Saturday, August 20, 2016

Facing East ...Ad Orientem

There are always great discussions about this ancient custom prevailing over how Mass ought to be celebrated.  Recently Cardinal Sarah suggested that priests return to the practice of celebrating Mass facing east, as the Extraordinary Form is traditionally celebrated.  I grew up with Mass celebrated like this, and when I returned to the sacraments in 1972, a few local parishes had not turned their altars around yet.  St. Agnes in St. Paul, a parish I frequented, still celebrates Mass ad orientem.  I actually prefer it - but I accept the other - facing the people.  (I prefer kneeling for communion on the tongue as well, but I accept the other.)

That said, this morning's first reading at Mass seems to establish the reasoning behind the ancient practice quite beautifully - actually, quite gloriously.

The angel led me to the gate which faces the east,and there I saw the glory of the God of Israelcoming from the east.I heard a sound like the roaring of many waters,and the earth shone with his glory.The vision was like that which I had seenwhen he came to destroy the city,and like that which I had seen by the river Chebar.I fell prone as the glory of the LORD entered the templeby way of the gate which faces the east,but spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court.And I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD.Then I heard someone speaking to me from the temple,while the man stood beside me.The voice said to me: Son of man, this is where my throne shall be,this is where I will set the soles of my feet;here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever. - Ez 43:1-7AB

Hebrew illumination of Ezekiel's vision.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Escalation of violence in Congo

I only learned of it today.

Christians hacked to death, villages obliterated.

The persecution of Christians has escalated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), prompting fears that a jihadist group is gaining strength in the region. 
At least 36 people were killed in the North Kivu region on Saturday. It is the deadliest attack there since November 2014, with some saying that casualties might be nearer to 50. The victims were reportedly tied up and hacked to death. 
The Islamist Allied Democratic Forces-National Association for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) have targeted Christians in the north-east of the DRC for several years after their attempt to overthrow the Ugandan government failed.
The United Nations has urged the Democratic Republic of Congo to investigate the massacre. A statement from the UN’s high commissioner on human rights said the death toll from the group since 2014 had risen to 645. 
On Monday the Pope condemned the “shameful silence” over the violence in the region.
At his Angelus for the feast of the Assumption, he said: “My thoughts go to the people of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have been recently hit with fresh massacres, which have for some time been perpetrated in shameful silence, without attracting even as much as our attention. Unfortunately, they are part of the too many innocent people who have no weight on world opinion.” - source

August 19, 1917
Our Lady of Fatima:
"Pray, pray very much. Make sacrifices for sinners. 
Many souls go to hell,
because no one is willing to help them with sacrifice."

Looking at art ...

Tribute to an unknown Flemish artist.

See - people look the same today.


Sometimes I imagine they didn't.

But they did.


Kind of.

Here's looking at you ...

I have to get back to painting. I'm not happy with anything I've done. So I'm going to continue to work on Matt Talbot.  I'll never be finished.

I was thinking about some of my older stuff, wishing I could rework much of it.  Wondering where it is now.  Did people throw it out?  Did it get destroyed in floods or storms or fires?  Has it changed hands?  Is it in a second hand store?  Did someone gesso over it?  Do they add it to their kitsch collection and decorate it with sparkle dust?

I'm a fool.

Song for this post here.


The Suicide of Danny Fitzpatrick

Staten Island boy who took his own life.
May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

He gave up.

I facetiously posted on bullying yesterday, and a friend alerted me to the suicide story of a 13 year old Brooklyn Catholic schoolboy and was shocked by my ill timed post.  Rightly so.  Suicide is not an appropriate solution to bullying, especially the kind that is ignored and allowed to continue by school officials.  The story of Danny Fitzpatrick is truly heartbreaking.

At Holy Angels Catholic Academy in Brooklyn, Daniel Fitzpatrick’s biggest test had nothing to do with academics. 
The 13-year-old seventh-grader — like so many young people in schools across the country — was the target of relentless bullying because of his grades, his weight and his sweet disposition, family members told the New York Daily News
This summer, Daniel detailed some of his toughest struggles in a letter that accused classmates of turning on him — and school officials of ignoring his pleas for help.
Then, just days before his 14th birthday, he decided he’d had enough. On Thursday, he wrapped a belt around his neck and hung himself inside the attic of his family’s Staten Island home.

“I gave up,” he wrote in the letter that preceded his death by several weeks. “The teachers . . . they didn’t do anything.” - WP - The parents story here.

There appears to be more to this story.  From the Washington Post:
Documents obtained by The Washington Post offer a more complicated picture of Daniel’s life and reveal that some believe the teenager’s struggles extended beyond the bullying he faced at school.
The boy’s father, also named Daniel Fitzpatrick, told the Daily News that he had been at odds with Holy Angels ever since officials there recommended that Daniel repeat the seventh grade at another school. The suggestion was offensive, Fitzpatrick told the paper, because he attributed Daniel’s academic struggles to the merciless bullying he suffered, noting that the boy’s “confidence was completely shattered.”


Last fall, in a report filed with New York City’s Administration of Children’s Services and obtained by The Post, an investigator wrote that Daniel was failing his classes and engaging in angry outbursts in class.
“Danny said mom being drunk affects him in everything and makes him angry,” the report stated. “He said dad also drinks, but controls himself more than mom. Student can’t remember a time when mom was not drunk often.”
The report continued:
Danny denies physical abuse by mom and dad, but says Kristen, his older sister, hides him in the attic or his room when mom is drunk. He says his dad and Kristen protect him.”
Danny denies suicidal thoughts, but feels angry, sad, has thoughts of wanting to run away. Mother is blaming his teachers for his failures and has written several accusatory letters to school. Student is afraid of both parents anger. - Washington Post

My apologies for my insensitivity.

I don't approve of bullying.  I was being facetious in my original post.  Danny Fitzpatrick's situation appears to be completely different from what I was talking about, although I know how 'mean' it must have come off.  Again, I apologize.

That said, I was never bullied by playmates or schoolmates.  My family and the nuns did that.

Like Danny Fitzpatrick, my parents were drinkers and abusive - Danny said his parents weren't abusive - but his sister hid him whenever his mother was drunk.  I wonder if his surviving family members, especially a sibling still at home, is going to be honest about mom's abusive behavior?  I doubt it.   It took many years for me to admit it, but my older brother was abusive as well.  I grew up thinking my family pretty much despised me.  Suicide was never an option for me, since I was actually raised Catholic and taught about mortal sin and hell.  Knowing how deficient Catholic religious education can be, I wonder if Danny was taught that.

These days, suicide is discussed openly and is becoming all too commonplace.  Danny 'chose' that awful option.  Something was wrong somewhere: With his religious formation, his teachers, and his family?  Perhaps he suffered from some sort of unrecognized, undiagnosed clinical depression?  I have no idea.  If the stories are true about the parent's drinking, that in itself is often problematic.  Drunk parenting is often marked by some sort of emotional neglect.

Suicide is very complex.  Bullying probably contributed to it, even though Danny was able to defend himself: He states he fought back.   Nevertheless, bullying played a role, but there has to be more to the story - I can't know all of the details, only what I've read in the news and documented here - so I'm simply speculating.  I'm neither attempting to defend bullying or promoting it.

My ill-timed and inappropriate post not withstanding.


Prayers for Danny Fitzpatrick and all kids tempted to suicide.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Real O'Neals ... Why?

Noah Gavin of The Real O'Neals.
Gavin claimed the actor who plays the gay character 
Cam on Modern Family was
“playing a caricature … of a stereotype”.
Gavin himself is a caricature of a stereotype.

The Dan Savage Fantasy

No wonder morals are in the toilet if the family life, parish life, and Catholic school portrayed on The Real O'Neals is even close to reality.  Obviously it is exaggerated for comedic purposes, but it misses due to the over the top gayness portrayed - and the writing just sucks.  It's queer - in the original sense of the word.  The fact that it is on TV at all demonstrates network television has hit bottom - the characters in the show are all caricatures of a stereotype.  Last night, ABC filled prime time with a mini-marathon/promo, 2 hours of ideological propaganda.  I left the TV on, with the sound off, while I worked on a project, glancing up from time to time just to watch how far the show would go.

Same sex dating, dancing, crushes, kissing - all very tween-age fantasy stuff.  While every authority figure represented - parents, priest, teacher, nuns, classmates - though flawed themselves, are nonetheless all-approving and accepting and so happy over the joys of young gay life and love.  Catholic empty-headedness.  If that was Savage's experience growing up no wonder he turned out to be so contemptuous of authentic Catholic teaching.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Catholic blogs, Catholic news, Catholic schools, Catholic religious, Catholic Synod stuff, Catholic people, are so out of touch.

Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
You have fed off their milk, worn their wool,
and slaughtered the fatlings,
but the sheep you have not pastured.
You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick
nor bind up the injured.
You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost,
but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.
Ezekial 34: 1-11

Uncensored thoughts about the collapse of our society.

Reading Catholic blogs and news sources, one would think the biggest problem in the world is who to vote for, banning abortion, banning gays from everywhere and everything, making sure everyone lives their lives according to the genitalia they are born with, making sure no one gets Communion unless they 'qualify', and the list could go on and on and on.  Then there is the whole matter of who is a real Catholic and who is not - oh!  Oh!  Don't forget save the liturgy save the world.  That will make things right - for Catholics.

A woman I know, whose kids go to catholic school told me she doesn't know why she sends her kids there, aside from the quality of education, but she complained they do not learn much of anything about their religion - if and when a class need to be cancelled, it's always the religion class.  She told me they do not know anything about Mass, prayer, the commandments, and so on - as she was taught.  And she went to school in the late 1970's and '80's - when we were already complaining about the quality of religious ed. at that time.  I'm suggesting that even many Catholics may not know very much these days regarding faith and morals.

So you want to go for the 'Benedictine option'?

Yet back to my opening statement - Catholics are out of touch.  How many insulate themselves from association with the 'underclass' if you will?  Sending kids to Catholic school as my friend does, shields them from the harsh reality of inner city public schools ... maybe.  Then, if you live in a fairly decent to a nice neighborhood - you might avoid the white trash types.  The single moms, the unmarried cohabiting on again off again couples.  The chronically unemployed.  The woefully under-educated.  White, Black, Latino, mixed race people from the underclass.  It's not just minorities I'm thinking of. nor am I trying to discriminate or put people down with this, there are other 'drop-out' types.  Call them pop-culture victims, covered with tats, piercings, multiple colors in their hair; some trans, some straight, others sexually fluid, others Therian, neo-pagans, atheist, agnostic, what have you - all very hip and with it.

These people live in our cities - usually.  The point is, So many of these people rarely, if ever go to church, many were raised without consistent reference, and or examples of religious or traditional moral values.  It's Lennon's 'Imagine' come true:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...
Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people 
living life in peace...
Four-month-old Emersyn was killed by her father

Aha-ah ...

My apologies for the long introduction, but I was deeply disturbed and upset over this past weekend's news of a young father beating his infant daughter to death.  She was his daughter, the mom is his girlfriend, she was at work, he was at home babysitting.  As the story developed, people interviewed - his mom, said he was mentally ill - but they trusted him with the baby.  He apparently used drugs as well.  Here's the story:

Four-month-old Emersyn was killed by her father, Cory Morris, in Minneapolis, authorities say.

As he had done often in the past, Cory Morris cared for his 4-month-old daughter, Emersyn Morris, when the baby's mother left for work Saturday morning.
But throughout the day, he did not respond to text messages from Jenny Andersen, his girlfriend and Emersyn's mother. At 4:45 p.m., they finally connected by phone.
He was going to jail, he told her, because he had done something to their baby.
At some point during that day, murder charges say, Morris snapped and punched Emersyn nearly two dozen times as she lay on her bedroom changing table. After he called Andersen and his mother to tell them what happened, they told him to call 911. Despite paramedics' efforts, she died at Hennepin County Medical Center from blunt force trauma. 
Morris, 21, was charged Tuesday with second-degree intentional murder in the baby's violent death.
"This is beyond comprehension," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a news conference announcing the charges. - Finish story here.
I don't know how Morris was raised, what his education was, but I'm pretty sure this guy would not be interested in the least about what we as Catholic argue about or try to moralize about online, or even worry about regarding who goes to communion or who doesn't and all of this crap we get ourselves embroiled in.  The couple is white - I mention that because everyone is equally wrought with guilt over 'Black Lives Matter' - another political bag of crap when you stop and consider how black kids - if they survive birth - are so often raised without 2 parents, usually a single mom with kids from different dads, under-employed - if employed at all, and more than ever, un-churched.

Where am I going with this?  I don't know, but our society, our culture, our country is insane - it has fallen apart.  Family life is in shambles.  The moral-infrastructure has collapsed - or is close to it.  We talk about CINOs - Catholics in name only - but I wonder if the majority of people in our country really even go to church or have any religion at all.  Spiritual but not religious?  Fine with me - but in that case, what's the source of their 'moral code'?

While looking for the link to the story about the local guy beating his infant daughter to death, I came across even worse horror stories - dads and moms doing horrible things to their children, live-in unemployed boyfriends beating and killing their girlfriend's babies.  Go here for a 'short list' of local abuse.

Imagine no restraints.

I thought my family life was bad - dysfunctional, disordered.  At the very least I was educated in good Catholic schools, learned right from wrong, and so on. Yet apparently those days of the Baltimore Catechism are clearly a thing of the past.  Though I strayed, I had a formation, a foundation to return to.  Today many no longer have that.  Many were never even taught that.

Even in good neighborhoods, it seems to me many people no longer have a desire, or a need for religion, they confess a general morality, but no accountability - no need for church - so they don't go.  They tolerate and accept single parents - grateful they chose to have a child - although they would understand if they had an abortion.  They tolerate and accept cohabiting unmarried couples, gay or straight, and are happy to celebrate their child's gay wedding if they choose that.  These are the 'nice' people.

No wonder the bad people are so bad.

I was listening to a discussion on PBS about Clinton and Trump, and someone mentioned Millennials don't like Trump because they perceive him to be 'mean'.  Millennials don't like mean people.  I suppose religion and morality is mean because if differentiates between good and bad.  See - a permissive morality might work out well if you have some stability:  Have a good job - or a good income - and you emulate the patterns set by your parents and grandparents - strive for an Ozzie and Harriet success story, have the form of an upright life with out all the restrictions.  But we forget that there is a vast majority of people who are much different.  They want all the good stuff you want, but they don't even pretend to follow the rules - they don't want rules.

Imagine ...
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

It's like the kid in Milwaukee said during the BLM riots this past week:
“It’s sad, because you know, this what happened because they not helping the black community, like you know, the rich people, they got all this money, and they, like not trying to give us none.” - Source

Imagine all the people, sharing all the world... really?

John Lennon was such a jerk, wasn't he?  Elitist scam artist.

So anyway.

My apologies if anyone thinks I'm being insensitive to the people who kill their kids, be they sane or mentally ill, under-educated or educated, religious or non-religious - that is not my point here.  I just don't think religious people - myself included - are living in the real world when we carry on about religious, theological, and liturgical problems, while the culture disintegrates around us.  We assess our political choices based upon our personal bias and religious convictions which on the whole seem to have little or no impact upon the lives I've discussed above.

That said - I've been just as dumb, just as bad, just as irresponsible as some of the 'types' I discuss here.  So I am in no way saying I'm better, looking down on others, nor thanking God I'm not like them - I suppose what I'm trying to say, or express, is that we insulate ourselves from these harsh realities.  At least I do to some degree.  I look back on my own misdeeds and moan - never having known how bad they really were.  Which means I have no right to be self-righteous about what is going on in the lives of others.

I suppose.

I may be wrong about everything.

So I stand condemned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

St. Roch

O blessed Saint Roch, patron of the sick, 
have pity on those who lie upon a bed of suffering. 
Your power was so great when you were in this world, 
that by the sign of the cross, 
many were healed of their diseases. 
Now that you are in heaven, 
your power is not less. 
Offer, then to God our sighs and tears 
and obtain for us that health 
we seek through Christ our Lord. - Source

St. Roch was a layman, a pilgrim.  His feast day is August 16, the day after the Assumption.  Popular legend indicates he contracted the plague and was nursed to health, in part, by a dog who licked his wounds and brought him food.  Roch also nursed other plague victims.  Unrecognized when he returned to his home town, the authorities imprisoned him as a spy.  Thus he is the patron saint of the falsely accused and imprisoned, of dogs, pilgrims, the homeless, as well as plague victims or those suffering skin diseases.  He is often depicted with St. Sebastian as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Interestingly enough, he is also the patron saint of 'bachelors'.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Assumption of the Mother of God

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising,
 fair as the moon, bright as the sun, 
terrible as an army set in battle array?
 - Little Office BVM

Pray very much the prayers of the Holy Rosary and Our Lady will teach you herself what this Glorious Mystery is all about.

We can honor Our Lady today and pray in reparation for blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary. - Promises of Our Lady for those who pray the Holy Rosary

The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies. - Promises of Our Lady

If you really seek miracles and graces - turn to Our Lady, Mediatrix of all Graces, with the prayers of the Rosary.  The littlest of children know how to pray the Rosary, and can do so perseveringly - I know because I recited the Rosary since first or second grade.  In fifth grade I discovered the Miraculous 54 Day Novena of Rosaries to Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii - and I prayed it for special intentions.  

I mention the 54 Day Novena today since it would be a great day to start it - the conclusion of the novena would take place on October 6, the 'vigil' of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.  (If you begin tomorrow, the feast of the Assumption, you will complete the novena on October 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary.  It is such an unique way to honor the Blessed Virgin in the Year of Mercy, as well as in preparation for the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.

I've noted several people have called for participation in the 54 Day Novena for the same dates.  It would be especially efficacious for one to join their personal intentions to this growing 'army'  of Our Lady.

Fr. Richard Heilman has a good history of the devotion on his site, Roman Catholic Man.

Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary, and three novenas in thanksgiving.”
– Promise of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
On March 3, 1884 (in the same year Pope Leo XIII wrote the prayer to St. Michael, and exactly 33 years before the Fatima apparitions), a young girl named Fortuna Agrelli was graced with an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and given this special devotion which she passed onto others. 
At the time, young Fortuna was ill with 3 separate incurable diseases and her doctors had given up on her case saying it was hopeless. In desperation, the young girl and her family began a novena of Rosaries. 
Our Lady appeared to the girl, sitting upon a high throne, surrounded by luminous figures, holding the Divine Child on Her lap, and in Her hand a Rosary. 
The sick girl greeted the Blessed Virgin with the following words: “Queen of the Holy Rosary, be gracious to me, restore me to health! I have already prayed to Thee in a novena, O Mary, but have not yet experienced Thy aid. I am so anxious to be cured!” 
“Child,” responded the Blessed Virgin, “you have invoked Me by various titles and have always obtained favors from Me. Now, since you have called Me by that title so pleasing to Me, ‘Queen of the Most Holy Rosary’, I can no longer refuse the favor you petition; for this name is most precious and dear to Me. Make three novenas, and you shall obtain all.” 
Once more, the Queen of the Holy Rosary appeared to the young girl and said, “Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary, and three novenas in thanksgiving.” 
Obeying Our Lady’s instructions, the young girl was healed and restored to perfect health. - Finish reading here.

No matter who you are, where you are - that is, what state of soul you are in - pray the Rosary, and make an effort to pray this novena.  Our Lady will not refuse you her help and she will obtain even more than we can ask or imagine if we will only take up our rosaries and pray.  If you forget to start, or miss a day, just begin again on the next day - like it says on medication labels - if you miss a dose, resume your regular schedule - or something like that.  The difference here is you could pray an extra rosary another day.  More importantly, if you unite your prayer to others praying the rosary or the same novena - we never pray alone, we help each other - we carry one another's burdens.

Whatever the case, I'm convinced one may have great confidence in the Blessed Mother, because she understands our efforts and most especially our weakness.  Latecomers need to remember the Gospel about the laborers who were hired towards the end of the day - they received the same wages as those who were hired at the beginning of the day.  Our Lady is sure to be even more generous.

That said, Fr. Heilman is promoting the 54 Day Novena for our Nation - which begins on August 15, the feast of Our Lady's Assumption.  The details below:

The nation-wide prayer campaign – Novena for Our Nation – begins this Monday, August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, and goes until October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Please join us, if you are able, for a Rosary Rally will be held in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC on October 7.
The “Novena for Our Nation” website is here (You can sign-up to receive daily emails at the website. Also, you can find the daily 54 Day Novena reflections at the website):

If you feel really generous and have the time, pray two rosaries a day - even three, or four.  Personally, I would like to see the Novena said for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the conversion of sinners, and the defeat of ISIS and radical Islamists as well as for our nation.

No matter, pray the Rosary.  Every day.  Pray, pray, pray the Rosary every day.  Even just a decade to start...

It (the Rosary) will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal Things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means. - Promises of Our Lady

St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, O.F.M. Conv. August 14, 1941

St. Maximilian Maria, Martyr

"That night I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both."

St. John Paul visits the cell in the underground bunker
where the Saint left to die of starvation
was finally executed by lethal injection.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Francis

O Mary, conceived without sin
pray for us who have recourse to thee,
and for those who do not
have recourse to thee,
especially the enemies of the Church
and all those recommended to thee.


Immaculata, Queen and Mother of the Church, 
I renew my consecration to you for this day and for always, 
so that you might use me for the 
coming of the Kingdom of Jesus in the whole world. 
To this end I offer you all my prayers, actions and sacrifices of this day.


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, 
that never was it known that anyone 
who fled to thy protection, 
implored thy help, 
or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, 
I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, 
my mother; 
to thee do I come, before thee I stand, 
sinful and sorrowful. 
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, 
despise not my petitions, 
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.