Monday, December 31, 2018

Read in 2018

With just a few hours left in 2018, it's unlikely I'll finish another book. So here is the list of 35 books read this year:

Padre Pio: The True Story by C. Bernard Ruffin
The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G. K. Chesterton
Christmas with Norman Rockwell by John Kirk
The Pilgrim of Hate by Ellis Peters
Four Hundred and Two Snails - Haiku Society of America 2018 Anthology
An Actor Bows by Kevin O'Brien
Brother Cadfael's Penance by Ellis Peters
The Hermit of Eyton Forest by Ellis Peters
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Llama Who Had No Pajama (poetry) by Mary Ann Hoberman
Ghastlies, Goops & Pincushions by X. J. Kennedy
It's Halloween (poetry) by Jack Prelusky
Blackberry Ink (poetry) by Eve Merriam
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
How to Become a Perfect Christian by The Babylon Bee
The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus by Adam C. English
Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
The Lessons of St.Francis: How To Bring Simplicity and Spirituality Into Your Daily Life by John Michael Talbot with Steve Rabey
The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
St. Benedict: The Story of the Father of the Western Monks by May Fabyan Windeatt
St. Thomas More of London by Elizabeth M. Ince
The Paradiso by Dante Alighieri (Ciardi translation)
Seeds of the Word: Finding God in the Culture by Father (later Bishop) Robert Barron
My Sisters The Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell
Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems Translated by Burton Watson
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters by Annie Dillard
the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur
To Light A Fire On The Earth: Proclaiming The Gospel In A Secular Age by Bishop Robert Barron (with John Allen, Jr.)
The Aeneid For Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church
Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff
King Lear by William Shakespeare

It was  typical year.

A number of books for school -  The Sword in the Stone, The Trumpeter of Krakow, The Aeneid For Boys and Girls, Black Ships Before Troy, and so on.

There are the Franciscan books or spiritual related books: To Light A Fire On The Earth: Proclaiming The Gospel In A Secular Age, The Lessons of St.Francis: How To Bring Simplicity and Spirituality Into Your Daily Life, Padre Pio: The True Story, My Sisters The Saints, and so on. 

And the poetry - child and adult: Blackberry Ink,  The Llama Who Had No Pajama,  Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems, Four Hundred and Two Snails, New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith, etc

Some mysteries for fun: The Pilgrim of Hate, Brother Cadfael's Penance, and The Hermit of Eyton Forest. 

The Classics (some of which I had read before, but a long time ago): King Lear, The Screwtape Letters, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Paradiso, Joan of Arc, Wise Blood, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and more.

The list includes some book I really enjoyed, such as Seeds of the Word: Finding God in the Culture, My Sisters The Saints, and, my favorite book of the year, Joan of Arc.

There were a few books I read because I had to (for school) or thought I needed to, but which I did not really enjoy. My biggest disappointment was the sun and her flowers - a book others touted that I found really weak and uninteresting.

I'm already starting a Christmas gift book - a biography of Mr. Rogers - and will be looking forward to reading a variety of poetry, classics, mysteries, and spiritual books in 2019.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Christmas-related poems

I added a few Christmas-related poems this year:

Santa’s dilemma:
Follow his doctor’s orders,
Or eat those cookies

Millennial home
Lactose and gluten free treats –
Santa leaves some coal

God so loved the world
that He sent His only Son
snow gently falling

I've written a number of Christ-mas related poems over the years. Sometimes they are in response to other's poems or for a particular purpose - such as this one a couple of years ago for a science fiction site:

supernova -
on some planet are wise men
following its light?

I also wrote one to share with my fellow mall Santas:

A Mall Santa's Prayer

As I hold each precious child
let me treat each one
with the love and care I'd show
Your most holy Son.

And then there was the bad poetry contest I entered (and won!) a number of years ago:

Birthday shotgun

Clem’s birthday shotgun
provided the Christmas feast –
Rudolph’s final flight


Aunt Ann’s old fruitcake
arrived for Christmas again
(no, not Uncle Ed)

Scurry Christmas

over the river
and through the woods we scurry –
in-laws still find us                                                            15

What’s the poop?

Next year, Santa, please
along with your reindeer bring
a pooper scooper

Stale Cookies

finding stale cookies
Santa raids the cheapskate’s fridge –
ah, a pecan pie


folks in their beds with
visions of credit card bills
dancing in their heads

Gingerbread cookies

half-eaten cookie
clutched in Santa’s stiff fingers –
wicked witch cackles

Ned makes the naughty list

prone beneath the tree
an unconscious Santa Claus –
Ned’s booby trap worked

Beep … beep

Christmas morning Mass –
during Father’s homily
beeps from new game boys

Practical joke

practical joke with
Ex Lax explains why reindeer’s
nickname was “Dumper”
Most were written for Christmas cards or social media greetings:

Though Santa gives so many gifts
he’ll always be outdone.
He gives clothes and toys and such,
but the Father gave His Son.

A slug among weeds
is not afraid to wish you
a Merry Christmas

At Nicea St. Nicholas
slapped that naughty Arius.
Now for those with vices
the naughty list suffices.

With ox and ass and manger and hay
St. Francis recalled that holy day.
And before that Greccio scene was done
The Father again provided his Son.

Holy Child of light
illuminating with hope hearts
in these darkest days

Christmas Eve walk
studying the stars above -
maybe one of these?

Through the clouds
a solitary star shines –
Christmas Eve

After sunrise
One star still visible –
Christmas Day
After Epiphany Santa Claus
will take a pause.
But believers have no need to fear:
He'll be back next year.
Oh, to have been a shepherd or a king
and to have heard those angels sing
or to have seen that star so bright
upon that holy Christmas night.

But Christmas transcends both time and place
and we can share in that night’s grace
when like those humble ones back then
we heed God’s call and proclaim, “Amen.”

I'll just keep scribbling away.
Merry Christmas! 
Pax et bonum

Part of the Secular Franciscan Profession Ritual


I, N.N.

by the grace of God,

renew my baptismal promises

and consecrate myself to the service of his Kingdom.

Therefore, in my secular state

I promise to live

all the days of my life

the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

in the Secular Franciscan Order

by observing its rule of life.

May the grace of the Holy Spirit,

the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary

and our holy father St. Francis,

and the fraternal bonds of community

always be my help,

so that I may reach the goal

of perfect Christian love.
Pax et bonum

Sunday, December 23, 2018


Fake News, 2018 edition.

Pax et bonum

I'll never go to Alaska

Image result for alaska map

I have no desire ever to go to Alaska - not even with the temptation of getting a glimpse of Russia.

Looking over the International Date Line to Siberia

I joke - but grimly do so - that I might not survive the trip there. Alaska claimed one member of my family, and nearly claimed another.

My younger (and only) brother moved there in the 1970s to work on building the oil pipeline. He learned to be a welder, and made a lot of money. He kept trying to get me to join him up there, but I was not prepared to drop out of college.

When work on the pipeline ceased, he, used to making - and spending - lots of money - got involved with risky behaviors and ran afoul of the law. He got caught, but did not face jail time because he turned state's evidence in one case.

He struggled for a while afterwards as he tried repeatedly to clean up his act. We wrote back and forth, and he even returned briefly a couple of times, including one long visit when he needed some surgery. He kept talking about going straight. His last visit was at Christmas, 1982. He was clearly troubled. I tried to advise him. We talked about faith. We talked about his many talents and gifts. We talked about the future. I urged him to return home permanently. He said he'd think about it, but that he had some things he needed to clear up, and he had a girlfriend he did to want to simply desert. He went back. We spoke again by phone a couple of months later. He said he was optimistic that everything was going to work out. 

That was the last time we spoke.

In May of 1983, he reportedly left his apartment with a substantial amount of cash, telling his girlfriend he had to meet someone.

He never returned. His car was found several days later parked in a University of Alaska parking lot.

We got word shortly thereafter that he was missing. My father contacted Alaskan police, but got nothing. He even contacted our Congressman and the FBI and tried to get them to get involved. No luck.

Finally, he flew up to Alaska. He began digging around and started hearing that my brother had apparently gotten the wrong people angry, and that he had been set up, murdered, and his body dumped somewhere in the back country. My dad went to the police with what he had found, but they did not seem very interested in actively pursuing it. When he came back he told me that one officer told him unofficially that my brother's case was not a priority, and that the attitude was simply "scum kill scum."

Dad continued to dig and got some names. He went to see those people, but when he approached one place he was shot at. He had to run. He thought the police would do nothing, and that if he stayed longer than he'd planned he might end up dead.

Dad also discovered that my brother's friends had basically looted my brother's possessions, taking cash and anything that was valuable - including, apparently, a major portion of a substantial coin collection he'd amassed and about which we'd talked (I also collected cons, but not to the extent that my brother did). Dad gathered up what was left of my brother's possessions (I currently have what's left of his coin collection), and shipped it all to New York.

Among the things that he collected were some of my brother's clothes. My mother mourned by washing them all, and carefully putting them away. When we were cleaning out the house after mom died we found those items careful folded and stored in boxes.

My brother was eventually declared dead, though no body was ever located or identified. I gave a DNA sample for matching should any remains ever be found.

This year marks the 35th year since he left us. Mom and Dad are now dead, so I am all that is left.

I keep wondering if some day I'll get a letter from Alaska declaring they had found something.

I have a fantasy that some day there's will be a knock at the door and he'll be standing there explaining he'd been in hiding all this time.

But that is a fantasy.

I still have the hat he gave me that last Christmas. I use his nickname as one of my passwords. There's a picture of him on the wall. I have refused to part with what's left of his coin collection.

I've been thinking about family a lot this Christmas, and he's been on my mind. I miss him.

As for going to Alaska, even if Alaskan officials ever find something, I won't go up there.

The only part of me that will visit Alaska is my DNA sample.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Birth Control - Prostitution of Marriage

Prostitution of Marriage

Birth control
is not self-control.
What is not self-control
is self-indulgence.
What is self-indulgence
is prostitution of functions.
Prostitution in marriage
is prostitution of marriage.
Prostitution of marriage
is prostitution plus hypocrisy.

- Peter Maurin (cofounder of The Catholic Worker Movement)

Pax et bonum

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Santa 2018

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Pax et bonum

Santa's Dilemma

Image result for santa eating cookies

Santa’s dilemma:
Follow his doctor’s orders,
Or eat those cookies.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Beto leads a Presidential poll?

Related image

According to a recent poll, Beto O'Rourke is the leading contender for the Democratic Party's Presidential nomination in 2020. Who knows if he will even be on the radar a year from now?

But maybe he just might play to that party's base ...

Pax et bonum

Monday, December 10, 2018

St. Francis at Greccio

Image result for St Francis and the creche

With ox and ass and manger and hay
St. Francis recalled that holy day.
And before that Greccio scene was done
The Father again provided his Son.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Robert F. Kennedy - Day of Affirmation Speech [A Tiny Ripple of Hope]

He was one of the heroes of my youth. His campaign for President in 1968 was the first political campaign in which I took an interest - and his shooting the day after my 13th birthday is the moment I mark as the end of my childhood.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ancestry led me astray!

Four years ago I did one of those Ancestry DNA tests.

The results that came back were:

Ireland - 56 %
Scandinavia - 16 %
Great Britain - 10 %
Iberian Peninsula - 8 %
Western Europe - 5 %
A few odd traces - 3 %

Then Irish was no surprise - but the Scandinavian (which I described as "Viking") and the Iberian (Hispanic) were. I was pleased. It was kind of neat being a Viking and partly Hispanic.

But today I received an unexpected (and unasked-for) e-mail from Ancestry announcing that they had refined and updated my results.

Ireland is now Ireland/Scotland/Wales, and that increased slightly to 58 %.
Scandinavia is now Sweden, and dropped to just 4 %.
Great Britain suddenly jumped from 10 % to 36 %.
Iberian Peninsula went from 8 % to 0.
Western Europe is now Germanic Europe, and dropped from 5 % to 2 %.
The odd traces are no longer  there.

No longer Hispanic. And Viking is still there, but at a much reduced level.

Bummer. I liked the odd mix of the first results.

And how could something jump from 10 % to 36 %?? How could one listing that was 8 % simply disappear?

Moreover, this sudden change has me wondering how accurate this new one is. Will I get another e-mail down the road with radically different results? Will I suddenly find out I'm part Bulgarian? Or Swiss? Or Sardinian?

I need a glass of sack.

But maybe I'll just settle for some mead. Or a stout.

Pax et bonum

Friday, November 23, 2018

Franciscans are called to obedience

"Obedience is not merely a necessity of organization. It possesses two grace-full purposes. First, obedience provides a means of self-denial and self-giving. Poverty strives for freedom from greed. Chastity seeks perfect reasonableness in the sacred area of sex. Obedience seeks freedom from all stubbornness, selfishness, self-centeredness. Obedience calls one to exercise self-discipline, to cooperate and obey according to the Rule and Constitutions. This effort will have one great result: release from self-seeking and pride." (p. 85) - To Live as Francis Lived: A Guide For Secular Franciscans (The Path of Franciscan Spirituality) by Leonard Foley O.F.M., Jovian Weigel O.F.M., and Patti Normile OFS

Pax et bonum

Harvard Law Journal article: The preborn child is a constitutional person

Article in Harvard Law Journal concludes: The preborn child is a constitutional person

Morally and legally - a person.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Jethro Tull - Life is a long song

Ah, Ian Anderson ...

Pax et bonum

A Pro-Life Thanksgiving Prayer

Image result for Sleeping infant

Father of mercies,
God of all creation,
Source of life and of every blessing,
We thank you today, and every day of our lives,
For all that you give us!
Our thanksgiving is not only a duty,
But a joy and a source of strength,
Because it reminds us of your faithful love,
And inspires us with the hope of a future filled with blessings!
Lord, we thank you for guiding our fathers,
Who, inspired by the prophets
And by the saving work of your Son,
Founded a nation where all might live as one,
Acknowledging their dependence on you
As the source of their right to life.
We thank you for your blessings in the past,
And for all that, with your help, we must yet achieve.
We ask you to bless us as we thank you,
That our giving thanks may be accompanied by our firm resolve
To proclaim, celebrate, and serve
The gift of human life, born and unborn.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Pax et bonum

Monday, November 19, 2018

After that winter

Image result for abandoned dog house

After that winter
neighbor's old dog no longer
barks when we walk by.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Last leaves haiku

Image result for Autumn - last leaves on tree

Deacon's homily -
the last leaves of Autumn cling
to the tree outside

Pax et bonum

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Stone Soup - a success!

At my school, we decided to have a middle school play as we are gradually expanding the theater program. We hose to do Stone Soup, my adaptation of the old folktale. I was to be the director.
We had weeks of rehearsal, working around cross country season (a number of the actors were runners) and the beginning of basketball season.

The students worked hard and did a great job, and the performances had audiences laughing and entertained. A success!
At the end of the Saturday (November 10) performance, the cast served the audience a soup dinner (provided by the families). A wonderful time. 


 Now, what do we do for the high school play in the spring - after last year's very successful Pride and Prejudice - and what to do next fall for the middle school play? Hmmm.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Catholic Musician Language Spat

There's a particular contemporary Catholic musician whose music I enjoy. I own seveal of this musician's albums, have promoted the musician to others, and was even following this musician on Twitter.

But following the most recent shootings in California, this musician posted the following:

"This should never, ever ever ever have happened. It is so f***g wrong. So many things are so wrong with this." (I altered the offending word)

I responded:

"Such language from a Catholic musician?? I can understand the feeling, but to post it publicly?"

Someone else responded to my comment:

"13 people are dead, but yes...let's discuss XXXX''s use of the word 'f***'"

Fair enough. Meanwhile, the musician responded to the other person's comment with:

":) my thoughts precisely, XXX. Also, I say this word alllll the time in real life and I’ve decided to be myself on here or else I can’t stand it."

I piped in with two responses:

"Yes, let's. What happened in California was horrible. It is a manifestation of the violence in our culture. We reveal and nurture that violence through our own words and actions."

And ...

"I don't use such language in real life. As a Catholic musician myself and a Secular Franciscan, I'm a professed and public representative of my faith. I try to model appropriate behavior. "No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good ... Eph 4:29"

(The full Ephesians quotation is: No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. - Ephesians 4: 29)

I also posted a link to my blog post on Tolkien and degraded language.

Someone else commented after seeing the exchange: "I have to agree. As much as I enjoy the music I now must bow out." 

Sadly, I have no desire to listen to that musician's music for the moment. The thought of the exchange would shadow the enjoyment. Perhaps that will fade.

The problem for me in this exchange is that I could understand the anger and frustration that led to the use of the offending word. But as someone who has been involved in public jobs and ministries and so has had to recognize that I am as a result am a public representative of those jobs and ministries, and as a professed Catholic and a Franciscan called to witness to the world, the musician's response troubled me. Basically it's "that's the way I talk in private and that's the way I'm going to talk publicly."

Maybe the musician does not share my sense of vocation and public witness. Maybe the musician is a product of the times in which such language is "acceptable" and "common" among many secular people of the musician's generation. But this musician is as a self-proclaimed Catholic/Christian musician and recording artist called to something more than what is deemed "acceptable" and "common" by the secular culture. Indeed, conforming to the culture (even in what seems a small way) and then proclaiming the faith has about it a scent of hypocrisy.

Moreover, as I also noted on Twitter, "One of the things that reveals and encourages the violence in the culture is our language."

How we act, what we say, is a witness to our faith.

 How we act and what we say can help to heal the culture, or it can help to make it even more violent and degraded.

As for the musician, I will likely eventually listen to the music again, as it is good and inspiring. But I don't know if I will buy any more of this person's albums.

For now, however, I will pray for this musician, for this language reason, and for other reasons hinted at in other Tweets by this person. 

Pax et bonum

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Where has the time gone ...

Parent teacher conferences. Play rehearsals. Franciscan Council meeting. Franciscan Fraternity gathering. Band practice. A cold.

Yeah, my mind has not been on writing blog posts. Still have lots to do to get ready for the play - went out to get materials for props. .

I can relax a little after the final performance next Saturday.

I have had time for a few sparring matches on social media. I will be glad when the election is over - though I fear if the Democrats take the House it will mean two years of gridlock and hearings. And more social media sparring!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Friday, October 26, 2018

The witness moon

Image result for full moon

the moon silently
witnesses everything
dog begins to bark

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Franciscan Service

I have perceptions of our Fraternity, but I might be wrong.

Our Fraternity began as a Charismatic Prayer Group, and sometimes I get the feeling that some members still view it primarily as a devotional group. That Charismatic nature is one of the things that drew me to this Fraternity, and I find devotions enriching. But I think as Franciscans are called as lay people to be active in the world.

That's where I might be wrong. I think we should be doing more, but many members may already be doing a great deal.

So one of the things I want to do is to survey members to see what ministries they do outside the group. Music ministry, food pantries, hospital visits, Bible study, funeral ministry, religious education, and so on.

It may be a lot, and it would be good to make those activities known to the rest of the Fraternity.

In addition, as we consider increasing activities as a Fraternity we might be able to join in on some of the ones already being done. I'm active with 40 Days for Life, and I got some of the members to join me one Saturday outside Planned Parenthood to pray. It would be good to do more such things.

We are called to serve.

Let's see what the survey reveals.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 20, 2018

New Fraternity Council

At the Glory of the Most High Secular Franciscan Fraternity meeting October 19, the following people were selected to be the Fraternity Council for the next three years:

Minister - Lee Strong
Vice Minister - Nancy Strong
Secretary - Carolyn Barth
Treasurer - Mary Smith
Formation Director - Betty Carmen
Councilors. Ann Marie Kunz, Dick Kunz

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fraternity loses its mind ...

As I feared, at the fraternity election tonight I was elected Minister.

I did not particularly want it - but I left it open to the Spirit.

So for the next three years I will serve the Fraternity in that role.

According to Article 51 of the Order's constitution, the Minister:
 1. While firmly upholding the co-responsibility of the council to animate and guide the fraternity, the minister, as the primary person responsible for the fraternity, is expected to make sure that the directions and the decisions of the council are put into practice and will keep the council informed about what he or she is doing.

2. The minister also has the following duties:
a. to call, to preside at, and to direct the meetings of the fraternity and council; to convoke, every three years, the elective chapter of the fraternity, having heard the council on the formalities of the convocation;
b. to prepare the annual report to be sent to the council of the higher level after it has been approved by the council of the fraternity;
c. to represent the fraternity in all its relations with ecclesiastical and civil authorities. When the fraternity acquires a juridical personality in the civil order, the minister becomes, when possible, its legal representative;
d. to request, with the consent of the council, the pastoral and fraternal visits, at least once every three years.
e. to put into effect those acts which the Constitutions refer to his or her competence.

Okay ...

As I stated previously, among the ideas I hoping to pursue:

Find someone besides me to keep an eye on people leaving at the end of the meeting (for security and comfort reasons).

Find a team to take charge of selecting and leading the music at each meeting.

Encourage the formation director to create a team so that the burden is not entirely on her as, I hope, we attract new members.

Call for monthly meetings during the summer. I don't see why we have to take the summer off each year. If people are on vacation, fine, but even just a few of us meeting is good for continuity. We just  don't have to meet twice a month as we currently do from September to June.

Consult with the nearby Secular Franciscan community to share the Transitus, alternating the location and hosting duties, instead of always having it at their site, which, for some of our members, is a long journey and thus has prevented them from taking part.

Look for more opportunities to minister to others. We currently serve a meal once a year at an inner-city parish, once a year collect infant and maternity items for a pregnancy center, and donate money to a couple of programs. I got a few of us to pray as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign, and I'd like to see us doing even more. But what?

Seek more ways to promote the fraternity and to encourage those who have a calling to join us.
Anyway, my first task is to get ready for the first Council meeting, putting together an agenda.

Blessed be God in all His designs.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pain ...

Threw my back out over the weekend. I've been hurting since.


Play practice is having problems. Do we delay opening by one week? Will that run us into basketball practice?

That back ...

Fraternity elections are tomorrow. Not looking forward to them.

Twinge ...

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 12, 2018

Much on my mind

Home today with an ill wife - we were at the emergency room at 5 this morning. Even though we were able to return home, it was late, and I was tired, so no school.

I have a lot on my mind.

Still mulling over what might happen a week from now when we have our Fraternity election. I have misgivings.

Play practice is going well, but there's so much to do, and we perform one month from now.

The possibility of retiring is becoming more real. June? Wait for a year or two?

If I do retire, what then? Part-time job? More volunteer activities? Fraternity duties?

I chose not to do Santa at the mall this year. Will I ever return to the mall, or try to make it on my own?

More writing? Finishing the poetry books? The Slug Chronicles? My own clerihews? Work with the Chesterton Society to create a clerihew collection? And the novel - do I finally finish it? Some of the play ideas? A religious drama?

There are also spiritual issues. There are so many ways I need to grow, to be more serious about developing my prayer life. I need to find another spiritual director.

Then there are the situations with the girls. When will they be resolved? Will they ever?

So much on my mind

But now, finding some props for the play, and grading papers, and going out to the school later to pick up the papers that were handed in today.

And I need sleep ...

Pax et bonum

Monday, October 8, 2018

That coming blue wave thing ...

Image result for people swearing

The only blue wave
after the votes are counted
might be Dems' language
Image result for people swearing

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A prayer from Julian of Norwich

Image result for julian of norwich

“God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all.”

Pax et bonum

Kevin O'Brien's "An Actor Bows" proves a good read

I just finished Kevin O'Brien's book An Actor Bows. I've seen him perform a number of times at Chesterton conferences - including this September portraying St. Francis - and a few times on television, and bought a copy of the book just last week.

A quick read - my recent insomnia helped!

I enjoyed it.

His journey from atheism to Catholicism, his struggles to survive as a working actor, his writing of play after play were fascinating. He was honest about himself.

My only quibble was with some of the things he revealed about his wife's struggles She was aware he was writing about them and he gave her a chance to respond, which she did, but I would not have done it.

That aside, it was well worth reading.

The play writing part interested me as that is what I like to do, too. I've written and directed a few plays for school, and my middle-schoolers are currently rehearsing one of my plays (Stone Soup). And I might be adapting Everyman for the spring high school play.

As for the acting part, while I like to act, there is no way I could make a living at it the way he has. I can act, though I suspect not as well as he does, but the idea of constantly doing interactive mystery theater and traveling all the time would be well out of my comfort zone. Writing and being behind the scenes directing are what I like.

As long as I'm at my current school I'll be able to continue to write and direct. Once I retire, it might be more difficult. Maybe if I get involved with community theater I'll be able to do that. Once I do retire I plan to get more involved with that - I already have some connections.

I still would like to do some Christian theater the way that O'Brien does. I'm interested in some of the "older" saints whom I could write plays about and perform. The real St. Nicholas? St. Jerome? A hermit? Hmm.

Much to think about.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Secular Franciscans pray for life

A few folks from the Glory of the Most High Secular Franciscan Fraternity took part in the 40 days for Life campaign.

Morning showers gave way to clear skies and sunshine for our shift in front of Rochester's Planned Parenthood.

Pax et bonum

Fraternity elections coming up

Our fraternity elections are coming up in two weeks. The current minister has made it plain she thinks I should be and will be the next minister.

I would prefer not to be.

I prefer being the porter - setting up, helping people get in, running to get needed materials, escorting people to their cars when it's dark, etc.

That's what I prefer - but let's see what the Holy Spirit leads us to do.

If I am elected, some of the things I'd like to do:

Find someone to keep an eye on people leaving at the end of the meeting (for security and comfort reasons).

Find a team to take charge of selecting and leading the music at each meeting.

Encourage the formation director to create a team so that the burden is not entirely on him/her as, I hope, we attract new members.

Call for monthly meetings during the summer. I don't see why we have to take the summer off each year. If people are on vacation, fine, but even just a few of us meeting is good for continuity. But we don't have to meet twice a month as we currently do.

Consult with the nearby Secular Franciscan community to share the Transitus, alternating the location and hosting duties, instead of always having it at their site, which, for some of our members, is a long journey and thus has prevented them from taking part.

Seek more ways to promote the fraternity and to encourage those who have a calling to join us.

I'm sure more will come to mind - and people in the fraternity will have their own ideas.

And, if elected, I will have to be more involved with regional gatherings and programs - even though I don't like traveling.

Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. The election has not taken place yet.

Maybe this cup will pass.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

No mall this year

I called the Santa company in September to ask if there were going to be contracts this year - the previous company contacted us in June. I was told yes, and that I'd be getting a call.

 I did get a call the following week, and they offered me a position. They said they would mail the contract. That took another few day. It finally arrived.

No raise - even though I'd been there for some 13 years.

Then I started wading through the forms - which bore repeated threats about the contract being void if I didn't complete it by a deadline.

I don't like threats.

I continued, signing this, filling out that, measuring and responding to a survey.

Then I got to the background investigation form.

It struck me the wrong way. I've been checked before as a teacher. I've been drug tested many times. I've gotten diocesan clearance to play in a church band with teens and to teach in a Catholic school. I've even been checked as Santa before - but this paper seemed so formal, with references and all that. 

At that point I remembered all the rigamarole and poor planning and lack of responsiveness last year. I remembered the long hours, the rushing to get there after working all day. I remembered all the rude parents and kids - in numbers far more than any other year. I remembered how at the end of last season I said there was a good chance I would not go back with the same company.

And I thought of all the things I could do with my wife with the free time. Niagara Falls for the Festival of Lights. The It's a Wonderful Life festival in Seneca Falls. The Mass in the barn in Spencerport.

I e-mailed the company and said I would not be working for them this season.

I will do some Santa gigs. Already set up for my parish. The Knights of Columbus asked if I could come for their party. A woman asked if I could come to her house.

But no mall this year.

Maybe never again.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Clerihew Book?

At the Rochester Chesterton Conference Dale Ahlquist noted that he had received by latest clerihew submissions. The next issue of Gilbert! will feature clerihews from the national conference, but there's a chance one of my will appear in a later issue.

I suggested to him that maybe the Chesterton Society should consider publishing an anthology of clerihews. He thought that sounded like a good idea, though I don't know if it will really happen.

There have certainly been a number of fine clerihews publish in the magazine over the years. I've been fortunate to have a few published in the magazine, too.

The most recent was in July:

was one long-lived fella.
It wasn't because longevity was bred in his bones,
he was just determined to pay off all his college loans.
Some others that got published:

A somber Marquis de Sade
said with a knowing nod,
"The wickedness of all my work fades
before that woman's 50 Shades.”

One of the aims of ISIS
is eradicating Western sins and vices,
except, of course, for a select few
that they themselves like to do.

When he was young St. Polycarp
religiously practiced the harp.
When a musical career proved a non-starter
he instead became a martyr.

When Alexander Pope
slipped on a bar of soap
the couplet he muttered was neither stoic
nor heroic.

Dr. Mary Gatter
treated it as a laughing matter,
but sell enough baby parts, even that teenie,
and you just might afford a Lamborghini.

Steven Wright
Is right:
Boycott shampoo,
demand the real poo.
President James Polk
would rarely crack a joke.
But his friends say he was quick
with a limerick.

There are more ... I need to compile them.
But not tonight. 
Pax et bonum

Young, rebellious, and cutting edge

When I was

young and rebellious and cutting edge,

I wore the hair style and the kinds of clothes,

and spouted the words, phrases, and slogans

all the other

young and rebellious and cutting edge



Pax et bonum

Still not watching

Image result for Being there - "I like to watch"

In the movie Being There, Peter Sellers' character, Chauncey Gardiner, says, "I like to watch." He's referring to television, but in the movie people interpret the line in their own ways.

As for me, I don't like to watch.

It's been six week since I stopped watching television.

I'm not completely out of the loop when it comes to the news. I did watch part of the Kavanaugh hearing online. But as for television, nada.

I finished a few books. Went to bed at a more reasonable hour most nights. Got some things done.

I know there are people who have not watched television far longer than I have not, but still, six weeks is a good start.


Just don't expect me to walk on water.

Related image

Pax et bonum

Oh those Chesterton conferences ...

And yes, I did buy two books.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Oscar Wilde: "Perversity" ... "a malady, or a madness"

Image result for Oscar Wilde - death

At today's Rochester Chesterton Conference, Joseph Pearce discussed Oscar Wilde's conversion to Catholicism shortly before death - though he had been on the verge of it many times during his life -  and Wilde's admission that his homosexuality was "perversity" and a "malady."

From Wilde's "De Profundis":

"The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a FLANEUR, a dandy, a man of fashion. I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little   action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility."

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I walked away from the 40 Days for Life kickoff.

As is obvious to any who has read this blog or my posts on social media, I am adamantly pro-life. I have spoken out on a number of life issues - unjust war, the death penalty, economic injustice, the environment, etc. - but most clearly and consistently about abortion.

I have taken part in marches - including the March for Life - rallies, the 40 Days for Life campaign, and prayer vigils, including on an almost weekly basis outside Planned Parenthood.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to play some music for the 40 Days for Life kickoff tonight. I prepared songs, practiced, got everything I needed, and even though I'm not feeling well, went to the place where we were supposed to meet.

We got there to find lots of counter-protesters, and plenty of police. That I can handle, and was ready to join with the pro-life contingent.

The counter-protesters were yelling, chanting, spouting misinformation and falsehoods, and using some foul language and anti-religious slogans. I've encountered that before, so that didn't phase me. I stood there, holding my sign (LOVE WILL END ABORTION) and praying for them.

One of the things about 40 Days is that we have consistently avoided negative signs - especially ones of aborted babies. I consider such signs violent - yes, I know some pro-lifers believe they are effective, but I am not among them. I'm a Franciscan. I believe we should not use any form of violence unless it is absolutely necessary - such as thwarting a physical assault on someone. I do not support the use of verbal or pictorial violence in pro-life protests. We may face violence from the other side, but we are to respond only will love, and, if necessary, nonviolently absorb the anger, even the attacks. To respond with violence only hardens hearts and escalates the situation.

My policy when such signs have turned up at other events is to ask the people to put them away, and if they don't, to leave.

Unfortunately, a woman prominent in the local pro-life movement brought out such a sign tonight, potentially adding fuel to an already volatile situation. I went over to her and asked her to please put it away. She snapped at me almost disdainfully, "No."

I went back to where I had been standing and said to a friend I was going to leave. He went over to the woman to see if he could persuade her. No luck. I then when to one of the 40 Days leaders, and said I thought we were not supposed to have violent signs. He said that she was doing it separately from 40 Days.

No. This was the 40 Days kickoff, and she was there as part of it.

I retrieved my guitar from when I had left it, got in my car, and left. They will have to do without music.

I will still take part in the 40 Days campaign, going down to Planned Parenthood to pray for some shifts, but I could not remain for the rest of the kickoff.

I will not be party to responding to violence with violence.

Pax et bonum