Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bishop Paprocki: Voting Democratic puts Soul at Risk, Party backs "Intri...

Pax et bonum

Obama's Beards

There have been a couple of articles lately about how a supposed majority of Catholics are now supporting Obama (despite the fact that there's no valid moral basis for Catholics to support him, given his positions and actions on a variety of issues, including abortion, homosexual marriage, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, attacks on religious liberty, etc.).

Of course, those surveys are of people who identify themselves as Catholics, which means they include not only faithful Catholics, but also "Catholics" who haven't graced the inside of a church in years. Fallen away Catholics constitute a substantial number of people; if they formed a church they'd be the second largest denomination in the United States. Including these fallen away Catholics in surveys skew the survey results.

When we look closer, the surveys show that those who attend Mass weekly, and hence are more likely to practice their faith, actually prefer Romney. The surveys also show those who attend Mass less frequently, hence are less likely to follow Church teachings and guidance, tend to support Obama, and, indeed, the less they attend Mass the more likely they are to support Obama.

I am saddened by this. But there's another group that troubles me.

There are some priests, women religious, and lay leaders who openly support Obama. In many cases they either choose to overlook how much his positions and actions are in conflict with Catholic teachings, or, even worse, they support him because they agree with his positions and actions in these areas. These Obama supporters speak out publicly and influence other Catholics who are wavering, or who are looking for guidance. There are fewer such influential Catholics who are supporting him this time around - many learned their lesson from 2008 - but there are still a number of them. These people provide a cover for Obama with Catholics, and do help to account for some of the survey results.

And Obama's campaign happily uses them to create a wedge among Catholics.

These influential folks are beards for Obama.

The term "beard" is used to describe people who provide cover for other people who want to conceal something. It comes from the days when homosexuality was correctly recognized by society as a disordered condition. Some homosexual men dated or even married women to provide a cover for their homosexual tendencies and acts. These women, who sometimes were unaware how they were being used, were known as "beards."

How many of Obama's beards recognize they are being used and willing permit it is unclear. I suspect some are aware.

And if they are, then their fault is even greater, for they are helping to lead others astray.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Where have all the children gone?

I was watching one of those Sunday morning talking head shows. The issue of immigration came up. One man argued that with so many Baby Boomers entering retirement we need immigrants to provide workers to replace the Boomers and fill their jobs, and to pay the taxes needed to help support those Boomers on Social Security and Medicare.

I understood his point, and I don't object to welcoming immigrants, but it occurred to me that one reason we need immigrants to do those things is that we Boomers and post Boomers did not produce enough children.

My generation was one in which married couples - those who bothered to marry - had fewer children, or none at all. I thought of all the couples I know who had one child or none - not enough to replace themselves, and certainly not to take our generation's places in the work force.

Some folks were not able to have children - that's not their fault and that's not who I'm talking about.

But some waited so long to have children - so that children did not interfere with buying or building that dream house, enjoying expensive vacations and toys, getting careers off the ground, etc. - that when they finally got around to thinking about having children it was too late: They were too old to do so. Others did not want children at all - for the same selfish reasons - and still others did have children but limited them to one or two at most. I also know many couples who in their first marriages chose not to have children right away, and then their marriages broke up. By the time they found a second spouse, they were too old or too set in their ways to produce children.

And how did we limit our children? Birth control and abortion - the "sacred" soloutions put forward by Progressives and codified in the platform of the Democratic Party. Imagine if we'd had those 50 million babies who were slaughtered in the name of choice: The talking head's call for immigrants to fill jobs and pay taxes would have been unnecessary. But of course he could not cite our anti-baby policies. That would have called into question the progressive agenda he and others promote and our own selfishness.

Ironically, some of those people who did not have children are now seeking out technical assistance to help them do what they chose not to do naturally when they could have - through surrogates, invitro fertilization, and other unnatural and Church prohibited means. Even, sadly, Catholics. (I was in a room with several Catholic women who talked glowingly of two instances of surrogates - in both cases women choosing to bear the children of siblings.)

Right now, our economy is facing an uncertain future because of this lack of children.

And we have only ourselves to blame for our demographic woes.

Pax et bonum

Post Homily lay speaker (liturgical abuse)

Today at Mass we got a sample of the kind of practices that have crept into the Diocese of Rochester and led to complaints about our now retired bishop, Matthew Clark, and indeed may have helped to lead to the apparent reprimand he received when Pope Benedict accepted his retirement.

Our priest gave his homily, then called up the new head of the parish council to speak to the people about the parish council. It was still during the time of the homily - a clear violation of liturgical norms. There are places during the Mass when a lay person can speak, such as the time after Communion. That would have been an appropriate time in this instance, as what the parish council head had to say was informational in nature.

Fortunately, he did not preach about the readings, as this would have been even less appropriate.

In  our diocese, lay people were allowed to preach for many years, until the diocese started enforcing the rules - though one has to wonder if it did so only after multiple complaints to the Vatican may have drawn a response. But the way some parishes in the diocese have gotten around the rules is by having the priest/deacon preach a short homily, and then call up a lay person to deliver a message.

Trying to fudge the rules.

Bishop Clark did nothing obvious to curtail such questionable actions. Pope Benedict accepted his retirement this past week in an unusually speedy time - just two months - and appointed an administrator ( a nearby bishop) rather than naming a new bishop. Unless there's some added circumstances to which we are not privy - illness, for example - the move came across as a clear reprimand for what's been happening here.

And here we are, just two days later, with yet another liturgical abuse.

I wonder how long it will be before we get a new bishop, and the norms are (hopefully) enforced?

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fishers of Men - first meeting

I went to the first meeting of a new men's group at a nearby parish - Fishers of Men. The group meets twice a month on Saturday mornings - at 7 a.m. (coffee and some breakfast provided!). The organizers had decided that that time was one that might fit in men's schedules - given work, evening activities, family, etc. The time works fine for me: The group meets until 8:25, and we get out in time for the 8:30 Saturday morning Mass at the parish (St. Pius Tenth).

The plan for the year is to eat, pray, and watch portions of Father Robert Barron's Catholicism series, and then have small group discussions. This morning we viewed the segment on St. Peter.

About 30 men showed up. It was a wonderful experience. I'd been looking for more ways to grow in my faith and spirituality, and this is a perfect fit.

Thank you, Lord.

Pax et bonum

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bishop Clark's resignation accepted

In an unsually speedy way, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of Bishop Matthew Clark of the Diocese of Rochester, effective immediately. (Interestingly, today is the Feast of St. Matthew.)

Bishop Clark had submitted his resignation in July when he reached age 75 - as is required. But those resignations are often not accepted by the Pope for a long time - often about a year - and sometimes longer.  Bishop Clark himself had been saying he expected it to take around that long.

To have it happen in just two months, and in this way, leads to speculation.

Is Bishop Clark dealing with health problems? He's had some issues in recent years, but there's nothing to indicate that he's facing a serious problem right now. I hope that is not the case.

But if not illness, then the other possibility is that he and his actions are being repudiated.

Bishop Clark has been been a controversial figure for many years because of some of his decisions and actions - and he's a been a favorite whipping boy of some more conservative orthodox types. His handling of the schismatic Corpus Christi situation, the diocesan outreach to homosexuals, the diocesan takeover of Catholics schools and the subsequent closing of many of them, his support for some outspoken liberals and critics of the Vatican, and a number of other issues have drawn criticism, national attention, and sometimes unfair, nasty, and even personal attacks.

On the other hand, in 33 years, the Vatican never judged his actions worthy of immediate removal.

I have many warm memories of Bishop Clark from my years of involvement with the diocese. To me, he has always been a good, decent, caring, prayerful man. I hope this action was not intended as a slight. I certainly hope he is not hurt by it.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Poems sent

I just sent several Christmas poems to St. Anthony Messenger, and clerihews to Gilbert Magazine.

Maybe one of them will get through?

Meanwhile, I'm mulling thoughts of a Catholic play. Hmm.

(Yes, I've been inspired by last night's performance of Maximilian. Use your ability to write, oh Follower of Francis. Don't waste God's gift.)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Maximilian - great play!

I went to see Leonardo Defilippis's updated Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz (about St. Maximilian Kolbe) performed in a church about 30 minutes away.

Wow. Incredible performance. Defilippis plays all the male parts (with some help from recorded voices), quickly switching on stage from one to another. Great acting!

It's not the same version that's been on EWTN, or on the DVD, by the way.

See it if you get the chance. It's powerful. And timely.

Pax et bonum

Rochester Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally

I'll be there!

Pax et bonum

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Angels of Jerusalem

I heard a story about a man who had a vision.

It was during a time of conflict in the Middle East. Israel was threatened.

In the vision, the man saw Jerusalem. It was encircled by angels.

The angels were all chained.

The man asked, "Why are you chained?"

The angels replied, "Because people no longer believe in us."

That's all I heard. I don't know if there's more to the story.

What I took from what I heard is that the angels are there, waiting, ready to protect and help, but our lack of belief keeps them enchained.

We need to remember the angels. To look for them. To listen for them. To pray to them. To seek their help. To accept their help.

Or we will fall.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection
against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
oh prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan
and all evil spirits
who roam throughout the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The new "Lincoln" - on my viewing list!

A movie I really want to see.

Pax et bonum

A Franciscan Bishop?

Our bishop submitted his resignation in July, and we are waiting to hear who will replace him. Given the way such things have gone in recent years, we may not find out until next year.

Today I was thinking - what if the Pope sends a Franciscan our way? That would be interesting. Maybe a Franciscan bishop would welcome Franciscan priests to the diocese again. We have a priest shortage afterall. A Franciscan parish? Hmm. Wouldn't it be wonderful if it could be some Franciscan Friars of the Renewal - after all, there is a connection between them and the diocese!

Ah, I'm getting ahead of myself - and the Pope.

But one can hope. And pray. 

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Being positive

being positive
sometimes takes a lot of work -
look for the sunshine

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"Restless Heart" - close , but not quite

Last night the Good Looking One and I went to see Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine. The local Indian Catholic community arranged for a showing at one of our area theaters for a week. Thank you.

I did not know a lot about the movie before we went. I was surprised to see a "saint" movie being shown at a regular theater, and I wondered who was behind it.

Once it started, I guessed that it was an Italian production like many of the others that Ignatius Press releases, and the breaks/blackouts suggested a made-for-television production. (I checked online later and learned it was indeed edited from an Italian television miniseries.)

Good acting; decent production values; some realistic sets, costumes, and props.

It did stray from some of the facts, and even introduced characters who were not part of the true story. Hagiographic films have a history of such creativity, and I don't have a problem with such things when they serve the dramatic purpose without distorting the underlying truth. That was the case here for the most part  - though the attack on the cathedral and the whole rhetorician for the emperor bit seemed contrived, and having the mistress choose to leave rather than having Augustine end the relationship, maybe to make Augustine seem like a "nicer" guy, strayed too far from the truth for my taste. And it was jarring to hear the Christians called Catholics, an historical anachronism.

I wonder what was lost in editing it from a miniseries? Some things needed more development - such as the Donatist/Christian dispute - and Augustine's character needed more depth. Perhaps in producing a feature film they should have focused on just one part of his life rather than trying to cover as much as a miniseries is able to do.

Overall, okay, but I think there's a better St. Augustine movie to be made.

St. Augustine's Confessions was an important book for me, by the way. In the mid 1970s when I was spiritually adrift, the two books that helped me get back on the right path were The Confessions and Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain. Those books showed me that even flawed, sinful men can turn things around. I needed those models to get me to turn around. Shortly after reading them I read G. K. Chesterton's biography of St. Francis, and I count those three books as the keys to who I am now.

So, see Restless Heart, but maybe read The Confessions before you go.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Handel's Messiah -- Kazoo Choir

I couldn't resist!

Pax et bonum

A "Hilairious" thought

This morning while showering a thought occurred to me.

Thoughts often occur to me while showering. I usually grow frustrated because I can't immediately write them down, and always feel that by the time I get to pen and paper I've lost that perfect wording that had come to me as water was pouring down upon my head.

And, of course, shower-inspired ideas are often open to being described as all wet.

Be that as it may, today something occurred to me about Hilaire Belloc.

Belloc is frequently linked with G. K. Chesterton. The two frequently battled the same foes or supported the same ideas. They both defended the Catholic faith. George Bernard Shaw referred to them as the "Chesterbelloc."

I am a great fan of GKC. I own dozens of his books and collections of his poetry and newspaper essays. I read him regularly, often in sips, getting interrupted and having to mark my spot in whatever book or essay I'm reading. But I always come back, and eventually finish whatever I'm reading, enjoying the experience.

Not so with Belloc. I have tried to read him, but I can't seem to warm up to him, nor have I been able to finish many of his essays and books (except his poetry). As with my experience while reading Chesterton, I am often pulled away while sipping Belloc's prose. But unlike Chesterton, I often do not return to finish, or even feel a desire to do so.

I've wondered about that. Is there something amiss in me. (Okay, that's a given.) People I respect swear by Belloc. Why do I feel I'm more likely to swear at Belloc?

But as the water washed away the shampoo in my eyes this morning, that thought I alluded to earlier struck me.

Maybe I have a hard time warming up to Belloc because he reminds too much of me.

Belloc earned the nickname "Old Thunder" because of his combative style. Chesterton could argue, then make friends with his foes. I can imagine him heading off to the pub after a debate and tossing back a few  with whomever he had recently been arguing. Belloc seemed more likely to argue and turn friends into foes. If he showed up in a pub where his foe was drinking, I could imagine Belloc getting a drink tossed in his face.

When if comes to arguing, I am like Belloc. I fight well, fiercely, unrelentingly. I'm like a dog that clamps my jaws on my opponent's argument and refuses to let go until my opponent gives up, flees, or dies. Along the way I antagonize, I enrage, I create bad blood with whomever I'm battling.

I have also been known to be provocative just to stir things up. And I'm prone to taking offense even when no offense was intended, or blowing things up to more than they really are. Sounds like things Belloc would do.

As a result of my pugnacity, I've alienated friends. I've kept other people from becoming friends. I've ended up wearing out my welcome in many places.

And I get sworn at. (So far no drinks tossed in my face, though.)

I am not happy about this.

So when I read Belloc, maybe I see too much that reminds me of things I don't like about myself.


Or maybe that idea really is all wet.

Pax et bonum