See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Billy Joel - Just The Way You Are (1977)

When I lived in Boston, a priest hearing my confession once suggested this song for me to meditate upon as my penance. I've always liked Billy Joel.

My blogroll



I'm updating it - still. So, if you are not on it, and you would like to be, let me know. If you are on it and you would like to be removed, let me know that too. You will hurt my feelings if you do, but that is okay - I'll get over it... I wonder if you will. (Evil laughter builds into a crazed crescendo, and suddenly! Oh no! Oh the Humanity! The screen of my computer explodes and hundreds of aliens rush out... It is the 1990 prophecy come to life!)

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Wow! - that was weird.
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Photo: Cathy and Ray at the fish fry last night, they love fish.

Ex-voto

Public thanks.
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There used to be a custom, and it may still exist, where persons who received favors from saints published their thanks in the newspaper. This practice is another form of ex-voto, or thanksgiving expressed through small paintings illustrating the favor, along with the use of milagros - stamped metal effigies depicting hearts or legs or arms, and so on - posted at shrines. This tradition extends back to ancient pagan times, in fact, I own a small terra-cotta Etruscan ex-voto; it happens to be the head of a female deity, from pre-Roman times. (Shown above, mounted upon a wood base. Yes it is authentic.) Anyway, Cathy of Alexandria posted an ex-voto to St. Jude on her blog the other day, and her post impressed me deeply.
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I have never cultivated a devotion to St. Jude, but I decided to make a novena anyway, simply on the testimony/witness of Cathy's post - which in effect, is an ex-voto - a published thanksgiving for favors received. Voila! I immediately understood the the good effects of a person publishing an account of graces received through prayer. It inspires devotion and prayer, and instills confidence in God's goodness and mercy.
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Likewise, I gained new appreciation for those bloggers who give an account of their conversion or style of prayer or good works, even what they do for Lent. Souls need genuine hope and encouragement, as well as witness to the truths of the faith; and most of all, people need to know we actually live in relationship with Jesus Christ, his mother and the angels and the saints - as well as one another. Anyway - this is my ex-voto - Thank you St. Jude for favors received - and thank you Cathy for publishing your account.

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Devotion



The Divine Mercy
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So many devotions - someone had a blog by that name. Catholics have a million of them, some approved, some inspired by one's private devotion, many recommended by the Church. There are racks of assorted chaplets in Catholic religious stores, all brightly colored, many stemming from private revelations and the writings of holy people.
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In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there was only one chaplet recommended above all, by none other than Our Lady and the popes: The holy Rosary. A devotion so important, Our Lady told us it would bring peace to the world as well as the conversion of sinners. The devotion so important to John Paul II, he enriched it with 5 more mysteries.
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After this, there is one more, very prominent and crucial chaplet - given to the world by Christ himself, through the instrumentality of St. Faustina Kowalska: The chaplet of Divine Mercy, through which our Lord promised unimaginable graces to those who recite it on ordinary rosary beads. See how the Lord esteems His Mother's rosary? This devotion was established and promulgated by the Pope himself, establishing the Solemnity of the Divine Mercy on the Second Sunday of Easter.
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The chaplet is far above any private devotion chaplet invented by human piety. The chaplet was dictated and arranged by our Lord for our times. The Creed and the Pater and Ave which precede the litany, happen to coincide with the prayers required for a plenary indulgence.
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The prayer, "Eternal Father, I offer you the body, blood, soul, and divinity of your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world" is a prayer which immediately unites us to the holy sacrifice of the Mass and the silent loving action of Jesus in the Eucharist - in other words, the chaplet is very much a spiritual communion with the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.
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The invocation is followed by the litany, "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole World." This repetition unites us to the prayer of the Church, interceding for the entire world.
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The concluding doxology, repeated three times, "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world" is our acceptable adoration of the Holy Trinity in spirit and truth.
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The chaplet is so powerful, our Lord is unable to resist even the most hardened sinner, even if he recites it only once - he stressed that to Faustina.
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John Paul II never endorsed any 20th century apparition outside of Fatima. The Pope never recommended the revelations of any 20th century mystic other than those of St. Faustina and the Devotion to Divine Mercy which became her mission to spread throughout the world.
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"I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in my mercy. Through this chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with my will." - Words of our Lord to St. Faustina: Diary: 687, 1731

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Go here for more information on the Divine Mercy Devotion

Friday, March 06, 2009

As Good as it Gets - You're a wonderful man!!

"Sell crazy some place else, we're all stocked up here." LOL! I love this.

My reputation.

I know I have one.
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My writing, my art, my remarks, my taste in music and film and comedy apparently is enough for some readers to imagine they know me. To some extent that may be true, but I have to tell you, I don't know who I am, and I have been working on this self knowledge thing for many years. I also do not know if it very prudent to reveal oneself publicly, as so many people do now days - albeit their revelations are usually self-edited with a bit of literary cosmetology: "I was a sinner, now I m a saint!" Or, "I was a disc-jockey with mental problems and now I'm a priest with mental problems."
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In the "About me" section of another fellow's blog, I read "I despise disingenuous writing, speaking and argumentation. I don't trust priests, brothers or sisters, but do trust the priesthood and the ideal of religious life." That statement pretty much sums me up too.
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When I make a mistake - I'm the first one to admit it. Even when I'm right. Readers need to get this straight however. I do get angry, but I usually repent as soon as I express it - which explains why some of my posts are taken down in an instant. (I wish I could be more like Clint Eastwood.) I despise my own disingenuous-ness, as well as the same hypocrisy and inconsistency I see in others, be they religious or laity. I make fun of myself and write off the wall stuff because I believe laughter is more therapeutic than tears or angry attacks or endless complaining. And I find myself insufferable when I become too high minded or take myself too seriously.
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Advice and consent.
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I was stunned by an email I received the other day. A lovely woman sent me an encouraging note. In it she wrote:
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"I am recalling that I sent at least one young person to you who was inquiring about the monastic life. I know you said you didn't think you were the right person, but given your experiences (which you have never explicitly said, only implied) I think you ARE the right person to advise a young person these days. I don't want a young innocent man to be thrown to the wolves, so to speak, which I hate to think about most of the monasteries these days, but does in fact seem to be the case. I also thought you might know of one or two orders which has managed to remain free of being infiltrated by rampant homosexuality and liberal brainwashing, etc, etc, ad nauseum."
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Despite her kind words, I still do not believe I'm the right person to advise anyone. Although in some of my more frank discussions concerning issues of sexuality and vocation, my real intention was to write what I know and hopefully to help anyone struggling with issues of continence to have greater hope and persevere, trusting in the mercy of God. (My fatherly instinct longs to save people from anguish and discouragement, false teaching, and so on.) Yet I have made my greatest mistakes as I naively assumed every one's struggle is basically the same and the grace I received in my personal life was typical of other men's experiences. One may not generalize. This accounts for why I refrain from writing anything very spiritual now days, or anything critical of the gay lifestyle, my impatience with the acceptance of certain false teachings, has been interpreted as hate speech. It is not. But I do not want to alienate or ostracize people of good will who disagree with me either. We never know the state of one's soul, nor the stage one is at in the spiritual life.
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"Love is a teacher, but we must know how to acquire it, for it is hard to acquire... it is dearly bought... it is won slowly by long labor. For we must love, not occasionally, or for a moment, but forever. " - Dostoevsky: Fr. Zosima
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Vocation and community.
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Nevertheless, after this very long foreword, I will respond to the above section of my friend's email. My short experience in an enclosed monastery was the best, and most important experience of my life. Up to that point, my training in the spiritual life was based in the Carmelite and Franciscan tradition, totally Marian and Eucharistic. My return to the sacraments in 1972 was due to a very special grace of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Later, Benedictine spirituality, as I came to know it in the Trappists developed as the other great influence. My taste in Liturgy is more austere because of the Trappists, and since Scripture has always been a key element in my prayer life, Lectio Divina was a natural for me to adopt and incorporate. Nevertheless, I am by no means an expert in spiritual matters.
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However wonderful my experience in monastic life, my temperament simply was not suited to enclosed life, and in the early 1970's every order or congregation was in some sort of disarray because of all the experimentation going on, frequently resulting in a loss of identity and direction. I found that out after entering the Carmelites. Then I tried the Little Brothers of Jesus, as well as a new Franciscan group in Naples. Lest I forget, after the Trappists, I then tried the Carthusians. I tried far too many orders - don't do that people.
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On my pilgrimage, I also came in contact with dozens of new orders seeking to reform the old ones, albeit their founders were usually lacking in formation themselves, and not infrequently, I think a few were simply looking for companionship. I met numerous priests who thought I should enter seminary, they ought to have known better. I became friends with several seminarians, and spent a lot of time in their dorms, learning a great deal more than I wanted to know. And yes, I knew priests who are either in prison, or, as in one case, murdered in one. Indeed, I knew priests who have written books refuting Catholic teaching on sexuality, as well as falsely interpreting scriptural prohibitions against sodomy. So I have really been through the gamut, so to speak - and my experience is worth more than some of the erroneous educations many of my peers earned their degrees by.
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Enough said.
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Now if I were to counsel anyone about monastic life, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that there are many fervent, observant, faithful communities around the country. Latin usage is not a guarantee of authentic observance however. An aspirant to religious life or priesthood must find a good priest, a man of prayer and sound doctrine, to help him discern. A simple priest, without a great deal of academic achievement, is better than a vain, pompous, or highly educated priest who flaunts his status. (I found retired clergy, who were particularly good professors, to be wonderful directors.) The best priest is easily recognized as one who actively exercises his ministry - who is dedicated to his ministry, and whose entire purpose is dedicated to the salvation of souls. Always watch out for vanity and those who seek fame; and always be wary of any invitation towards intimacy or particular friendship in a spiritual direction situation.
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Back to religious life.
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Despite all that the Vatican says about the admission of men with homosexual inclination to seminaries and religious life, such men will always be there - and they always were there. Not in the numbers revealed by the scandals which broke in the late 20th century - such extremes only occur intermittently in history, as in St. Catherine of Siena's day. Our culture today is quickly becoming more like ancient Roman times, when Christians were a minority and the Commandments were mocked. As the Church faces more cultural persecution, and the times become increasingly more austere, the more purified Her members become, thus, the problems with seminaries and religious life will be far more limited and isolated. We first have to wait for those my age and older to die off, along with the congregations which have deformed and whithered. Religious orders are different than religious congregations. The major orders will last until the end of the world, congregations come and go.
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Be assured of this however: A person with an authentic vocation can enter an order that has become decadent, and the Lord will support him - although not without some difficulty. The great reformer saints all went through similar situations, even the Carmel of St. Therese of Lisieux was kind of a nut house. One very key deterrent for a candidate would be any evidence of heresy or doctrinal irregularity - if an aspirant finds that, then he must leave the community, or not enter in the first place. Otherwise, be consoled that religious life, just as in secular life, is full of all sorts of people, many misfits, a few nut jobs, and so on. There is not a perfect house or a perfect monastery. One simply has to enter with their eyes wide open and firmly fixed upon Jesus - if one seeks God alone, one will find him, if one enters seeking oneself, one only finds discontent. Religious life and priesthood is not a country club - if it becomes that, it has fallen into decadence.

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(I may take this down by tonight.)

First Friday

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, "clean the stains of my soul and give me tears of penance, loving tears out of love, tears of salvation, tears that cleanse the darkness of my mind, making me light so that I may see you, Light of the world, enlightenment to my repentant eyes." - St. Simeon the New Theologian

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Lady madonna...

The agony and the ecstasy.

Our dear friend, Jackie Parkes has written an account of her struggle with depression and bi-polar disease. Misyon magazine published her story. The following statement impressed me deeply:
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"When I was ill I envied the Souls in Purgatory because they knew, though suffering intensely, that they were saved, whereas in the depth of despair and darkness of the depressed person there is no such assurance. I truly panicked that in my despair I had sinned against the Holy Spirit. But it was an 'illness' which made me think that euthanasia was a great idea. I can see clearly why we must fight against the evil of legalized euthanasia because I would have been dead long ago if there had been such in force." - Source
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Jackie is on a break from blogging, but she sends along a music video once in awhile. May many prayers and much love surround her; her husband, and her lovely children. I miss her blog.

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The Inquisition

My Ash Wednesday.


Yesterday.
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While I was putting the monstrance and candles away in the sacristy yesterday, I noticed a container of ashes from last week, so I blessed myself with them and licked the residue off from my finger. (St. Francis sprinkled ashes on his food.) Then I brushed them off and returned to the sanctuary to move the flowers to Our Lady's chapel since adoration was over. So. A week later, I got my ashes, a sign of my repentance - alone in the sacristy.
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That empty, abandoned feeling...
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I also noticed my parish emptied the holy water fonts - although nothing had been inserted to replace it. I've been going to another parish for Mass - which is why I did not know what my own is doing. I know why liturgists like to do that, I just don't know why pastors go along with it however. I'm used to stuff like that though; after all, how many years have I gone through such novelties? (Too many to admit for a guy who will be turning, er, ah, ooh..., 39 this year.)
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I have a feeling that those of us who remember how during Passion week all the statues were covered with purple until Holy Saturday, pretty much get the empty font syndrome. The impression of purple draped statues was always a bit jolting as one entered the church, especially for little kids or the irregular attendees. (BTW - the practice is still allowed, recommended and executed in Roman Catholic parishes.) Liturgists, many of whom lack any sort of Catholic maturity, seem to get the same kick from empty fonts - but it is only effective the first time one experiences it - afterwards, one simply ignores it. Oddly enough, in churches that empty the fonts, the same liturgists wouldn't think of covering statues - if indeed the church has any - because it is "old fashioned". Whatever.
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Most Catholics ought to know the fonts are emptied on Holy Thursday and are filled once again with the new Easter Water after the Vigil on Holy Saturday.
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Holy Water - it's a good thing.
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That said, I'm not really complaining about the empty fonts. Like I mentioned, I have holy water at home - I use it all of the time. I get the holy water from a church where they use the old Roman Ritual, and still include salt. A lot of people like to have blessed exorcism salt now days. Growing up, I only knew about that stuff as it was used in baptisms - to my knowledge, lay people never used it - and I tried to know absolutely everything about being a priest and the sacraments and sacramentals. Anyway, why would we have used exorcism salt, when salt was part of the mix in blessed holy water? But I digress, and I don't know a lot about that.
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The real desert.
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Like I said - I'm not complaining about empty fonts, there are bigger things to be concerned with. But what I really wanted to write about, was a conversation I had with one of the long time parishioners. After adoration, we were discussing some of the things local parishes have done in the years since the Council. Mind you, we weren't whining - it is simply all part of our history now. She told me how many pastors our parish has had over the years, and how each one brought in some type of innovation or novelty. I don't need to go into detail as to what they consisted of, we've all experienced or heard of the abuses, some of which continue on elsewhere. What impressed me most in the conversation, was this woman's attitude. She told me how she, her husband and friends kept going to Mass every day, kneeling at the Consecration, taking communion on the tongue, even when others mocked her - for all of those years.
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"Oh sure," she said laughing, "we just kept on. I shrugged all of that stuff off. The priests were still priests, Jesus was still present in the Eucharist. We all built this church you know. And now, after 35 years, we have a good pastor who is trying to restore Catholic practice. I just plug away."
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She is a fine lady. The only time I've ever seen her get annoyed is when she hears stories about children being abused, exploited, killed, and most especially, aborted; and she remains active in pro-life ministries. Oh yeah, she doesn't like Obama though.


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I think I'm snapping out of my bad mood now.

The poor you will always have with you.

Remember that rebuke?
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I don't know what is wrong with me - but I get really angry over stories such as the 9 year old Brazilian girl, pregnant with twins; or the story of a Miami abortionist throwing away an infant who survived the botched procedure - into a plastic bag with the bloodied newspaper. I just don't get it. And now days, people are getting poorer - friends are telling stories of the poor stealing food, going without necessities and health coverage, evicted from homes, and so on.
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Yet Jesus seemed to shrug off monetary concerns for the poor when he reprimanded Judas, who happened to be so inordinately focused upon money, he used the poor as an excuse to object to Mary using expensive ointment to dress the Lord's feet. (Reminds me of how critics of the Church insist that money shouldn't be spent upon vestments and sacred vessels, but rather given to the poor.)
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My pious, naive thoughts on the poor.
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But what did Our Lord mean? There had to be more to it than that. As I understand it, it appears a sense of justice will always prevail, and we may rightly expect that the poor will always be helped through monetary and material provisions, in some way or another. So if the 9 year old Brazilian girl and her family could have been well cared for; given money, food, clothing, even decent housing, these things most likely would not have prevented the sexual exploitation or the pregnancy. In the United States, we know by experience that materialism does not prevent the moral decay which leads to the sexual abuse, spousal and child abuse, as well as drug abuse, criminal behaviour and violence that infects the ghettos, housing projects and lower income suburbs of the world.
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Yes, the poor need monetary aid and the necessities of life. Yet for some reason, the (economic) inequity typical of Latino Catholic cultures, along with African and Indian cultures (in their respective countries), never seems to go away - or get any better. I wonder if what the poor are deprived of most of all - more seriously than anything else - is authentic religion. Not simply catechesis, but decent liturgical life, education, moral example - and most of all, the presence of the Church. Missionaries once civilized entire societies in the Americas, devotion flourished despite racial and monetary disparity, while the missions became the center of culture.
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The poor we will aways have in our midst.
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We need to pray for the missions, the missionaries, as well as for an increase in good missionary vocations. The missionary cannot simply be an aid worker, he is called to bring the faith to the poor; the missionary is sent to bring Christ into the midst of the poor. Though present in the Eucharist, many of the poor no longer have Him in their midst. We need to once again recognize Christ amongst us in the Blessed Sacrament, and share him with the poor. Yes, the poor we will always have with us, but Jesus wants to be in their midst.
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I kind of think that is one of the things the Lord was trying to explain to Judas.
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Many of us can forget about the missions - save for on Mission Sunday. Can't be a missionary in a foreign land? We can be one at home, and we can pray and sacrifice and donate. Matt Talbot gave most of his paycheck to the missions. His best tool for evangelization was/is his example.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

When they came for the Trads, I remained silent...



New World Order Stuff
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German authorities are raiding the homes of neo-Nazis, confiscating things like music and leather accessories (I made the accessory part up.). Sounds crazy? Read on:
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More than 60 years after World War Two and the Nazi Holocaust, right-wing radicalism is still a problem in Germany:
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German police have launched a nationwide search of more than 200 homes and businesses of people suspected of belonging to the country's extreme right, the Federal Crime Office (BKA) said Wednesday.
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"The primary aim of the concerted action by crime fighting authorities is to seize and confiscate prohibited items like music in order to move effectively and extensively against the spread of right wing extremism," the BKA said in a statement. - Source
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Yes, I realize what the issues are in Germany, I have relatives who have lived there for decades, I understand all things Nazi are pretty much illegal. Nevertheless, it occurred to me this type of control could easily happen to other groups - in Germany or elsewhere. What if the Government started raiding Life-care centers, or people's farms in Wisconsin? I have composed an updated version of the Niemoller poem to emphasize my point...

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When they came for the Communists,

I remained silent,

I was not a Democrat.
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When the they came for the Branch Davidians,

I remained silent;

I was not a Branch Davidian.
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When they locked up the the Mormon children,

I remained silent;

I was not a polygamist.
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When they came for the neo-Nazis,

I did not speak out;

I was not a into leather.
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When they came for the SSPX,

I did not speak out;

I was not a bishop.
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When they came for the women of The View,

I did not speak out;

I was not menopausal.
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When they came for the contestants of American Idol,

I did not speak out;

I just laughed.
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When they came for the Homeschoolers,

I remained silent;

I hate denim jumpers.
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When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out;

That's just typical!
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Photo: Miami Gay Men's Chorus.

Fr. Groeschel consoles the Legion of Christ


Couragio
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Fr. Groeschel knows all about scandal. He has worked with many, many fallen priests, religious, and sinners - people just like me. I first met him while he was staying at the Cancer Home in St. Paul a few years ago. (He has a copy of an icon I did, depicting his patron saint.) In a rather short time, we spoke privately about many things, he was very encouraging. In fact, ducking his head into the chapel where I was praying, he whispered this parting word in my direction, "Couragio!" Fr. Groeschel is always so charitable, kind, compassionate, and understanding. Therefore, I'm not surprised he addressed the men in formation with the Legion of Christ in such encouraging terms.
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"At times, in individual lives, and sometimes in corporate lives, events occur which are difficult for us to comprehend, to get our arms around. And often, not always, but often, the answer is a personal, individual call to repentance on our part, on OUR part. And the willingness to go on.
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Now, what goes on is that each individual soul is called in the way that the Holy Spirit calls us to turn all of the events of life -- successes, failures, joys, sorrows, virtues, and even sins -- to turn them all into our personal repentance and following of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Legionaries of Christ were built and sustained by a deep Christological theology and devotion. It will stand you in the best stead at this time. This is not the Legion of anybody except of Christ.
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St. Augustine says, "When the cross was first preached to the few who believed, it was mocked by the multitudes. But by the power of the cross, the blind saw, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, and even the dead rose so that even among the powers of this world, men would come to believe that there is, in fact, nothing more powerful than the humility of God." - Source


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

JPII and Medjugorje



Refuting claims the Pope privately approved of the apparitions.
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(It had been my intention to post this a few days ago but I haven't been very pleasant lately and I was afraid of what I might say.)
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I've tried to believe in the apparitions at Medjugorje - yet the messages are so banal and soap-opera-like, it is almost impossible to take them seriously. It is my opinion, the people involved - pilgrims and promoters alike - have more of a story going on than the alleged appearances, sky-writing, miraculous photos, and secrets no one is supposed to know. I don't like to discuss the issue very much, mainly because many very nice, very sincere people are so devoted to the cult surrounding the Virgin as she is venerated in Medjugorje, nearly as much as they are taken in by the seers and their on-the-road-again evangelization business.
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At Athanasius' blog, Boniface of Unam Sanctam posted an essay refuting the claims JPII supported the apparitions. It is the best I've read so far. Boniface begins:
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But one other assertion of the Medjugorje crowd that I have been wanting to debunk for a long time is the oft-repeated claim that John Paul II privately approved of the apparitions and encouraged the faithful in their devotion at Medjugorje. This is manifestly false, and whatever else one may think of John Paul II, one thing we can definitely clear him of is promoting Medjugorje. Therefore, I want to clear up with this post once and for all the confusion and untruths promoted by those who assert that the Pope, either JPII of BXVI, has ever approved Medjugorje, even implicitly. - Read the entire post here: Source
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It seems so many people are willing to believe just about anyone who claims to know the mind of the popes, or who claim, "The Pope said this" or "the Pope said that." Show me the document that says so.
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Photo: Alleged miraculous image of the Madonna at Medjugorje. I wonder if JPII has ever shown up since his death?

Cardinal Mahony: Clueless in Los Angeles?

The Cardinal vs. the TLM.
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Several years ago, Mother Angelica upset Cardinal Mahony after she'd expressed criticism over an instruction he gave regarding the Eucharist. I can't remember what it was exactly, but the Cardinal was none too happy with Mother's criticism. I could be mistaken, but he may have tried to have her taken off the air. He never succeeded of course. Yet it was on account of churchmen like him that she once protested, "I would rather blow this place up than let them get a hold of the network" - or something to that effect. Tough lady.
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This week, the trad world, along with liturgically savvy Novus Ordo Catholics are up in arms over the Cardinal's latest blunder. Responding to an online interview question regarding the TLM, the Cardinal made the following statement:
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"The Tridentine Mass was meant for those who could not make the transition from Latin to English [or other languages] after the Council. But there is no participation by the people, and I don't believe that instills the spirit of Christ among us." - Source

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Seriously, if the Cardinal just did a little Internet search/poll, I'm quite certain he would find that a great many of the TLM advocates are young people, many born long after the Council; very well educated, who can easily make the transition from English [or other languages] to Latin. It is mostly Catholics my age who are content with the English - but not the novelties and abuses.
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Some advice the Cardinal may like to take under consideration: "Don't let the pendulum swing hit you in the rear-end on the way to your retirement."
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I just realized, the Cardinal is an American of Irish descent isn't he... What is it they say about blarney?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Where are they now?

One of my e-friends entered a monastery and then left. I wonder what happened to him? People are never the same after they leave - I assure you.
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J-J, where are you?

CDL News


This is dumb.
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Bill Donohue claimed the above photo illustrates the anti-Catholic bias of the NY Times. WTH? The Times did not have to run anything at all, but Donohue still took offense:
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"The photo, shot from above, shows no one in the church but the two of them. The caption below says, “The Rev. Ed Zogby marked a worshiper’s forehead with ashes at the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton near Battery Park. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.” There was no attendant story.
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So it makes us wonder, why did the New York Times deliberately choose this photo? And why did it give it such prominence? To be honest, we’re really not wondering at all: We know exactly what the newspaper is up to." - Source
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The Times actually responded to such nonsense:
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"Michele McNally, the editor in charge of photography at the Times, [had this to say] about the picture: She said the paper ran it because it was "a gorgeous photograph of a profound religious experience." - Source

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Choose your battles - otherwise everyone will just think you're a big blowhard. ;)

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Timeless Classics: Sacredotal Fashionisti

All dressed up, no place to go.
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Cathy said I seemed a little cranky with my posts lately. I'm not now.
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Let's lighten up for Lent.

The pregnant 9 year old Brazilian girl.

Pregnant with twins.
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When you hear stories like this, abortion doesn't seem so terrible after all. Especially if you happen to be an ardent secularist, with no religion of consequence. I'm pro-life and Roman Catholic, and this case angers, baffles, and sickens me. Nevertheless, I can understand why people like to say abortion should be a choice, even when they want to force it upon a vulnerable little girl.
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The girl in question is a little 9 year old in Recife, Brazil; She had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her stepfather, for just under a dollar a throw; She became pregnant with twins, which doctors claim she cannot carry to term because her skeletal structure is not mature enough to support such a pregnancy. And now it appears she is being forced to face the choice of abortion. Our sinful humanity cries out, "Why not?" She came from horrible poverty, deprivation, and repeated sexual abuse, an experience she held in common with her 14 year old disabled sister. Who would even want to live, much less bring two more babies into that kind of life?
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Yes, these are horrible, faithless, damnable thoughts. Thoughts a Christian must get behind himself - as when Christ rebuked Peter. It is so easy to think as faithless human beings and not as God does. Being human, I admit I just don't understand...
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At Mass, I noted three little boys, one at a time, as they approached Our Lady's statue, lighting candles and kneeling, looking up to the Virgin's face, their lips moving in prayer. They reminded me of myself at their respective ages; 6, maybe 7, and possibly 10 or 12. I prayed in my heart with them and for them, "Please Blessed Mother, please do not let anything bad happen to them, do not let them ever be molested or harmed, do not let them sin - do not abandon them, not to themselves or to anyone who can harm them." I know what it is like to have your life literally screwed - I never want that to happen to anyone else - ever.
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Photo: Taken from a Spanish blog with a similar story from Honduras.

Apparently another little snag with the SSPX reunion... you don't say.



SSPX will not accept Vatican II.
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Doh! That was pretty much the point of the schism in the first place - no matter what kind of spin their defenders want to put on it.
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The Society of Saint Pius X whose ultratraditionalist bishops were recently rehabilitated by Pope Benedict XVI will not accept the reforms introduced by the Second Vatican Council, the head of the order has told a Swiss paper. - Source
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Yet the majority of the World's Roman Catholics accept the reforms of Vatican II.

Sunday morning... in the snowy desert.

Very, very random reflections.
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"So, watch-ya-doin'?"
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"Juz thinkin'..."
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Can't you just hear Liz Lemon and Kenneth talking like that to each other? And then Jack Donaghy comes along.
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"Go pound sand" ...don't worry, it's just the mood I'm in.
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The church I attended this weekend did not place sand in the holy water fonts this year. What a disappointment. Although I honestly never cared for that, nor do I miss it. I use holy water all of the time and keep it at home anyway - I picked that up in grade school, and then later it was reinforced by Teresa of Avila. Yet do you know why some churches do it? I'm sure you do, but let me remind you. The first Sunday in Lent is always about Christ going into the desert for 40 days - desert = sand - get it? See, liturgists mean well with their innovations, replacing something holy with something banal and useless. Although the novelty wears off quickly after watching the unsuspecting old ladies surprise and subsequent look of irritation, followed by the head-shaking disappointment that an unknown Grinch stole the holy water.
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No NY Times? Watch CBS Sunday Morning.
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Call me Sarah Palin, but I'm not a big newspaper buff. However, I watched Sunday Morning today - I love that show - and I can see the alley from my house. The ads this morning were interesting - to ageing baby-boomers and rock historians maybe. New CD's of old rock stars were promoted, with footage of their recent comeback(?) concerts. I know, I thought they were dead too. There is something so weird, so creepy, so scary - I'm searching for the right adjective - about these old codgers singing and performing on stage. They kind of look like characters out of old horror films, or Sean Penn. I wonder why? Tina Turner is old, but she looks good. Perhaps it's all cosmetics and hair dye? Obviously some old guys dye their hair, but it always looks dyed too - and you can see through that dyed thin hair, turning effervescent red from the sun, onto their white, embalmed looking scalp. My advice - if you like their music - listen but do not ever look. The results can be like the Medusa myth.
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Back to my roots - giving up stuff for Lent - more on the subject.
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Finally - the big topic for Catholic blogs remains Lent. Can't ignore it. Our ascesis and the things we give up should probably cost us something to be worth the effort. Depriving ourselves of legitimate goods creates a sort of barren, arid waste within our souls. The ugly beasts and stinging scorpions emerge - and we can feel miserable and desolate. Because of this, I think the stuff a person does for Lent - what they give up - is best kept a secret; otherwise one runs the risk of a certain satisfaction or gratification, compromising our spiritual solitude. There are much bigger things to focus upon. In particular, those things our self-indulgent, self-gratifying, inordinate attachments masked: the scorpions, snakes and vipers, and other vile beasts lurking in the murky moat surrounding our interior castle. For example:
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The jealousy and envy we covered over with bodily adornments, clothes, tanning products and cosmetics - or various other masquerading pretensions.
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The anger and discontent we drowned in soft drinks, alcohol, or stuffed with food, or obscured in smoke.
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The sadness and grief, even our disillusionment and failures, we assuaged or numbed with TV, the Internet, and in some cases, drug abuse - prescription or illegal.
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In the desert - if the experience is authentic - all of our ugliness comes out. We do not need sand to remind us that our rock-star status is over, and that much of our life has been simply a lovely facade for a tomb filled with dead men's bones.
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You betcha Liz, 40 days is a very short time to amend one's life...

Marie Bernard

St. Bernadette Soubirous
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I watched the French film about Bernadette on EWTN last night. The film is very well done - the more often I see it, the more I appreciate it. I think it is far more factual than the Hollywood film, Song Of Bernadette - although I'm still fond of that version.
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One of the characteristics I like most about St. Bernadette was her humility and simplicity - she never pretended or feigned piety. Nor was she concerned about human respect; a virtue, which by itself contains the power to "scatter the proud in their conceit".