Sunday, August 31, 2014

Isis Clerihew

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.

(I know they're not a laughing matter, but the poem popped out as I thought of some of their violent, hypocritical actions.)

Pax et bonum

Friday, August 29, 2014

Vatican gives guidance on the Sign of Peace

The Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments has issued some guidance on the Sign of Peace.

The document advises the bishops in future Missals call for the ending of some practices identified as abuses. This section reads:

In any case, it will be necessary, at the time of the exchange of peace, to definitively avoid abuses such as:

-the introduction of a "song for peace", which is non-existent in the Roman Rite.9

-the movement of the faithful from their places to exchange the sign of peace amongst themselves.

-the departure of the priest from the altar in order to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful.

I've seen all of these in various churches, some more blatantly than others. Most churches don't go too far, so these guidelines will affect only a few places - at least in this area.

Now there are a few other areas that could use some guidance ...

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Okay, okay, I'll consider singing

I had planned to return to the choir this year after a year off. But then the pastor did something this summer that angered me, and I decided I'd forget it, even though the numbers are down and the choir needs male vocalists.

But the other day I was asked by a member of the choir if I was coming back. I said no, and explained why.

He responded that I should be forgiving and I'm too good to hold a grudge.


He's a Santa. And he's more of a Franciscan than I am - and he's not a Franciscan.

He was right. Just because I'm annoyed at  the pastor, should I hurt the choir and the parish? (Then again, my singing might be considered painful!)

It got me thinking about my temper. I have done and said foolish things because I got mad. I've quit jobs, left groups and organizations, broken off friendships and alienated people.

In his admonitions St. Francis said, "The servant of God who does not trouble himself or get angry about anything lives uprightly and without sin." Alas, that has not been me.

And even if I have been truly wronged, I should live by Francis's admonition: "He truly loves his enemy who does not grieve because of the wrong done to himself, but who is afflicted for love of God because of the sin on his [brother's] soul and who shows his love by his works."

I have to look at what I do and say, and to stop dwelling on slights - real or perceived. What is the more Christian, the more Franciscan way to respond?

I'm considering rejoining when the choir starts up.

Pax et bonum

A possible playlist

If I had to play a gig in a couple of weeks, what songs do I have ready or almost ready to play?

If there were kids there, definitely –

"There's a Great Big Monster Under My Bed"
"On Top of Spaghetti"
"Puff the Magic Dragon" 
"Henry My Son"

In general -

"County Roads"
"Midnight Special"
"This land is Your Land"
“Blowing in the Wind"
"Maggie (was a boozer)"
"I'm Gonna Live 'Til the Day I Die"
Pete Seeger's version of "Give Me that Old Time Religion"
"Bottle of Wine"
"Blood on the Saddle"
"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport"
"My Get up and Go Has Got Up and Went"
"The Swimming Song"
“Pick a Bale of Cotton”

“Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”
“Walking Down the Line”
“Lonesome Valley”
“Open the Eyes of My Heart”
“Hello, Mary Lou”
“Proud Mary”

I’d probably need to prep a few more songs.

Thank God no one has asked me to play a full show!

Thank God I don't have that green suit any more that I wore 35 years ago to play at a wedding!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dorothy Day on Obedience

In light of some recent flaps involving Catholic Worker houses doing some things that go against Church teachings (such and St. Joseph's House of Hospitality in Rochester hosting a so-called woman priest's church), the following passage from Dorothy Day is interesting:

How strong and positive a virtue is this obedience to God and to one’s conscience! St. Peter said, speaking for himself and the Apostles: “We must obey God rather than men.”
Certainly the staff of editors and all the volunteers who are so at home with us that they call themselves Catholic Workers must have tried the patient endurance of the chancery office in New York, not only because of our frequent sojourns in jail and because of the controversial nature of the issues taken up in the paper and by our actions, but also because of the false ideas put forward by many of our friends as being our positions.
One time I made the statement, whether in writing or in a speech I do not remember, that I was so grateful for the freedom we had in the Church that I was quite ready to obey with cheerfulness if Cardinal Spellman ever told us to lay down our pens and stop publication. Perhaps I had no right to speak for more rebellious souls than mine. Or for those whose consciences dictated continuance in a struggle, even with the highest authority, the Church itself. Perhaps I have sounded too possessive about the Catholic Worker itself and had no right to speak for the publication, but only for myself. I do know that Peter Maurin would have agreed with me. Most cradle Catholics have gone through, or need to go through, a second conversion which binds them with a more profound, a more mature love and obedience to the Church.
I do know that my nature is such that gratitude alone, gratitude for the faith, that most splendid gift, a gift not earned by me, a gratuitous gift, is enough to bind me in holy obedience to Holy Mother Church and her commands.

I seem to recall that in the 1960s Day told a number of CW staff members who were violating Church teachings they had to stop or leave.

(A nod to A Book of Everything for pointing out this passage)

Pax et bonum

Summer's over - back to the books

I know that summer hasn't officially ended, but as a teacher, it has.

This week I have meetings at school, and some setting up of my room to do. A week from Wednesday classes start, so I have to have all the  opening day information (in print, and online) set to present them to the students.

I can take comfort that after the unsettled Spring I have a job to return to, and my AP students did do well.

This has been kind of a lost summer, though. I never was able to get that online publishing going, and did not get as much reading and writing done as I wanted to. My diet stalled. Flak at church has led me to decide not to return to the choir, and to avoid going to my home parish most Sundays the band is not playing. And Friday I got a letter from the company that used to run the Santa program at our mall saying that the contract I signed with them last year forbids me from working for another company at the mall for two years. This is to be my 10nth season, and I may not be able to do it?

But I did get some reading done, including a Franciscan workbook on leader ship. I got some music practice in and picked up so new songs. I cleared out/donated some books I needed to get rid of, and started sorting through (and getting rid of) old financial documents from my files and my parents' estates. We did get part of the kitchen done, replacing the sink and counters. I got the bedroom painted. And I got up to Lake Placid for some pleasant days.

Thank you Lord for both the good and the bad. Help me to learn and grow.

Pax et bonum

Friday, August 22, 2014

Odd taste in folk songs

In addition to my church music, I also play some children's songs ("There's a Great Big Monster Under My Bed," "On Top of Spaghetti," "Puff the Magic Dragon," "Abi-yo-yo," etc) and folk songs.

Some of the folk songs are traditional type ones. "County Roads," "Deportees," "Midnight Special," "This land is Your Land," Blowing in the Wind" - songs like that.

But I also have a taste for humorous or satirical songs. Some I wrote - "Maggie (was a boozer)," "The Shower Song," "Nukes," or "I'm Gonna Live 'Til the Day I Die."

But there's also a wealth of songs by others out there that I like.

Pete Seeger's version of "Give Me that Old Time Religion"
"Bottle of Wine"
"Blood on the Saddle"
"Henry My Son"
"Does your Chewing Gum Lose it's Flavor on the Bed Post Overnight?"
"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport"
"My Get up and Go Has Got Up and Went"
"The Swimming Song"
"The Scotsman"
"Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"
"Henry the Eighth"
"The Frozen Logger"

Some I've done, some I plan to learn. And there are more out there. People keep touting "I'm My Own Grandfather," for example, but I have to admit I've never heard it!

(UPDATE: I've now listened to two versions of "Grandpa." It didn't grab me.)

Given my voice, humor - and folk music -  seem the way to go.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peter Maurin - Prostitution of the Press

Prostitution of the Press

Modern newspapermen
try to give people
what they want.
ought to give people
what they need.
To give people
what they want
but should not have
is to pander.
To give people
what they need.
or in other terms,
to make them want
what they ought to want,
is to foster.
To pander
to the bad in men
is to make men
inhuman to men.
To foster the good in men
is to make men
human to men.
(from "Prostitution")

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Peter Maurin - the unused dynamite of the Church


Writing about the Catholic Church,
a radical writer says:
“Rome will have to do more
than to play a waiting game;
she will have to use
some of the dynamite
inherent in her message.”
To blow the dynamite
of a message
is the only way
to make the message dynamic.
If the Catholic Church
is not today
the dominant social dynamic force,
it is because Catholic scholars
have failed to blow the dynamite
of the Church.
Catholic scholars
have taken the dynamite
of the Church,
have wrapped it up
in nice phraseology,
placed it in an hermetic container
and sat on the lid.
It is about time
to blow the lid off
so the Catholic Church
may again become
the dominant social dynamic force.

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 18, 2014

St. John XXIII - "preserve the flame of enthusiasm"

Prayer by Pope St. John XXIII
O Jesus, come back into our society, our family life, our souls, and reign there as our peaceful sovereign. Enlighten with the splendor of faith and the charity of your tender heart the souls of those who work for the good of the people, for your poor. Impart in them your own spirit, preserving the flame of enthusiasm ever alight in their hearts.  

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pope Pius XII saved Jews

It's amazing how the propaganda against Pope Pius XII and his alleged lack of efforts to save Jews continues to survive despite increasing amount of documentation proving how much he actually did do. By the estimate from the Pave the Way Foundation, his efforts helped to save more than 800,000 Jews.

I was at a presentation today at the St. Padre Pio Chapel at which the head of the Foundation, Gary Krupp, discussed the thousands of pages of documents his organization has uncovered showing how much Pope Pius did, and how much he was recognized for his efforts. He was joined in his presentation by Dr. Frank Oliveri, who earned his doctorate in Holocaust studies. Krupp also brought and gave out free copies of his report, Pope Pius XII and World War: The Documented Truth, a compilation of  documents  - letters, newspaper articles, diary entries, testimonials, government communications, and so on.

Krupp explained that Pope Pius's efforts included asking convents and monasteries across Europe to hide Jews, assisting Jews trying to escape Europe, hiding Jews at the Vatican, speaking out, working through diplomatic channels, using Church funds to help support Jewish people and communities, and more. He was such a problem for the Nazis that at one point they discussed kidnapping him - Pope Pius had a letter of resignation ready if that did happen so that a new pontiff could be elected.

Krupp alleges - and he is not alone - that one of the major sources of efforts to discredit Pope Pius was the work of Communists to undermine the Catholic Church. The play, The Deputy, was part of those efforts, and it helped to spread the lie that Pius did nothing, and really was sympathetic to the Nazis. Later, the lie was spread by books like John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope - a book full of errors that Cornwell himself later admitted was unbalanced and contained statements that he subsequently recanted.

Krupp said he was supposed to do a debate with Rochester's Deacon Anthony Sciolino, who has self-published a book criticizing the actions of the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII when it came to the Jews and the Holocaust, a book partly based on Cornwell's flawed scholarship. When challenged to support his claims with documentation, Deacon Sciolino, Krupp reported, said he had no documentation, and then backed out of the debate. I don't know Deacon Sciolino's side of the story about why he decided not to debate, but Krupp's allegations seem plausible. I've also read the deacon's book. It's poorly written and poorly documented.

Hopefully, as Krupp contended, the tide is turning and Pope Pius will receive the credit he is due. 

Pax et bonum

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back to work

Came back from our trip to the north country to find my schedule in the mail. I am indeed teaching an entirely new course next year - 9th grade English. I have several books to read before school starts; Little Women and The Summer of My German Soldier head the must-read-immediately list because I've never read them before. I've read and taught To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, and Romeo and Juliet before, so they should not be issues. I've read The Odyssey, but never taught it, therefore that will take more prep work.

I have other work to do to get ready. The style of research paper the 9th graders do I've never done before.  One of the other classes I'm teaching I taught before, but not last year, so that will require some review. My AP classes (3) will be combined AP/Honors classes - so many students signed up for my old AP and so few for Honors that the powers that be decided to combine them - thus there will be some modifications needed. I'll be teaching The Scarlet Letter for the first time in years, for example.

Ah, a teacher's work is never done!

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 11, 2014

Off in the wilds

The Good-looking one and I are up in the Adirondacks enjoying a few days of mountain air and magical early mornings.

just before dawn
loons, ducks, crows, geese, and tweets -
finding God's presence

I'm thinking of Franciscan spirituality as it applies to nature. The traditional Christian view involves dominance or stewardship (per Father Daniel Horan, OFM), but the Franciscan view is one more of kinship. I am not ruling you. I am not just taking care of you. I am your brother.

The first two views - dominance and stewardship - are not wrong. But the Franciscan way is much more personal.

Brother Loon.
Sister Duck.
Brother Crow.
Sister Goose.

Brother Tweet?

Okay - tweets from my Brothers and Sisters!

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 4, 2014

Santa-related Stories

For a while, I regularly wrote a "Santa" blog. There are notes, poems, news items, and so on at the site. There are also a number of stories.

I've already retrieved two - about training a reindeer, and an elf wedding. With some revising, they just might work as children's stories.

That might be the route for me to go.

There are other stories at the site - I have to retrieve them and revise them. And then there's the Santa Ghost story that might work for a fantasy magazine.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Franciscan Servant Leadership

I finished the Handbook for Franciscan Leadership. It was prepared by a group of writers/editors for National Fraternity.

There was much to like in the handbook. Some of the advice and ideas are things I already know or am already doing, but there were many other ideas that I'd known and forgotten, and some new ones. I especially liked that there was a whole section of possible leadership issues with suggested ways to approach them, with references.

It was well worth the read.

What's my next Franciscan read?


Pax et bonum