Saturday, November 24, 2012

Writing about myself.

Why do I think it is important?

I began this blog in particular to write about myself, and from time to time to share 'my story'.  I wonder why?

I have a friend whose mother suffered a stroke a couple of weeks ago - she no longer speaks or communicates except through signs.


The Birth of Christ in art.

Sarcophagus of Stilicho, 4th century, Basilica of St. Ambrogio, Milan
By whose authority?

Obviously there are some reviews of the Pope's new book which really annoy me - my earlier post on the subject was meant in jest.  What I hate is how journalists and critics will isolate a quote out of context, manipulate it and present it as the whole story.  For instance, "Pope says there were no animals at the Nativity."   I haven't read the book yet, but it surely must be that the Holy Father discussed how the Gospels do not recount details such as the presence of animals...  Not to worry.  As I said in my earlier post, a lot of stuff isn't mentioned in the Gospels.

That said, artistic narratives from as early as the 2nd century, have illustrated the Gospels on sarcophagi, illuminated manuscripts, icons, frescoes, and in medieval times, stained glass windows, and so on, up to our day. (In Rome, Christmas wasn't really celebrated until the 4th century - the bas-relief shown at top is a 4th century example of the Nativity.)  Common sense, human experience and understanding 'flesh out' the probable realities not mentioned in the Gospels.

As I implied in a comment on my earlier post, my problem isn't with the Pope's book - it is with the commentators and critics of the work.  One journalist's main objection seems to be "by whose authority" does the Pope speak? 
So the Pope is writing a book on the life of Jesus as reported at the Vatican to complete his three volume opus. So what? Was the Pope there when Jesus was born/ Does he have some special insight into the life of Jesus? As a continuation from Peter the First Pope is there some special relationship when Jesus supposedly gave Peter the keys to the kingdom ... David Crammer
Obviously the author has issues with the Pope - not so much with the Infancy narratives. Benedict XVI, the 'theologian', joins other scholars who are no doubt in agreement with the theological and historical speculation found in the Holy Father's third volume on the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Nativity of the Lord
Over the centuries, the Nativity image tends to resist change in subject matter and even in composition. The changes that do occur help us to understand the underlying doctrinal principles.

The Ox and the Ass

No animals attend Christ's birth in the gospels of Matthew (cached) or Luke (cached), but an ox and ass appear in the images very early on -- for example, in the Nativity block
at left from a 6th-century Palestinian icon. The reason is the influence of the Pseudo-Gospel of Matthew (cached), in which an ox and ass adore the child in fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah1:3 (cached). Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies is a central theme of Christian doctrine, so Nativity iconography stays with the ox and ass all the way into modern times (viz. the 20th-century Nativity portal of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona). This is true even when Mary herself has been left out (example).

Cave or Stable?

The doctrine of fulfillment of prophecy is also behind an often noticed difference between Nativities in the Greek East and the Latin West. By the Renaissance, western art always places the birth of Christ in a stable, whereas eastern images put it in a cave. We see the cave
mentioned as early as the 2nd century by Justin Martyr, and even he appears to be working with an old received narrative. Yet the cave is not in the Gospels, nor does it seem consistent with the manger in Luke, which would imply a stable. So why was it made a part of the story, and why did it disappear in the West?

Justin saw the cave as a fulfillment of Isaiah 33:16, which in his Greek text read, "
he shall dwell in the lofty cave of the strong rock." But there is no cave in Latin Vulgate of that verse (which reads "the fortifications of rocks shall be his highness"), so in the West there was no prophecy to fulfill. Both Pseudo-Matthew and the influential Protevangelium of James try to combine cave and stable by having Mary relocate the baby from the former to the latter a few days after the birth, but eventually the cave disappeared from western thinking about the Nativity. By the time of the Golden Legend (13th century) the cave is gone and the baby is simply born in a stable "upon the hay that lay in the rack."

Images in the West follow this changing venue. A12th-century French relief uses an ambiguous design to accommodate both the stable and the cave traditions. The child's woven basket only suggests a manger and thus a stable. The disposition of the figures follows that of the 6th-century icon but puts them in a square, recessed space that could be either a cave or a built structure. A13th century mosaic in Rome puts Mary in a cave and the child in a stable! In an early 14th-century Nativity, Duccio di Buon Insegna effects a compromise between cave and stable: The figures and even the star are arranged just as in the earlier works, but the space is now a stable that has been inserted into a mountain. - Source

Friday, November 23, 2012

Phone fight.

I wonder what would happen if there were food shortages ...

Today is the memorial of Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ

God our Father,
you gave your servant Michael Augustine
the grace to seek ardently your greater glory
and the salvation of your people.
Grant that, through his intercession
and following his example,
we may serve you and glorify you
by performing our daily duties with fidelity and joy
and effectively helping our neighbor.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

I think the Cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota should install a special shrine to Bl. Miguel Pro, and promote devotion to the saint in view of the large population of Hispanics in the cities, as well as the current civil threats to religious liberty Catholics are facing in the U.S..  Blessed Miguel Pro, a modern American martyr, is an excellent example for all of the faithful who are intent upon defending religious freedom.
At the time of the killing of Pro, Mexico was under rule of the fiercely anti-clerical and anti-Catholic President Plutarco Elías Calles who had begun what writer Graham Greene called the "fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth." - Source

Petition Archbishop Nienstedt to establish a shrine at the Cathedral.  The edifice should be alive with devotion, not simply a monument to architectural style and decorum with 'business hours'.
Archdiocese of Saint Paul and MinneapolisATTN: Office of The Archbishop226 Summit AvenueSaint Paul, MN 55102

Information about Bl. Miguel here.

Art: Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, LaCrosse, Wisconsin.  Neilson Carlin, fine artist.

My apologies to Dorothy Day...

I do like you, I do, I do.*

I wrote about Dorothy Day being a sour puss the other day - and then put a post up - which I took down - wherein I said I didn't like her.  I really do like her - I'm just not fond of all of her followers, supporters and fans.  I'm quite a simple man - so I take her at face value.  She's fine.  If they want her canonized, they are the ones to do it.


A very nice man sent me a photo of Dorothy Day actually smiling. 

I actually found another one here

Maybe someone will send me a photo of Dorothy laughing?  Sort of like the Jesus laughing picture.

*Of course, to her credit, Dorothy Day could care less if people liked her or not.

Black Friday

It's no longer news.

America - dying from consumption...

As I get older, I see the holidays for what they are - or rather what they have become.  Retail sales, football, commercials, retail sales, marketing tricks, entertainment, retail sales...

I used to watch the morning news shows, I no longer do now.  All that screaming and cheering in between breaks - people so happy just to be on TV.  There is very little news - unless it is entertainment news - about celebrities and movies and record deals owned by the parent company, of course. Every aspect of life is hyped and cheered and people are so damned excited about everything on camera - all the time.  They're so excited they can't wait to get to the malls.

I heard there were people camping outside one retailer since Monday - a man wanted a 3-D TV - from Santa, no doubt.

I've been manipulated by marketers all my life.

I used to wear Polo - still do - but I haven't bought anything new for years.  I like preppy - horned rimmed glasses and stuff like that.  The other day a friend showed me the latest Ralph Lauren mailing he received.  It was all the 'Purple Label' merchandise.  (I don't get out much - so it was new to me.)

Some of the product looks exactly the same as the ordinary label clothing - except for a couple details - the horse is different on the polo shirt, and I think Ralph's signature may be on the sleeve.  I can't remember if the shirts sell for $295- or $395 - but the last time I bought a polo shirt, I think it was $65-.  Like I said, they look the same to me.  Lauren also showed 2 watches from $6600- to $25000-.

There is a lot of money out there.  Can you imagine how the Purple Label customers laugh at the poor people camping out to buy a 3-D TV?

I suppose Ralph Lauren is only cashing in on Tom Ford's clients - I forget what the Prince of Santa Fe charges for a suit - I could buy a new car - budget of course - for the same cost.

The other night I watched a PBS piece on David Geffen.  One of the richest men in the world.  He made his fortune from entertainment - early on he managed groups such as Crosby, Stills, Nash.  A "counter cultural" group at one time.  Geffen helped Obama get elected.  He also champions gay rights, gay marriage.  The program hinted that he was responsible for Hilary Clinton not getting the nomination for president.

Big money. 

The marketing of evil.

Tom Ford's house, Santa Fe.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In Thanksgiving for favors received.

S. Francis of Assisi
details here.
I finished it this morning.

Having the family over for Thanksgiving?

Reminds me of my mother: Woman calls cops on Salvation Army Bell-Ringers...

Call out the troops!

Mom?  Is that you?
Local shop owner Sarah Hamilton-Parker, tired after years tolling bells sounded by Salvation Army workers for hours on end during the holiday season, took matters into her own hands by reaching out to local authorities to complain about the noise.

“I listen to this for 200 hours a year,” Hamilton-Parker told the Portsmouth Herald. “This is my fourth year and I can’t take it anymore. I’m so sick of it.”

The frustrated business owner explained that, for five weeks out of every year, from morning to night, she hears the bells ringing as Salvation Army workers attempt to raise money for their cause. - Source

Who knew?

Larry cooks.  How sick is that?

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Get a real job.

This just in:

Fewer postings for theology/religious studies positions

A new study from the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature found that there are fewer jobs being posted for college professors in theology and religious studies than there were prior to the economy tanking in 2008. The number of postings in 2009 was down 46 percent from the previous year across American higher education. In addition, the data show that fewer of the positions that are being offered are tenure track. In 2008, 82 percent of the positions offered were tenure track, but that number dropped to 51 percent in 2009 and 61 percent in 2010. - Source
Now maybe former pole dancers can just stay home and learn to cook and raise their kids...


That's it! No Christmas card for the Pope this year!



The Pope's new book* is now out and he's telling us there were no animals at Christ's birth.  Born in a stable, laid in a manger without animals, huh?  " And she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger..."  Where was the manger, in the hotel lobby?  When the shepherds showed up what did they have with them?  Goat cheese?  No animals?  My ass - er, donkey! I suppose Mary and Joseph took the bus to Bethlehem then?

I think someone better stick to playing the piano in his spare time.

No animals at Christ's birth!

Next he'll be saying Vatican II wasn't a rupture in Catholic tradition.

Yeah.  So.

. . .

This is really what happened that first Christmas... you'll notice the animals were all over the place:
The extraordinary account of animal behaviour that first Christmas.
Although it is not recorded in the Bible, the story of how the lesser beasts behaved at the birth of the Infant Jesus has been handed down through generation upon generation in the animal kingdom, and the stories have varied little no matter what country one finds oneself in. Humans only know the story from their pets, the cats and dogs many people consider members of their family. Of course animal behaviourists like to claim that the animals' stories had been adapted from watching their masters set up a creche in their homes, and that they overheard the tale while the family piously read the Christmas story to children.
Perhaps - but I tend to doubt it, for why would, say a wolf in the forest know the exact same story? Or a country field mouse collect fir needles to festoon his nest with every Christmas Eve, and bring out the pine nuts he had stored up, only to be enjoyed for the twelve days of Christmas? In fact, it is the mice and rabbits who seem to have the most accurate stories of all. Of course the cats never forget a detail, therefore they deserve a great deal of credit as well. The dogs know the story, and tell it to their pups, but otherwise they don't talk about it much, they prefer to lay by the hearth and simply ponder the story quietly. - Finish reading here
*Anything to sell books, huh Papa Fundamentalist?  O Sola Scriptura?
"There is no mention of animals in the Gospels,"** he wrote in the third and last volume of his biography of Jesus Christ, which like the previous two books is expected to become an international best-seller, with an initial print run of a million copies. - CNA
**There's no mention of a lot of stuff in the Gospel.

Photo source.  I'm thinking he wrote that just because they won't let him have a kitty in the Vatican.  It's sooooo passive aggressive.  Sheesh!

Children the world over - send your protests to the Holy Father at this address:
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

The story of the First Thanksgiving...

Pilgrim woman wearing a fur abita.
Once upon a time...

It all began when Protestant religious fanatics were kicked out of England by the English Protestant 'Catholics'.  (Anglicans!)  The fanatics were much too strict for the gayer English who liked to be fashionably dressed, and so they kicked the frumpy bigots out of the country.  Today referred to as Puritans because of their tight, crisp white collars, they were put on ships and set sail for America.  Before embarking, they decided to call themselves "Pilgrims" since they were in search of a holy land.  It worked out well for them as they were able to ask for donations, claiming religious custom and tradition.

Blown off course, the "Pilgrims" landed at Iceland - which they mistook for Canada - they fled the cold icy island in horror.  Finally, they shipwrecked themselves at Plymouth Rock and were met by a delegation of Indians who told them to go back home.  The Americans - as they immediately claimed themselves to be - no longer immigrants or pilgrims, mind you,  killed the Indians and took their land and destroyed all of their colorful feathers and beads, although they took to marketing their tobacco.

One winter it got really cold and snowy and their cabins were washed out to sea in a freak hurricaine, but the Governor was helpless to do anything for the people.  The remaining Indians who ran the casino in the woods, felt sorry for them and brought them food and helped them rebuild their colonnial style houses, laying new sod with charming cobble stone sidewalks and picket fences.  After all the work was finished, the colonists killed the rest of the Indians who stuck around for dinner.

The colonists cooked and ate the turkeys the Indians had delivered, and made cigarettes from the  tobacco they left behind.  To cover up their crimes, the colonists decided they should probably set aside the last Thursday of November every year and give thanks to God, that way history could claim God gave them the land, and no one would ever know that they really stole the land from the pagan Indians - Native Americans, that is. 

There you have it.  BTW, since then, the new Americans would be identified by their W.A.S.P. ID -  Bank of America card and become known as White Anglo Saxon Protestants.  Oh!  Oh!  And last but not least:  Ever since that day, the Protestant holiday we call Thanksgiving has been manipulated to enrich WASPs and Freemasons alike.

This also may explain why so many secularized Americans flock to the Indian-run casinos on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Capes are back... abito piano

"Oh, what a lovely cape.  Is it mink?"

Did they ever go out?

For some priests, yes.  I have a friend who while still a parish priest complained that the new rector of a minor seminary near him had all the men dress in cassocks.  "I wouldn't be caught dead in one."  Now he's a bishop and has little choice in the matter.  It isn't just my 'age group' of men who are priests who prefer suit to cassock, yet those who do seem to be out of favor these days.  (I have friends who are priests who despise the biretta as well.  Not a few devout Catholics are waiting for them to die.)

That said, as many Catholics in the blogisterium already know, the Vatican (Bertone) issued a memo reinforcing the dress code for Vatican employees.  It makes sense.  Evidently it is a signal for the rest of the world as well:
Tornielli said the letter was aimed at refreshing the minds of those who work at the Vatican but also to say that this extends beyond the walls of the Holy See. He added, “it is very rare for priests in the Apostolic Palace not to dress like priests.”

“The call for priests to be more law-abiding and look impeccable is meant to be a subtle example for those who come to the Vatican from outside and are just passing through Rome,” Tornielli said.

Cardinal Bertone's letter, written at Pope Benedict's bidding, recalls a 1982 letter of Pope John Paul II to his vicar general encouraging him to “study opportune initiatives destined to foster the use of ecclesiastical and religious dress.”  
Cardinal Bertone said that bishops should faithfully wear the cassock every day during office hours at the Vatican as an example to the clerics who visit the Holy See.

He reminded clerics that at official and papal events, they are to wear the more formal “abito piano.” For bishops and cardinals, this is a cassock with an embroidered cape; for monsignors, a black cassock with piping of Roman purple; and for priests, a cassock with cape. - CNA
Men in cassocks - very picturesque, and even more fun to paint.

Just stay away from fur Father.


That's what I said: Retailers have basically ruined every holiday.

It all started way back when stores opened for Sunday shopping.

They have commercialized every single holiday by creating a reason to promote something and drive traffic.
This year will see an unprecedented move by the big boys of retail to open their stores earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day, putting pressure on the traditions — from indulging in an oversize dinner to loafing around watching football — that many families hold sacred. - WSJ
I blame the Protestants ...and Muslim immigrants. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh! Benghazi?

All this time I thought they were talking about Ben Gazzara.  He's dead.


Not ready for Confirmation.

The kid and the priest.

By now, most Catholic bloggers know "the high school kid denied confirmation because he is pro-gay marriage" story by now.  It started on Facebook, and soo the story made headlines on Catholic sites.  Shoulder shrug.

How many teens support gay marriage?  Fr. Hollowell knows the answer to that one.

My first thought was that the kid probably didn't care about being confirmed in the first place - and I think I was right.  The truth came out a few days after the press brouhaha. 
The priest told that he only discovered Lennon’s gay marriage post by accident on October 25, the day after having a two-hour meeting with the family. During that meeting the priest had brought up the fact that the Cihaks were not coming to church, as well as “other matters” that the priest said, “I can’t get into here.” No mention was made of Lennon’s views on marriage during that meeting.

The following day Fr. LaMoine’s secretary, who is Facebook friends with Lennon, chanced upon the controversial post and alerted the priest to it.

The priest says that he then telephoned Lennon, and in the course of that conversation the boy said he had chosen not to go forward with Confirmation. - Source
Chances are, support for same sex marriage is only one of the errors the kid embraces:
The mother of the boy, Shana Cihak, told the Forum that she was shocked by what she says was the priest’s decision to bar her son, Lennon, from the sacrament.

“You kind of know the Catholic beliefs, but I never thought they would deny somebody confirmation because you weren’t 100 percent,” she said. “I guess that’s what shocks me.” - Source

I'm convinced what is lacking is good catechesis and faithfulness.  I'm not saying the priest didn't prepare the students well, all in all I think he handled it beautifully and compassionately.  Nevertheless, by the time kids are teens, if they haven't received solid instruction all through their childhood, it might be too late.  Likewise, if the parents don't go to church, it's pretty clear they don't follow the Creed - which includes the act of faith: 'I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God'.  Looks to me as if the sacrament is simply something to git 'er done - a sort of self-acting salvation mechanism.  It's just stuff you have to do to be Catholic - later, it will be a church wedding with all the trimmings.

If anything, this latest situation may be a good argument for why Confirmation should be administered at Baptism, as the Orthodox do - or at least to younger kids.   

My brother was confirmed in high school - he went to a Catholic high school too - he imagined the ceremony was a rite of passage in becoming a man and a chance to pick a cool name.  He understood that it was a sort of Catholic Bar Mitzvah, with a party and gifts.  On the other hand, I was confirmed in 5th grade, and we were catechized and religiously prepared to receive a sacrament - not a celebration of maturity and manhood.  We were also slapped to remind us we need to be willing to suffer, and die if need be, for the faith. 

I think that is lost on many teens today - and their parents.

'Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said 'It's going to rain', would that be bound to happen?'

The Pope speaks.,.

Never before in history have people heard in detail everything the Pope says publicly - and almost immediately - live, as he speaks it.  And now he is going to be on Twitter.  Soon the Pope's third book will be released.  He makes speeches to everyone who visits him; heads of state, sports figures, actors; he speaks every Wednesday and every Sunday at the Angelus - he's talking or writing something all of the time - and it is documented, published - disseminated as if God has spoken.  I doubt the Romans in the heyday of the Papal States ever knew as much of what the Pope said, much less cared.

Do we really need to know the Pope's every thought and word on everything?  Really? 

It's kind of nuts.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mass Chat: This is more important than anything I usually write about.

The Peace and Justice Committee.

The Committee has a weekly entry in the bulletin that I usually skim through; global warming - I know.  Loaves and Fishes - I know.  Respect life = no more war - I know.

Today:  Human trafficking near you.  I didn't know.

I hardly think of it - I pray for kids who are abused and who suffer all of the time - in fact every month in my novena to the Infant Jesus - but my prayer is not limited to those nine days.  It can be such an abstract thought however, strangely limited to far away events such as the Islamic child bride stories, or International kidnap stories.  Having been abused - more at sexually-used myself, I have real, heart aching concern for kids whose lives are corrupted and destroyed in this manner.  I just never think of Minnesota as a resource for human trafficking.


  • The FBI has identified the Twin Cities as one of the nation’s 13 largest centers for child prostitution. 6
  • By very conservative measures, a November 2010 study found that each month in Minnesota at least 213 girls are sold for sex an average of five times per day through the Internet and escort services. This number does not include hotel, street or gang activity. 7
  • A November 2010 study found that on any given weekend night in Minnesota, 45 girls under age 18 are sold for sex through the internet classified websites and escort services. 7
  • In 2010, investigators from three states determined that Minneapolis was the home base of a large domestic prostitution (sex trafficking) ring comprised of three generations of one Minnesota family that was prostituting (trafficking) mostly young girls across the United States. 8
  • About 50% of adult women interviewed as part of a 2010 study focused on North Minneapolis stated that they first traded sex when they were under the age of 18, with the average age at 13. 9 -

It is very difficult to come to terms with statistics like these.  It is very, very hard even to think about - to even try and imagine the filthy, disgusting, soul-destroying activities perpetrated upon young children.  I read stories of the modern day - though culturally medieval Muslims in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan and elsewhere, who not only marry young girl children, but also screw around with boys for sexual pleasure, yet if one of their natural children falls into dishonor - off with their heads.  The perversion inflicted upon children isn't limited to Islam - obviously - and such abuse must have been with us throughout every epoch in every culture.  Yet why do we continue to let it happen today?  How is it we continue to ignore it?

How is it that we only respond to such crimes when it affects our middle to upper classes and our sacred institutions?  To be sure, the sex-trafficking discussed here goes on below our radar.  It's underworld, street life stuff - yet it might be going on in a neighborhood or suburb not far from our nice part of town.  How is that?  Amongst the poor - inner city poor - it's always been a problem.  People knew about it when I was little.  Just like people in the upper class knew about Sandusky, and churchmen knew about clerics and educators.  Why don't we do anything?

In 2010, investigators from three states determined that Minneapolis was the home base of a large domestic prostitution (sex trafficking) ring comprised of three generations of one Minnesota family that was prostituting (trafficking) mostly young girls across the United States. 8
What can be done to stop it?  Healing from sexual abuse is one thing - but preventing it seems to me to be even more critical.  Breaking the chain of secrets and lies, and exposing the perpetrators - and punishing them - even the Islamic offenders, might be a good start.

Parents and single people alike:  Protect the children.

When I was a kid - I wasn't enslaved by a pimp, nor was I sold or looking to make money - I was just used sexually.  I also got to a point where I found acceptance and approval from the men who picked me up.  I had a nice place to sleep sometimes.  Kids want to be loved and protected - poor kids just as much as rich kids.

My parents knew people in the bar who actually offered their daughters for cash.  Nothing was said - no one was reported to the police.

Much later, when I moved in with my boss, my mother went downtown and met him and said to him, "Take care of my son."  Do any of you recall the scene in Doubt, when the mother of the boy, Mrs. Miller told the Sister Aloysius to leave well enough alone?  It was like that.

Parents - be better parents.  You are responsible for your children.

They called it a May-December romance...
Beware of efforts to lower the age of consent.
It's all connected you know.