Saturday, September 03, 2011

Priests with real jobs...



The parish priest.
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A couple of weeks ago I found myself complaining about anonymous commenters to my 'can't we all just get along - I'm just trying to bring people together' posts, and developed an entire conspiracy theory all by myself of how people are out to get me.  Elsewhere in the blogosphere other bloggers have complained of Internet stalkers going around harassing 'faithful' online Catholics with their nasty, provocative commentary and insults.   I've since settled down and put things into perspective:  No one is persecuting me.  I need to get a real job.
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Which brings me to the point of this post:  Priests with real jobs... The parish priest.
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The regular guy, the normal priest.  The priest who is shepherd to a thousand families or more.  The priest who ministers day in and day out and oversees a whole variety of programs, a school, all sorts of activities, as well as the nuts and bolts operations of running a 'plant' and balancing the books.  Maybe he doesn't do all of that alone - but he's the one in charge - albeit more or less subject to a board.  But you get the picture.
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The good pastor.
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Most importantly, the parish priest is the one who instructs and guides the faithful of his parish - he administers the sacraments and cares for his flock.  And frequently, he gets a lot of flak for how he does it - and if he is a 'faithful' Catholic priest, he may well find himself opposed, harassed, insulted, and even persecuted - not to the point of shedding blood however.
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Parish surveys and letters from pew-sitters.
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Last weekend my pastor printed the results of a recent parish survey.  I suspect such surveys are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fielding negative complaints from anonymous parishioners.  Oddly enough, my parish is, how do I say it?  Moderately liberal?  Although it was quite a bit more liberal a decade or so ago.  Yet the current pastor gradually restored such venerable Catholic practices like kneeling for the consecration and the use of altar servers, among many little disciplines that had gone into disuse over the years.  His homilies are always doctrinally sound, and his celebration of Mass and the sacraments is according to the rubrics.  He gets complaints about that being way too conservative and pre-Vatican II.
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Without going into all the details of the parish survey, I just want to say that if these folks complain about these relatively minor 'issues', what will they do in the next couple of months?  This month Father will be talking about Church teaching regarding homosexuality and same sex marriage.  After that, he will be talking about implementing the new missal.  If some of the people in the parish criticized and complained before, what will they do then?
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Parish priests - real men with real jobs.
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And yet I complain when someone disagrees with a post I wrote or calls me out for one of my many faults and indiscretions.    

Friday, September 02, 2011

Hey - what about this for a political ad?



Me thinks the lady protestant too much.

Fashion notes: Menswear...



Rick Owens at Bergdorf's.
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Many years ago there lived an Emperor who was so exceedingly fond of fine new clothes that he spent vast sums of money on dress. To him clothes meant more than anything else in the world. He took no interest in his army, nor did he care to go to the theatre, or to drive about in his state coach, unless it was to display his new clothes. He had different robes for every single hour of the day.

In the great city where he lived life was gay and strangers were always coming and going. Everyone knew about the Emperor's passion for clothes.

* * *

 

Details:

Rick Owens

Lightweight Cashmere Cardigan

Price:$1,277.00
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Rick Owens

Asymmetric Silk Cargo Shorts

Price:$1,075.00
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Ribbed Tank

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Mass chat: New wine - old wine.



Today's Gospel is about how you can't put new wine into old wine skins, all the traditional interpretations of this passage aside, I was struck by the last line:  "And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, 'The old is good.'" - Luke 5:39
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I wonder if this isn't what those who desire the Traditional Latin Mass - the Extraordinary Form - are trying to say? 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

"Cruise director' for a day.


"Prayer is the trap door out of sin." - Teresa of Avila
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Yesterday an anonymous commenter asked, "Any special prayers for a man addicted to cruising?"
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I answered, "Anonymous - pray for them - pray for the virtue of chastity for the person's you cruise."
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I suppose I should have asked what he meant by cruising?  The drive-by, walk-by kind?  Sexually open-ended double-takes at attractive people jogging, laying in the sun?  Going into 'cruising areas' where 'stuff' can happen?  Catching the eye of someone - and holding it?  There are different ways to cruise - but I think I understood the general term. 
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My answer may have seemed unhelpful.  Another commenter, Clark, provided the basic direction and safeguards helpful for persons striving to live a chaste life.  Nevertheless, even the most disciplined, generous soul can sometimes relapse into old habits: souls who do all the right stuff, frequent the sacraments, even dedicate their lives to the poor or some charitable work - perhaps caring for elderly parents in addition to one's career.  Even priests can fall into such sins - one poor fellow was arrested earlier this year in a cruising area.  So how does a young man remain sinless?
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Charity.
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In addition to practicing all the right disciplines, there may be one thing lacking - charity.  Authentic love of God and neighbor as oneself.  Therefore, if one prays, especially for those we feel most attracted to, or who strike us as someone easily seduced - whatever the notion - when we pray for them rather than exploiting them as an opportunity for personal pleasure, selfish affirmation, what have you - we are in effect exercising ourselves in charity.  I know it sounds odd and somewhat like 'liberal theology of the body' advice, such as saying, "Look at them in all their beauty, and appreciate it by offering it back to God and thanking him for the beauty of his creation."  Truth be told - that isn't such bad advice - provided one doesn't dwell on the object - the key is to redirect one's attention - keeping custody of the eyes.  Prayer brings us back to a more interior recollection, it returns us to the awareness of God's presence.
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Custody of the heart.
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Maintaining custody of the heart is also key - it's what is involved in all the preparatory work Clark mentions.  It is also part of what I meant by praying for the person who may have tripped your trigger.  We usually fall so easily because we had once become habituated to it, or we can find ourselves in what I call a sort of sexually open-ended frame of mind; although sometimes we can simply be overcome by sudden, violent temptation.  Nevertheless, praying for the object of our lust, and/or affection can become the way to recover our peace and put matters back in perspective.  After all, how can you go ahead and morally harm someone and cause them to sin while you are praying for their good?  How can you use a person for sex and yet pray for their salvation?
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"Where there is no love, put love -- and you will find love." - John of the Cross
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Another grave temptation one encounters in the spiritual combat with the flesh is the idea that one has already committed a mortal sin by placing oneself in the occasion of sin,  "So I may as well go all the way."  That's a trap.  Our Lord says that the man who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed sin in his heart. Impure thoughts deliberately entertained are sinful of course and may dispose one to go out looking - cruising - for an opportunity to engage in sex with another or by one's self.  But don't be tricked into forging a longer chain of sin by saying to yourself - "I already did this so I may as well go ahead and do that."  Pray instead and don't give in to such temptations - sort out the gravity of a particular sin in your examination of conscience - not in the heat of battle.  But if you do fall, get up.  Keep trying - no matter how often you fall.  Go to confession twice a day if need be - just keep trying. "Prayer is the trap door out of sin." - St. Teresa of Avila.
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 I don't know if this is helpful - I'm sorry it has become such a long explanation for what I meant by the 'pray for those you are cruising' statement.  It is important to remember that prayer is in itself an exercise in charity - so as St. John of the Cross advises, "where there is no love - put love."  I think it works.
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How can a young man remain sinless? - Ps. 119:9
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A few years ago I did another post on 'how a young man can remain sinless', that some newer readers might find helpful.  I'll reprint a couple paragraphs from that post here:
As for other types of acting out sexually, these may have a compulsive dimension as well. One has to work at it. But never focus or dwell on the temptation or the act - it takes hold that way. Let impure thoughts go in one ear and out the other, don't focus. Sometimes they stick in the mind - don't focus on them, go on as if they are not there. (Don't get all uptight and try to repress them however, it makes them worse, be calm and let them blow away like "leaves on a windy day".) And if you feel like you've sinned by entertaining the thoughts - don't let your body or the devil convince you that you have already sinned gravely so you may as well go all the way. That is so much his best trick. The other really bad trick of his is, if you do fall, he suggests doing it again, since you've already sinned anyway. Every consent to his wicked suggestions forges another link in his chain - break it immediately through an act of contrition and go to confession as soon as you can. These acts of humility and repentance are your arms in battle, with trust in the Divine Mercy of course. That reminds me, pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy, even if you are steeped in sin, Jesus promised He would not fail to grant His grace and mercy to "even the most hardened sinner, even if he were to recite the chaplet only once." It is a very powerful prayer.
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Maybe you've never heard of it, but there is a mortification referred to as custody of the eyes. It's when you keep from indulging your curiosity about things, the practice trains you to control your "wandering eyes". It can be exercized by not watching TV, or not listening to certain music at times, or not checking some one out on the street or at the beach. As you drive, ride or walk, or are just sitting there, you're going to see someone with a great body and perhaps little on it. You saw it, maybe you looked twice, it's not a sin - even though your body may have reacted. Take that reaction as a warning, divert your attention, move on, jump in the pool - do something. But do it without anxiety and without over reaction. Gradually one learns to not objectify and sexualize everybody and everything, especially if you do not make your body and other peoples body "an idol". There is a certain amount of idolotry in our culture that is directed toward the body. We live in a time wherein the most obvious sign of outward devotion may be properly called, "the cult of the body". We've got to stop our "sacrificing to idols" - a pagan custom revived in our day not unlike that which prospered in ancient Rome and Greece. - The low spark of low rise pants.
Art:  Night in Bologna, Paul Cadmus 

September 1, 2011



This post was cancelled due to lack of interest - by the author.

I know!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dancing with the has-beens and wanna-bes.



Don't look now.
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I don't watch Dancing With The Stars - I think it's sad anyone does.  However I must admit that sometimes, while surfing channels, I have paused to take in the spectacle - sort of how one does with a car accident, I suppose.  I watched Sarah Palin's daughter a couple of times, just because I thought she looked pregnant and couldn't figure out why she was on a TV show.  I also tuned in to watch Kirstie Alley fall - that was funny - they kept replaying it too.  But I would never recommend the show - the dances and costumes are usually so immodest, bordering on the erotic, that even I have to flip the channel.
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News is that the show has booked Chaz Bono for the next season.  I'm sure Chaz is a nice person - I saw him/her on Oprah promoting the autobiography and the documentary about the transition from female to male - although the change is really just a hormonal, cut the boobs off, psychological transition.  The girlfriend claims to enjoy the change as well.  Chaz was a lesbian before this.  It's a complicated transition - one that Catholics do not have to accept as natural or true - since the biological markers still say female. 
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I'm not making fun of Chaz or persons who seek sexual reassignment - I actually believe that there are authentic cases of gender mix-up at birth - I don't understand it - but I've read about such things.  Again - I'm no expert, but it seems to me most of those cases are based on biology and not individual preference, be it psychological or emotional.  Having listened to Chaz, who says at this point she intends to keep her below the belt anatomy intact, I have a hard time understanding how she can be considered a real man.  Again - to each his own and best wishes.  [Yes I feel sorry for such people, much in the same way I felt sorry for Michael Jackson's botched facial reconstruction.]
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That said - if I had kids I wouldn't tune into Dancing With the Stars this season.  In fact, there are a lot of television shows I don't think kids should be watching.  It's not that kids do not already know and hear about the things that are portrayed on TV, it is just that by watching it - week after week, the aberrations are gradually normalized for the impressionable viewer.  Entertainment and news is essentially a propaganda tool.
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Although I still think Modern Family is the funniest show on network TV - right after Big Bang Theory that is.  So anyway - if you watch these shows with your kids, remember to explain what is really going on.  For example:
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Dancing With the Stars:  "Honey, Chaz isn't a real man - she doesn't have a poddy."
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Modern Family:  "It's just a TV show sweetheart!  Those two guys are not really married and even if they could be they are probably living in sin and for sure destroying that little Asian girl's life."
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Big Bang Theory:  "Now take Amy Farrah Fowler and Sheldon - so far, they have the ideal relationship for unmarried couples - they never touch or kiss or do anything else that is sinful."
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Teach your children, and always monitor their entertainment.  Remind them that most of humanity will be damned.
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What?
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Seriously - I think most of television has become a near occasion of sin for many - if not the program - for sure the ads... Victoria's Secret for instance - I don't know why feminists don't object.  It is soft porn.
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Photo:  Chaz at the gym - TMZ.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM



A humble hero of 9/11.
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A couple of years ago I posted about Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M., the heroic FDNY chaplain who was killed during the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. It has since been acknowledged that Fr. Judge was gay and did not hide his homosexual orientation, although those who knew him insist he had been unjustly "outed" by gay activists:
"Prior to Father Mike's death, everyone who knew him for any length of time would never describe him as a homosexual. In fact, never has even one homosexual activist ever provided evidence that Father Mike was "gay." Yet, in newspapers immediately after the funeral mass, Brendan Fay was quoted saying that Father Mike was a homosexual. Fay arranged a media event where many people spoke of Father Mike's concern for the homosexual community and claimed Father Mike was "gay." This was news to me, and I knew Father Mike for nearly a decade.
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After the first series of newspapers stories reported that Father Mike was a homosexual, suddenly politicians were standing up in Congress lamenting the death of "Father Mike, the gay priest." Concerned that Father Mike was being used by homosexual activists, I began to contact many people who knew him for as long or longer than I did. I wanted the truth about Father Mike to be published. Not one of these longtime friends ever heard or saw anything that Father Mike did that would indicate he was homosexual. I personally spent weeks at a time with Father Mike where he and I spoke about many personal matters. Not once was there even a suggestion that Father Mike was "gay." He was a celibate Catholic priest and nothing more." - Source
 
I posted that back in 2009 and a commenter corrected me explaining that Fr. Mychal really had come out as a gay man:


The old article you cite by Dennis Lynch, denying that Fr. Mychal Judge was homosexual, was debunked years ago.

The evidence is now conclusive that Fr. Mychal Judge did, in fact, self-identify as gay, though chaste and celibate. The evidence includes Judge's own handwritten journal entries, published in Michael Daly's biography of him.

Since Lynch’s 2002 article, many close friends of Judge, including former FDNY Commissioner Tom Von Essen, Fr. Brian Carroll, Fr. John McNeill, and Fr. Bernard Lynch, have repeatedly confirmed that Judge identified himself to them as a gay man.
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Fr. Brendan O'Rourke said, "Mychal had come to terms with being gay, and disagreed with official church teaching about gay orientation and gay relationships." (p. 182: Ford, Michael: Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero. Paulist Press).
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(Note: we use 'gay' and 'homosexual' interchangeably to describe orientation only; by all accounts he was faithful to his priestly vows).

Then Judge himself publicly acknowledged his orientation many times. For example, "Look at who we are as gay people at this moment in history, being a gift for the church, being agents of change in both church and society." (p.184: Ford).
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Daly's 2008 biography decisively settles the question. Daly published excerpts of Judge's personal journals in which he wrote in detail of the struggles and joys of accepting himself as a gay man. (Daly, Michael: The Book of Mychal: the Surprising Life & Heroic Death of Fr. Mychal Judge: 2008).
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For example, Mychal wrote, "I thought of my gay self and how the people I meet never get to know me fully … (yet) I feel no guilt, none whatsoever today -- I feel on the train Home. I am at peace finally. This is what You want me to do, Lord ... You, You alone, brought me here. I have nothing to fear today. Thank You, thank You, Lord !" (pp. 86, 301-302: Daly).

It's significant that in the face of all this evidence, Dennis Lynch never pressed his claim after 2002. Nor have Mychal's Franciscan order or family ever denied that Mychal self-identified as a gay man. Indeed, two Franciscan publications,
St. Anthony's Messenger
http://www.americancatholic.org/Messenger/Dec2002/books.asp#F9
and AmericanCatholic.org
http://www.americancatholic.org/eNews/FriarJack/fj112102.asp#F4.
have acknowledged the same.
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Judge did not come out to those, like Lynch, with deep visceral reactions and prejudices. Mychal picked and chose when and to whom to come out.

In the end it's clear that Fr. Mychal Judge was selectively, if not generally, open about his gay orientation and self-identity. And although he was celibate, he did not agree with official teaching on same-gender relationships.
10:22 PM

Today there is talk of Fr. Mychal as Gay Catholic Icon.
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I admire Fr. Mychal - on 9/11 he went down to the burning towers to administer the sacraments to the dying - he sacrificed his life to exercise his priestly ministry in persona Christi.  No one can ever take that away from him - he is a hero.  Sadly, if he disagreed with Church teaching regarding homosexuality as noted by Fr. Brendan O'Rourke, who said, "Mychal had come to terms with being gay, and disagreed with official church teaching about gay orientation and gay relationships."  - I'm not sure he can be considered a role model or patron 'saint' in the strict sense for gay Catholics.
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If Father had publicly disagreed with Church teaching, or did so within the context of the sacrament of penance and spiritual direction, I find that troubling.  If he struggled privately with Church teaching yet publicly supported it - that would be a different matter.  I don't know if that was how it worked for him however.  Lately I've noticed that more and more Catholics with same sex attraction are identifying as gay - which seems to suggest they accept the gay political agenda and therefore reject the teaching of the Church regarding homosexuality.  Yet I've discovered that is not always the case.  I've come across a few Catholic bloggers with SSA who identify as gay Catholics yet live chaste and celibate lives in fidelity to Church teaching.  Therefore, if Fr. Mychal had accepted and promoted Church teaching in that way, while ministering to those who struggle with SSA - right where they are at, so to speak - that type of fidelity could be exemplary.
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Sadly, that was not the case.
Journal entries published in a "The Book of Mychal," a 2008 biography, show Judge struggling with the secretiveness his sexual orientation sometimes required. "I thought of my gay self and how the people I meet never get to know me fully," he wrote.
The priest bent church rules by joining the gay Catholic group Dignity and allowing it to meet in his Franciscan-run parish. He counseled gay couples and the parents of gay children, according to Fay, and began ministering to AIDS victims during the 1980s, when the disease was considered a gay scourge.
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But even some of the Judge's closest friends didn't know he was gay, said David Fullam, whose firehouse sat across the street from the Franciscan friary. The former firefighter wears a bracelet emblazoned with Judge's name and donated $240 recently to All Saints' monument fund.
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"We knew that he ministered to the AIDS population and the gay population," Fullam said. "He was very inclusive." While some firefighters were taken aback when they learned that Judge was gay after his death, they would have accepted him regardless, he said.
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"We didn't care if he was gay or straight," Fullam said. "We loved him." - Gay Catholic Icon
What's the problem then?
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Even Fr. James Martin asks that question. 
The Rev. James Martin, culture editor of the Jesuit magazine America, said some Catholics are uncomfortable with Judge's sexual orientation and downplay that aspect of his life.
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"But why should they be? For all we know, he lived a perfectly celibate life," Martin said. "He lived as the Catechism asked him to live and kept his ordination promises. Gay, straight or somewhere in between, he's a hero. If you rush into a burning building to minister to people, while knowing that you might die, that's true holiness." Ibid
I like Fr. Martin, but to answer his question I would respectfully reply:  It seems to me the problem lies with the notion that homosexual behavior and relationships are good - that they are somehow part of God's will.  As noted, "The priest bent church rules by joining the gay Catholic group Dignity and allowing it to meet in his Franciscan-run parish."  As Catholics, I don't think we can bend Church teaching to suit ourselves.
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Indeed, I truly admire Fr. Mychal and pray God accepted his sacrifice, but I'm very sad that he has been mythologized as some sort of gay patron saint or icon.  In my opinion, the man's greatness, indeed his holiness was his fidelity to his vocation and ministry as priest - culminating in his final sacrifice at the World Trade center on 9/11.  Charity covers a multitude of sins.  Having said that, I prefer the biography of Fr. Mychal Judge offered by his Province of the Holy Name, I link to it here:  About Father Mychal.  It focuses upon the man, the priest - not his sexual orientation.
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May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Breaking News...



Cathy should be getting out soon and back to blogging!  Yay!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Second guessing your life.



Sometimes I think I know what purgatory will be like.
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Oh - if souls only understood the extent to which Christ means these words from today's Gospel, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow me..."*
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Deny the self in one way, the very self pops up in another more sneaky way to claim his rights. At times it has been like a knock down drag out fight.  There is only one self with many appetites - sometimes it seems like a self-eating bacteria.
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"What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  Or what can man give in exchange for his life?" - Matthew 16: 21-27
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I hung my head.
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Note:  I posted this yesterday but removed it because I thought some people would think it was a 'poor me' post or something like that.  It's not meant that way at all.  Whatever.  I decided to post it for today since I've got nothing else.
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*Paraphrase of John of the Cross
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Art: Andrew Wyeth

Meaning what?


This post was set to carry the subtitle: Making up new definitions for words and terms.  It wasn't on Larry's top ten list of popular blog topics guaranteed to get a lot of hits and comments, so I scrapped it.  The following glossary of words and their extended meanings is how far I got with the project...
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Tentative - one who lives in a tent or is related to a tent.

Peddlefile - an annoying bicyclist.

Pompous - one who wears big hair - e.g. pompadour.

Asinine - an event which occurs when nine asses he-haw in unison.

Drinking-bout - a lone medieval-style drinking contest with no one.

Travesty - a really bad outfit, or a tasteless wardrobe belonging to a transvestite.
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Art:  A sample of some of the new headers I've been working on for the blog.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I was thinking... again.



Instead of ending the blog, I might continue writing it anonymously - under a pseudonym.  I figure that way I can be even more honest and forthcoming without fear of destroying my reputation and losing more friends - the offline ones I mean.  I know I say we shouldn't worry about our reputations so much, but recent experience clearly demonstrates I'm unable to do as I say.  Proud Mary.
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Anyway - from now on I just might publish under a pseudonym - I'll keep the blog title however because it is probably one of the coolest blog titles ever.

Mass Chat: Cancelled.



Due to a lack of interest.
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I'm a little skeptical however.
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What?

Here's a thought.