Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy 2 - photos

I mentioned that the remnants of Hurricane Sandy got us last night, bringing down a  tree across our back fence (breaking part of it) and into our yard. I took a couple of photos this morning.

The tree even got the bird feeders!

We were lucky, though; some people's homes were damaged. And the folks down in New Jersey and in New York City have been really devastated. Keep them in your prayers.

 Pax et bonum

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy got us

The remnants of Hurricane Sandy are only beginning to reach Western New York - the worst isn't supposed to get here to some time between 10 p.m. and midnight - but we've already suffered some effects at our homestead.

Just as I took the dog out for a quick walk before the heavy rains hit, I heard a loud sound from the back yard. A tree behind our fence had come down - taking out part of our stockade fence and two bird feeders, and filling the back part of the yard with trunk and limbs.

The tree was on CSX land. Parts of it had come down before, and each time I suggested the railroad pay for taking down the whole tree to avoid future problems. They were only interested in paying for what came down. Well, it's all down now, and they'll have to pay again for tree removal and repairing our fence once more - for the third time. Penny wise, pound foolish.

Tomorrow, I'll call the insurance company. Then we have to get a tree company in here to cut and remove the tree, and the fence company to replace the sections of fence damaged.


Given all the damage that's expected when the worst part of the storm hit later tonight, it might be days before we can get anyone in. Ours is just a fence and yard; some folks will have to deal with damaged homes.

I hope school is closed tomorrow so I can make those calls.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Scary Halloween Party

One of my wife's co-workers loves Halloween. She and her husband regularly have a big party. This year, my wife cajoled me into going.

Now, understand that I am not a party person. I'm not a crowd person. I don't like a lot of noise. I like small gatherings with people whom I know well. Otherwise, I'd rather simply go for a long walk in the woods. By myself. Or with just my wife. Or my dog.

At this party there were going to be a few people I knew - but not well.

Dressed in costumes (I was a redneck with a gun - out hunting zombies), we were among the first guests to arrive.

The house was all decked out. Lots of spiders, skulls, body parts. All sorts of sound effects. We chatted with the hosts, then a couple I knew a little arrived, so I talked with them. A few more peopled arrived. Funny costumes, chatting. Some good snack foods. All fine.

Then more people came. And more. And more. The volume increased. Wine and beer flowed freely (I stuck with cider; designated driver). More people arrived. More volume.

A couple of professional clowns arrived (they are professionals, but they were there as guests, not to work).

One woman began to tell several listeners about her failed marriage - he was a drunk - and her experiences in a singles group and with on-line dating. Lots of creeps. Lots of people using images that look nothing like what they really look like. There's one nice guy she's chatted on line with a couple of times. But they haven't met face to face yet. There was an air of sadness about her, a vulnerability. Even when she smiled I had the sense it was an effort. I felt bad for her. But I also felt uncomfortable: She was sharing some things that were personal, more suited to close friends and confidants, and not the strangers surrounding her at this party.

More people.

By two hours into the party, my head was hurting. All attempts at conversation were disrupted repeatedly by the volume. Loud, cackling laughter. One fellow with a booming voice constantly making joking comments. People talking even louder to be heard over the noise.

More people arrived. Including some kids (at an adult party?), who screeched and got into balloon fights (with balloon animals and swords produced by the clowns), and knocked over food and a table as they raced from room to room. Mom was busy chatting.

Wife had wandered off to chat.

At some point the mom and children left. Another party to go to.

A woman sat next to me and told me she was afraid of clowns. She sipped her wine, ate some food. Asked about my gun (a BB gun). I made some jokes about keeping the zombies at bay. She mentioned again she was afraid of clowns. She finished her wine, and left to get more. A man sat next to me. He just kept looking around, said nothing. The clown-fearing woman came back, saw the man , and wandered off, sipping her wine.

More beer and wine.

A couple of the younger people at the party (20s) went outside in the rain. One of the young men dropped his pants and mooned us through the window. One of the young women took a long balloon that had a heart balloon attached to its end, turned it around and used it as a phallus, holding it at her crotch with the heart dangling down, thrusting, and, while feigning a masculine voice, said several times "I'm a big man. A big man." Lots of laughter. The man who had sat next to me moved over closer to the 20-somethings.

Three hours in. My ears were ringing.

One of the clowns sat down next to me. He began to tell me about his years in the military - which was interesting, though hard to hear over the noise. Then he started telling me about how he collects items from businesses for fundraising auctions. He told me about what he got from one business. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then another. They all began to run together. I couldn't follow them all because of the noise. I smiled politely and nodded occasionally. He told me about another. And another. Then his drink ran out and he went to get more. I stood up and moved to another part of the room.

The 20-somethings were laughing raucously. No phalluses or buttocks visible, though.

Finally, I caught my wife's eye. She came over and suggested maybe we should be going soon.

Another 20 minutes or so. Goodbyes. Hugs, Finally, we got into the car.

I normally listen to music or the radio. I wanted silence, so I left them off. But all the way home wife, who had enjoyed herself, kept chatting away.

 Got home. Walked the dog. Went right to bed.

This morning, Stomach sour. Ears ringing.

I went to the early Mass. No music. The quiet Mass.

I may go for a walk. In the rain (and the hurricane hasn't even hit yet). I'll take the dog. She's usually quiet. I'll say a rosary.

And hope my ears stop ringing so loudly.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 27, 2012

SFO Elections - and the uncertain future

Last night's fraternity meeting left me with mixed feelings.

It was good to see everyone and to pray together again. A member who had not been attending also came - I gave him a hug.

The meeting got off to an mildly awkward moment, however, when I arrived with my guitar, music, and song sheets prepared because our minister had asked me to do so as our regular music provider would not be there - and the music provider WAS there and had already distributed song sheets she had prepared. I quickly stowed the guitar behind some chairs and said nothing.

That was okay; it was just a minor mishap. And then we got into reading St. Clare's writings and evening prayers. All good.

However, I felt a bit concerned when the minister talked about the upcoming chapter elections. He is stepping down due to health issues. He's the only minister I've known at the fraternity, so I was a little sad at that news. But I also understand his health is more important.

He then announced the lone "official" candidate for minister (there will have to be another candidate, but that other person would be just a name - the official candidate will be elected). The woman he named is a dear lady, who is intelligent and deeply spiritual. But she is elderly, has multiple health issues, has a hard time even walking, and is extremely hard of hearing - we often have to repeat what we say for her.

She will likely be a fine minister - but I look at`our fraternity, and at 57 I'm one of the youngest members. We are not attracting young people, or even middle aged people. We are thinking of moving our meeting site to one that's more handicapped accessible because of the number of senior members who have a hard time walking.

Meanwhile, our officers will all basically be the same people who've held leadership positions before, with a little reshuffling of titles.

When I got home, I updated our fraternity blog. In preparation, I read the National Minister's message and some national SFO news. The National Minister in his annual report noted that the number of professed SFOs and people in formation were both down - a trend he observed that has been going on for several years. In addition, some fraternities had ceased to exist. In the news, I learned that at the October national meeting, basically the same leadership team that has been directing the order during the decline was reelected.

This is not to criticize any of those people. I don't question their commitment to the Secular Franciscan Order or their spirituality. But if we are not growing now, if we are not attracting people already, how can we expect to do so in the future with the same people in charge? Perhaps they have something in the works? I hope they do.

The same questions popped into my head about my local fraternity.

What about our future?

I don't have any answers. I know: If I'm so concerned maybe I should put my name in for a leadership position, but, to be honest, I don't know what I'd do differently.

What worries me is that given the age of our fraternity members and how few new member we are attracting, is there a chance in a few years we will become one of those fraternities that ceases to exist?

I pray that is not the case.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rochester Rallies Against Obama's HHS Mandate

Some 200 people gathered at Washington Square Park in Rochester (NY) to rally against President Obama's HHS Mandate that will, among other problems, force religious organizations to pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortion in spite of their belief that these things are wrong.

Speaker after speaker described the mandate as a violation of our First Amendment rights.

One speaker asked us whose word we're going to heed: God's word or Obama's word. Lots of "God's word" in response to the that one!

I don't know yet how large the rallies were elsewhere. There was another one in our diocese that may be larger, and there may have been thousands of people across the nation taking part in others.

It's heartening to know that the Catholic support for President Obama has decreased, perhaps in part to the Bishop's fighting back against his attack on religious liberty. Maybe press coverage of the rallies across the nation will sway enough that he'll lose.

If he does lose, we won't have the luxury of relaxing. We'll have to make sure that he doesn't try to sneak things through before the inauguration, and that we keep Romney on the right track when it comes to life issues.

And if Obama wins: God help us!

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 19, 2012

HHS Mandate Rally in Rochester

Tomorrow and noon we will rally in front of St. Mary's Church (downtown Rochester) against the HHS Mandate.

Earlier rallies attracted hundreds in this area on weekdays. Will we get more on a Saturday when people are out of work. That would be nice - but I haven't seen any local promotion for the rally. I hope I'm wrong and we get a couple of hundred people.

Pax et bomnum

Saturday, October 13, 2012

40 Days for Life prayer march

Today we held our midpoint prayer march as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign.

After noon Mass at a downtown church (Our Lady of Victory for those of you who know Rochester, N.Y.),   we prayerfully processed through downtown Rochester to Planned Parenthood's headquarters (and abortion clinic).

Along the way we recited five decades of the Rosary, then completed another five decades while standing outside Planned Parenthood.

As we prayed, a number of people driving by gave us a thumbs up or honked their horns.

This year we had a number of young people with us. Alleluia - the future of the pro-life movement!

Next Saturday, the HHS Mandate rally.

Be with us, Lord. We place our nation - and pregnant women and their babies - in Your loving hands.

Pax et bonum

Monday, October 8, 2012

Network television shows its moral blindness

I'm home today - Columbus Day is a day off. I was doing some school work, and turned on the television for the morning news magazine shows as background noise.

On one, the anchors were all gushing over the upcoming gay wedding of one of their own.

I quickly switched channels.

One of the other shows had a touching (and horrible) story about a woman who had been abducted and raped as child some 20 years ago. Thanks to DNA evidence, police were years later able to capture the man who did it - and he will spend a long time in jail. But as a result of the attack, the young lady apparently suffered some physical damage that prevents her from conceiving a child. That's awful. I felt for her.

However, she is now pregnant. An invitro doctor offered her free treatments, and was able to implant a child. No telling how many died before they achieved this pregnancy. And the doctor happily announced that they still had seven frozen babies so they can do it again.

Oh, and they also announced that she's not married - she has a "fiance."

I'm happy she will have her dream of having a child - but not with how she has achieved it.

And it occurred to me that these two shows are helping to normalize morally objectionable things like homosexual marriage, invitro fertilization, and having a child when you're not even married.

This is how the media can harm us spiritually.

Pax et bonum


We had a joyful Transitus Mass and celebration October 3 - complete with a cake modeled on a holy card!

The celebration included a small display featuring relics of St. Francis and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 6, 2012

'Pro-choice terrorist' sentenced for death threats against pro-lifers

Interestingly - or chillingly - I was one of the pro-lifers (albeit, a lesser one!) threatened by him. It made my wife nervous!


Pax et bonum

Catholic group flunks Obama on religious liberty

It's not just his views on abortion that make President Obama an unacceptable choice for Catholic voters.

Catholic group flunks Obama on religious liberty :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Pax et bonum

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"Aaron" - a pro-life video

A touching video.

There are so many women hurting in this way who need healing - and our love and support.

Pax et bonum.