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, October 08, 2011

Just a song by a woman I like...

If you now yearn to know how that happens (mystical communion with God), ask grace, not doctrine...



“Tax collectors and sinners are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”
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Today's Gospel is very important for ordinary Christians living ordinary lives in the world.  I liken it to "let the dead bury their dead" and Christ's words to Peter when he was so concerned about what would happen to John and our Lord literally commanded him, "what is it to you?  You - follow me."  In today's reading a pious woman from the crowd raises her voice to praise Our Lady for having given birth to Christ, and for having nursed him.  She was perhaps in awe of the mystic relationship, the intimacy between the Son and his Mother.  Yet in his reply Christ exalted the ordinary followers who "hear the word of God and keep it."  Not so much teach it, or define it, or explain it, or wear it on their sleeves - but those who "keep it" - in other words, live it... and oftentimes, not without difficulty.
Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others. Other people will glorify You by making visible the power of Your grace by their fidelity and constancy to You. For my part I will glorify You by making known how good You are to sinners, that Your mercy is boundless and that no sinner no matter how great his offences should have reason to despair of pardon. If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer, let me not offend You even more by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me. Amen. - St. Claude de la Colombiere
'If you now yearn to know how that happens,ask grace, not doctrine; desire, not the intellect; the groaning of prayer, not the study of the letter...'
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"During his General Audience on March 10, 2010, dedicated to Bonaventure, Benedict made the following comments about the stigmata of St. Francis and St. Bonaventure:
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"Of his writings, I would like to mention only one, his masterwork, the Itinerarium mentis in Deum, a 'manual' of mystical contemplation," Benedict said.

"This book was conceived in a place of profound spirituality: the hill of La Verna, where St. Francis had received the stigmata. In the introduction, Bonaventure illustrates the circumstances that gave origin to his writing:

"'While I meditated on the possibility of the soul ascending to God, presented to me, among others, was that wondrous event that occurred in that place to Blessed Francis, namely, the vision of the winged seraphim in the form of a crucifix. And meditating on this, immediately I realized that such a vision offered me the contemplative ecstasy of Father Francis himself and at the same time the way that leads to it' (Journey of the Mind in God, Prologue, 2, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Opuscoli Teologici / 1, Rome, 1993, p. 499).

Benedict continued:
"The six wings of the seraphim thus became the symbol of six stages that lead man progressively to the knowledge of God through observation of the world and of creatures and through the exploration of the soul itself with its faculties, up to the satisfying union with the Trinity through Christ, in imitation of St. Francis of Assisi.

"The last words of St. Bonaventure's Itinerarium, which respond to the question of how one can reach this mystical communion with God, would make one descend to the depth of the heart:

"'If you now yearn to know how that happens (mystical communion with God), ask grace, not doctrine; desire, not the intellect; the groaning of prayer, not the study of the letter; the spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness not clarity; not light but the fire that inflames everything and transport to God with strong unctions and ardent affections. ... We enter therefore into darkness, we silence worries, the passions and illusions; we pass with Christ Crucified from this world to the Father, so that, after having seen him, we say with Philip: that is enough for me' (Ibid., VII, 6).

"Dear friends," Benedict concluded, "let us take up the invitation addressed to us by St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor, and let us enter the school of the divine Teacher: We listen to his Word of life and truth, which resounds in the depth of our soul. Let us purify our thoughts and actions, so that he can dwell in us, and we can hear his divine voice, which draws us toward true happiness."
If we would seek God, then, and if we are to imitate Christ, and Francis, and pass through the apocalyptic events unfolding around us -- always unfolding, until the end of the world -- we must "ask grace, not doctrine, desire, not the intellect; the groaning of prayer, not the study of the letter."
This is the path of poverty which is indicated to us on this great feast day." - Dr. Robert
Moynihan

h/t Paula

Friday, October 07, 2011

Wearing the Rosary... redux

Is it sacrilegious?
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Not necessarily.  I'm not talking about the above photo of the guy with all the rosaries on his head - which I found on a Hallowed Ground post featuring a variety of photos from World Youth Day events.  Perhaps in his case it is a bit over the top, but the idea of wearing a rosary is an old one, and once carried an indulgence - which may explain in part why many active religious orders once wore a blessed rosary as part of their habit.  ("Those who openly wear the Holy Rosary out of devotion and to set a good example may gain one hundred days' indulgence." - Secret of the Rosary: Confraternity Privileges.)  Wearing the rosary by a religious, usually on the belt, but sometimes around the neck (Ven. Maria Agreda, shown below), was seen not only as an act of devotion, it was a form of evangelization and  propagation of the devotion.


Questions regarding wearing the rosary come up every so often.  I get a little impatient sometimes when people automatically assume a pious custom outside of one's cultural experience is somehow inappropriate or sacrilegious.  Wearing rosaries, medals and relicarios is a long standing custom amongst Latinos the world over.  I believe some Catholics in Africa and India may also share similar customs, depending upon what countries the missionaries who originally evangelized them came from.
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When this issue comes up I like to tell the story of the Missionaries of Charity from the hospice begun by Mother Teresa in Manhattan who gave rosaries to their patients to wear around their necks.  Some of the men either converted or returned to the faith, afterwards continuing to carry their rosary about their necks.  A blessed rosary is not a talisman or a lucky charm, nor is it superstitious.  When it is blessed, it is a sacramental, not unlike the scapular of Mt. Carmel, or the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Conception.  Many conversions have come about by wearing such sacramentals - accompanied by the prayers of the person wearing it, or by another - frequently an anonymous intercessor.  Saints such as Therese and Catherine Laboure 'sneaked' Miraculous Medals into unsuspecting workman's pockets, hoping for their conversion.  (I've hidden Miraculous Medals in numerous coat pockets and homes.)  Modern Catholics, and not infrequently, converts to Catholicism tend not to believe these things, or at best they simply do not understand them.


Several years ago Dolce and Gabbana featured a shirtless David Beckham wearing the designer's jeans I think, sporting a rosary they had designed, around his neck as a fashion accessory.  Madonna kind of kick-started the rosary as a fashion accessory thousands of pop-culture years before that - the idea may have come from Latino gangs.  I genuinely doubt these folks had their rosaries blessed, and I'm fairly certain that in Madonna's case, she wasn't wearing the beads out of devotion.  The silver lining in this was the fact the rosary became news - people wanted to know what it was - what it meant.  I'm quite sure there were at least a couple of souls whose interest led them back to prayer as well.  All of that aside, Catholic stores on and off line all sell a form of rosary jewelry: bracelets, rings, and so on.  They are worn as an accessory in the same way a beautiful cross or medal is worn around the neck - yet the beads can be used for prayer as well.
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In St. Louis De Montfort's day these same issues arose.  He tells the story of the Spanish King Alphonso who always wore a large rosary on his belt to encourage his servants in devotion to Our Lady by praying her rosary.   Though at the time the king never prayed the rosary himself, his servants did.  The king fell ill and experienced a vision of his sins - it was shown to him that all the rosaries prayed on account of his example of simply wearing the beads outweighed his sins.  The king recovered and spent the rest of his life continuing to propagate the rosary and prayed it faithfully every day.  De Montfort has many other such stories about the graces received by those wearing a blessed rosary.

Catholics should read St. Louis De Montfort in order to learn true devotion to Our Lady.  Catholics ought to be encouraged not only to have devotion to the Rosary, but to pray the Rosary as well.   And if you feel so moved - wear it like Beckham - or not.  ;)

Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Archbishop Nienstedt in an interview on Catholic Teaching and Same Sex Marriage



"I think people ought to know that there is a threat out there. Either through congressional action or judicial action, this is a very vulnerable situation. So I think the constitutional amendment is absolutely needed." - Archbishop Nienstedt
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Things have been heating up ever since an amendment to the constitution of Minnesota to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman was approved to be placed on the ballot for the November 2011 vote.  Archbishop Nienstedt is in the forefront of the battle, declaring: "The Church has to continue to proclaim the truth in season and out; and the truth is that God calls only one man and one woman to that complementary relationship which we call marriage. Jesus raised marriage to a sacrament, so how anyone who has the Christian faith can believe otherwise is a mystery to me."
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Defending the Church's position and involvement in the fray, The Archbishop explains: "I wrote an article in my paper some time ago indicating that the media is trying to stereotype this action as being mean spirited, prejudicial and anti-homosexual. It’s really not anti anything: It’s a very positive thing – it’s for marriage.

Whatever society decides to do with other relationships is one thing, but marriage is the reality that we ought not to redefine, or rather un-define, which is basically what they’re doing to the reality of marriage, which we’ve known from the beginning. The institution of marriage predates any of our institutions, including any government and any institution of religion. Therefore, it’s something that we have to uphold."
- Read the entire interview with the Archbishop here.
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"I don't know how we got here."
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In the interview the Archbishop expressed a sense of incredulity regarding the issue of homosexual marriage:  "I don’t know how we got here. I’m baffled that here we are in 2012 with as much data that we have around and that people could be questioning the definition of marriage. I think it’s just incredible."
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With the greatest respect for the Archbishop, I must say I'm surprised he is surprised.  As one rather astute blogger noted after New York legalized same sex marriage:  Marriage was already befouled a long time ago and heterosexuals did it.
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I couldn't agree more.  Marriage was downgraded first and foremost by the legalization of no-fault divorce on demand.  While the contraceptive mentality equalled the sexual playing field - opening the way for sex to be considered a recreational past-time, engaged in according to one's personal tastes - at will.  Degenerate heterosexuals engage in sodomy too - so live and let live is the motto used by all to justify homosexual acts and the homosexual demand for marriage and recognition as family.  Neither must one forget that liberal Church leaders have for years promoted the normalization of homosexuality at the grass roots level in progressive parishes and through unofficial support of organizations such as Dignity and New Ways Ministry.
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"Now's not the time for pretendin'."    - Agador-Spartacus 
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Disclaimer:  Once again - for the record - I'm against same sex marriage, gay adoption, contraception, abortion... etc..
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H/T to Ray At Stella for the interview.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Deliver us from evil.



"Prayer is the trap door out of sin."
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I thought of those words from Teresa of Avila after reading today's Gospel wherein Jesus teaches the disciples to pray.
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All of us are sinners of course, but some of us at times have felt ourselves habituated to sin, some of us have been 'steeped in sin from our youth', others maybe just have a root sin they continually struggle with - at any rate - prayer really is the trap door out of sin, it really is necessary to pray in order to overcome sin - sometimes for many years.  As the Lord's prayer says, "deliver us from evil' - we need to ask, and that is what prayer does.
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Let the saints worry about merit.
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Many people think that one must be free from sin to pray - that you can't 'merit' anything if you are not in the state of grace - so they give up prayer, some even stop going to Mass because they either don't want to give up a particular sin, or they can't, or some sin may keep them from Communion, and they say - "so why go?"  Though skipping Mass may be heaping sin upon sin, even then - especially then - they need to pray.  If you don't pray you don't have a chance in hell - literally.  Prostitutes pray - I just mentioned in my post on Bl. Alberto the film La Strada by Fellini, in another film by the director, Nights of Cabiria, there is a scene where all the prostitutes make a pilgrimage to the Madonna.  Divorced and remarried people pray.  Homosexuals pray.  Thieves pray.  All sorts of sinners can and do and should pray.  Not so big sinners should pray and keep praying after a fall as well - you don't have to know about prayer to pray - you just pray.
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Prayer books help.
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So how do you pray?  Pray the rosary and or the chaplet of Divine Mercy - you will definitely get out of sin - sooner or later.  In the quote I use from Teresa of Avila - the particular trap door the Saint is referring to is 'mental prayer' which, reduced to its simplest meaning, is essentially being conscious of what you are praying or saying, and to whom.  But the concept or term mental prayer might be too complicated for ordinary people to distract themselves with right off the bat - which is why written prayers, novenas, rosaries and chaplets are good tools for people who don't know how to pray.  Reading a prayer focuses the mind and the heart and expresses sentiments one may not know how to express.  That is why Catholics have traditionally used prayer books.  That is why the Lord taught us the words of the Our Father, and the Church teaches us prayers such as the Creed or the Hail Mary, and so on.
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"He told them a parable on the necessity of praying always and not losing heart." - Luke 18:1
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Anyway - if you are addicted to some sin - pray.  And keep praying.  Eventually you will get back to the sacraments and Mass and find yourself free from sin - or at least better able to combat it.
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"Prayer is a way of gradually purifying and correcting our wishes and of slowly coming to realize what we really need: God and his spirit." - Pope Benedict XVI
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Photo: Giulietta Masina, Nights of Cabiria 

Blessed Alberto Marvelli


A single layman.
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Blessed Alberto Marvelli, known in life as an engineer and charitable worker, lived from 1918 to 1946 in the diocese of Rimini, Italy. Like his mentor, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Alberto lived a short life, dying at the age of 28. 
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His spirituality, completely free of exaggeration, was perfectly integrated with his daily duties and obligations. His charity reflected that of the good Samaritan, pointed out by our Lord in the Gospel. Alberto dedicated himself to the apostolate sharing in the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Especially during and after the war, Alberto was at the service of the poor and suffering.
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In his youth Alberto was friends with the famous film maker, Frederico Fellini.  Shortly after his beatification, I looked with renewed interest at  a couple of my favorite Fellini films and noted how the director frequently relied upon Catholic devotion and practice to tell his stories.  As a recent commentary by Dr. David A. King suggests, Fellini's Catholicism was deeply woven into his work: Fellini’s ‘La Strada’ Emphasizes Catholic Truths.  I wonder if Blessed Alberto would have lived if the two would have remained friends?  I rather think so, despite the fact sections of Fellini's work were more or less 'indexed' by Vatican censors at the time.   
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Bl. Alberto's spiritual friends included St. Gemma Galgani, for whom he had a tender devotion and drew inspiration for his deep love of the passion of Christ. He also had an ardent Eucharistic piety. His communions seemed to enrapture his soul and kept him joined to Jesus for a long time in thanksgiving.
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Marvelli kept a diary since the age of 15 which reveals many details about his life. In one entry he wrote, "What a great deal of work is needed in this world which is so far from Christ; it is necessary for us to offer sacrifices; we must act to the utmost of our strength to make Christ known and loved. It is the call of duty we are urged by, and we are obliged to realize it."
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Bl. Alberto prayed for the grace to be able to practice acts of mercy:  “Jesus give me a bit of Thy infinite love for men and their miseries, of Thy endless and supernatural ardour of apostolate”.
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Alberto was killed on October 5, 1946 after being hit by a truck while on his way to the aid of a poor family.
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Link: Beato Alberto Marvelli, Diocesi di Rimini

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Gateway saint.


St. Francis of Assisi.
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I think it is just fine that the very first little friar minor is sometimes 'trivialized' as a patron saint of pets, or guru-ized as the great saint of the ecology.  Francis is a gateway saint.  He attracts all types of people.  Many are attracted to him simply because of how he is depicted in art - from great frescoes to greeting cards and cartoons, or through monuments erected in his honor - be they great basilicas or bird feeders.  Much of the iconography depicts the legends surrounding his life which often inspires people  to inquire further into his mission.  In turn, many have embraced the Catholic faith through his influence, and some have been inspired to leave everything to follow Christ in the footsteps of the Saint as a Franciscan.  The Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways.
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Feast of St. Francis of Assisi


Happy feast day!
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Art:  Apotheosis of St. Francis, Giotto, Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Transitus

This evening some of us devoutly recall what is called the Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi.  St. Francis died just after sunset on October 3, 1226, at St. Mary of the Angels in the valley below Assisi.

Part of the "Biological Solution"



You'll be older too...
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Did you know that both Barbara Nicolosi and Fr. Z are technically baby boomers themselves?  I know!  They are sooooooooooooooo old.  Creepy.
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Barbie was born in 1964 and Z-man was born in 1959.  The official range date to qualify for the baby boomer label is 1946 - 1964!
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They too are amongst the condemned!  They too will be dying off; part of the natural attrition of the boomer generation... err, the biological solution as fans of WWII might refer to it.
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Isn't that special. 
  

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Public displays of affection - redux...



No, no, no...
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Every time I try to be fair and think positively - a story like this comes along:
A lesbian actress who starred in "The L-Word" said she kissed a girl -- and got escorted off of a Southwest Airlines flight on Monday for doing it.

Leisha Hailey took to Twitter to call for a boycott of the carrier after a flight attendant told them other passengers had complained after witnessing the affection.

Her first tweet said: "I have been discriminated against." She later added, "Since when is showing affection to someone you love illegal?"

Southwest Airlines Co. responded on its website that Hailey was approached "based solely on behavior and not gender." The airline's four-sentence response said passengers were characterizing the behavior as excessive.

A discussion followed on the flight, and the airline said it "escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground." - Source
So.  That is going too far - in my opinion.  Other passengers do not have to be subjected to that - same sex on same sex, or opposite sex on opposite sex.  Get a room. 
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Did I mention I'm against gay marriage and adoption?
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So, then, a story like this comes along about bad parenting.

The little boy who started a sex change aged eight because he (and his lesbian parents) knew he always wanted to be a girl

  • Parents say it's better for Thomas to have sex change before he is adult...
The lesbian parents of an 11-year-old boy who is undergoing the process of becoming a girl last night defended the decision, claiming it was better for a child to have a sex change when young.
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Thomas Lobel, who now calls himself Tammy, is undergoing controversial hormone blocking treatment in Berkeley, California to stop him going through puberty as a boy. - Source
To be fair...
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So anyway.  Indeed there are heterosexual married couples who have decided to raise genderless kids or who have opted for hormone therapy for their kids who think they are the opposite sex - they are just as bad.  Perhaps there are Therian parents who will let their kids be a cat if they think they are a cat - they are nuts too.  Bad parents are all around us - I know - I grew up with two.  People - you are abusing your kids.
Some, in their desire for children do so 'upsetting and troubling the whole world in their longing for them.  For they do not know whether the children will be good and serve God, or whether the expected happiness will be rather sorrow, or the rest and comfort, trial and grief, or the honor, dishonor.  And because of the children, they might, as many do, offend God more.  Christ says of these people that they circle the earth and the sea to enrich their children, and they make of them children of perdition twofold more than they themselves are.' [Mt 23:15] - John of the Cross, Ascent, Bk III, Chp 18:4
"Sin does not remain in the solitary cell of the individual conscience, but swiftly spreads to become a community of error and fate." - Romano Guardini
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Photo:  Lesbian couple with transgender son Tammy. 

Mass Chat: Implementing change...



Some things take time.
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New for my parish:  Implementing a change in posture at Mass.  Seven years ago the change was implemented elsewhere - but not at this parish.  What is the change?  Kneeling for communion?  Receiving on the tongue?  Nope.  Standing for the prayer after the preparation of the gifts when the priest says:  "Pray my sisters and brothers, that our sacrifices may be acceptable to God..."  The congregation is invited to stand for the responsorial - not after the response is made.  It took seven years.  Brick by brick and all of that, I suppose.  I'm sure the ad orientum swing-about will be just around the corner in ten years or so, huh.
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Little Glory...
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We are rehearsing the new Gloria as well.  Along with inclusive language, it is still set to the same kind of music as before - with piano accompaniment.  I just don't get it when people complain about the 'new' translation.
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Making ugly churches uglier.
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Right smack dab in the middle of the vast space for the steps up to the sanctuary, the parish is adding guard rails for elderly EMHC's to hop up there at communion time.  I'm guessing the decision to add the guard rails may be related to the fact people have fallen and seriously injured themselves after missing a step or slipping.  I suspect the insurance company may have required some safety measures.  Rather than accommodate the safety requirement by discretely positioning the hand rails off to the side in a manner that might blend architecturally and design wise - the railings are plunked in the middle, angled off slightly.  God love our priests, but there are those who have little, if any understanding of art and design and architecture.  I know they think they do - but all one has to do is look at a few local churches in Minneapolis and notice how good they are at bastardizing already ugly worship spaces.  For instance, only ten years ago another pastor put in a hot tub style baptismal in the church I go to.
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Hipsters.
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This weekend it was the Deacon's turn for the homily.  I actually love his homilies.  I believe he also works in Indian Ministries - or at least did so at one time.  I mention it because when he turned around I noticed he had a pony tail now.  He's old.  Likewise, I saw an interview with a retired local anchor man and noticed he had a pony tail now too.  What's up with old guys growing long hair, getting tattoos and earrings?  Not a good look.