Sunday, September 25, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Saturday, September 17, 2016
I got to men's group this morning. It was good to see the guys after the long summer break.
We watched an episode of Crossing the Goal that was addressing part of the Our Father - "Lead us not into temptation."
The members of the Crossing team pointed out that we all face temptations and we can fight some, with God's help, but that some we should get away from because they are so difficult to resist. After the episode ended the guys there for the meeting split into groups.
Then the small group discussions began.
Then I made some people uncomfortable.
In my group, we had some general discussion about how temptation affects us all, and intrudes even at Mass.
But then one man, an independent contractor, began talking about one temptation he faces that he has given into - taking payment under the table and not paying taxes. He noted that he's competing against weekend contractors who have full-time jobs - along with health insurance - who charge less than he legitimately could. So he fights that temptation all the time, especially when his family is strapped.
I kept silent; his discomfort seemed real, and I could understand and sympathize with the tough situation he was in. But then he went on to say he had spoken with a priest who basically gave him the okay to do it. Then another man observed that the government sometimes uses the money for things we don't like anyway.
At that point, the sarcastic me commented that it's like being in a supermarket and eating some of the food without paying, because, after all, the store overcharges and it really doesn't hurt anyone anyway, right?
The contractor got the point, and said ruefully it's a real dilemma for him.
But then another man began talking about how he and his wife at one point had four children and didn't want more, so his wife used an IUD. Then he laughed and added they later changed their minds and had two more children. But he noted that in choosing to used the IUD that sometimes a sin stops being a sin, and that he was acting like a grownup and could justify doing so.
At that point I interrupted and said that a sin doesn't stop being a sin just because we decide it isn't one and that saying "justify" suggests that we know something is still wrong, but we are trying to convince ourselves that it's okay. I wanted to say more to clarify, but the time ran out. I got the feeling the other men in the group were uneasy. It certainly felt awkward.
If there had been more time I would have pointed out that there are indeed extreme circumstances under which a "sin" is not a "sin" when violating one moral law prevents a greater moral wrong from occurring. So, for example, it's wrong to lie, but if the lie is to save an innocent person's life - such as one might have done in hiding an escaped slave from the South or a Jew from the Nazis. But such cases are not common, and certainly not for suburban, middle class men in the U.S. (right now, anyway).
I did say as the group broke up that I hope I didn't make everyone too uncomfortable.
I got a few nods of acknowledgement. But I'm not sure what they were thinking.
Sometimes when I look in the mirror with my long beard and blazing eyes I think, Old Testament prophet. (At least, my ego would like to entertain that comparison!)
And you know how many friends they made.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Diocese of Rochester issued the following statement on the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack:
"Fifteen years ago this Sunday, our nation was forever changed by the horrendous events of Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, our nation suffered a single day of carnage that tore at the very fabric of our daily life and broke our hearts. Fifteen years later, with the sorrow and anger and fear of that day still fresh, we also bear the grief of many more unbearable and horrific acts of terrorism and violence throughout our world.
"Sadly, these events are part of the long litany of senseless violence in the history of humanity. As Christians, the Cross at Calvary reminds us that our Lord and Savior, too, was an innocent victim of an unjust and cruel act. Those who died in these terrible acts also have suffered a kind of crucifixion from their perpetrators. But our faith tells us if we die with Christ, we also will rise with Him one day. From this faith comes our certainty that the grave is the threshold to external life. As Pope Saint John Paul II said, 'Faith come to our aid in these times when words seem to fail. Even if the forces of darkness prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say.'
"With this faith as our compass, let us envision a future of peace, working together with people of all faiths for an end to the violence that plagues us. Let us never forget those innocents who tragically died on September 11, 2001, and continue to pray for the repose of their souls and their families. Let us pray daily for all those first-responders and service men and women who risk their lives to shield us from harm.
"In imitation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, recently declared a saint, may we build a culture of life which sees in every person the face of Jesus."
Pax et bonum
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Friday night's Fraternity meeting provided a snapshot of why I want to get out of providing music for the Fraternity.
The night was to prepare for the upcoming profession, and the Minister wanted us to practice the songs. I had already told her that I didn't want to provide music after the profession, so there would have to be another way to provide music Beginning in October. But I made it clear that I would play for the profession.
I prepared the three main songs for the profession Mass to practice, and printed song sheets for the Fraternity, something I've done every time I've provided music. But ... the minister had called the woman who used to do the music before I did, and gave her the impression that I was not going to provide music starting immediately, so the woman prepared three different songs to sing. We both arrived prepared - and the Minister had printed the program with the three songs in it so we would practice them. She got upset - not angry, just flustered - that I had also printed the songs. The woman who had prepared three different songs thinking they would be needed put hers away. My song sheets were not needed, so they got put back in my bag.
I spent the time before the meeting began setting up tables and chairs, opening windows, and helping people with walkers or with heavy bags get to the meeting room - which is what I really like doing rather than fussing with all the music stuff.
When we started singing the songs, with me leading, two women joined me to help with the singing. But one of them - the soprano who sings harmonies I'd mentioned previously - began singing one of the songs using half notes for part of it where the music was actually in quarter notes, turning the last verse especially into a mish-mash. We had to go through it again a couple of times with me not really playing, just strumming loudly on each beat so people could follow. Meanwhile, one of the women to be professed asked where a song she had requested was, and I said the Council had rejected it - too contemporary, not one of the Charismatic and Steubenville songs they like, and, one they did not know (of course, the musician who was playing it, the two women being professed who wanted that particular contemporary hymn, and a younger member of the Council did know it) - and substituted an old hymn that was not intended for guitar. To be honest, I struggled with that one.
Then we started running through some Mass parts that the Fraternity old guard wanted, but which no one else (including me) knew. We had to keep doing them over and over. Then one of the old guard began saying that the women in their response part should sing it a way different than the music called for because that other way was the way they used to do it at Steubenville years ago. We kept trying to do it the way he wanted - with him pushing for repetition and the Minister getting more and more upset because we could not do it the way it used to be done. Interestingly, given their rejection of the contemporary song because people would not know it, they were trying to get the Fraternity to sings Mass parts few knew, and they were okay with that.
There was some rolling of eyes by folks, including those to be professed, as all this dragged on.
Practicing basically ate up the much of the time for the Fraternity meeting.
I spent the last 20 minutes of our time at the church helping people carry things and escorting them to their cars in the now dark parking lot. Something I enjoy doing.
Anyway, a frustrating night musically. I should have offered it up, but to be honest after I got home I took the dog out for a walk, then had a beer.
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
There, I'm not the lead, and I'm playing and singing with skilled people. I was comfortable there. It was wonderful.
Pax et bonum