, that they should be dressed in clericals. I don't agree - especially when it's their "day off" and they are running in to pick something up. Priests are people too.

That could be one reason why we don't get all the priests in our Archdiocese shopping at the company I work for. (Of course it could also be that they just don't want to get into the "mix".)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cashing in........

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

"The best things in life are free
But you can keep them for the birds and bees
Now give me money
That's what I want
That's what I want, yeah
That's what I want..." Beatles

My favorite version of that song was done by a new-wave/punk band - used on an ad with an Asian woman singing it - it inspired me and I wanted to do a new wave version of Connie Francis' "Lipstick On Your Collar" - why didn't I follow my muses? (That was mid to late '80's I think.)

Gerald, who has a respectable blog I check daily - except for the past day or two of my moratorium against blogs - is going commercial. In a way he always was. He has Amazon links and paypal buttons. "I just wanna get...I just wanna get...I just wanna get paid!" -A disco song.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The comments on Gerald's post, "I need help..." - the negative ones - are not surprising. As an artist, I know how nice it would be to earn your living from your art. I did well for a few years - well I got by. So I don't blame Gerald for trying - maybe it will work for him.

I just recently expressed my exasperation with blogging - especially the Catholic gossip online types. And my own. Why would anyone pay to read a blog? Especially when they become so redundant - and so many link to others with the same story? Reading the comments on Gerald's "appeal" (58 comments last time I checked.) demonstrates that I'm not alone in my thoughts. A few of them were rather "scolding" to say the least. While many of his fans are very supportive - they seem to like his kitty kat.

It's not a new phenomenon, I have known lots of religious people who want someone to pay their way through life. "Help us pay for our pilgrimage to Rome." "Help me pay off my school debt so I can enter the convent." "Help us pay our adoption costs - consider it a pro-life donation." "Help us pay our rent until my husband graduates college." "I bought a really expensive statue of the Blessed Virgin, would you help me pay off the credit card bill?" "Well, we are living in a Catholic shop front, offering counseling to homeless people, could you donate to our apostolate - it's hard to make ends meet." "I live in Rome and it's pretty expensive, anyone willing to donate something? I'll pray for you." (The "I'll pray for you." always seems to work.)

People have asked me for money for numerous "worthy causes" - and I give when there is a genuine need. But many younger people have to learn to pay their own way and not use religion (not that Gerald is doing that) to boost their income or enhance their lifestyle. (If they can grow something into a business, fine. But the "Donate" buttons - what is that? Donate to what?) There are many people who do things to support a hobby or avocation, or until they get discovered; like actors wait tables, students work their way through school, artists do a lot of jobs to support themselves and their art, like manage a shop. (No offense Gerald - you're young. If this thing works for you, more power to you.)

Maybe it's just me, but "pay me for blogging" - especially when eblogger is a free service - seems kind of...

I don't even want a counter on my blog to see how many hits I get, much less try to sell something. (Altho Subway should pay me something for all of my plugs...I'm so kidding!)

"Eat Fresh!"


The Gift Catalog has been printed - it should be out to customers soon. (If you read this blog when we were working on it, you would know that I was looking forward to this one as being a higher quality than what we've been doing. I was excited with the proofs - the final print copy misses however. Color variations, overcrowded pages, too much copy, etc. - I'm disappointed. The cover is kind of "Lillian Vernon" or "Fingerhut". I have to get used to it, we'll never be the Met.)

One thing is certain however - EVERYONE worked really hard on it! And accomplished it in an insanely short time - without our beloved photographer - who moved west!

Watch out Dorothy Hale, here I come! :)

Monday, October 16, 2006


"The Suicide of Dorothy Hale" Frida Kahlo

I think my medium is painting. I honestly never heard or viewed Kahlo's work until my gallery owner told me my things reminded him of her. I then proceeded to read about her and appreciated her art, although I found it rather narcissistic and self-pitying - despite the fact her admirers insist otherwise. In my opinion they are wrong.

Yet her somber message is something I also try to convey in my art, using as she did, the archetype of Spanish colonial retablo and ex-votos. (We are both derivative in that respect.) I just cannot convey in writing what I can in painting. For me, painting documents life much more satisfactorily; that is why I use art in my posts - and that is because I'm not a very talented writer.

I'm rapidly losing interest in the blog. I am so bored with Catholic blogs and the controversies, with the gossip and sarcasm. A lot of hot air. My post, "The Waiting Room" - written while I was at the auto dealership was meant to express that. Jabber, jabber, jabber - about nothing.

Who cares? I don't care if the priests of NYC are trying to get rid of Egan. I don't care if the SSPX gets reunited with Rome. I don't really care if Flynn gets replaced in MPLS/STPAUL. I honestly don't care that Fr. Altier was transferred from St. Agnes. In fact, I don't care about a lot of things. I think it's the political climate with the elections coming up that I feel this way - that it's all such bull-shit. "Hot air!" as Fr. Eckert would say. Is blogging really contributing to anything meaningful in life? (My blog that is - although I'm pretty bored with the ones I visit as well.)

Maybe I need a break. I know I have to start painting.

The waiting room...

After being sick for several days - the Dr. said today it is bronchitis - he always knows without my saying anything that I still smoke. It seems I got a bad cold with a sinus infection that turned into bronchitis - I'm spared a recurrence of pneumonia however with an antibiotic. Hold the lectures and scolding please - I'm depressed enough.

So where am I now? I had some engine problems and I'm in the Honda dealership waiting room, it is supposed to take two hours. Providential huh? Thankfully they have internet access.

The television is on and the waiting room is full of people. There is a Muslim woman speaking loudly on her cell phone and people are complaining that they cannot hear the TV because of it. One of the computers is not working so there is a Muslim man (the woman's husband) next to me talking to it. What if he were to get online and plan a terrorist attack on the Foshay tower? Oh! He finally got on! I looked around to see if he got on, just to keep an eye on what site he went to...He googled suitcase nuclear weapons...Just kidding.

His wife is still on the phone and says an occasional word to him and he barely responds. How does he put up with the constant talking? She has to wear a veil and cover everything up, but she can shoot her mouth off all she wants in public. I should have brought alcohol with me and she maybe would leave, like the Islamic cab drivers who will not carry fares who have alcohol.

(I'm just documenting my experience here, so don't be offended.)

Now my 'specialist' comes in and tells me that I need a new tire because I have a nail in one, they have a special and can replace all of them, so I said yes. This will take my bill over $500 today. Isn't that something though! She brought me a complimentary bottle of water.

Oh! The Muslims left. But now a deaf person came in and turned the TV up again.

The Muslim guy is back now! He asked if I'd mind if he used the phone on the wall right behind me. He can see what I'm writing. I have to save to draft and I'll go to my other blog - oh! You didn't know I had one? Yeah that's right, it's Rome-ing Catholics...

What if he had a simitar? He's behind me and people get beheaded from behind - their throats slit and sawed through...

On the news they are discussing another terrorist attack - anthrax - anonymous envelopes from corner mailboxes. I think there are better ways. They are now saying some large scale event is due to happen before the end of the month of Ramadan - even claiming al-Quieda says Muslims in the U.S. should leave the country. (I think it's CNN, are they just filling time?) Anyway, the Muslims are still here - I think they are Somalis.

I don't really think that all Muslims are terrorists, but I think many people wonder about these things every time they look at white-Anglo-Saxon-protestants in burkas. (I don't want to sound racist.) Now the Muslims left. Whew!

I just heard North Korea's test really was nuclear. Well that settles that. Ms. Rice is now on talking about Iran's programs of do's and don'ts, now N. Korea. Well the U.S. is telling them! People just can't have access to nuclear power and stuff. We rule!

I wonder why they don't turn on Oprah? Better yet, Judge Judy. CNN just repeats the news over and over. Oh! Stocks closed at the 7th record high in 10 days! Like there isn't going to be a big crash soon. Gosh! Greed clouds judgment, huh? A correction is coming.

So what else should I write about? What a racket the auto industry is? How I just got taken today? How much I'd like to go out and have a cigarette right now?

I turned around and this white lady is starring at me as I write. Do you stare at people when you're waiting someplace? I do, although I try to do so without being noticed. I sit and try to figure out their story, their age, occupation. I can always spot single women. With one glance I could tell you some things about this woman. She's divorced and single, has a good job. Gets her hair done - hi-lighted of course. She's very trim so she goes to the gym more than once a week, likes to shop because she has nice clothes. Very much in control of her life. probably a teenaged daughter or niece, because she's kind of trendy. Skinny is a dead give away for some single women - but not always - there are other markers.

Oh my gosh! - Kathy - whatever her name is - is here now! She's the comedian that was on Seinfeld - oh! What is her name? She was on the episode where she was doing her stand-up routine about Jerry being the devil...she is so her voice double. I can't believe it. I looked - it's not her, but she could be her voice double for sure. Kathy Griffin! That's her name!

Looked over my shoulder and skinny divorced lady is still watching me - she has an annoyed look on her face - another sign of being single.

This is a documentary, isn't it? Too bad I don't have a camera. What if I changed careers and took people's cars to the service center for them and just blogged, blogged, blogged, while I waited - I could get a web-cam.

It's like the casino here, they just came around with water and asked me how I was doing. (I've only been to the Casino once.)

Did I ever tell you about my friend Joe? He got married just over a year ago. I email him things like this at times - just insane ramblings. He threatens me with restraining orders - just to be funny. He wishes I was his Dad.

Oh - repeat news on N. Korea - or should we now call them, Nuke Korea. I guess the device was small. I wonder if it would be small enough for a suitcase. I doubt it, if it's still too big for one of their missiles.

I'm bored with this now.

St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the feast of St Margaret Mary Alacoque, to whom Our Lord revealed the modern devotion to His Sacred Heart.

It is the refuge of sinners.

I stole this picture from Don Marco's blog because I like it so very much.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in you.

Don Marco has a beautiful Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart on Vultus Christi. While the Penitent Blogger has some of St. Margaret Mary's words on the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A question about the tilma of Guadalupe.

From Ray: I've been waiting for you to set up this Q&A program because I have asked this question several times of others on the Internet and have not yet got a definitive satisfactory answer. And I'm not that fussy.

The question is about the Tilma of St Juan Diego with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on it. If you look at images of the one in the Shrine in Mexico City and most copies, you will note that the "halo" around the image of Our Lady appears to be cut off at the top.

Was the Tilma desecrated at some time in the past? My most recent answer said that Tilma was folded over because the frame wasn't big enough for it. I find that very hard to believe. If you are building a basilica that will hold 30,000 people (or whatever), I suspect the cost of a larger frame for the Tilma would have fit into the budget.

Second of all, now that I am thinking about it is, "how tall is the Tilma?" I doubt that St Juan Diego could have been taller than 5' 5". If he wore the Tilma with the "tall" side being up, the Bishop might not even have recognized that there was an image on the Tilma. Did he wear it "horizontally", wrapped around him? Like a cope? That makes more sense, I guess.

Dear Ray: You have not been waiting for me to do this!

But here is my best shot: The tilma is about 4'.6" tall or 1.43 meters. It would not have been trimmed to fit a frame or any other reason. I believe the aurora, sun, glory, what have you, surrounding the Virgin ends abruptly with the cloth. In reproductions it is interpreted as light coming from heaven, so this also may be an explanation, although I'm sure it ends abruptly as it is shown, probably due to how it was held by Juan Diego - meaning - it's the top of the cloth.

The image on the tilma appeared as the roses fell out onto the floor - it was itself an 'apparition' before the Bishop's eyes and it was miraculously documented upon the tilma as a photograph would be imprinted upon paper. The fact that the image was 'live' is documented in magnified studies of the eyes that reflect the people in the room at the time. (For Juan Diego, the castilian roses in December is what he thought would be the miraculous sign the Bishop requested.)

The tilma was the target of a bomb once, while everything else was damaged, the image remained unharmed. Once in cleaning the frame, nitric acid seeped under the glass onto the tilma, which should have burnt it. Only a yellow stain remained that has since vanished. The preservation of the tilma itself is considered a miracle, since the agave fibers should have long ago disintegrated.

(Did you know "Wishbone" played the part of Juan Diego in an episode of his series on PBS?)

Is the fire of purgatory real?

Just Me asks: The question for the "Ask Terry" column: "Is the fire of Purgatory real or is it just an allegory to describe the intense longing of the soul to reach Heaven?"

Terry says: As Jean-Paul Sartre demonstrated in his play, "No Exit" 'hell is other people' - just so purgatory must be, since it exists in the same precincts. NOT! No one really knows for certain, do they? Another John Paul referred to it as a 'state' of being as opposed to a place.

The mystics speak about God's purifying fire inflaming the soul in love in the stages of prayer and mystical graces. St. Paul speaks of God as a "Consuming fire" while Elizabeth of the Trinity discusses that aspect in terms of contemplative prayer, as does John of the Cross in the "Living Flame of Love". In the image of the burning bush seen by Moses, it was aflame yet not consumed. Is the fire physical? Our bodies are not in purgatory, so it must be a spiritual fire - not allegorical - nevertheless, a spiritual reality.

The pain and suffering is intense and unimaginable for us who live in the physical world. Teresa of Avila writes that spiritual sufferings of the souls in hell, as well as those in purgatory, are much greater than the physical pains one can endure upon earth, of which burning alive would seem to be the worst. Because of her experience of the excruciating pain, albeit delightful, endured in the various stages of prayer and the union of the soul with God, she deduces the suffering of the soul in purgatory is beyond our comprehension. I recommend a serious reading of the writings of John of the Cross and Teresa of Jesus on the purifications and the Divine touches of God in prayer that may help one to understand the nature of the purgatorial fire somewhat better.

Catherine of Genoa is another saint whose treatise on purgatory is very revealing. Just as the soul upon the way of perfection, suffers at the thought of one's sins with the weight of worldly attachments, thus causing the resultant distance from God - although consoled in the knowledge one's sins are forgiven - just so the soul in purgatory. Except the soul in purgatory, I would think would know even more clearly the reason it suffers, emerging from the darkness of earthly life into the knowledge and love of God - albeit obscure, while it's suffering with longing for the Beatific vision may be said to increase as the soul is purified. Whatever the case, the soul would seem to be obliged to accept with peace, that God's mercy and justice have intersected within the soul. Just so, I think the soul understands that it's sufferings are deserved because of it's sins and impurity, while, it seems to me, increasing with longing to see God, remaining steadfast in charity throughout it's ordeal.

It can be consoling to think the fire of purgatory is simply an allegory for the longing of the soul for God - It somehow makes it seem palatable for our nature. Nevertheless, the knowledge of one's sins and attachments, their nature and the offense caused to the Divine Majesty, as well as the natural order, is an immense suffering for the soul, which would cause it to desire to die again, if that were possible, in the most complete, all-consuming holocaust. Again, in purgatory, the fire of Divine Love at the same time must encompass the soul and in in a sense "consoles" it (or better put, "sustains" it) within that unimaginable pain, by having granted it the knowledge that he can no longer sin and therefore the conviction of it's salvation.

Whatever the case may be, it is so important to pray for the souls in purgatory since they can no longer merit nor help themselves, as the Church teaches.

Anyway - that's my thought on it - read your catechism - I'm so not a theologian or a mystic - so I don't want to be brought before the Inquisition - except to be corrected if my thoughts do not accord with Church teaching. We'll know the true nature of purgatory when we get there however. (Someone once said the demons can torment you there as well...)

St. Teresa had a sense of humor.

Pictured, Bea Arthur in the role of Teresa of Avila.

Mystical Doctor of the Church that she is, she had a very homely manner of writing, a wit that shows through even in her loftiest works. The digressions she indulges in as she wrote her autobiography dramatize her personal style while lending us ever new and revealing insight into her personality, that some have described as vivacious. Curious term for a contemplative nun.

Recently there has been discussion concerning a new movie in the works exploring her sexuality, which I find disturbing. Not knowing much about it, there is little I can say about it, except - NOT!

Nevertheless it got my creative juices flowing and I came up with an idea of a sit-com based upon her life. I immediately thought of Bea Arthur ("Maud", "Golden Girls") in the role of Teresa, with Christine Baranski ("Cybil Shepard Show", "The Birdcage") as the Princess of Eboli. They could spar over her writings as they did in real life - only make it funnier - wasn't it the Princess who had an eye-patch - or am I getting my nobility mixed up? Actually, the sit-com could focus on the Princess, after the death of her husband, when she entered the monastery of Pastrana, and became the source of so much grief - now that's a show.)

In one scene, Teresa could be traveling to make another foundation, the coach falling in the river, Bea Arthur, with her dead pan humor, looking up to heaven, as in the photo here, saying, "No wonder you have so few friends when you treat them like this." Then guffaws of canned laughter. The entire production could be done similarly to the British sit-com, "Absolutely Fabulous!"

I think it could work. Maybe I should contact "Act One" in Hollywood to see if they'd be interested. I better write a script first.

What did Lovitz have to say when I pitched the idea to him?
"Oooooo! EDGY!"

:) :) :)