Friday, November 10, 2006

St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, MA

It must be Liturgical Fashion Week at Abbey-Roads:

The Holy Rood Guild.
The good, the bad, the ugly - mostly just bad.

So I said the Holy Father's vestments were as bad as this stuff. How protestant does this crap look? It is all de rigeur for American clergy. I'll bet the designer at Spencer liked Benedict's ensemble - or maybe not - they can be pretty elitist at St. Joseph's.

I was a novice at New Melleray - both abbeys are Trappist/Cistercians of the Strict Observance. Spencer was considered the more artistic, intellectual of the abbeys - when I resided at New Melleray that is.

Spencer produced the venerable Basil Pennington (now deceased) with the abbot, whose name I cannot recall, who invented "centering prayer" - a form of prayer that is pretty much associated with "quietism".


Spencer also gained notice through a network or PBS special on monastic life a decade or so ago. At the time, the monks intervewed reminded me of a couple of St. Paul Seminaries rectors and spiritual directors we had in the last few decades - before the 'reform of the reform'...not impressed.

Some secular priests have this idea that vestments and liturgy from all contemplative monasteries is the epitome of liturgical correctness. (They obviously have had good retreat experiences. I still maintain many liturgical abuses found their nascence in certain monastic communities - standing around the altar for Mass, being one of them.) Granted, Spencer was a tad more culturally elevated than New Melleray, yet I wasn't impressed on my many visits there. The Trappist ideal is pretty much dead, as far as the lay-person's perception of the vocation goes - the original Cistercians seem to be more reformed, that is traditional, than the Trappists - or rather - the Cistercians never deformed as the Trappists. The 'Merton' celebrity, as well as his 'monastic experiment' pretty much contributed to this phenomenon - along with Vatican II of course.

Anyway - presented here is some of the schmaltz they design as liturgical vestments.

You have all seen this type of vestment.

What's with the 'yoke' of 'faux embroiderie'? I hate that.

No, it's not Polish.

Irish? Maybe.

Tacky? Rather.

Feminine? Decidedly.

What is so wrong with Roman vestments?

Why all the novelty and innovation after centuries of good design? I think the model in the last design is asking, "So, like I should wear dis schmata? Oy!"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What not to wear with what...

That was the title of a segment the old "Glamour" magazine used to publish...



Does the Holy Father have to wear what the sacristan lays out?

Maybe there is some excuse...maybe people from Bavaria have no taste. I don't know, but whoever the Vatican designer is should certainly be fired.

It's the most hideous vestment and mitre ensemble I have ever seen - it's worse than what the Holy Rood Guild at Spencer Abbey creates.



John Paul II wore some pretty creepy designs as well - like the 'invisibility cloak' cope he wore to open the Holy Year of 2000. Very theatrical - sorry the photo is so pix-elated - it wouldn't look any better in a perfect photo. The cope 'shimmered'. (I overlooked the ugly vestments as I thought it was because John Paul II was Polish, and that was his taste.)


Either "Ugly Betty" is picking out the designs for the Holy Father, or there is a gay costume designer in the Vatican. The guy better go back to work at La Scala.

Many Novus Ordo vestments are rather awful - that's all I can say. I'm embarrassed for the Pope. Don't wear that stuff!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Brave New World



My thoughts on the aftermath of the mid-term elections...

When's the last time you read Huxley?

I am personally pleased Tim Pawlenty was re-elected as our State's Governor. Is he mediocre? Weak? I think that is the state of post modern man.

The loss in Missouri for a ban against stem cell research, the loss in South Dakota for a complete ban on abortion...it doesn't bode well. Nancy Pelosi - Italian or not - leading the House? It doesn't bode well. Bush finally dumping Rumsfeld? Well you know...

A merger is occurring in our midst. Huxley's book seems rather prophetic today. Prozac nation and all. Here are some thoughts from Wikiquote - Sorry, I'm politick-ed off - I didn't want to take the time to page through my copy of the novel for relevant quotes...


"Bokanovsky's process is one of the major instruments of social stability!" A reference to the importance that the World State attaches to human cloning. Or stem-cell research.

"Every one belongs to every one else." A government slogan encouraging sociability and sexual promiscuity. As well as acceptance of homosexual marriage and selective family planning.

"Community, Identity, Stability." The motto of the World State. It takes a village.

"No social stability without individual stability." Refers to mass use of soma to create "stable" citizens who conform to societal norms. The current wide usage of Zoloft, Prozac and other anti-depressants.

"Christianity without tears — that’s what soma is." Mustapha Mond's summarization of the hypnotic, revered drug soma. Effective implementation of separation of Church and State.

"But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin." John's interpretation of social norms being restrictive, denying him the opportunity to experience the human condition. Legislation against hate crimes, as well as restrictions on religious liberty.

"In fact, you are claiming the right to be unhappy." Is Mustapha Mond's response to the previous quote. The United States will always uphold the Constitutional right to "the pursuit of happiness."

We are living the future.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Guy - Governor Tim Pawlenty!


Timmy!

So I voted today. I love telling everyone I voted for all the pro-choice candidates - it's wasted on everyone however - they are on to me - they know I'm just a 'heat merchant'.

I did indeed vote today. I love voting. I hate politics. AND I am so glad the awful, negative political ads are off the air - finally. Timmy wasn't negative in his campaign ads. Hatch is negative.

I will not tell anyone who I voted for, but I have a lovely anecdote about Governor Pawlenty from a very reliable source. A priest.

It happened at the little Roman Catholic Church in South St. Paul, Holy Trinity.

A limo pulled up, and an attractive, well dressed woman stepped out and approached the maintenance man who happened to be outside. She asked if he would let them into the Church to pray. He agreed. She returned to the car to tell the occupant, and he stepped out. It was Governor Tim Pawlenty, the woman turned out to be his wife. They entered the Church to pray, remaining there for some time, all alone. No photo op, no entourage. They left as discreetly as they arrived.

How cool is that!

Governor Pawlenty was raised Catholic but is an Evangelical at present...he'll be back.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The terminally employed...


Tom Smykowski - "Office Space"

Tom was let go from Initech but hit the jackpot after receiving a huge settlement following an auto accident. (Although, I'm pretty certain he could have gone with an age discrimination lawsuit.)

I was answering some email today and followed a link to a website that had grown out of a blog. The woman had been a web designer and was fired from her company for blogging about people she worked with. (It must have been unflattering.)

It reminded me of another woman a few months back who won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against another woman who blogged unfavorably about the litigant.

Of course, everyone has heard about people losing their jobs just for blogging at work - or wasting time on the internet. (Exceptions would include blogging for the company or with your manager's permission.) Nevertheless, it can and does happen to people who blog on their own time yet write negatively about co-workers or the company. Bloggers beware.

Unless you want to be fired, but getting fired is so much about allowing other people to make decisions about your life.

Signs to watch out for if you suspect your job may be terminal:

1) Excommunication. This may begin with the employee's excommunication of self.
- Dis-interest in one's job, or company policy. (Psychological Equivalent* = Dissociative disorder.)
- Wasting time - on personal, non-work related projects. (PE = Obsessive compulsive disorder.)
- Playing at work, visiting and gossiping with other co-workers. Personal phone calls. (PE = ADD -attention deficit disorder.)
- Negative or combative behavior - it's all about attitude. (PE = Clinical depression.)
- Complaining, complaining, complaining. (PE = Bitch)
- Coming in late, leaving early, absenteeism, taking long breaks. (PE = You don't care.)

*Denotes possible disability claims if you are terminated.

When excommunication begins with management.
- No one talks to you.
- They talk about you.
- When they do speak, it is curt and business-like, with no interest in you personally.
- Your responsibilities are lessened or taken away.
- Your internet access is blocked.
- They take your stapler away.
- You are not included in meetings.
- If you are lucky, you get warning notices - that means you are not completely excommunicated and there is a chance to save your job.
- When you are repeatedly asked why you didn't hand in your TPS report or accomplish other assignments.
- Finally, when you are asked, "What is it you actually do here?"
- Or, your office is moved to the boiler room.

How to know when excommunication is final.
- You are actually terminated.

Then maybe hope for a car accident to happen. Or maybe you can find a better job.

Pastor Haggard


Media Fool.

Ted Haggard finally confessed that the allegations were true. It seems he has carried on a life long struggle with homosexual tendencies. Radio and TV comedians are mocking him because of his stand against same sex marriage. Many seem to be happy about his fall from grace.

I have tremendous respect for his coming to grips with this problem. He more or less thanked his accuser for exposing him as a liar and deceiver. This is a time of great grace for this man. I admire his public confession, devoid of theatrics, as well as his Church's immediate acknowledgement and public statements regarding this man's unfortunate circumstances.

As a religious man, he obviously struggled with the temptations of homosexuality, and failed at times. I do not think he is a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who lives a double life, willingly, with the intention to deceive. I believe Haggard struggled with sin, falling and rising, with sincere efforts to sin no more. What makes me think that? Because he so honestly confessed his guilt, albeit after a couple of days. The hypocrite would continue to lie and cover up the truth. He obviously loves his wife and family and was intent upon living a well ordered life. Again, his stand against same-sex marriage is not invalidated by his sins. He has proven his belief by trying to live his vocation as a husband and father. His efforts are the makings of heroic virtue.

The man sinned. God in His mercy has allowed this to be brought out into the public arena, I'm convinced good will come from it. Remember how St. John of the Cross warned against esteeming any man for his piety, "For the Devil will show you his faults." Pastor Haggard has humbly bowed down under God's mighty hand, he needs our prayers.

I question if perhaps his homosexuality may be considered purely episodic, which seems likely since his basic orientation is heterosexual. However, there also seems to be evidence it is compulsive and symptomatic, perhaps a means to sexually resolve conflict in his life. It may have it's basis in some form of abuse or degradation in his youth, or something else that affected his sexual maturity. Being good looking never helps, as an element of narcissism often enters in. In my opinion, I suspect his condition is probably a combination of both criteria, episodic homosexuality complicated by compulsive and symptomatic homosexuality. I hope he deals with these questions and presents himself later to help other persons suffering from same-sex attraction.

Perhaps, like St. Peter, once he has recovered, he may help his brothers more powerfully than before. Ted Haggard is not the only married man who struggles with these temptations - the gay community would have men like Haggard leave their wives and embrace the gay lifestyle - that would be seriously wrong.

Ted Haggard and his family need our prayers.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Long Time Companions


The 'new' gay icon, "David and Jonathan".

These two Biblical figures represent the defence of the same-sex marriage effort lobbied by members of the Gay Agenda. It's a distortion of course, an example of the modern misinterpretation of Scripture.

In truth, David and Jonathan had a very deep friendship and covenant relationship. It is recorded they kissed. Jonathan said he loved David as his own soul. David, in his lament over Jonathan's death proclaimed, "Your love for me was more wonderful than women's love." (2 Sam. 1:26) Sounds gay to modern Western minds, yet we fail to understand the Oriental mind, perhaps evidenced by the war we are in today.

Middle Eastern men do kiss, they do prefer the company of men, it's a cultural thing, especially in ancient times. It was not homosexual, nor was it romantic love these two men were expressing. In Biblical times, sodomy was clearly condemned. In fact it was a hostile and degrading act in most cases.

It's important for us to understand this question of same-sex marriage or unions, which threatens the foundation of our civilization. We need to understand the passions and emotions of those who would subvert the truth of Scripture to coincide with their beliefs, no matter how contrary to natural law. A quote from Chesterton may help us understand the importance of returning to a dispassionate understanding of what marriage consists.

"We shall never return to social sanity until we begin at the beginning. We must start where all history starts, with a man and a woman, and a child, and with the province of liberty and property which these need for their full humanity. As it is (now) we begin where history ends. We judge everything by the particular muddle of the moment." -GKC

A man commented on yesterday's post about same-sex relationships, and I assume he was referring to same-sex marriage in citing examples of gay couples living in an enduring committed relationship. His comments were, I expect, a rebuttal of my using the image of a vampire as a metaphor for promiscuous homosexuality, suggesting that there are homosexuals who live in committed, monogamous unions.

First of all, I need to clarify that not all homosexuals are necessarily predatory or promiscuous, I was referring to an element within that sub-culture. Some men may have a 'homosexual orientation' while not acting upon it. Others who do act upon it and are in relationships may well be naturally disposed to living a monogamous lifestyle. Then there are those who, having begun as homosexual lovers, experience a conversion, reconcile their lives and behavior with the Church, and live as brothers, their friendship remaining chaste and pure, sanctified by prayer and good works. (In his comments on my post, Don Marco cites such cases he has encountered in his pastoral ministry.) Some of these men even find a reversal of homosexual tendencies and no longer identify themselves as homosexual, while never denying their involvement in the past.

As for others, who insist they are gay and in a same-sex union, even those that have endured the test of time, I'm often dubious about their claims. The couples I have known over the years, having normally rejected the teachings of the Church concerning homosexuality, appear to have little or no moral compass. Frequently pornography is an essential element in their 'love making' and one of them often 'sneaks out' for casual sex. Sometimes both engage in "threesomes" to alleviate the tedium of non-productive, mutually exploiting, self-gratifying sex. I have also noted an element of co-dependant behavior is such relationships.

Another blogger commented on yesterday's post saying the Church does not have to explain Herself regarding it's teachings against same-sex unions. That is incorrect. The Church must teach the truth and present the reason behind it. And the Church has indeed done so. There is a compassionate and loving response to the complexity of homosexual orientations - I use orientations in the plural since it impossible to generalize about the motivations and degrees of involvement and practice in the lives of men and women who experience these tendencies. The tendencies remain more or less morally neutral, unless consented to and acted upon - it is like any other temptation proffered by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Anyone involved in the homosexual lifestyle, or those with friends or family members involved in the life - or who may simply work within a field heavily comprised of gay men or women, would do well to read some of these authors who have written well on the subject.

John F. Harvey, O.S.F.S. - "The Truth About Homosexuality, The Cry of the Faithful."
As well as his, "The Homosexual Person, New Thinking in Pastoral Care." Both published by Ignatius Press.

Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. - "The Courage To Be Chaste."

And an invaluable resource for better understanding homosexuality, Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg, PH.D. - "The Battle For Normality, A Guide For Self-Therapy For Homosexuality."

None of these books are just for homosexuals struggling with same-sex issues, especially in our day when the subject is so politicized and divisive. In order to have a correct understanding of homosexuality, as well as a compassionate acceptance of these persons, it is essential to educate oneself on the subject. It is a huge issue.