Sunday, September 16, 2018

Pro-Abortion Activist Gets Prison, Sent Pro-Lifers Death Threats

I was among the folks he threatened, though I was not part of this specific case.

He did not seem to know where I lived, and I felt secure enough that he would not suddenly appear at my door. I saved some of his written threats, though.

From the LifeNews account (May 11, 2012)

A pro-abortion activist who sent death threats to a number of pro-life leaders pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court Thursday to posting online death threats against at least two pro-life leaders.

Theodore Shulman, 51, could be headed to prison for at least 51 months for threatening pro-life Princeton University professor Robert George and Father Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life. He was arrested in February 2011 and has been held without bail ever since.

The threats against the pro-life advocates, made on the web site of a conservative magazine, said Pavone and George would be killed if the killer of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller was acquitted.

Pavone told LifeNews late Thursday, “I was informed today that Theodore Shulman pleaded guilty to the charges of threatening pro-life leaders, myself included. I hope that his acceptance of personal responsibility for what he did, and his readiness to serve jail time for it, is for him the beginning of a road of conversion and repentance that will reach even to the point of renouncing his position in favor of legal abortion. Violence against me and other leaders is wrong for the same reason that violence against children in the womb is wrong. Both must be rejected.”

“I’m grateful to the detectives and other law enforcement personnel who have worked with me and Priests for Life throughout this case to gather and track the threats that I have received. The NYPD, the FBI, the Joint Terrorist Task Force, and the Department of Justice have done an exemplary and professional job,” he continued.

Pavone added, “From the point of view of my work as a pro-life leader, I also take this opportunity to point out that violence and threats of violence against pro-life activists are far more common, yet far less visible in the media, than violence and threats of violence against abortionists and abortion supporters. In fact, the latter have used a handful of violent acts by people disconnected from the pro-life movement to try to tar the reputation of the entire movement, and those tactics should have no more place in the public debate over abortion than should violence itself.”

Pavone told LifeNews he offers Shulman his “prayers and personal forgiveness” and said he maintains close relationships with pro-abortion activists in order to show them the goodness of pro-life people and, ultimately, win their hearts and minds for the pro-life perspective.

“Civil debate is possible; people who disagree deeply on fundamental issues can still respect one another. My own friendship with abortion-rights pioneer Bill Baird, and the frequent pleas we have made together over the years for mutual respect among pro-life advocates and abortion-rights advocates demonstrate the path we can follow as a society. Ultimately, ‘respect for life’ means respect for the unborn and the born, for those who agree with us and those who don’t,” he said.

Officials with the pro-life group Operation Rescue and the Life Legal Defense Fund have been on the receiving end of Shulman’s threats as well.

In addition to the two victims listed in the federal complaint against Shulman when he was arrested, George and Pavone, Operation Rescue’s two full-time staffers, Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger, as well as pro-life blogger Jill Stanek have been targets of the pro-abortion activist’s threats. Shulman hounded Operation Rescue’s Sullenger, in particular, over a two year time-span as he ran a pro-abortion blog site called Operation Counterstrike that Sullenger said “fomented hatred and attempted to encourage ‘pro-choice’ supporters to murder pro-lifer activists.”

“This is a huge relief to us that Ted Shulman is behind bars where he belongs,” said Sullenger in a statement to LifeNews at the time of his arrest.

Bryan Kemper, the founder of Stand True, the pro-life group that sponsors the red tape day for students to stand up in silent solidarity for unborn children at their schools, also reportedly received death threats from Shulman.

Meanwhile, in 2009, Shulman left a threatening voice mail message with LLDF Legal Director, Catherine Short.

Here's the link -

Pro-Abortion Activist Gets Prison, Sent Pro-Lifers Death Threats: A pro-abortion activist who sent death threats to a number of pro-life leaders pleaded guilty in Manhattan Federal Court Thursday to posting online death threat ...

Pax et bonum

Friday, September 14, 2018

Jesus and a puppy

Image result for Jesus with puppies

Hey, you never know.

Pax et bonum

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sold my soul to the religious right? Nah.

A woman declared that I had sold my soul to the religious right - based on the fact that I oppose abortion and support praying for a Supreme Court nominee who might change our nation's extreme abortion policies (when compared to other nations).

She also assumed that I support the Trump administration and its policies. (FYI: I didn't vote for him, and won't in 2020. Heck, I'm not even a Republican!)

Let's see, looking back:

I was in the process of applying for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War (I didn't have to finish that process because my lottery draft number was so high).

I protested the Vietnam War and Nixon Administration policies.

I spent part of one Easter break protesting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, during the trial of the Harrisburg Seven.

I took a year off from college to work with troubled youth in the slums of New York City.

I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons - including opposition to some corporate farming policies and to the destruction of the rain forest - and have remained one for 45 years.

I began writing against the death penalty in the 1970s - and have continued to do so - even though my bother was murdered.

I took part in a tax protest over funding for war and nuclear weapons.

I was part of the live-in staff at a Catholic Worker House. I later helped to prepare a parish homeless shelter and was an overnight volunteer in it during its first season.

I protested the neutron bomb and other nuclear weapons, even marching before the U.N. with a million other people.

I helped to found Pax Christi Rochester, serving as the secretary of that organization's board for several years.

I regularly wrote letters and articles to protest various policies of the Reagan Administration (and I didn't vote for him in '80 or '84, nor, for that matter, have I ever voted for either of the Presidents Bush).

I served on the board of an inner-city health/outreach center.

I took part in protests at the Seneca Army Depot over the storage of nuclear weapons there, including providing music for Masses there.

I used to go to the Monroe County Jail to help provide music for Masses there.

I supported the Sanctuary Movement, and joined my parish in supporting and sheltering an "illegal" family, even inviting that family into my home even though uncertain about the possibility of being arrested for doing so.

I protested the invasion of Iraq.

I taught for three years in a BOCES program for troubled youth.

I have financially supported various Catholic Worker Houses, health centers working with the poor, homeless shelters, shelters and homes for women and children, and so on, and sponsored children in African and Central America.

I tutored inner-city children, and for a time helped provide daycare so mothers could get counseling and parenting skills training.

I have boycotted various companies and products because of mistreatment of workers and the environment.

But I do oppose abortion, so I guess in some eyes that alone means I have sold my soul to the religious right.

Personally, I just look at the whole package and say I'm a practicing Catholic who takes the teachings of my Church seriously.

Pax et bonum

Wait ... judge and kick someone out for a sexual sin?

It is widely reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans—a man living with his father’s wife.

And you are inflated with pride.

Should you not rather have been sorrowful? The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst.
I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit, have already, as if present, pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed, in the name of [our] Lord Jesus: when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit with the power of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan* for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. - 1 Cor 5: 1-5

From today's reading.

Several things struck me.

The man is guilty of a sexual offense - one that was unacceptable back then, but one that could be a movie-of-the-week plot today. Or might get a standing ovation at some film festival.

St. Paul said to confront and to kick the offender out for the good of his soul. Can you imagine if churches today kicked out everyone guilty of sexual sin? Of course, some would argue that it's not a sin when you "love" the person, but they would be wrong. It's a sin. The gravity of that sin for the individuals involved would vary depending on their understanding and so on, but it still would be a sin.

He's obviously critical of the community for allowing this to continue unaddressed. Again, think of
churches today who shy away from addressing such issues until some sort of crisis erupts. Those eruptions might have been avoided if such issues had been confronted immediately.

And St. Paul used the "j" word -  "pronounced judgment." So many people today condemn judgment - but of course in condemning judgment they are judging.

Just some thoughts.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 9, 2018

"Jesus didn't condemn homosexual acts" - a response

A great response from Steve Ray to the argument that Jesus did not mention or condemn homosexual acts.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Confession is good for the soul

I got to Confession today. It was needed, and good.

I find many spiritual writers and commentators recommending frequent Confession. One common suggestion is getting to Confession at least once a month. That has not been my practice, but I think they are right and I will try to do so.

There are a number of areas on which I need to work. One is my habit of being harshly critical and sarcastic. I tend to make too many such comments on social media - and to write too many poems of that sort. After I came home from Confession I deleted one such poem from this blog, and so the links to it on social media no longer work.

I will try to be more careful in the future. It's okay to raise legitimate objections about questionable policies, actions, and laws, but such objections should not be harsh and sarcastic in nature. And humor is fine, as long as it is not cruel.

This is in keeping with my Franciscan vocation.

I need to be more positive and affirming. I need to praise what is true, beautiful, and good.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

I read a book by a poet ...

Image result for sour old woman

I read a book by a poet
much loved by fans and critics.

She was good.

Her poems were full of witty wordplays,
sudden twists and turns
and liberal doses of ironic observations
about life and love
and lack thereof.

But as I worked through the book
an image came to mind:

We were in a field
beneath a night sky
ablaze with moon and stars
and she kept going on and on
about some litter
that she spotted on the ground.

Pax et bonum

Monday, September 3, 2018

Two weeks and counting ...

So far, two weeks (plus one day) without television.

I have watched four Franciscan-related films on dvd during that time (three different bios of Francis, and The Reluctant Saint (St. Joseph of Cupertino), but no broadcast television.

No talking heads.

No lame sit-coms.

No crime dramas.

No horror or science fiction or fantasy or adventure movies. (Often for the umpteenth time.)

No sports.

No game shows.

No re-runs of Hee Haw. (Yes, I sometimes watched them!).

So far, I haven't missed television. I've gotten more reading done - including some spiritual reading. I've done some planning for school. I got some work done around the house. I practiced guitar to get ready for playing at Mass again and to a 40 Days for Life event. (Reminds me, I have to finish writing that song!)

As with the Franciscan movies, we have a number of movies on dvd, so I can watch them sometimes.

Again, if something significant occurs in the news I will watch that. But for now, it's all the same biased back and forth.

And with school starting, it will get easier.

This was a good move!

Pax et bonum

Stars haiku

Image result for brilliant stars

away from street lights
the stars sing to us in their
God-given glory

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 2, 2018

40 Years Of The "New" Rule

Pax et bonum

More on Encouraging Secular Franciscan vocations

A few weeks ago, one of the younger members of our Secular Franciscan Fraternity passed away. We have several others dealing with serious health issues, and others who have health problems that keep them from meetings.

In the interim, we have been getting ready for elections to the Fraternity Council. There are indications that I might be elected Vice Minister, possibly even Minister. I've been nominated to both positions, and three years ago was almost elected Vice Minister (three tied ballots, then the other candidate, being professed longer, was selected.) (She did a great job, by the way, but now she has moved out of state and can't run for re-election.)

In light of the aging/health of the fraternity and this possible new office, I've been thinking about how to promote the Secular Franciscans so that those who have a calling may discover us and be able to respond to that calling.

I dealt with some of this in an earlier post. Here are the main points from that post:

1. Pray
2. Teach others about what it means to be a Franciscan.
3. Invite others.
4. Make it look attractive to others.
5. Talk it up.
6. Live out the vocation.

Here are some further ideas culled from various primarily Franciscan sources.

Create a presence on social media (we do have a blog and a Facebook page).

Create brochures (got one, need to update).

Create bookmarks promoting the vocation and the fraternity (hmm).

Put announcements in bulletins (I did that of a couple of parishes, offered sample announcements to other fraternity members, and there's one in this weekend's bulletin in my home parish).

Pulpit announcements? (ulp)

Announce meetings on the calendars offered by the local Catholic newspaper and Catholic radio station. (That's a good one.)

Create "Feed the Birds" packets with birdseed, information about the vocation and the fraternity, and instructions for people to follow St. Francis's idea about feeding the birds on Christmas Day. (I like that idea; wonder how best to do it.)

Hold a Franciscan movie night (We certainly have dvds!)

Spread business cards. (We have them - get them out there!)

Have some Franciscan pens made?

Distribute Franciscan stickers?

Buy or design some t-shirts?

Sponsor a blessing of the animals. (Might be too late to organize for this year?)

Stage a "Come and See" event. (I must admit, organizing events is not my thing. But there may be people in the fraternity who are gifted in that way.)

Have a Franciscan table at a large event such as the big Women's and Men's conference our diocese holds (We did look into that; they charge a bit more than we have in our tight budget to sponsor a table. Maybe try to piggyback with another group?)

Purchase license plate holders for the fraternity. (Hmmm - Christmas gifts?)

I'm sure there are more ideas out there. For now, though, we just need to continue what we are doing, do those things even more openly and frequently, and add some of the ideas above.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Boycott Sports Over Sex Abuse!

Thousands of young people have been sexually abused by coaches, team doctors, and athletic department personnel in recent years - and those crimes have been covered up by fellow coaches, athletic department personnel, and school administrators. In a number of cases, known offenders were allowed to move to different schools or positions.

In just recent months here are just a few of the cases have come to light:

In Iowa, a 39-year-old coach and teacher was charged in August with third degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual exploitation in connection with a juvenile female.

In New York in July, a gymnastics coach was indicted for allegedly abusing at least seven girls under age 13 who were students at his gyms.

In May, a lawsuit was filed in federal court accusing an Olympic taekwondo gold medalist and his brother and coach were accused of sexually assaulting female athletes, including minors, for years.

 In May, a high school soccer coach in Ohio was indicted by a grand jury on multiple sexual assault and abuse charges in connection with a girl who was younger that 16.

In Baltimore in April 2018, a high school coach and elementary school teacher’s aide was charged with engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student.

In April, a water polo coach from Southern California was charged with the sexual abuse of seven of his female players, four of whom were 15 or younger.
In February in New Jersey, basketball coach and recreation director Christopher Tarver pleaded guilty to multiple charges in connection the sexual abuse of young men, and was sentenced to 52 years in prison.

In February, reports surfaced that hundreds of swimmers involved with USA Swimming were sexually abused by a number of coaches, with others in the organization accused of helping to cover up the abuse.

In major cases a few years earlier, in 2016 California wrestling coach Thomas Joseph Snider was found guilty on 39 charges in a sex abuse case involving more than two dozen underage boys.

In 2016, USA Gymnastics was hit with charges of hundreds of athletes being sexually abused by coaches and others, including Dr. Larry Nassar, who alone was accused of molesting 250 young women and one young man, and was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to decades in prison. Meanwhile, the organization was accused of hiding the crimes, and moving around abusing coaches.

And, of course, there was the 2012 conviction of Jerry Sandusky of Penn State on 45 counts of sex abuse involving 10 boys.

There are many more cases that we know of. It's likely there are many more that have not surfaced yet. Imagine if we went back over the last 50 years; there would likely be tens of thousands of victims.

And, again, that abuse has been covered up by fellow coaches, athletic department personnel, and school administrators. Abusers have been moved around and protected.

Coaches are people who are supposed to be trusted. The young people trusted them to make them better athletes. Parents rusted their children to those coaches.

We will not know the full extent of the problem until thorough investigations are done. How about grand jury investigations of every athletic department in schools and every athletic program in the nation?

Until such investigations are done, maybe people should consider not attending games, not buying sports apparel, not donating to sports programs or the Olympics. Hit them in the pocketbook - that will make them pay attention.

And if people want sports, they can play it themselves. Play pickup games. Engage in such activities as hiking, running, biking, swimming.

It may not be as polished, but it will still be good for them, right?

After all, if  people believe they can be "spiritual, not religious," they can be "physical, not athletic."


Of course, none of that will happen - certainly not in the way that is currently happening with the Catholic Church

And that is despite the fact that in recent years young people are more likely to be sexually abused by coaches and others involved with athletic departments than they are by Catholic priests.

Let that sink in: Young people statistically are safer with Catholic priests than they are with coaches.

There are many possible reasons why people are not staging protests of sporting event, threatening boycotts, filling the social media with debates and lamentations, and getting covered endlessly on news outlet after news outlet.

One possible reason is that the Catholic Church is a single institution, while sports programs are all separate entities. They are sort of like all the different Protestant denominations and churches (oh, and by the way, ministers in many of those denominations and churches are statistically more likely to be guilty of sexual offenses than are priests, even though those ministers can marry). It's easier to focus on one target than it is on thousands.

Many of those who are upset with what's happened in the Catholic Church are emotionally invested in that Church, either because they are active participants in the Church, or were raised in that Church. When it comes to sports programs, we might be invested in one team or one school, but not programs in general. I may care what happens in connections with the Syracuse University basketball team, but not with what happens with Michigan State's football team. As a result, the feelings are diffused when abuse is revealed in sports.

On a practical level, the Catholic Church is, again, one entity, and it is one that keeps records. Thus while there are thousands of individual churches, there are a limited number of dioceses where records are kept. That is not the case with sports programs in schools and with independent sports programs. We are talking about thousands of individual entities, some of which are quite small, and many of which do not keep detailed records. It would be a logistical nightmare to investigate them all. But, people could still boycott - look at what's happening with the NFL, for example. Money is indeed getting that league to start paying attention.

And let's also be honest: The Catholic Church is a target. There are plenty of people who hate the Church, and plenty of former Catholics who love to criticize it. There are a lot of such people in political and media circles and in activist groups. The devil is happy to make use of them all to help attack the Church. Meanwhile, sports does not face such extensive animus.

Given the situation with the Church, with coaches, with ministers, with teachers, etc. what we really need is not an attack on one group, but rather an honest look at what in our culture and society allow and even encourages this.

An honest look.

At ourselves.

We live in an over-sexualized culture, one that encourages sexual activity of every sort. Sex has been cheapened, often separated from relationships (even though this is a denial of basic human nature). This sexuality is on constant display in movies, television shows, literature, advertising, and more

There are consequences.

For example, we just had a report come out that a new record was set last in the number of people with sexually transmitted diseases. That's the forth year in a row that we've set new records.

The co-habitation and child-out-of-wedlock numbers keep going up.

All methods of birth control fail - there's really no such thing as "safe sex" (itself a deceptive concept) - and so this leads among other things to abortion.

There are more and more single-parent homes - homes that tend to suffer from greater poverty, and that tend to produce children whose understanding of self and family are distorted, and who will often repeat the patterns they've learned.

And those abusing coaches, priests, ministers, teachers and so on are reflective of all that.

Maybe we're calling for boycotting and refusing financial support for the wrong things.

Pax et bonum

Protestant clergy sexual abuse

The sex abuse problem in the Catholic Church is terrible. There's no excuse for it.

But I've also pointed out that there are other groups of individuals who are even MORE likely to be abusers than are Catholic priests. This article looks at Protestant clergy.

May God protect all young people and parishioners.

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 27, 2018

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Don't impose your "don't impose your morality" on me

Image result for Angry person pointing finger

Even if it hasn’t been addressed at us directly, we’ve all heard and read the classic response when discussing moral issues: Don’t impose your morality on me.

That response is actually meaningless and hypocritical.

First, it is an attempt to impose the speaker’s morality on us.

Second, all laws and all judgments are based on morality and thus, under the moral relativism that underlies the response, they can be considered imposing morality on others. Laws against accepting bribes, pedophilia, theft, discrimination, illegal immigration, trespassing, plagiarism, voter fraud, unethical business practices, assault, and so much more are based at some level on moral principles with which some people might disagree. If we accept this response as valid, the pedophile, the thief, the corrupt public official can all legitimately declare: Don’t impose your morality on me.

Third, this response is often motivated by a desire to avoid honestly addressing the moral position that prompted it. In some cases, the responder is in actuality comfortable with imposing morality as long as it is his or her morality. In others, the responder is trying to redirect the discussion to get away from the sometimes uncomfortable truth that underlies the moral position.

Finally, it often is not a matter of imposing the moral position on others. It is a matter of reminding others of the moral positions they perhaps did not know or understand, or have neglected, or which might make them look at themselves. There is often an underlying fear of honestly dealing with the reality that underlies the moral position, for that might call into question their beliefs and actions.

So when people say, “Don’t impose your morality on me,” often what they are really saying is, “Don’t make me be honest with myself, because I might have to admit I support or do something wrong.”

Now if we were dealing with an issue of someone forcefully imposing religion on others – as, for example, some Christian and Muslim conquerors have done in the past – that would be a different issue. But that is not what we are dealing with here.

Ultimately, “Don’t impose your morality on me” is simply an empty rhetorical cop out.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Fatima Shrine

Yesterday for our anniversary (okay, two days after our anniversary), the Good Looking One and I traveled out to the Fatima Shrine North of Buffalo. We went to Mass, wandered the grounds, had lunch, viewed wildlife, and, of course, visited Mary.

Pax et bonum

Ayn Rand: Pulp in My Laundry

Related image

Years ago when I started college Ayn Rand was in the air, like the ever-present lingering incense from dorm rooms up and down the hall.

So because I was like all the other self-conscious rebels, I started reading one of her novels. I got pretty far into it, then, with it in my backpack, had occasion to hitch somewhere (back in the day when hitching was a thing).

I stood on the side of the road, flashing my thumb for each passing car. It was hot, dry, like a desert day, and as each car passed I felt as if I was slowly desiccating. At one point I squatted, imagining myself like Tom Joad trying to go home, and thought about the novel. I began to feel more and more hollow, more and more empty, like a dry bone with the marrow long gone and the hot, dry air inexorably drifting through it.

And I had the feeling that I could give in to the emptiness, my soul evaporating into the nothingness.

And I knew I would be lost

And I almost didn't care..

Then a driver picked me up. He was a friendly fellow. I remember he had a big smile. He laughed like a man who liked to laugh. We engaged in small talk as we drove on, and the desert moment passed.

A couple of months  later, I was living in a big city, having taken a leave of absence from college. I was working in a group home, and becoming involved with a girl and her older sister and all their friends. Ayn Rand was floating about there too, lingering in the air like the stale cigarette smoke my big-city acquaintances exhaled as they proclaimed their collective uniqueness.

In my loneliness I tried to be unique too.

I had finished the first Rand novel, and, at the urging of my girlfriend, I began a second. I got part way through it, then, one day, threw in into a bag of laundry I was taking to the home where I worked, thinking I would read more of it at lunch. In a hurry, I dumped my laundry into the washer, then ran off to do some things with the home's residents.

Later, I opened the washer.

The paperback novel had been reduced to pulp, shreds of it scattered throughout all my clothes.

I had to take the clothes out, item by item, pick out all the pieces of the novel, and rewash the clothes. I still found shreds of the novel in my underwear and socks weeks later.

Feathers in the wind.

A nascent poet, I saw a metaphor in this. And I took it as a sign from God.

I stopped reading Rand uncritically.

I read Tolkien and Lewis and Chesterton instead.

I still read them.

Which explains so much..

Pax et bonum

The Fatal Formula

Pax et bonum

Friday, August 24, 2018

The coming blue wave ...

Image result for Blue toilet bowl cleaner in toilet bowl

What I think of when I hear about the coming "Blue Wave."

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Voice from the Mother's Womb - Donald Iain MacDonald

While reading a book review about An Tuil: Anthology of Twentieth Century Scottish Gaelic Verse (edited by Ronald Black), in the latest edition of StAR.(Saint Austin Review), I came across mention of a pro-life poem by Donald Iain MacDonald, "The Voice from in the Mother's Womb." Curious, I searched for it online. It was originally written in Gaelic, apparently, but here's an English translation I found in a blog (Cum Lazaro) back in 2013 -

The Voice from the Mother's Womb
Come close and give an ear to me,
  All of you who have your health,
Listen to me and take pity on me
  For you're about to have me killed;
Here I am, a developed child
  Wrapped around in my mother's womb,
And the murderer standing close to me
  With the Crown's consent to snuff me out.

He'll get no gallows, fine or prison
  And no court will sentence him,
Even if he murdered thousands
  He is quit of the country's law;
He will slaughter me tomorrow,
  Anyway my mother has asked him to-
Isn't she herself the murderer
  Of the very waif that's in her womb?

I have never harmed a creature
  Under the sun throughout the world,
All I wanted was to join you there
  And grow up and come of age there;
When my mother had conceived me
  And I was saying, "She will love me."
But giving pleasure to her flesh
  Was what she wanted, not a baby.

I'll never see a summer's day,
  Fields alive with calves and stirks,
Nor the primrose of the streamlets,
  Or flowers that grow in glen or garden;
I'll not hear in Maytime morning
  The sweetstringed choir high in the trees,
I won't run, or jump for joy
  With other children as they did themselves.

All my share came into being
  When, weak and tender, I was conceived,
And if people did right by each other
  No mouth on earth would suffer want;
But too many are amassing wealth,
  Eating, drinking, vomiting,
While their brothers lack even the mouthful
  To give them strength to reach maturity.

God made me in the usual way-
  It was His hope that I would grow,
It wasn't in His mind at all
  That I should be superfluous;
He created my eternal soul
  Though stained by Adam's living sin,
But the Sacrament of Baptism
  Was still going to show me glory.

But alas, my cause of sadness,
  My right to it has been denied:
I've now no hope of the Baptism
  Ordered for me by the King of the Elements,
But of course He will show me love-
  An innocent loveless child
Denied all admittance to the world
  And any chance to mature there in time.

Oh won't you take pity, mother,
  On me the child that's in your womb,
Listen to me and hear me cry out
  As a mother's love is denied me;
Since you so willingly conceived me,
  Bring me to the world and bless me,
And my tongue won't seek your torment
  When God comes in court to judge you.

And you who're waiting with the knife
  To finish off my childhood,
Mind, though I cannot see your face,
  I won't forget you, never-
When your soul's being sought from you
  And you crying, "God have mercy,"
With a crown about my head
  I'll shout, "Send him down to Hell, the fiend!"

"Thou shalt not kill" is what the Lord said,
    When He created the commandments;
"You'll give," He said, "all love to me
  And as to me, so to your brother."
And you who put the Act together
  That murders children by the thousand,
If justice triumphs in the end
  I pity you the day you die.

Here it is in Gaelic --

An Guth á Broinn na Màthar

Teannaibh dlùth is thoiribh cluas dhomh,
  Sibhs’ a shluagh a tha ’nur slàint’,
Éistibh riu is gabhaibh truas rium
  ’S mi air thuar mo chur gu bàs leibh;
Tha mi ’n-seo, ’nam leanabh saidhbhir
  Paisgte cruinn am broinn mo mhàthar,
’S am murtair ’na sheasnamh dlùth dhomh
’S aont’ a’ Chrùin aige mo smàladh.

Cha téid croich no càin no prìosan,
  Cha téid binn a thoirt le cùirt air,
Ged a mharbhadh e na mìltean
  Tha e caoiteas lagh na dùthchadh;
Nì e mis’ a mhurt a-màireach,
  Dh’iarr mo mhàthair air co-dhiù e-
Saoil nach murtair is’ I fhéin
  Don aon dìol-déirc a th’air a giùlan?

Cha do rinn mi cron air creutair
  Tha fon ghréin air feadh an t-saoghail,
B’e mo mhiann tighinn còmh’ ruib’ fhéin ann
  ’S a bhith ’g éirigh suas gu aois ann;
Nuair a ghineadh mi le m’ mhàthair
  Bha mi ’g ràdha, ‘Bheir i gaol dhomh.’
Ach se sòlas thoirt dh’a feòil
  A bha i’n tòir air, ’s cha b’e maoth-phàist’.

Chan fhaic mise latha samhraidh,
  Laoigh is gamhna ruith sna pàircean,
Chan fhaic mi sòbhrach nan alltan,
  Flùraichean an glean no’n gàrradh;
Ch chluinn mi air madainn Chéitein
  Còisir theudach nan craobh àrda,
Còmh’ri cloinn mar a rinn àsan.

Chaidh mo chuid-sa chur don t-saoghal
  Nuair a ghineadh maoth gun chlì mi,
’S nam biodh daoine ceart dha chéile
  Cha bhiodh beul fon ghréin is dìth air;
Ach tha cus a’ càrnadh stòrais,
  Ag ithe, ’s ag òl, ’s a’dìobhairt,
’S am bràithrean gun fiù an greim
A theireadh sgoinn dhaibh tighinn gu ìre.

Chruthaich Dia mi mar a b’àbhaist –
  Se gum fàsainn bha ’na dhòchas,
Cha b’e bha ’na inntinn idir
  Gun robh mise gu bhith chòrr ann ;
Chruthaich e m’anam neo-bhàsmhor
  Ged bha peacadh Àdhaimh beò air,
Ach bha Sàcramaid a’ Bhaistidh
  Dol a thaisbeanadh na glòir dhomh.

Och mo thruaighe, fàth mo dhòlais,
  Chaidh mo chòir rithe dhòmhs’ a dhiùltadh:
Chan eil Baisteadh ann dhomh ’n dòchas
  Mar a dh’òrdaich Rìgh nan Dùl dhomh,
Ach tha fios gun nochd E bàidh rium-
  Neochiontach de phàiste diùmbaidh
Nach fhaigh cead tighinn chun an t-saoghail
  ’S cothrom tighinn gu aois ri ùin’ ann.

O nach gabhthu truas, a mhàthair,
  Riums’, am pàist’ a th’air do ghiùlan,
Éist rium agus cluinn mo ràn
 Is gaol na màthar dhomh ga dhiùltadh;
Bhon a ghin thu mi le d’shaor-thoil,
  Thoir don t-saoghal mi le d’dhùrachd,
’S cha bhi m’theang’ ag eubhach pian dhut
  Nuair thig Dia thoirt breith na cùirt’ ort.

’S thus’ tha feitheamh leis an iarann
  Gus mo chrìochnachadh ’nam phàiste,
Cuimhnich, ged nach fhaic mi t’ìomhaigh,
  S mi nach dìochuimhnich gu bràch thu-
Nuair bhios t’anam ort ga iarraidh
  ’S tu ’g eubhach, ‘A Dhia dian bàidh rium,’
Bidh mise agus crùn mu m’cheann
  Ag eubhach, ‘Sìos don toll an t-À bharsair!’

Thuirt an Tighearna, ‘Na dian marbhadh,’
  Nuair a dhealbhaich E na fàithntean;
Thuirt E, ‘Their thu gaol gu léir dhomh
  Agus mar dhut fhéin, dha d’bhràthair.’
’S sibhse rinn an t-Achd a sgrìobhadh
  A tha murt nam mìltean pàiste,
Mas e ’n ceartas a their buaidh
  Och och mo thruaighe là ur bàis sibh.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Pax et bonum

Santa's Diary

Back in 2005  when I was new to blogging, having created the predecessor to this blog, View from the Choir, I also created a second blog, one that focused on Santa Claus - Santa's Diary.

In it, "Santa" told about some of his life story and adventures - including how he met and courted Mrs. Claus, his pets, dealing with melting ice at the North Pole, putting up with silly cohorts (elves and reindeer), even warring with giants.

I wrote fairly steadily from July of 2005 to July of 2006, then slowed down, and finally wrote only sporadically until 2014. I made one final entry on December 25, 2017.

All told, there are 211 entries. Some are fillers - Hi, I haven't written in a while - but some are decent stories. Some of the stories stretch out over several entries, such as the Mrs. Claus ones, or one about two elves getting married.

I'd like to compile some of the stories, putting them together, and revising them. Material for publication? Who knows.

I don't know if I'll actually do anything with the blog other than that. Maybe I'll post some of those old Santa diary entries on this blog?

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tron Clerihew

Image result for tron 1982

isn't gone.
He's still alive
in your hard drive.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Giving up television

Image result for staring at television

I woke up early (even for me) this morning - 3 a.m. Don't know why. The dog was puzzled. Our walk time isn't until 5 a.m. (a holdover wake-up time from the days when I'd have to get in the shower before three daughters and a wife got in there, and then had to drive the daughters to multiple schools and get to the school where I taught on time).

But as I headed out to the living room this morning, a thought suddenly hit me: Stop watching television.

Cold turkey.

Maybe it was the early hour. But it made sense.

Given the dreck on television these days - from the talking heads shouting at each other from one side or the other, to the lame shows promoting inappropriate moral and ethical values or mindless drivel, to the trendy kneeling athletes, etc. - there's little worth wasting my time on.

Indeed, that was often what I was doing. Flipping channels. Watching the same reruns of old shows or the same movies for the 10th or 20th time. It was too easy to get caught up with watching such programs/movies. It was too easy to have it as background (and distracting) noise when I needed to get other things done.

Then there's the shows/movies with inappropriate content that I sometimes catch a glimpse of because I wasn't flipping fast enough.

So I'm quitting.

I'll watch only when there's breaking news about major events, culturally significant broadcasts, bad weather reports for safety or work reasons, and the like. 

I can spend my time better reading, writing, practicing guitar, learning new songs, doing household chores, and so on. Indeed, today, because we went to Mass last night, I ran out to the school to check something, went to the hardware store to get some needed supplies, stopped by to visit the wife at the chapel where she volunteers (bringing her some coffee), made tomato sauce out of some of the tomatoes from our garden, mowed the lawn, helped make dinner, and read a book about St. Nicholas. While I was reading or writing, I listened to some good music (Mozart, Matt Maher, and, currently, John Michael Talbot).

This will be better for my mind and my soul.

Pax et bonum

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Teachers more likely to commit sex crimes than priests

The priest sex abuse report in Pennsylvania reveals the extent of the problem - and points to many  failures.

Failures by priests. By seminary rectors. By bishops. By parish staffs. By lay people who turned their heads.

Most of these offenses took place years - decades - ago, and some dioceses have improved how they deal with the problem, screen seminarians better, and weed out the offending priests quickly and more publicly. Though, sadly, not all.

One child molested is too many. There is no excuse for what happened.

We hold clergy to higher standard that we do others in society.

Still, as bad as the priest problem is, there are worse situations.

Take the situation with teachers, another profession held to a high standard by the public. Studies show that teachers are MORE LIKELY to commit sexual offenses than priests.

The offenses are less homosexual in nature than are the priests' offenses, but they are still offenses.

There was a major a government study of the issue.

Charol Shakeshaft , who prepared the 2004 report, later said, "[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem? The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."

Here's the report address:

Pax et bonum

Ghostbuster Theology: No Private Acts

Related image

Sometimes popular culture reveals more about the truth than intellectual and politically correct rationalizations.

Take Ghostbusters II, an amusing (but less successful) 1989 follow-up to the original 1984 movie (rated one of the top comedies of all time).

In G II, there is a river of malevolent pink slime beneath the streets of New York. The Ghostbusters team figures out that the slime is caused by New Yorkers' bad attitudes.


Literally, the notion of visible pink slime caused by attitudes is silly. But allegorically and theologically, it makes absolute sense.

Privacy may have a kind of fictional reality thanks to the misguided judgement of some Supreme Court justices, but is does not exist when we are talking about spiritual matters.

All our actions, good or bad, public or private, affect others.

That includes our sins. All of them. Even actions which we do in private ripples forth and touches the souls of others.

As Pope John Paul II noted in his 1984 document Reconciliatio Et Paenitentia

To speak of social sin means in the first place to recognize that, by virtue of human solidarity which is as mysterious and intangible as it is real and concrete, each individual’s sin in some way affects others. This is the other aspect of that solidarity which on the religious level is developed in the profound and magnificent mystery of the communion of saints, thanks to which it has been possible to say that “every soul that rises above itself, raises up the world.” To this law of ascent there unfortunately corresponds the law of descent. Consequently one can speak of a communion of sin, whereby a soul that lowers itself through sin drags down with itself the church and, in some way, the whole world. In other words, there is no sin, not even the most intimate and secret one, the most strictly individual one, that exclusively concerns the person committing it. With greater or lesser violence, with greater or lesser harm, every sin has repercussions on the entire ecclesial body and the whole human family. According to this first meaning of the term, every sin can undoubtedly be considered as social sin.

Again: "... every sin has repercussions on ... the whole human family."

Every time we tell a lie for personal gain
Every time we intentionally view pornography
Every time we gossip
Every time we chose not to try to stop wrongful actions
Every time we cheat on expense accounts or income taxes
Every time we participate in an abortion
Every time we use office equipment for private purposes
Every time we legislate immoral acts, or vote for those who pass such legislation
Every time we swear at another driver
Every time we have sex outside of marriage

Yes, every time we do anything wrong - even the things we try to justify and rationalize through saying it's because of love - we affect others.

We harm others.

We harm them because through even our supposedly private actions we add to the evil in the world - or at least decrease the opportunities for good to flow forth freely from God.

We harm them because all our actions color how we view the world and interact with others.

We need only think of the story of the Fall - even if it is not taken literally.

Adam and Eve committed their offense in private. There was no one else there to witness their action (except, of course, God). Yet it is a basic Christian lesson that their action continues to affect us all.

But to counter the effects of that "private" sin, Jesus dying on the cross - the action of one Person - offered us all the opportunity for salvation.

The movie even gives us a taste of good actions touching others.

When evil seems on the verge of winning, the people of New York, singing together, treating each other well if only for a few moments, spread good to others and weakens the power of evil, allowing the heroes to triumph.

We all need to keep that in mind.

Even as we exercise our fictional "right to privacy."

Because that's true reality - and not a laughing matter.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Don't let a boycott hurt what is good

The Pennsylvania report on more than 300 priests who committed sexual abuse is discouraging, and disgusting. I am ashamed.

Those involved who are still alive - whether perpetrators, or protectors - need to be called to account and suffer consequences.

One of the consequences that some lay people are talking about imposing on their own is to stop contributing to the Catholic Church.

Money is a way to hit home, yes, but if we take this route we need to be wise about how we do it.

Not all dioceses were involved. Some were, but took action years ago - as my diocese did in 2002. The vast majority of priests across the country were not involved in any way.

Parishes continue to need support, as do many good ministries. A total boycott would hurt them and the good that they do. Youth ministry. Hospital visitation programs. Food pantries. Homeless shelters. Refugee programs. Health care centers in low-income neighborhoods. Centers that help women in troubled pregnancies. And more.

And think of the good and innocent people who could be hurt. The parish priests, parish employees, the ministry employees - the custodians, the secretaries, the choir directors, the soup kitchen directors, the nurses, the shelter staff, the women religious, and so on. And, of course, there are the people who are helped - those who have lost loved ones, the hungry, the sick, the frightened mothers-to-be, the people in the pews and in the neighborhoods. 

Don't simply cut them off. If we do boycott, let it be bishops' campaigns on national or diocesan levels, especially of bishops who were involved in any way or who don't address the issue. But then redirect the money to parishes and the local programs that are serving people in so many ways.

And if we know of any abuse - report it. The clergy weren't the only ones who kept quiet for years.

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 13, 2018

Lively music is good, but young people need more

I heard yet another interview in which the people were talking about young people being attracted to other churches because the worship - especially the music - is more lively. It was described a "praise and worship" music. That is, more often than not, that the music is more contemporary.)

On Catholic sites I've seen people recently react against such music, using "praise and worship music" as an insult.

As a musician who plays "praise and worship music," I find these comments against are often narrow minded. At the same time, I accept that the music is not the sole answer.

I think many kinds of music can be acceptable, if done in the proper spirit of worship and if done tastefully and well. I can't imagine hard rock music at Mass, of course, but some folk rock - why not?

I'm all for well-played, lively music.

But while music is important, and can be a draw, it is not what will nurture a deep and mature faith. That's where I see many churches - especially youth ministry - fail. The put on flash and show and rouse feelings - a start - but fail to help the young people grow in their faith. They need to be challenged. They need role models. They need contact with all kinds of prayer - including contemplative.

Pizza parties and ice skating and softball teams are fine, but they need Stations of the Cross, and Benedictions services, and the Rosary.. They need role models. They need to take part in worship with adults. They need to be encouraged to go to daily Mass during school breaks.

There's so much more they need. If they don't get it, then when they hit temptations in their late teens and twenties they will drift away form church.

They may come back when they are older, or are broken, or are lost, but it would be better if they never left.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The books arrived!

Some books I ordered to help with Old English to Neo-Classical literature arrived, and they will prove a big help.

They have texts of some of the works I was thinking of using: "The Wanderer," "The Dream of the Rood," Everyman, Canto 1 of The Faerie Queen, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love," "To the Virgins to Make Much of Time," "A Hymn to God the Father," sonnets by Sidney and Shakespeare, and more. We'll also be doing tales from Chaucer, Romeo and Juliet, and more.

I'm really starting to gear up.

Now, back to reading Twain's Joan of Arc.

Pax et bonum

Friday, August 10, 2018

Moloch is back

Related image

After two millennia, Moloch
is back on the clock.
Smacking his lips, he sneers, "It is good,"
as he lurks on the roof of Planned Parenthood.

Pax et bonum

As the school year nears ...

I've been doing school-related work all summer. Teaching a new course requires reading some of the materials to get ready. Just finished skimming a middle school version of some of the stories from The Canterbury Tales, and am reading Twain's Joan of Arc.

I've also begun to add materials - I found a really nice translation of St. Benedict's rule, for example, and am looking for a good excerpt from Beowulf  - and to revise materials I've used before. Just printed student copies of an excerpt from Sundiata.

In preparation, I've also subscribed to the St. Austen Review

Just a couple of weeks to go!

Pax et bonum

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Violent Abortion Activists Throw Firebombs at Pro-Lifers

Who's more violent?

Violent Abortion Activists Throw Firebombs at Pro-Lifers, Police After Argentina Defeats Abortion Bill: While pro-lifers celebrated, abortion activists in Argentina turned violent Wednesday night after the country's Senate rejected a bill to legalize abortion on d

Andrew Cuomo clerihew

Image result for Andrew Cuomo at Planned parenthood

Governor Andrew Cuomo,
if he has White House dreams should know,
his liberal New York values are viewed
by most of the nation as skewed.

Pax et bonum

St. Dominic clerihew

Image result for St. Dominic and the rosary

St. Dominic
considered using a sword or a stick,
but found that rosary beads
worked quite well for his demon-battling needs.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Monday, August 6, 2018

Kavanaugh Clerihew

Related image

The Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh
sticks in many a progressive’s craw.
They fear he’ll actually defend the right to life
and rule that traditional marriage involves just a husband and a wife.

Pax et bonum

Hiroshima's shadows

August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima left the images of shadows flashed onto walls, stairs, and pavement.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

On the death penalty

Pope Francis today announced a change in the wording of the Catechism of the Catholic Church when it comes to the death penalty.

The old text read (with a highlight added):

“2267. Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
“If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
“Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.‘”
The new wording reads:
“2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes.  In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.  Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
“Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide”.

Pope St. John Paul II back in the 1990s gave us the first reading as he moved the Church toward disapproval of the death penalty, though he left a window open. Alas, too many used that window to justify general support for the death penalty. Pope Francis has completed what John Paul started, closing that window. It is a development of doctrine, not a change.

I applaud this change. I have opposed the death penalty for decades. I even opposed it for those responsible for the murder of my brother in 1983.

My opposition fits in with my pro-life stance - opposed to abortion, euthanasia, unjust war, the death penalty, unjust economic and social policies, and so on. I believe in respecting the dignity of every human being, so this development is easy for me to accept. John Paul's window allowed for situations where the convicted individual was still a threat to society, but given our prison system such individuals can be contained. (Yes, they can still be a threat to other inmates and prison personnel, but such instances are the exception, not the rule.) Those added years of incarceration give the individual more of a chance to repent.

There are those who oppose this development. Some of them have sincere intellectual problems with it. I get that. I respect that.

But for some it seems more a matter of being part of their conservative - even Republican - view of the world. In the past I have noted some Catholic Democrats, when it comes to an issue like abortion, are more Democrats than Catholic. I think the same holds here when it comes to Catholic Republicans: When it comes to death penalty they seem more Republican than Catholic.

I also fear that some will use this development as yet another cudgel with which to hit Pope Francis.

I am not a fan of such actions. Yes, priest (and bishops) should be subject to penalties when they have sinned and violated the law, but in talking about them we need to show respect.

As St. Francis noted:

Blessed is the servant of God who exhibits confidence in clerics who live uprightly according to the form of the holy Roman Church. And woe to those who despise them: for even though they [the clerics] may be sinners, nevertheless no one ought to judge them, because the Lord Himself reserves to Himself alone the right of judging them. For as the administration with which they are charged, to wit, of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which they receive and which they alone administer to others—is greater than all others, even so the sin of those who offend against them is greater than any against all the other men in this world.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

Planned Parenthood: Government funding is used to help provide abortions

Planned Parenthood doesn't use government funding to perpetrate abortions?

Not directly, but as Lila Rose notes:

FACT: Under Title X, taxpayers directly prop up Planned Parenthood's abortion business by funding:

Staff salaries
Abortion facilities
Lobbying efforts

So it is using that money to help promote and provide abortions.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, July 28, 2018

That wake stuff

As I tried to compile pictures for my wake slideshow (no, I'm not sick or dying, just proactive), I realized how hard it could be for my survivors.

From my adult life, I was generally the person taking the pictures, so there are only a few times when I was being photographed.

Many are from me as Santa, but I really don't want to use those (Santa died?). A number are from plays, but multiple images from the same event seems too repetitive. Our wedding includes a number of pictures, but the same repetitive argument holds here. Then there are shots of me playing music for Mass or Franciscans. How many of those can we show, though?

I haven't found too many from when I was young. I'll keep looking, but this is not going to be easy.

Given my family history/genetics, I've probably got a couple of decades to go.

Pax et bonum

Stand Out for Life

More than 100 people joined us July 28 for Stand Out for Life outside Rochester's Planned Parenthood on University Avenue. They prayed the Rosary, sang, prayed silently, and listened to speakers.


Love will end abortion.

Life will prevail!

Pax et bonum

Friday, July 27, 2018