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, November 13, 2010

Anglophilia...


Frequent fliers and those who move to the UK frequently pick up a slight British accent.  It happened to Madonna and Gwyneth.  I find it charming myself.  I actually write with a British accent sometimes... you just can't tell.

Over the years I've noted how students who have studied abroad, or spent a lot of time with Mother Teresa and people from India have a little foreign lilt to their voice.

I had a religious priest-friend who pretty much imitated Missionary of Charity speak all the time - a slight British/Indo accent.  When I was younger, I adopted it myself for awhile.  Everyone knew I must have just come from Europe and must be pretty well educated and maybe even holy.  I pretended not to notice their admiration and kept repeating, "Jesus meek and humble...." in order to stave off becoming full of pride.

Once while I was doing the first reading for Mass at a friar's first profession outside of Boston, I used that voice - raising my eyes on occasion, I caught a glimpse of a priest friend I knew watching me.  It was almost as if I could read his thought, "Who the hell are you performing for?" 

He knew I was a phony.

Overnight


I woke up to this scene outside my back door this morning, the lilacs bent over from an overnight wet snowfall - the first of the season. Just a day or two ago, it was unseasonably warm - and this morning winter has arrived.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 12, 2010

From today's first reading at Mass...



"Anyone who is so 'progressive' as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God, whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son." - 2 John: 4-9
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"Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather." - Today's Gospel,  Luke 17: 37

Now, back to our regular programming schedule...

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

My great big huge apology to all the people who ask for donations online!



A kind reader asked me, "Dear Mr. Button,  Why do you do it?"
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"Do what?" I asked.  Well it didn't really go that way, but a friend did kind of want to know what I mean by my posts critical of asking for donations on blogs.  So I shared some of my thoughts with her - searching my soul, racking my brain, agonizing over adults upset with someone even daring to question their actions - I responded something like this...

Dear Princess of the Enchanted Fog,

Now days I honestly just post some things like the 'asking for donations posts' just to get people stirred up - to think about these things and to perhaps examine what they do in their online lives. Although when I first started writing about 'blegging' or asking for donations on a blog, especially as regards a priest whose name I cannot mention, I did so because it seemed odd to me that he, a priest incardinated elsewhere was essentially living a luxurious life on a ____ in _____ while apparently operating  some sort of personal charity to support himself, help with travel expenses and compensate his online activities. Needless to say I became aware of other celebrity bloggers who frequently wrote about how much time they sacrifice to be online, pretty much suggesting to their readers they should be reimbursed somehow for their efforts. It is almost as if they feel entitled to reimbursement, compensation just for being online.  I simply don't get it. If they have a business, it is one thing, but as it stands - many seem to be online just like the rest of us.  And no - I am not envious or jealous of their good fortune.  I personally never thought of maintaining a blog as a real job.  So sue me.  (Big smile and shoulder crunch there!)
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That said, anyone can ask for money from anyone, anytime:  I gradually realized online soliciting was an opportunity some entrepreneurial souls could honestly exploit online, and that it wasn't all that uncommon in the Catholic blogosphere, so I stopped making it my concern.  From time to time red flags have gone up, and I have asked questions.  I remember when a celebrity blogger in California asked for donations to keep his 'orthodox' blog alive, pay for his honeymoon, and stuff like that.  He sort of fell away eventually - wasn't quite the orthodox papist-loving Catholic he said he was.  There was another case I found curious when a priest was fundraising for another priest, apparently just to demonstrate how easy it is to collect funds online - just for being a priest.  Because so many organizations ask for donations for serious causes, I have the idea that there are better places to donate to rather than church people who might be better off in active ministry. 
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So anyway.
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Professionalism infects everything, even the Church and church-people-hobbies like blogging.  Do graffiti artists get paid - no - I don't think so.  The web is like a great big graffiti wall.  (Oh wait, that's right - sidewalk artists and musicians have a cup out for donations.  But I digress.)  It can look as if some celebrity priests expect to be reimbursed for every casual word of advice, like a lawyer giving advice over the phone.  To be sure, as scripture points out, we owe our priests support, some even have other incomes - I'm not condemning any of that.  
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However, sometimes it seems as if some of these guys have made a business out of religion, and I sometimes get the impression they are close to becoming clerical 'lovers of money and status'.  Admittedly, I cannot read their conscience of course, but at least their 'mission' can come off slightly tainted due to their concessions towards commercialism and consumerism, not to forget they appear to embrace the post-modern American notion of entitlement.  Let's be honest, many religious people appear to believe they are entitled to some form of monetary compensation just because they exist - I'm not talking about those vowed to poverty or who live on alms. Therefore, mandated by ecclesial authority or not, I don't understand how being online all day, doing a post or two, while surfing the net, equals a real job. I don't understand how a priest or a religious believes they are living a religious life while being online 24/7.

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As for lay people, do what you want or what you need to do, you're free, unencumbered by religious titles and position.  Seriously, anyone can ask for all the money they want and most likely need to get by. It is absolutely none of my business, although I enjoy some of their reactions to my posts on the subject.  Seriously, people in need should ask for help - after all, Christians are instructed to exercise charity, especially as regards widows and orphans.  There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. 
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Other persons can ask for money to pay off student debt so they can enter religious life - it's a worthy cause. (I wonder how that works after they leave however.)  Very seriously, if we can ask for money from  a friend or relative, or even strangers on the street, there is nothing wrong with asking for money online.  Likewise, it is a personal choice to give to whomever, wherever, whenever we want to, and anyone can ask for donations.  Some people fall through the cracks of charitable organizations and government aid - so there are very real people and causes out there.  Never be discouraged from donating.
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There you are.  After all is said and done, please understand that I just document my thoughts - quick and fast like - while trying to make sense of what goes down - and in the end my conscience nails me for meddling in other peoples affairs.  Please accept my apologies if I stepped on your toes.

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Signed,
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Mr. Button
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Art:  Allegory of Time Governed by Prudence, Titian

Veterans Day


A debt of gratitude to our veterans.

Many people think Memorial Day is Veterans Day, but they are different - Memorial Day honors the dead who gave their lives for our country, while Veterans Day honors all Veterans - the living and the dead.  November 11 is the designated 'Rememberance' day - as it is known elsewhere, which commemorates the armistice 'signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918', thus ending WWI - the 'Great War'.  Ever since, it has been observed as Armistice Day or Veterans Day as it is now called in the U.S..
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It remains a day we remember all veterans, honoring their memory with prayer and fitting memorials.  It seems to me providential that the day falls upon the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, the great monastic bishop and former military man.  St. Martin is often depicted in art as a military officer seated majestically upon a horse, cutting his cloak in half to share with a beggar by the roadside.  As the story goes, later that night while asleep, the Lord appeared to him clothed in the same cloak, commending the saint for his charity, echoing the gospel, "I was naked and you clothed me."
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Some speculate that the beggar St. Martin gave his cloak to could have been a former soldier, impoverished after his service in the Imperial armies.  It seems a fair speculation since we know, even in our times, how badly soldiers can be treated after their return home from combat, missing limbs, head injuries requiring ongoing care, as well as post traumatic stress issues.  We see stories on the news how many times these veterans cannot get the treatment and care they need because benefits run out, coverage is denied, or their cases are stalled in political and bureaucratic bumbling.  Sadly, too many of our veterans find themselves homeless as a result.  (US Department of Veteran's Affairs provides information on how to help here.)
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The example of St. Martin and the observance of Veterans Day demands we honor our veterans, especially by caring for their needs - in humble gratitude for their sacrifice in defending the American people and serving our country.


The Bishop's Husband...


I'm not trying to be a jerk here - but Vicki Gene Robinson, the 'married' gay, non-celibate Episcopal 'bishop' is resigning to be with his 'husband'.  Kind of like the ill fated Duke and Duchess of Windsor tale - 'resigning for the man I love.'  Kinda, sorta.  I do not like weakness in kings and prelates, call me old fashioned.  More seriously, Robinson suggests/hints, at all the trouble his appointment as bishop caused as another factor for his resignation - which will only be effective in 2 years. 
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Why didn't he stop and think about all the drama he would cause before it came to this?  Oh wait, maybe he did.
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.- Citing the toll that worldwide publicity has taken on his “marriage” and on New Hampshire Episcopalians, Gene Robinson – the first openly homosexual man to become a bishop of the Episcopal Church – announced on Nov. 6 that he will begin a two-year process of resigning from his diocese. - Read the rest here.
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Top photo:  Gene Robinson.
Bottom photo:  Husband and husband.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More background on 'asking for donations'...


Bitchy but 'nice'.
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Editor's Note:  The following text was to be my post for the day, but I decided last night to wait to publish it.  It was meant to be tongue in cheek, humourous, witty and somewhat satirical.  While proof-reading I realized something a friend said to me concerning my 'writing style' was true.  He described it like this:  "Making an insinuation, then stepping back from it with a hedge is that particular form of Midwestern nasty-nice that damages reputations and sows a spirit of distrust as much as forthright accusations."
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'If a good man reproves me it is kindness.'
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O Lord, from my hidden faults aquit me.  It should be obvious to most that I wasn't trained as a writer - I've only taken a few classes over the years which were not at all beneficial.  Therefore I'm not really conscious of the effect of my writing on readers, nor my style.  My friend's criticism was very helpful - and most welcome.  I immediately disagreed of course, because it was not my intention in the post he referenced to do any harm.  Only after the another post on 'asking for donations' and the following addendum I composed last night did I understand what my friend was pointing out to me in charity.
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That said, I decided to publish my post - albeit severely edited - crossing out most of the 'rhetoric'...   But leaving it in so my readers can see what an ass I am.  The following is the original post with edits:
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Bingo!
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I got another email from my tasteless friend who callously asked why bloggers ask for donations.  (Such a boor!)  He explained to me he was only inquiring because Father Longenecker was asking for donations with almost every other post or something.  I checked it out, and sure enough Father is asking for donations.  Ah!  But as it turns out Fr. L only has a fund drive once each year.  I never knew that because I hardly ever read Standing On My Head - that's Father's blog.  Father explains his very tasteful fund raising campaign like this:

This is the only time of the year I ask for donations from readers, so what about it? I reckon a donation of twenty bucks is not much for a daily blog that not only inspires and educates, but also entertains.

Fr. Longenecker writes books, and I believe he lectures, in addition to some sort of a salary - I can only imagine, since I know nothing about his finances.  Anyway, there is absolutely nothing wrong with looking for supplemental income through donations.  Nothing.  Most bloggers Father cites in his post ask for donations all year long.  (Shea, Fr. Z, and so on.)

Let them ask for donations I say, and keep on asking for donations - let the donations begin and pour in!  There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for donations - I want to make that perfectly clear.  I am not against donations in the least.  In fact I have been very much on board with bloggers such as Crescat, supporting her in asking for donations to fund her many pilgrimages to Malta and Italy.  It's a good thing.

So by all means, donate to your favorite Catholic blogger and do not stop donating.  Be humbly proud.  Support these staunch Roman Catholic priests and evangelists!  Sacrifice and go door to door raising funds for these guys if you have to, have a garage sale if you can, but do something for these holy people.  Fr. L lays out the scope of the  hard work and sacrifice that goes into writing a daily blog - imagine, a daily blog! - when he could be out there actually doing something else more profitable.  Serious blogging takes hours and hours and hours of time, as Father explains:

Just once through the year I ask you faithful readers to hit the 'Donate' button and help me with the expenses of running this blog. Think how much you might have been expected in the old days to pay for a subscription to a magazine or newspaper that informs, entertains and inspires. You'd pay a good bit for a monthly or weekly subscription, but this blog is updated daily. (Well, almost...)
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Think how many hours I spend thinking up blog posts, moderating comments, finding pictures, getting myself into my various alter egos, blogging when I could be writing articles that pay for magazine and website who are calling me several times a day begging me to write for them and offering me large sums of money. (well, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration)


Please, please, put your donation in between your credit card bill, gas and electric bill, EWTN donation, United Fund donation, Sunday offering, Catholic school tuition expenses, Aid to the Church in Need, Catholic Relief Services for Haiti, the CCHD, Bishops Want To Pay Off the Sex Abuse Debt Quickly 2nd Collection,  Peter's Pence, the Seminary Fund, and your mortgage payment and grocery bill, and support your blogging evangelists
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Donations are good - the good donate!  Nothing wrong with asking for money online - I really, really, REALLY mean that.
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[Paypal/credit card or cash only.  No checks.  Suggested donation minimum $20.  Consider donating used vehicles or your entire estate.  And remember - you can include a Catholic blogger in your will.]
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N.B.  The other reality here is that what other people do on their blogs is none of my damn business.  Please accept my apologies and pray for me.  Thank you. 

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Queen of Spain receives Holy Communion in an awkward position, and, and, and!!!


So what's your point?

I just find it amusing so many Catholic men on blogs seem to be disturbed by this.
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So many questions.  Oh my goodness.  Why is she elevated above the Pope?  What was going on?  She's wearing white - who knew they'd object to that?  (The obsolete no white after Labor Day rule doesn't apply outside of the USA anyway - although some people think it is forbidden to wear white in the presence of the Pope.)  The Queen is not wearing her pretty mantilla either.  Her hair - one priest commented on her hair.  Communion in the hand seems to be the issue - and not kneeling at the prie dieu.  Who cares?  The Pope is the one in charge and he gave the Queen Holy Communion - the Queen is obviously bowing. 
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Pope - Queen - Holy Communion.  An international incident?
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Just for this, I'll bet the chastisement is coming much sooner than expected.

The King and Queen of Spain have no authority or power - the are constitutional monarchs - they are figureheads - they are only descendants of royalty.

More getting ready for Christmas stuff: Bambino Jesu

Seated Bambino Jesu - from Gump's
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Crowned with gilt wood, this figure celebrates the season in full baroque glory. Italian artists carve every element by hand from solid wood to create the serene expression, relaxed posture and wonderful accents of hair and fabric. The faithful re-creation of a 17th-century devotional figure is then painted and shaded in traditional style. 12 3/4"L x 7"W x 18"H.

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica: What's that got to do with closing churches?


Apparently nothing.
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Constantine erected the Lateran Basilica in Rome, and it has been venerated as the mother church of Christendom ever since. Catholics celebrate the dedication, consecration of churches - a custom rooted in Jewish custom and liturgy with the feast of the Dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.  Christ observed the feast himself.  I'm not going into any scholarly, liturgical detail with this except to point out another irony, or paradox in Catholicism.

We dedicate - consecrate - sacred buildings, temples, or in our tradition - churches.  Frequently the edifices are works of beautiful architecture and art, constructed at great expense and sacrifice by the faithful - the real 'living stones' of God's holy temple.  Over the centuries many churches have been sacked through war and revolution, and frequently profaned by anti-Christian, anti-Catholic elements.  Many times the desecrated sanctuaries have been re-dedicated, although in some cases they have become museums.  Less prominent churches have been turned into bars and nightclubs, or businesses.  Others have often been taken over by protestant denominations.

Today Catholic dioceses are closing down churches once consecrated for sacred use - in greater numbers it seems.  Selling off beautiful Catholic churches to the highest bidder.  Some are simply demolished.  I know all the reason put forth; fewer priests, dwindling congregations, expense, etc..  All very reasonable and in full accord with provisions in canon law.

Christian life is full of apparent paradox, isn't it.

No, that wasn't a question.

Photo:  Facade of The Basilica of St. John Lateran.  Check out Wiki for everything you ever wanted to know about the basilica.

Reader question: "Why do some bloggers ask for donations?"


Gimme...

I got that question from a reader yesterday.  He wondered, "Do you have to pay to blog - is that why bloggers ask for donations?"

My answer, "In 99.9% of the cases, the answer is no.  Most bloggers do not pay for their blogs - it is usually a free service." 

So why do they ask for donations?  Here are a few reasons why I think some bloggers aren't too proud to beg:

  • Intellectual property rights - you read what they write.  They write therefore they are writers - writers get paid.  They just want to get paid.

  • They think they deserve to be supported by others.  (And don't forget to thank them for their services either.)

  • They are out of work and they are begging without looking like it... taking advantage of other people's generosity.

  • They know there is 'great gain in religion' and they are not 'satisfied with a sufficiency'.

  • They need to get to NYC and London more often.

  • They are professional students enjoying la dolce vita.

  • They are very devout Catholics doing the Lord's work.

  • They are going to enter a monastery.

  • They are a monastery.

  • They are going to school to get a better job and can't even pay off their student debt from the first old college try.

  • They are closet freeloaders.

  • They are married with children and their Kmart job doesn't pay enough for them to go to Rome on vacation.

  • They are greedy.

Otherwise I'm not really sure why bloggers ask for donations - I suppose they do it because they can - there's an app for that. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Steven Hayes: Now this is a case where I believe the death penalty is warranted...

People have asked me in what situation would I approve of the death penalty.  The following story is a case I believe the death penalty is warranted:
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A Connecticut man was condemned to death Monday for a night of terror inside a suburban home in which a woman was strangled and her two daughters tied to their beds, doused in gasoline and left to die in a fire.


Jurors in New Haven Superior Court voted unanimously to send Steven Hayes to death row after deliberating over the span of four days. Judge Jon Blue will impose the sentence on Dec. 2.
 
"You have been exposed to images of depravity and horror that no human being should have to see," Blue said in thanking the jurors for their service. - Full story.

The Pope on charity and persons with special needs.



Who do people say that I am?
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So many Catholics with 'special causes' like to give the Holy Father some sort of grandiose title - in the manner they have done with John Paul II - calling him the 'great' before its time, as it were.  What is wrong with Venerable?  Now Benedict is getting titles such as the Pope of Christian unity, or other appellations reflecting various causes.  If anything the Holy Father should be identified as all Christians ought to be, by his love, his charity.  After all, wasn't his first encyclical based upon that?
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It is the supernatural virtue of charity that is most attractive to souls, and it is frequently lacking in all of our discourse.  Read what the Holy Father said to some of the most vulnerable amongst us, the angelic ones, the truly simple...
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"Therefore, it is indispensable [...] that those who suffer physical illnesses or handicaps can always receive that love and attention required to make them feel valued as persons in their concrete needs".

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"I would also like to express my appreciation to the authorities, and I invite them to increase their efforts to provide adequate social services and assistance to the most needy. I also thank those who, with their generous support, build up and sustain private welfare institutions, such as this special education school of Nen Deu. At a time when many households are faced with serious economic difficulties, the followers of Christ must multiply concrete gestures of effective and constant solidarity, showing in this way that charity is the hallmark of our Christian life.
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"The dedication of the basilica of the Sagrada Familia", he added, "has highlighted that churches are the sign of the true sanctuary of God among men. Here, I would like to emphasise how, through the efforts of this and similar church institutions ... it is clear that, for the Christian, every man and woman is a true sanctuary of God, and should be treated with the highest respect and affection, above all when they are in need. In this way, the Church desires to put into practice the words of the Lord in the Gospel, 'I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me'".
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I always remember in my prayers those who are dedicated to helping the suffering, and those who work tirelessly so that the handicapped can take their rightful place in society and not be marginalised because of their limitations. In this respect, I wish to recognise, in a special way, the faithful witness of priests and those who visit the sick at home, in hospitals or in other specialised institutions. They incarnate that important ministry of consolation in the face of human frailty, which the Church seeks to carry out in imitation of the Good Samaritan". - Source

Getting ready for Christmas.


It is never too early.

With the warm weather it is a great time to put up outdoor Christmas lights.  Christmas ads are just beginning to hit the airways, and store's have their Christmas stuff out.  Creative people who make things have to start early as well - making things takes time.  I'm painting a detail of the Giotto Nativity from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua - in between yard work and starting blog-fights that is.
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Anyway - here are few of my favorite things available from a couple of catalogs I received already...
Mary's Starry Crowns from Wisteria


Sacred Heart/Milagros from Wisteria

Neapolitan Angel Christmas Ornament, handcrafted, painted terra cotta and silk, 5.5" x 6.5" from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store, NYC  

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Top photo credit:  Scranton Christmas Windows

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Why do 'straight' men go to parks?



Is that dad's picture in the paper?
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So anyway, why do 'straight' men engage in gay sex?  It's a controversial question, and a huge mystery to every wife, son or daughter, friend, parishioner, and anyone else who has ever discovered that someone they thought they knew, sometimes even their significant other - the straight guy - engaged in anonymous gay sex in public parks, rest stop toilet facilities, the men's room at the airport, or even in the office building stairwell downtown.
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Loneliness or gayness?
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A friend asked me that question.  I'm no expert - no psychiatrist or therapist - but I have to say I think the activity is often more about loneliness and maybe a sense of powerlessness than anything else.  Of course it is also very real sexual temptation, possibly overwhelming - which is what real therapists like to call sexual addiction. For some guys, sex outdoors is like peeing out doors - it's sort of rebellious. 
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That said - outdoor sex has always been part of homosexual 'underground' culture, a carry over from the old days of never speaking the word - I've seen Elizabethan illuminations illustrating outdoor homosexual encounters.  I think an element of gay culture just enjoys the adventure, the stalking, hunting-gathering dimension of the process.  I also think an element of gay culture sees it as a way - consciously or unconsciously - to exploit closeted gay men and their otherwise straight counterparts troubled by homosexual temptation.  Today this is an unpopular thing to suggest and activists would say it is a lie - but I think many out front gay types really enjoy this type of anonymous encounter such cruising areas enable.  
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To be sure the behavior is a nuisance crime, and disgusting to encounter, and unthinkable for decent people.  It happens however.  I seriously doubt that men like the local priest recently in the news, is a predator.  I doubt these types would ever be interested in minors or kids.  I think more often than not these guys are simply seeking same sex intimacy, along with a sort of 'hands on' affirmation of their manhood and person - strange as that may sound.  That doesn't discount a sort of obsessive-compulsive pull of sexual temptation and taking advantage of an opportune location and encounter however.  In other words, I think in general it is a sin of weakness rather than malice.  We need to remember an otherwise good man, especially one who is fiercely battling temptation can fall in an instant. 
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It goes with out saying such behavior is sinful and when performed in public, it not only offends moral sensibilities, it is also a civil offense.  Yep, it is deviant behavior.  I'm not approving it or making excuses for it - just offering some possible insight on an otherwise perplexing problem.
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I don't know any way out of this type of thing except by conversion, prayer, the sacraments, and perserverance.  Therapy can help, especially to understand what emotional problem underlies the acting out - but I believe in free will - with God anything is possible.

The Pope in Spain: What he said about Sagrada Familia.


A friend sent me the following.

The second question was: "What significance can consecrating a church such as the Sagrada Familia have at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Is there some aspect of Gaudi's vision that has struck you in particular?"



"The truth is", said the Holy Father, "that this church is also an appropriate sign for our own times. In Gaudi's vision there are above all three elements that call my attention. The first is the blending of continuity and novelty, tradition and creativity. Gaudi had the courage to make himself part of the great tradition of the cathedrals. Using a completely new approach, he dared in his own time to make the cathedral a place for the solemn meeting between God and man. And this courage to remain within tradition, but with a creativity that renews tradition and shows the unity and progress of history, is a beautiful thing. Secondly, Gaudi chose the tripartite structure of the book of nature, the book of Scripture and the book of liturgy. This is of great importance. Scripture is made present in the liturgy, it becomes real today, it is no longer a Scripture of two thousand years ago but is celebrated, made real. In the celebration of Scripture creation speaks and finds its true response because, as St. Paul tells us, creation suffers and ... awaits the children of God; i.e., those who see it in the light of God. This fusion between meaning and creation, between Scripture and adoration, is a very important message for today. Finally, the third point is that this church was born of a typically nineteenth-century form of devotion: St. Joseph, the Holy Family of Nazareth, the mystery of Nazareth. But this devotion of the past could be said to have a great deal of importance today because the problem of the family, the renewal of the family as society's fundamental cell, is the great theme showing us the way to build society and to create a unity of faith and life, of religion and society. The main theme here is that of the family, for God Himself became a child in a family and He calls us to build and live in families".
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Thanks Fr. Joe.
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As usual, New Liturgical Movement has excellent photos of the Pope's trip.

Mass Chat: Three Sayings of St. John of the Cross...


+ Never take others for your example, however holy they may be, for the devil will set their imperfections before you. But imitate Christ, who is supremely perfect and supremely holy, and you will never err.

+ Take neither great nor little notice of who is with you or against you, and try always to please God. Ask him that his will be done in you. Love him intensely, as he deserves to be loved.

+ Reflect that many are called but few are chosen [Mt. 22:14] and that, if you are not careful, your perdition is more certain than your salvation, especially since the path to eternal life is so constricted [Mt. 7:14].