Sunday, May 31, 2015

Henry VIII and SSM/HHS Mandate persecution

As I have been watching the attacks on people of faith by the government and proponents of same sex so-called marriage, I was suddenly reminded of what happened in England under King Henry VIII.

The surface issue back then was marriage, but the underlying issues were more complex. Henry was motivated by sex, lust, self-indulgence, and power and ambition. He wanted what he wanted, and he didn't want anyone to tell him what he could have or do.

When he couldn't get what he wanted from the Catholic Church, he sought to undermine the faith, to coopt Catholics, to use the legal system to force English Catholics not just to avoid interfering, but to accept, endorse and even participate in what he wanted. He used pressure, arrests, and even violence to coerce others to go along.

Many English Catholic politicians and Church officials went along. They rationalized and compromised,  and in some cases readily embraced what Henry demanded. Some did so just to save their careers and lives; some were so shallow in their beliefs the first place that going along really wasn't a problem.

They betrayed their faith.

Some did resist. Two prominent figures - Bishop John Fisher and Chancellor Thomas More - were not willing to betray their faith, and both were executed. There were other Catholics who are less well known who also remained true to their faith like those saints. Some lost their livelihoods and positions. Some lost their business and homes. Some went to jail. Some were executed. Church land was seized. Monasteries and convents were closed.

All faithful Catholic faced persecution for refusing to compromise their beliefs and just go along with what government and society was pressuring them to do.

We are seeing some of the same patterns today when it comes to the HHS Mandate for abortion and contraception, and same sex so-called marriage. Social pressure is being used. Laws have been passed to require cooperation. People of faith have been forced to defend themselves in court. Business have been forced to close. Individuals have lost their jobs. Fines have been levied. Physical threats have been made (though not by the government - at this point).

Promises have been made that there will be protections for churches and church organizations, but given the pattern of political and legal actions thus far, those promises seem tenuous. I would not be surprised to see attempts to force churches to pay for abortions, and ministers and priest to officiate at illegitimate weddings. I would not be surprised to see preachers and homilists face charges of hate speech for preaching the teachings of their faith, and churches losing their tax exempt status, or being financially destroyed by lawsuit  after lawsuit.

We've already seen Catholic politicians betray their faith. Catholic members of the Democratic Party basically have to abandon key parts of their faith if they want to win party support and have a chance of being elected. The poison is making inroads into the Republican Party as well. A local Catholic Republican Congressman, for example, accepts abortion under some circumstances, and one of the current GOP presidential candidates is pro-choice and pro-SSM.

I expect things to get even worse. I even wonder about how this might affect me some day - I already have to keep my mouth shut at times, and I could see me losing my job for standing up for the Church's teachings.

Will all this lead to an Anglican-type schism in the Catholic Church? I seriously doubt it will be anything as formal, but that indeed there will be many Catholics who will simply cease to practice their faith. I could see the number of practicing Catholics shrinking dramatically, and some Church institutions closing. I could see the Church being forced to curtail to even quit some of the social ministry activities in which it currently engages.

But I keep praying that is not the case. I keep praying that hearts and minds will be opened.

I keep praying.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Catholic humor (essays)

I've been thinking about humor.

No, not because I've been looking in the mirror lately, because, after all, that's more likely to inspire thoughts about tragedy.

Humor as in humorous essays.

These thoughts were inspired by Dave Barry appearing on World Over Live, a show not normally devoted to humor (except when they have on Roma Downey and Mark Burnett marketing their latest Biblical Epics and quasi-Biblical soap operas). The segment was amusing, and Barry cited a favorite author, humorist Robert Benchley.

I like both Barry and Benchley.

It got me wondering about other humorists. I used to love the work of Art Buchwald. I wish newspapers would run more humor columns, rather than the partisan all-too-serious pieces they tend to run these days. Steve Martin's short pieces are amusing. The New Yorker has occasional good pieces. David Sedaris and Nora Ephron come to mind, though I don't read them as much as I probably should. There are others who sometimes tickle my fancy - though not consistently because of too many writers' tendencies to be cynical, sarcastic, or inappropriate these days.

Of course, there may be many great humor writers out there I don't know about writing for magazines I don't get, who don't get run in the local paper, or who post online.

But I also wondered further about Catholic humor. I plead total ignorance when it comes to such writers. Are there Catholic essayists out there who write humor? Too often it seems when faith comes in humor goes out.

As Chesterton noted, “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.”

So who are the Catholic humorists? (Besides Jim Gaffigan.)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Defending Huckabee ... again??? (Sigh)

This is getting old.

I've been a supporter of Mike Huckabee since 2007. I volunteered with his campaign in 2007/08. I was disappointed when he didn't get the nomination then, and even more so when he didn't run in 2012. I remained on the mailing lists. I continued to post in Huck's Army. I continued to promote him and argue for him in places like Twitter and Facebook.

This year, I got excited that he was going to finally run again. But then ...

He kept making statements that were either not wise, or were twisted by the media and his foes.

I found myself again and again arguing with people. "That's not what he said." "That's not what happened." Again and again.

The latest is his support for the Duggar family after reports that Josh Duggar had been guilty of molesting some young women when he was a young teen.

Mike did condemn the actions. If he had also just said he is a friend of the family and is praying for them in this time of need, that would have been fine. But he went further. He said too much, opening him up to attack yet again.

Yes, he was right. Yes, we should not forget forgiveness. Yes, the media, the Duggar haters, the conservative Christian bashers, are exploiting and sensationalizing this story. Yes, Huckabee was speaking like the Baptist minister he is.

But, frankly, I'm tired of trying to explain what he said or meant.

Sometimes he seems to be still in television pundit/entertainer mode, saying too much or saying things without thinking about what he is saying. Shooting from the hip, often with a quip (though not in this case).

I'm guilty of the same sort of foot-in-mouth tendencies - one of the reasons why I knew I could never really run for office.

And now the issues I disagree with him on - like the death penalty, for example - weigh heavier when the enthusiasm is not there.

At this point, I'm about to give up. I'll vote for him if he gets the Republican nomination, especially given the kinds of candidates the Party of Death seems bent on nominating, but I don't see me volunteering with his campaign, or in continuing to defend him in social media.

Pax et bonum

Monday, May 18, 2015

Praying as ministry

In thinking about the men's conference call, and in my own nature, I have a solution.

I am more of a private, reclusive sort - going out into the streets, even hanging out with people (men's groups, for example) is not my thing. While not a "hermit" in the strictest sense, I am inclined that way.

Plus, I do have a tendency to argue, and to be uncharitable as I argue.

Then it hit me: When tempted to confront others, pray for them instead. More Franciscan anyway.

So I plan to pray. To spend more time in adoration. To turn off the radio in the car and pray instead. To spend less time on line or watching television.

It doesn't have to be hours on end. It can be a few minutes here and there. While walking the dog. While driving. While waiting.

And I should pray for those who ask for prayers, those who I'm tempted to argue with, those I'm worried about.

I won't be totally silent on issues, of course. Debate can be good. People do respond to reason. But when tempted to get confrontational, argumentative, snarky, I need to turn to prayer.

For their sake.

And mine.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rochester Catholic Men's Conference

I attended the first Rochester Catholic Men's Conference Saturday, along with hundreds of other Rochester Catholic men.

Great speakers - Tim Staples, Hector Molina, and Danny Abramowicz, as well as a homily by Bishop Matano for the opening Mass.

Inspiring and challenging.

Tough for this reclusive fellow. And the call to action, well, I would like to commit to promoting men's groups, but that's not my thing. Except for the Franciscan, I'm not a group person - and even with them I'm somewhat reserved.

As awful as it sounds, I just don't like being around people a lot. 

But the call to speak out - well that's one I can handle.

I look forward to seeing what happens in the diocese as a result of this conference, and to the second conference next year.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Becket Hall is closing

Back in 1975 when I was exploring my faith, I decided to enroll in our diocese's pre-theologate college seminary, Becket Hall.

I discovered that the priesthood was not the right path for me, but I still valued my time there. I learned and grew so much. I met some good a holy men who remain friends, and some of whom were later ordained.

When I was there we had some 50 men. The numbers dropped, and eventually the seminary moved off campus and became a residential facility housed for a while in a former convent, and later a former rectory.

Bishop Salvatore Matano has now announced that Becket Hall will close, to be replaced by a non-residential program. I am saddened by this news, but given the numbers, it makes sense.

Thank you Lord for what I experienced some four decades ago. I wouldn't he who I am now if not for Becket Hall.

Pax et bonum

Monday, May 4, 2015

Margaret Sanger (and Hitler) Clerihew

The ideas of Margaret Sanger
inspired a certain German paper hanger.
He especially found she met his needs
when she talked about getting rid of "human weeds."

(Okay, the photo is a fake, but too good to pass up!)

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 3, 2015


The Baltimore riots have sparked of a debate. I've heard racism spouted. I find it offensive.

I've also heard nonsense defending the action of the rioters.

One fellow likened the rioters' actions to the fight against oppression and for democracy of the Boston Tea Party protesters.


The Boston Tea Party targeted an item that was central to the dispute back then - tea. The rioters targeted stores, a senior center, citizens' cars - and none of these had anything to do with the death of a Black man. The Tea Party protesters did not loot the tea - they destroyed it. The Baltimore rioters stole. The Tea Party protesters destroyed property at the center of the dispute, but did not attack people. The Baltimore rioters attacked people.

I can understand the frustration of the people of Baltimore, but they need to let the criminal justice system work.

And I fear what will happen if the officers - three of whom are themselves Black - are acquitted, or are convicted of lesser crimes. I suspect there will be more riots that have nothing to do with democracy.

And frankly, I'm sick of the exploitation of racial issues by so many in the media and by the professional race baiters. They undermine the fight for racial justice and equality.

Pax et bonum

Okay, sometimes I'm silly

Yeah, I posted about Baba Dada. Silliness.

He began as a way to comment on silliness I saw in the media - absurd, dadaesque responses. I had joked about the name Baba Dada - due to dada, due to the fact that I was a "dada" to three daughters, and the fact that so many gurus (legit and not) referred to themselves as "Baba."

So I wrote a few pieces, penned a few quotations, suggested I might write a whole routine and go on stage spouting "wisdom." (I didn't - more fun to think about than to actually do, given my reclusive ways.)

I had fun.

Sometimes I am silly. Sometimes I am satirical.

Sometimes I am Baba Dada.

Pax et bonum