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Sunday, August 31, 2003

GIRM Warfare Enters Week 2 at M.C. & B. 

Upon especially close observation at Mass this morning, I saw that none of the GIRM-related revisions being seen in other places are being observed by anyone here. This doesn't come as a surprise, since they have not been brought up in the parish, nor anywhere in the entire Diocese of Portland of which I am aware. Before Mass began, I took a good, hard look at the congregation, many of whom I know well, and could only imagine with a grin the uproar that will ensue if and when Cleveland-type change are thrust upon them. I know I wouldn't want to be answering the phones at the rectory or chancery offices on that following Monday morning!

Today, I wanted to point you in the direction of this link on the respected Amy Welborn's blog. Amy is a well-known Catholic writer, and her reflections are often seen in the popular publication Living Faith, among others. I particularly want to focus your attention on the sixth paragraph of her initial posting, the one which begins with the words "Actually (two minutes later)...". It sums up nicely the difference between this movement toward forced community building in Catholic parishes, as opposed to the authentic community building that should occur naturally.

I've always despised the forced community-building, a.k.a.- social "icebreakers", that so often take place at the start of workplace meetings and on first days of classes I've taken, and would loathe them even more every week in church. I'm a pretty easygoing guy for the most part, and can blend into almost any group easily. However, I would much more prefer to do so in the context of a serious task than in the process of running around in a crowd of people trying to find out who has the same color eyes as me. It's gotten to the point in my workplace where I have been around long enough that I can comfortably just sit out the icebreakers on the sidelines and watch everyone else performing like puppets on strings. Doing so actually breaks more ice for me than any silly game, since I sit there with a smile and a look of amusement that they are all falling for it rather than disgust that I am expected to be doing it too. After all, they are, and I'm not! Why shouldn't I smile? (There has always been no lack of a rebellious streak in me, and I've got the scars to prove it!)

What's bothersome is that many have told me that they wish they had the guts to join me off to the side at such times, but they never do. I don't know why, since I've never taken any flack from my superiors over it, and they know it. The top guns pick their battles with me, I guess. Forcing me to get all touchy-feely against my will could land them in hot water if I chose to pursue it. (I happened to mention that tidbit to a friend intentionally within earshot of a "higher-up" once, and I think that made all the difference! Hee, hee, hee!)

Final Results on Last Week's Poll on How to Address a Priest in Person 

The question for the poll this past week was: "How do you address a priest when you meet with him in person?" The winning choice did not surprise me, but...

*Father (Last Name) (53.8%)

*Father (First Name) (28.2%)

*Other (17.9%)

*First Name Only (0.0%)

*Reverend (First Name) (0.0%)

*Reverend (Last Name) (0.0%)


...I was surprised at the strong showing of "Other". What are some of the other ways to address a Catholic priest? I'm dying to know! Please let me know in the COMMENTS section of this posting.

Standard disclaimer: This is not a scientific poll, just a snapshot of the sentiments of visitors to this blog in the past week who have chosen to take part.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Featured Maine Parish: Newman Center at UMaine (Our Lady of Wisdom) 

Since thousands of students are headed to college this weekend, I thought it only appropriate that I highlight the Catholic community at the University of Maine, Orono. The Newman Center named for Cardinal John Henry Newman (also known as Our Lady of Wisdom Parish) was established in 1946 for the Catholic students, faculty, staff, administrators and their families at the University. The pastor is Fr. Joseph Koury (also pastor of St. Mary's in Orono) and the pastoral associate is Sister Mary Sweeney, S.C. The Catholic community at UMaine couldn't be in better hands than those of Joseph and Mary!

Photo from http://www.umaine.edu
The Newman Center Worship Space at Christmas

You Know It's Time to Call a "Neighborhood Watch" Meeting When... 

Parrot's Parody Causes Commotion in Arizona from Rueters via Yahoo News.
Lead Sentence: "TUCSON, Ariz. - A parrot's parody of a damsel in distress caused quite a commotion."

Image from artie.com
He must've been pining for the fjords!

The Fifth Installment in our Interactive Series on "The Lord's Prayer" 

With all the GIRM warfare of late, I almost forgot to update this feature. As you may know, it is intended to be an online discussion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church's take on "The Lord's Prayer", piece-by-piece. It has been suggested that I include some questions or discussion points at the end. For now, I really want to keep it open-ended so that each reader can bring up whatever strikes them.

I do have a tendency to chime in with my own questions and observations in the COMMENTS section after I've had some time to meditate and think, but I want to allow the discussion to go where it will, not where I purposely direct it.

Part Four: Christian Prayer, Section Two: The Lord's Prayer: "Our Father!", Article Three: The Seven Petitions, Introduction and Part I

INTRODUCTION

2803
After we have placed ourselves in the presence of God our Father to adore and to love and to bless him, the Spirit of adoption stirs up in our hearts seven petitions, seven blessings. The first three, more theologal, draw us toward the glory of the Father; the last four, as ways toward him, commend our wretchedness to his grace. "Deep calls to deep."63

2804
The first series of petitions carries us toward him, for his own sake: thy name, thy kingdom, thy will! It is characteristic of love to think first of the one whom we love. In none of the three petitions do we mention ourselves; the burning desire, even anguish, of the beloved Son for his Father's glory seizes us:64 "hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done. . . ." These three supplications were already answered in the saving sacrifice of Christ, but they are henceforth directed in hope toward their final fulfillment, for God is not yet all in all.65

2805
The second series of petitions unfolds with the same movement as certain Eucharistic epicleses: as an offering up of our expectations, that draws down upon itself the eyes of the Father of mercies. They go up from us and concern us from this very moment, in our present world: "give us . . . forgive us . . . lead us not . . . deliver us. . . ." The fourth and fifth petitions concern our life as such—to be fed and to be healed of sin; the last two concern our battle for the victory of life—that battle of prayer.

2806
By the three first petitions, we are strengthened in faith, filled with hope, and set aflame by charity. Being creatures and still sinners, we have to petition for us, for that "us" bound by the world and history, which we offer to the boundless love of God. For through the name of his Christ and the reign of his Holy Spirit, our Father accomplishes his plan of salvation, for us and for the whole world.

I. "Hallowed Be Thy Name"

2807
The term "to hallow" is to be understood here not primarily in its causative sense (only God hallows, makes holy), but above all in an evaluative sense: to recognize as holy, to treat in a holy way. And so, in adoration, this invocation is sometimes understood as praise and thanksgiving.66 But this petition is here taught to us by Jesus as an optative: a petition, a desire, and an expectation in which God and man are involved. Beginning with this first petition to our Father, we are immersed in the innermost mystery of his Godhead and the drama of the salvation of our humanity. Asking the Father that his name be made holy draws us into his plan of loving kindness for the fullness of time, "according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ," that we might "be holy and blameless before him in love."67

2808
In the decisive moments of his economy God reveals his name, but he does so by accomplishing his work. This work, then, is realized for us and in us only if his name is hallowed by us and in us.

2809
The holiness of God is the inaccessible center of his eternal mystery. What is revealed of it in creation and history, Scripture calls "glory," the radiance of his majesty.68 In making man in his image and likeness, God "crowned him with glory and honor," but by sinning, man fell "short of the glory of God."69 From that time on, God was to manifest his holiness by revealing and giving his name, in order to restore man to the image of his Creator.70

2810
In the promise to Abraham and the oath that accompanied it,71 God commits himself but without disclosing his name. He begins to reveal it to Moses and makes it known clearly before the eyes of the whole people when he saves them from the Egyptians: "he has triumphed gloriously."72 From the covenant of Sinai onwards, this people is "his own" and it is to be a "holy (or "consecrated": the same word is used for both in Hebrew) nation,"73 because the name of God dwells in it.

2811
In spite of the holy Law that again and again their Holy God gives them—"You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy"—and although the Lord shows patience for the sake of his name, the people turn away from the Holy One of Israel and profane his name among the nations.74 For this reason the just ones of the old covenant, the poor survivors returned from exile, and the prophets burned with passion for the name.

2812
Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice.75 This is the heart of his priestly prayer: "Holy Father . . . for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth."76 Because he "sanctifies" his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father.77 At the end of Christ's Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: "Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."78

2813
In the waters of Baptism, we have been "washed . . . sanctified . . . justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."79 Our Father calls us to holiness in the whole of our life, and since "he is the source of [our] life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and . . . sanctification,"80 both his glory and our life depend on the hallowing of his name in us and by us. Such is the urgency of our first petition.

By whom is God hallowed, since he is the one who hallows? But since he said, "You shall be holy to me; for I the LORD am holy," we seek and ask that we who were sanctified in Baptism may persevere in what we have begun to be. And we ask this daily, for we need sanctification daily, so that we who fail daily may cleanse away our sins by being sanctified continually. . . . We pray that this sanctification may remain in us.81

2814
The sanctification of his name among the nations depends inseparably on our life and our prayer:

We ask God to hallow his name, which by its own holiness saves and makes holy all creation. . . . It is this name that gives salvation to a lost world. But we ask that this name of God should be hallowed in us through our actions. For God's name is blessed when we live well, but is blasphemed when we live wickedly. As the Apostle says: "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." We ask then that, just as the name of God is holy, so we may obtain his holiness in our souls.82

When we say "hallowed be thy name," we ask that it should be hallowed in us, who are in him; but also in others whom God's grace still awaits, that we may obey the precept that obliges us to pray for everyone, even our enemies. That is why we do not say expressly "hallowed be thy name ‘in us,'" for we ask that it be so in all men.83

2815
This petition embodies all the others. Like the six petitions that follow, it is fulfilled by the prayer of Christ. Prayer to our Father is our prayer, if it is prayed in the name of Jesus.84 In his priestly prayer, Jesus asks: "Holy Father, protect in your name those whom you have given me."85


Image from http://www.masterslight.com

This prayer discussion is not a DISCUSSION without YOU! Please do not hesitate to contribute in the COMMENTS section. No comment, question, or observation will be looked down upon, and you can jump in at any time.

Nota Bene 

I have banned the word "musings" from this blog. Talk about a word being beaten to death in the blogosphere!

Viva Papa Luciani! 

At this time twenty-five years ago, we Catholics were experiencing the brief 33-day reign of "The Smiling Pope", John Paul I. I was only eight at the time, but the man's smile and warmth endeared me to him immediately, and he is still one of my favorite personalities in Catholicism. JPI was a stark constrast in personality to his predecessor Paul VI.

Pope Paul VI scared me a little as a young child. He seemed very stern and distant, and I never remember seeing him smile. Frankly, as a very young child, I thought Pope Paul seemed like kind of a grump. He was not the kind of person I would have wanted to meet at the time.

Even though he has aged beyond Paul VI, our beloved current pontiff, John Paul II still has that gentle, welcoming manner and twinkle in his eyes that endears us toward him. His own appeal to youth has always been, and continues to be, one of his great strengths. The kids love him! While I wish John Paul I could have had a longer reign, I give thanks to God every day for the gift of John Paul II as leader of the Catholic Church.

Pope John Paul I from http://www.papaluciani.com
"If someone had told me I would be Pope one day,
I would have studied harder."~Pope John Paul I
(I love it!)

Over at Fr. Tucker's Dappled Things, he has provided a link to a very enlightening recently conducted interview with John Paul I's personal secretary, Fr. Diego Lorenzi. It comes from National Catholic Reporter, and is a fascinating article that humanizes "Papa Luciani" (as the Italians affectionately call him) even more.

This website, http://www.papaluciani.com/eng/ is another excellent resource on the man. (Beware the tacky MIDI music in the background!)

The cause for John Paul I's beatification is underway. An article on this from Zenit.org is here. Please pray for him and to him for his intercession before God for your intentions. How great would it be to see Papa Luciani canonized within a few years?

Friday, August 29, 2003

G.I.R.M. Warfare Update 

No invective comments today, just a link to an article in this month's St. Anthony Messenger Magazine, from the Franciscans at AmericanCatholic.org. I find the publishers and staff of both the magazine and the site to be sensible and moderate in their reporting.

The article, entitled Changes in the Mass: The New General Instruction, is written by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick, a respected priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati (NOT Cleveland!). He holds a master’s degree in liturgical studies from the University of Notre Dame and is author of over 500 articles in various publications. It is intended for a national audience, highlighting the GIRM changes that we should all be seeing, regardless of diocese.

Just for kicks, run a search through the article for the terms "hug" or "raising of hands". You won't find them! Hmmmmm.

Government Gone Wild 

I am not a fan of "big government". I just don't think the government (federal, state, or local) should be sticking their noses in every aspect of our lives. They ought to concentrate on the big issues specifically delegated to them by their constitutions or charters. Any candidate promoting less bureaucracy and less government regulation is going to get my attention, if not my vote.

From the St. Paul (MN) Star Tribune comes this outrageous story: No license? No pop stand, St. Paul tells 2 Youngsters
Lead sentences: Mikaela Ziegler, 7, and her 4-year-old sister, Annika, were selling refreshments Wednesday afternoon near the State Fairgrounds when a woman approached them. But she wasn't there to buy.
"She said, 'You can't sell pop unless you have a license,' " Mikaela said.


I'm amazed that the government can stick their noses in so many silly places while their heads continually seem to be so firmly lodged up their...well, you know the rest!

Prayers Requested Due to a Tragedy 

A freshman on his way to begin his studies at Saint Joseph's College, Maine's only Catholic college, was killed late Thursday night when a car he was riding in went off the road in Naples, Maine, hit a tree and plunged down an embankment. Police say speed may have been a factor in the crash that killed 19-year-old John Queenan Jr., who was from Hooksett, N.H.

It's such a terrible tragedy when a young person, so full of promise and on the verge of a whole new life adventure, is taken suddenly away by the Almighty Father. Though we don't always understand it, may God's will be done. Let us pray for the eternal repose of John's soul, and for peace and consolation for his family and friends.

Friday's Five: Top Five Desert Island Discs 

Just for the heck of it, I thought I would post the five discs I would take with me if I knew I was going to be stranded on a desert island with a CD player and LOTS of batteries! I didn't allow myself to include "greatest hits" packages or live CDs.

5) Beatles-Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4) U2-The Joshua Tree
3) Dave Matthews Band-Under the Table and Dreaming
2) Eagles-Hotel California
1) Pope John Paul II-The Pope of the Rosary (Latin recitation edition)

What would you pack? No greatest hits or live CDs alllowed and only FIVE choices! Yes, it's tough to limit it that number, but I did it, so you can too! And please, lighthearted jabs are okay, but do not be overly critical or condemning of the choices people make!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Read the G.I.R.M.! Read the G.I.R.M.! Read the G.I.R.M.! 

As those of you within shouting distance of my high horse are aware, I have taken on as a cause of late the General Instruction of the Roman Missal's recent revisions and how some liberals (from archbishops and bishops through chancery bureaucrats to parish priests and deacons) in the U.S. hierarchy are using it as cover for making liturgical changes of their own. The implementation of the revised missal is speeding up across the country, and with it, the frequency of liberal monkeyshines is increasing. Cleveland is the most well-known case, as I documented on this blog two days ago.

From reading other blogs, talking to people, and praying on this issue, one thing has come clearly to the forefront: It is vitally important that all Roman Catholics become familiar with the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), so they will be able to tell the difference between Church doctrine and liberal weirdness.

The United States Council of Catholic Bishops website contains the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) at this link. (Don't worry conspiracy theorists, they haven't tampered with the wording.)

You can also special order the paperback edition at Amazon.com here, although I'm sure that a good Catholic bookstore or other reliable Catholic shopping websites would have it available as well.

It's not the most gripping work of literature you'll ever encounter, but I strongly encourage you to put it in your "Favorites" or "Bookmark" folder on your web browser, or add it to your personal library and make your way through it. Knowledge is power, and by gaining familiarity with the GIRM's contents, you will be able to tell from whence the changes your parish may undergo are coming.

Sidenote: If you don't have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church published since 1995, you can buy one here at Amazon, or check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops website here. It (along with a Catholic Bible, which is a given) is also a must-have for all Catholics

It was Forty Years Ago Today... 

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his lengendary "I Have a Dream" Speech before a quarter of a million people at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The full text can be found here at this link, but I wanted to quote some of the highlights here:

~"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. "

~"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

~"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true."


Dr. Martin Luther King photo from http://dwp.bigplanet.com

~"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

"A Grave Situation" [OR] "Gone with the Wind" (I couldn't decide!) 

Since spring of this year, I've been doing some history and genealogy research work that has allowed me to spend some time in several cemetaries in the area where I live. Some are large, some are small, some are fairly urban, some are rural. Over time, I've become quite familiar with these burial grounds. One thing that I've noticed is that in the town weekly newspaper and the regional daily newspaper, letters to the editor complaining about flowers and displays being "stolen" from graves come in waves every once in a while. You won't see any at all for a few weeks, and then there will be three or four, which would be consider a wave for such an issue.

Well, I think I've noticed some patterns and reached a conclusion. In a cemetery with little wind shelter, a heavy thunderstorm or a period of sustained high winds can wreak havoc on flowers and displays that haven't been solidly anchored down. If I recognize a decoration that I am certain has blown off a particular grave, I will replace it, as most visitors or maintenance people probably would. But once blown across the cemetery, one cannot reasonably expect anyone to remember upon which particular grave the article resided, except the person who originally placed it there. So, many end up in a pile near the maintenance shed, instead of being left to be mowed over or become litter. Most of the letters to the editor have been published about a week after the area has received thunderstorms or high winds. My advice: Immediately after windy weather has passed, go check on how Grandma's display held up in the blowy conditions.

In other cases, especially in a large cemetery, maintenance is a huge job, and many staffs have been cut this year due to the poor economy. As a result, fewer people are doing more work, and accidents are more likely to happen, such as inadvertantly mowing over a smaller artificial display. The cemetery workers are only human, and mistakes will occasionally occur.

And finally, yes, there are circumstances where people may actually be stealing flowers and displays, but I suspect this is rare. For mischevious young people, this isn't exactly the "prank of the century" and most cemeteries are inaccessible at night anyhow because they are secured after dark or are in very rural areas (here in Maine, at least). Grave desecration does indeed occur, but not with the frequency some people would like to believe. When it does, the vandals usually tend to go for broke and knock over tombstones and do major damage.

I have noted some very intricate displays in the cemeteries I frequent that have been safe since Memorial Day. These are usually displays that are firmly affixed to the stone or into the ground, and are safely out of the path of riding mowers. I suspect that these displays are kept up by the relatives and/or friends of the deceased at least weekly, and surely more than once or twice a year.

I guess my point here is twofold: First, I really don't believe that "a bunch of damn kids" are responsible for most displays turning up missing or damaged. Most likely, it's the wind or an accidental mulching by maintenance folks. Secondly (and probably more importantly), we really don't do ourselves or those around us any benefit when we stir up conspiracy theories without any sound proof. There are plenty of problems in the world as it is without our imaginations and suppositions creating even more concerns.

St. Callistus I image from http://www.catholic-forum.com

May St. Callistus I, patron of cemetery workers, pray for them, and for all who feel anguish over tampering (natural or otherwise) with the grave displays of loved ones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

More G.I.R.M. Warfare 

The following article has been edited by me, merely to leave out portions not relevant to our topic of liberal interpretation of the G.I.R.M. in the United States. The full article can be found at the link on the headline if you want to read it in its entirity.

Vatican to discuss translations with English-speaking church leaders
By John Thavis of Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has convened an Oct. 21 meeting with church leaders from English-speaking countries to discuss and clarify questions about the translation of liturgical texts.

Invited to attend the meeting were presidents of bishops' conferences in countries where English is used in liturgical celebrations.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, called the meeting and is expected to preside over it, according to officials at the congregation.

A preliminary agenda drawn up by the congregation, based in part on suggestions from bishops' conferences, listed three general issues and 11 questions specifically relating to liturgical translations.

The general issues were:
*The respective roles and competence of the Vatican's liturgy congregation and bishops' conferences.
*Ways to promote more effective communication and consultation.
*Matters relating to inculturation, in light of the recently published third edition of the Roman Missal and a 1994 set of Vatican guidelines that urged caution in integrating local customs into the liturgy. (emphasis by me)

[One of] the specific translation issues included:
*Strategies to expedite the translation into English of the latest edition of the Roman Missal, the collection of prayers and rituals used in the Mass, which was issued in Latin in 2002. (This was first on the list.)


Cardinal Arinze photo from www.usafricaonline.com

Hee, hee, hee! I think someone, (or many someones) tattled to the good Cardinal Arinze (who is certainly papal material) about the liberal weirdness being implemented in the Catholic liturgy here in the States.

Credit where it is due: I first heard the term "G.I.R.M. Warfare" from A.A.E. over at the excellent Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director blog.

Just today, my "Seer" told me, "Your Jupiter is in retrograde with Venus, your Saturn is in the garage, and Uranus is right where it should be." 

In these dog days of summer, there has been quite a bit of news coverage of Mars making its closest pass to Earth in 60,000 years (within 34.6 million miles). Astonomy has always interested me, so I've followed the story somewhat, and I just knew it would be a matter of time before we heard from this crazy crowd: Soothsayers See Doom, Gloom in Closeness of Mars. This story is by Ed Cropley from Reuters via Yahoo News.

Mars from an Associated Press photo

By the way, can you match this quote with the book?: "Mars is especially bright tonight."

The Myers-Briggs Craze at St. Blog's 

Fr. Jim Tucker over at Dappled Things has been collecting voluntary data from St. Blog's parishoners on their Myers-Briggs Personality Tests. I came out as an INTP: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Perceiving a category labeled as "The Thinkers". I didn't record or save the percentages, but I do recall that all of them were clear majorities, with the largest being 85% for "Thinking". Upon investigating the traits of this personality type at www.personalitytraits.com, I found my results pretty close to the mark, about 85% accurate.

INTP General Traits: INTP's usually...
*Love theoretical and abstract ideas
*Are Truth Seekers - they want to understand things by analyzing underlying principles and structures
*Value knowledge and competence above all else
*Have very high standards for performance, which they apply to themselves
*Are independent and original, possibly eccentric
*Work best alone, and value autonomy
*Have no desire to lead or follow
*Dislike mundane detail
*Are creative and insightful
*Are future-oriented
*Are usually brilliant and ingenius
*Live primarily inside their own minds, and may appear to be detached and uninvolved with other people


So now you might know a little better where I am coming from on my postings and commentaries. On the other hand, I could probably take the test again tomorrow and come up with completely different results. Who knows

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Just When You Thought the World was Sitting in a Handbasket and Asking where It was Going... 

...comes this truly magnificent headline from HealthDay News via Yahoo News--Study: Dark Chocolate may Benefit Heart.

More Than Just a Little Concerned 

As you probably know by now, I am not a conspiracy-theorist. I do not think the Freemasons are undermining the Catholic Church from within or without, I do not believe that Pope John Paul II is a "Koran-kisser", nor do I think Cardinal Ratzinger is an alien from the planet Zeebo. You also likely know that I am generally not one to whine and moan on this blog, unless there is something of pressing concern that may not be getting the attention it deserves. I think I've found a precedent that I just have to take issue with: How some bishops are implementing the changes in the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

To start, read this article from the Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer (real motto: "Everything Cleveland"): Catholics to Change Communion Ritual. It details how the bishop of Cleveland, Bishop Anthony M. Pilla, and his hacks are planning to make changes to the liturgy in the diocese's churches. There are four major changes they are implementing: A raising of hands during "The Lord's Prayer", exchanging embraces during the Sign of Peace, bowing before receiving the Eucharist, and remaining standing upon returning to one's seat after Communion. I'd like to take on each in turn. The snide parenthetical comments in (bold print) are my own thoughts, as usual.

1. RAISING OF HANDS DURING "THE LORD'S PRAYER":
The Cleveland Diocese says: "In some churches, people have a custom of holding hands during the prayer. The raised arms go back to the way Jesus and early church members prayed, diocesan liturgists said. They are a symbol of surrender to God and Christian belief in Jesus' victory over death."

The NEW General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: "In the Lord's Prayer a petition is made for daily food, which for Christians means preeminently the eucharistic bread, and also for purification from sin, so that what is holy may, in fact, be given to those who are holy. The priest says the invitation to the prayer, and all the faithful say it with him; the priest alone adds the embolism, which the people conclude with a doxology. The embolism, enlarging upon the last petition of the Lord's Prayer itself, begs deliverance from the power of evil for the entire community of the faithful. The invitation, the Prayer itself, the embolism, and the doxology by which the people conclude these things are sung or said aloud." (No mention of holding hands, raising them in the air, making shadow puppets with them, or anything else during "The Lord's Prayer" in this part of the G.I.R.M. or in the section on Movements and Posture. My gut tells me this is going to evolve into holding hands AND raising them in the air. Next we'll be rolling on the floor, speaking in tongues. On the upside, if we all have to raise our arms, then sales of deodorant will probably, hopefully skyrocket. Invest in Proctor & Gamble now!)


2. EXCHANGING EMBRACES DURING THE SIGN OF PEACE:
The Cleveland Diocese says: At the sign of peace, there is a tendency now at churches to shake hands with several nearby people. The new rite encourages people to embrace one or two people in a serious, sober gesture of reconciliation. "The meaning of the sign of peace is not hail fellow, well met," Rev. J-Glenn Murray, director of the diocesan Office for Pastoral Liturgy said. "It is a rite of reconciliation, of unions of minds and hearts."

The NEW General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: "The Rite of Peace [is the means] by which the Church asks for peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament." As for the sign of peace to be given, the manner is to be established by Conferences of Bishops in accordance with the culture and customs of the peoples (my emphasis). It is, however, appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner. (82) (This is the one I HATE most! I don't know about Cleveland, but here in Maine, we're a pretty stoic bunch, Catholics and non-Catholics. Hugging isn't exactly our "culture and custom" up here. Our current bishop, a native Mainer, is about to retire. His replacement will surely be "from away" and I think Bishop Gerry is wisely (for him) leaving these types of decisions to him. If some new out-of-state whipper-snapper bishop thinks he can convince burly Catholic lobstermen Downeast to get all huggy-bear with each other at Mass, he'll have another thing coming. Plus, hasn't this denomination learned enough about the dangers of touching? In this current American culture where all males are considered potential predators, I sure as heck am not wrapping my arms around some underdressed teenage girl I don't even know with multiple piercings and her midrift showing. What was the Bishop of Cleveland THINKING?!?!?! A handshake will do fine for me, thanks.)


***To quote Mark C.N. Sullivan over at Irish Elk: "Those Ohioans [are] about to be forced to love their neighbor" with these first two. To quote ME: "Why in the hell are we touching all these people so much at Mass lately?***


3. BOWING BEFORE RECEIVING THE EUCHARIST:
The Cleveland Diocese says: In a special sign of reverence, Catholics also will be asked to bow before receiving the host that they consider the body of Christ. Joanne M. Tadych, liturgist at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Churchr, a test parish for some of the changes, said [they] have had a profound effect on parishioners - in particular, bowing before receiving Communion. "It has a very calming effect. It gives you just a moment of peace to think about what you're really doing," Tadych said. "You're not just rushing through."

The NEW General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: "A simple bow of the head is made by the communicant as a sign of reverence before the reception of the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ." (#160) (This one seems in synch, and doesn't bother me at all, as long as it is consistent within and across parishes in the diocese.)


4. REMAINING STANDING UPON RETUNING TO ONE'S SEAT AFTER COMMUNION:
The Cleveland Diocese says: [This is] perhaps the biggest change "and probably the most problematic change," Rev. Murray said, will be getting Catholics to break the habit of immediately returning to their pews to kneel in prayer after Communion. The diocese is encouraging people to return to their pews and continue to stand and sing until everyone has received Communion and the priest has sat down to pray. At that point, worshippers would kneel in private prayer.

The NEW General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: "The assembly may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion." (#43) (Seems the Bishop of Cleveland and his cronies are reading between the lines that this period of silence is for after EVERYONE has received Communion, not for each individual. This one doesn't bother me a whole lot, just as long as, again, there is uniformity within and among parishes in the diocese. I personally can pray riding a mountain bike. I don't have to be kneeling.)

This posting is just an advanced warning on what could be coming your way if your bishop and/or his influential advisors lean in the liberal direction. If these types of change going on on in Cleveland concern you, be pro-active and prepare if you see this as likely in the diocese where you reside. If it's already underway where you live, follow the chain of command but make your feelings clearly and politely known. Be sure you are familiar with the portions of the new G.I.R.M. that deal with your area of concern. Organize like-minded persons for civil protests (letter-writing campaigns, petitions, etc.) if it reaches that point.

Credit where it is due, this issue in the Cleveland Diocese first came to my attention on Mark C.N. Sullivan's Irish Elk, who also provides this highly amusing riddle:
Q: Why does God allow liturgists?
A: So that in times when the Church is not being persecuted, the devout still will have the privilege of suffering for their Faith.

There is more information and punditry on this issue at Summa Minutiae and Bettnet.com, and I'm sure many other blogs.

"I Warned the Old Bat when She Used to Make Me Wear Clothes from the Goodwill to School..." 

And then there's THIS sordid tale out of Ohio from the Associated Press via Yahoo News.
Lead sentences: Rocky Oldaker bought a wood box for $2 at a thrift store because it looked interesting. When he opened it, what he found inside was priceless to Linda Bigford: her mother's ashes.

Note to self: Do NOT request cremation in will!

Monday, August 25, 2003

God Answers All Prayers! 

God answers all prayers with one of three responses:
1) "Yes"
2) "Later"
or 3) "I've got something better in mind."


The Statue of Jesus at Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

I saw this quote posted on a Catholic parish website recently. I do not know from whom it originated, but I felt compelled to repost it here.

You Think WE'RE Strict? 

The next time you are tempted to grumble about fasting for an hour before Mass or going to church on a Holy Day of Obligation, consider this article out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Reuters via Yahoo News:

Teenager's Haircut Given the Chop.
The lead sentence: "A Malaysian teenager was given a forced haircut by Muslim authorities who deemed his punk-style "Mohican" un-Islamic."

Roman Catholic Churches in Maine 

It seems that a number of people come across this blog when they conduct a search on Google, Yahoo or MSN for the topic "Maine Catholic Churches". Presumably these are visitors seeking the nearest church at which they can attend Mass, or they could be people doing research on Catholic Churches here in the Pine Tree State. For the convenience of those people, I offer two links here:

www.masstimes.org is a great database for locating churches and Mass schedules in whatever locale you find yourself, whether it is in Maine or anywhere else.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland website also has a directory page of its parishes and missions. You can search by town, county, or parish name.

The Fourth Installment in our Interactive Series on "The Lord's Prayer" 

Standard Prologue: This is intended to be an online discussion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church's take on "The Lord's Prayer". Many of us often say the words to common prayers without really thinking about what they mean. I call it "Parrot Prayer Syndrome", since we are speaking, but not really knowing (or thinking about) what we are saying.

This portion, entitled Article Two: "Our Father Who Art In Heaven", is the second half of a fairly long portion.

Part Four: Christian Prayer, Section Two: The Lord's Prayer: "Our Father!", Article Two: "Our Father Who Art In Heaven", Part Two

III. "Our" Father

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"Our" Father refers to God. The adjective, as used by us, does not express possession, but an entirely new relationship with God.

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When we say "our" Father, we recognize first that all his promises of love announced by the prophets are fulfilled in the new and eternal covenant in his Christ: we have become "his" people and he is henceforth "our" God. This new relationship is the purely gratuitous gift of belonging to each other: we are to respond to "grace and truth" given us in Jesus Christ with love and faithfulness.45

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Since the Lord's Prayer is that of his people in the "end-time," this "our" also expresses the certitude of our hope in God's ultimate promise: in the new Jerusalem he will say to the victor, "I will be his God and he shall be my son."46

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When we pray to "our" Father, we personally address the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By doing so we do not divide the Godhead, since the Father is its "source and origin," but rather confess that the Son is eternally begotten by him and the Holy Spirit proceeds from him. We are not confusing the persons, for we confess that our communion is with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, in their one Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is consubstantial and indivisible. When we pray to the Father, we adore and glorify him together with the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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Grammatically, "our" qualifies a reality common to more than one person. There is only one God, and he is recognized as Father by those who, through faith in his only Son, are reborn of him by water and the Spirit.47 The Church is this new communion of God and men. United with the only Son, who has become "the firstborn among many brethren," she is in communion with one and the same Father in one and the same Holy Spirit.48 In praying "our" Father, each of the baptized is praying in this communion: "The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul."49

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For this reason, in spite of the divisions among Christians, this prayer to "our" Father remains our common patrimony and an urgent summons for all the baptized. In communion by faith in Christ and by Baptism, they ought to join in Jesus' prayer for the unity of his disciples.50

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Finally, if we pray the Our Father sincerely, we leave individualism behind, because the love that we receive frees us from it. The "our" at the beginning of the Lord's Prayer, like the "us" of the last four petitions, excludes no one. If we are to say it truthfully, our divisions and oppositions have to be overcome.51

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The baptized cannot pray to "our" Father without bringing before him all those for whom he gave his beloved Son. God's love has no bounds, neither should our prayer.52 Praying "our" Father opens to us the dimensions of his love revealed in Christ: praying with and for all who do not yet know him, so that Christ may "gather into one the children of God."53 God's care for all men and for the whole of creation has inspired all the great practitioners of prayer; it should extend our prayer to the full breadth of love whenever we dare to say "our" Father.

IV. "Who Art in Heaven"
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This biblical expression does not mean a place ("space"), but a way of being; it does not mean that God is distant, but majestic. Our Father is not "elsewhere": he transcends everything we can conceive of his holiness. It is precisely because he is thrice-holy that he is so close to the humble and contrite heart.

"Our Father who art in heaven" is rightly understood to mean that God is in the hearts of the just, as in his holy temple. At the same time, it means that those who pray should desire the one they invoke to dwell in them.54
"Heaven" could also be those who bear the image of the heavenly world, and in whom God dwells and tarries.55

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The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father's house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,56 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.57 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,58 for the Son alone "descended from heaven" and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.59

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When the Church prays "our Father who art in heaven," she is professing that we are the People of God, already seated "with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" and "hidden with Christ in God;"60 yet at the same time, "here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling."61

[Christians] are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their lives on earth, but are citizens of heaven.62

IN BRIEF:

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When we say "Our" Father, we are invoking the new covenant in Jesus Christ, communion with the Holy Trinity, and the divine love which spreads through the Church to encompass the world.

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"Who art in heaven" does not refer to a place but to God's majesty and his presence in the hearts of the just. Heaven, the Father's house, is the true homeland toward which we are heading and to which, already, we belong.


Image from http://www.usccb.org

Please do not hesitate to contribute in the COMMENTS section. No comment, question, or observation will be looked down upon. You do not need to be a theologian, clergy member or canon lawyer to take part, just someone of the Faith with an opinion, reflection or question.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

A Quote from Today's Old Testament Mass Reading 

Joshua addressed all the people:
"If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve,
the gods your fathers served beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."~Jos 24:15


Who does your household serve in their actions and words every day? Meditation-worthy for us all, I think.

The Meteorological Equivalent of Finding Cat Hair in your Chinese Food 

Winter Weather Statement (that's really how they label this one!) issued by the National Weather Service as of 3:30 p.m. Sunday: ...Frost Advisory For Early Monday Morning...an unseasonably cold air mass across Maine is expected to produce areas of frost across northern Maine. The combination of clear skies and light winds will result in temperatures falling into the mid and upper 30s across parts of northern and central Maine tonight. This will result in the potential for scattered frost... especially in low lying areas by early Monday morning.

Just this past Friday, my ex-weather pixie was prancing around in biker shorts without a shirt because it was in the 90's and humid. (His newly-hired replacement would never dream of such a thing, though he may don shorts and a t-shirt at times.) But I digress... my point is: I'M NOT READY FOR SUMMER TO BE OVER! I'll have to put my pumpkins in a cozy.

Further Evidence of the Breakdown of Western Civilization 

'Freddy vs. Jason' remains top box office hit for second weekend in a row, according to Reuters via Yahoo News. This offensive and gory bloodfest pitting two evil serial killers against one another becomes the first film to rule for two weekends in a row since early May.

Top Box Office Attractions for the Weekend ending 08/24/03
1. Freddy vs. Jason
2. S.W.A.T.
3. Open Range
4. Freaky Friday
5. The Medallion
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
7. Seabiscuit
8. Uptown Girls
9. American Wedding
10. My Boss's Daughter



Scanning the top ten, the only films on there that I would pay to see are Seabiscuit and Pirates of the Caribbean. I'll probably watch The Medallion when it comes on one of the premium movie channels. Other than that...bleah!

Final Results on Last Week's Poll on Taking the Cup at Communion 

The question for the poll this past week was: When taking Holy Communion at Mass, how frequently do you partake of the cup? The final results were very mixed. I find this interesting:

*Always (28.6%)

*Never (28.6%)

*Sometimes (17.1%)

*Rarely (17.1%)

*Often (8.6%)


Standard disclaimer: This is not a scientific poll, just a snapshot of the sentiments of visitors to this blog in the past week who have chosen to take part.

I'm very interested to hear your comments on this issue, whether you cast a vote or not.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

News from the Personnel Department 

I fired my old Weather Pixie Dale today. Not only was he coming to work dressed inappropriately (or barely dressed at all) and giving the wrong weather conditions, but his coffee breaks were going on for hours, and he was constantly getting here late. Showing up three hours late yesterday in biker shorts and no shirt, with breath reeking of Zima Light and Cheetos...well, it was the last straw.

In his place, please welcome my new Weather Pixie, Malcolm! A recent immigrant from the Emerald Isle with an impressive resume, I'm sure he will serve this blog's weather needs very nicely. He's already giving more accurate conditions for the area, and dressing in attire suitable to it. We hope you like it here at M.C. & B., Malcolm.

A Thought for the Day from the Daily Gospel Reading 

[Jesus said,] "The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."~Matthew 23:11-12

Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa! 

Steven Riddle over at the Flos Carmeli blog has an excellent post on what he terms "The Culture of Complaint" which is in the exact same vein of what I have been combatting with this blog since its inception. The link to the post is right here.

By the way Potter fans, I don't believe Steven is any relation to Tom Marvolo Riddle so fear not.

This is the Memorial of St. Rose of Lima 

The first native-born New World saint was born in 1586 in Lima, Peru. She was a devoted servant of Christ, but could be considered "eccentric", even by the standards of her time. Reportedly a beautiful woman, she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so she would not be attractive, and had a headband of silver with sharp points sticking inward to inflict pain like a crown of thorns. She frequently faced the objections and ridicule of parents and friends. Her justification for such self-mortification may be revealed in this brief prayer she is said to have uttered often: "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart."

She was extremely devouted to God, spending many hours in prayer and meditation in her garden, where she raised vegetables and made embroidered items to sell to support her family and help the other poor. During the last few years of her life, Rose set up a room in the house where she cared for homeless children, the elderly and the sick. This was the beginning of social services in Peru. She died in 1617 and was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671.

Among her patronages are: against vanity, embroiderers, florists, gardeners, India, Latin America, needle workers, New World, and people ridiculed for their piety.

Things I've Learned After It's Too Late, Installment #694 

Never pull a shirt off over your head when standing beneath an operating low ceiling fan.

Maybe I should consider this temporarily painful revelation a devotion to St. Rose of Lima on this, her memorial.

Friday, August 22, 2003

I've Developed an Aversion to These Silly Quizilla Things, but... 

...this one seemed harmless enough, and I didn't get a result that was too far off the mark for a change!

You are GILL!
What Finding Nemo Character are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Not-So-Sweet Home Alabama 

Unless you've been totally out of touch with the news lately, you have heard of the controversy over the Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Judicial Building. Here's a synopsis, cobbled together from a number of different online news sources.

Birmingham, Ala. - Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is in the fight of his life over a Ten Commandments monument, and his brother can't help but think how little has changed since they were kids growing up in this foothills town. Then-11-year-old Roy had just caught a nice string of fish and was heading home to cook them up when a group of men stopped their car and demanded he hand the catch over. Instead of giving in, he stood his ground, with his fists clenched tightly in front of him.

"I'll have to say, as little as we was, Roy stood up to them," brother Jerry Moore recalls with a chuckle. "And they didn't get our fish."

Now, at 56, Roy Moore's fists are still raised. His defiance of a federal court order to remove the 5,300-pound commandments monument from the judicial building rotunda has thrust Alabama into a thorny debate over the separation of church and state. Moore, a Baptist, said he would not remove the monument despite several orders from US District Judge Myron Thompson.

Under Alabama law, Moore has administrative control over his court's activity. But state law also allows the associate justices to "countermand" action by the chief justice by a majority of five votes, and that is what his colleagues did yesterday, unanimously. The justices ordered plywood partitions put up around the monument yesterday morning. But Moore ordered the partitions to be removed.

Later in the day, state Attorney General Bill Pryor, who has supported the idea of the Commandments' display even while saying he would not support Moore's disobedience of a court order, notified Judge Thompson that justices had issued their command to the building manager to "take all steps necessary to comply with the [Thompson] injunction as soon as practicable."

Chief Justice Moore was suspended by a judicial ethics panel Friday for his refusal to obey a federal court order to remove the monument. The nine-member Judicial Inquiry Commission referred the ethics complaint against Moore to the Court of the Judiciary, which holds trial-like proceedings and can discipline and remove judges.

Moore supporters have kept an eye on the monument through the building's glass doors since Wednesday night, the deadline Thompson gave Moore to move the monument. An organizer of pro-Moore demonstrations, Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, said Friday the demonstrations will continue.

"Our message is clear. We are going to peacefully block the way if they try to move it," Mahoney said.


Now, a few random neural firings from my brain on this issue:

#1-I hope and pray that the Roman Catholic Church is well represented in the groups of protesters outside the judicial building. This is not just an Alabama issue or just an Fundamentalist Christian issue. It's a Judeo-Christian issue, and let's face it, this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics.

#2-Regarding the passage in bold, this is the same Bill Pryor who recently faced a battle-royale over his confirmation as a federal judge in the U.S. Senate., because the Democrats thought his devout Catholicism would hinder his ability to do his job impartially. Well Senate Dems., just look at Mr. Pryor now! Holding his nose, but doing his job under massive pressure!

#3-Last time I checked, the national motto was "In God We Trust". Is that next to go? Will the feds going to try to come take away our money if it does? (As if they don't already every April 15th!) Doesn't the president take the oath of office on a Bible? How about that Greek goddess-looking statue of "Justice" perched high atop a certain building in Washington, D.C.? If we promoting ancient Greek religion here, then down she comes! (She'd look good in my garden if nobody else wants her, especially if I could rig her up so water sprays out of the top of her head.)

#4-Of course, my prayers are with Chief Justice Moore, his family and supporters. I've always admired people who have taken strong stands for their personal convictions in the face of powerful opposition, whether the situation has been great or small. America's Founding Fathers did this in the 1770's, Martin Luther King Jr. did this in the 1960's, and the Man I admire more than anyone else in all of Creation got nailed to a cross and died doing this two-thousand years ago. They all took great risks that eventually bore great fruits.

Kathy's Back in the Game! 

Gospel M*I*N*E*F*I*E*L*D, the wonderful Catholic blog by the good and kind Kathy the Carmelite is back up and running after over a week of dormancy. It seems that her blog got zapped by a bolt out of the blue. Welcome back to our good friend and fellow St. Blog's parishoner.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Holy Days of Obligation: When and Why from Year-to-Year? 

Over the past ten or more years, I knew some changes had been made in the Holy Days of Obligation in the Church, but I was never quite sure WHAT they were. If my parish scheduled a Mass for a Holy Day, I went. If they didn't, I figured it was one of those that had some kind of an "option-out" clause written for it somewhere. Because the Holy Days of Obligation are so spread out throughout the year (and also because of the fact that I never took the time to puzzle it out), I knew what Holy Days were obligated when and why.

Well, thanks to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops website, I finally found the answer. If you were ever unclear on this issue as I was, here's the scoop. The emphasis in bold print is my addition.

National Conference of Catholic Bishops
United States of America
Decree of Promulgation

On December 13, 1991 the members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States of America made the following general decree concerning holy days of obligation for Latin rite Catholics:

In addition to Sunday, the days to be observed as holy days of obligation in the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America, in conformity with canon 1246, are as follows:
*January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God;
*Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension;
*August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
*November 1, the solemnity of All Saints;
*December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception;
*December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.

This decree of the Conference of Bishops was approved and confirmed by the Apostolic See by a decree of the Congregation for Bishops (Prot. N. 296/84), signed by Bernardin Cardinal Gantin, prefect of the Congregation, and dated July 4, 1992.

As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby declare that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin rite dioceses of the United States of America will be January 1, 1993, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, November 17, 1992.

+ Daniel E. Pilarczyk
Archbishop of Cincinnati
President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops


So now we all know, at least until the next holy day (All Saints Day) when we will yet again ask whether we are supposed to go or not. (We won't. It's on a Saturday.)

The Third Installment in our Interactive Series on "The Lord's Prayer" 

This is intended to be an online discussion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church's take on "The Lord's Prayer". For those of you just tuning in, I became aware in my own prayer life that with some of the very common prayers, I have fallen into what I call "parrot prayer syndrome": where I say the words, but I don't really think about what they mean. I thought this would be a good way to reinvigorate myself, and any others readers who may feel they are in the same spiritual boat.

This portion, entitled Article Two: "Our Father Who Art In Heaven", is fairly long, so I am only going to present the first half here today.

Part Four: Christian Prayer, Section Two: The Lord's Prayer: "Our Father!", Article Two: "Our Father Who Art In Heaven", Part One

I. "We Dare to Say"

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In the Roman liturgy, the Eucharistic assembly is invited to pray to our heavenly Father with filial boldness; the Eastern liturgies develop and use similar expressions: "dare in all confidence," "make us worthy of. . . ." From the burning bush Moses heard a voice saying to him, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."26 Only Jesus could cross that threshold of the divine holiness, for "when he had made purification for sins," he brought us into the Father's presence: "Here am I, and the children God has given me."27

Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry . . . ‘Abba, Father!' . . . When would a mortal dare call God ‘Father,' if man's innermost being were not animated by power from on high?"28

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This power of the Spirit who introduces us to the Lord's Prayer is expressed in the liturgies of East and of West by the beautiful, characteristically Christian expression: parrhesia, straightforward simplicity, filial trust, joyous assurance, humble boldness, the certainty of being loved.29

II. "Father!"

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Before we make our own this first exclamation of the Lord's Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn "from this world." Humility makes us recognize that "no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him," that is, "to little children."30 The purification of our hearts has to do with paternal or maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area "upon him" would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us.

The expression God the Father had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who he was, he heard another name. The Father's name has been revealed to us in the Son, for the name "Son" implies the new name "Father."31

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We can invoke God as "Father" because he is revealed to us by his Son become man and because his Spirit makes him known to us. The personal relation of the Son to the Father is something that man cannot conceive of nor the angelic powers even dimly see: and yet, the Spirit of the Son grants a participation in that very relation to us who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that we are born of God.32

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When we pray to the Father, we are in communion with him and with his Son, Jesus Christ.33 Then we know and recognize him with an ever new sense of wonder. The first phrase of the Our Father is a blessing of adoration before it is a supplication. For it is the glory of God that we should recognize him as "Father," the true God. We give him thanks for having revealed his name to us, for the gift of believing in it, and for the indwelling of his Presence in us.

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We can adore the Father because he has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son: by Baptism, he incorporates us into the Body of his Christ; through the anointing of his Spirit who flows from the head to the members, he makes us other "Christs."

God, indeed, who has predestined us to adoption as his sons, has conformed us to the glorious Body of Christ. So then you who have become sharers in Christ are appropriately called "Christs."34

The new man, reborn and restored to his God by grace , says first of all, "Father!" because he has now begun to be a son.35

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Thus the Lord's Prayer reveals us to ourselves at the same time that it reveals the Father to us.36

O man, you did not dare to raise your face to heaven, you lowered your eyes to the earth, and suddenly you have received the grace of Christ: all your sins have been forgiven. From being a wicked servant you have become a good son. . . . Then raise your eyes to the Father who has begotten you through Baptism, to the Father who has redeemed you through his Son, and say: "Our Father. . . ." But do not claim any privilege. He is the Father in a special way only of Christ, but he is the common Father of us all, because while he has begotten only Christ, he has created us. Then also say by his grace, "Our Father," so that you may merit being his son.37

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The free gift of adoption requires on our part continual conversion and new life. Praying to our Father should develop in us two fundamental dispositions:

First, the desire to become like him: though created in his image, we are restored to his likeness by grace; and we must respond to this grace.

We must remember . . . and know that when we call God "our Father" we ought to behave as sons of God.38

You cannot call the God of all kindness your Father if you preserve a cruel and inhuman heart; for in this case you no longer have in you the marks of the heavenly Father's kindness.39

We must contemplate the beauty of the Father without ceasing and adorn our own souls accordingly.40

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Second, a humble and trusting heart that enables us "to turn and become like children":41 for it is to "little children" that the Father is revealed.42

[The prayer is accomplished] by the contemplation of God alone, and by the warmth of love, through which the soul, molded and directed to love him, speaks very familiarly to God as to its own Father with special devotion.43
Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us . . . and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask. . . . What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?44

IN BRIEF:

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Simple and faithful trust, humble and joyous assurance are the proper dispositions for one who prays the Our Father.

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We can invoke God as "Father" because the Son of God made man has revealed him to us. In this Son, through Baptism, we are incorporated and adopted as sons of God.

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The Lord's Prayer brings us into communion with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. At the same time it reveals us to ourselves (cf. GS 22 § 1).

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Praying to our Father should develop in us the will to become like him and foster in us a humble and trusting heart.


Parrots photo from http://www.wildthingsinc.com
Are YOU suffering from "Parrot Prayer Syndrome"?

This prayer discussion is not a DISCUSSION without YOU! Please do not hesitate to contribute in the COMMENTS section. No comment, question, or observation will be looked down upon.

There's Something Rotten in Denmark 

Actually, there's something rotten in my e-mail inbox. I've tweaked my e-mail enough that it filters out most spam, and have seen enough of it sent my way to usually spot it a light-year away when it does ooze through. However, the following message slipped past, and I opened it up this afternoon. It's got the word "SCAM" written all over it. One of the advantages of having a public forum such as this blog is the ability to expose would-be con artists whenever they rear their ugly (but mostly empty) heads.

The e-mail address it came from is: ediae2@tiscali.co.uk, and the subject is: INQUIRY!!!! Here, in full and verbatim, is the text of the message (italics added by me):

Dear sir,

Top of the day to you.

I am Ahmed Ediae. I will want to solicit for your assistance to help collect a cheque that is due for payment to me for services i rendered.

Please if you are willing to assist, i will want you to furnish me with your particulars, so as to enable me give you further details.

Please sir, you have to be an honest and trusted person, as more payments will be made through you.

I await your urgent response.

Regards,
DR. AHMED EDIAE


I'm thinking I may actually respond to the good doctor and provide him with particulars, and maybe even a photo. Of course, both the particulars and the photo I provide will actually be those of 1980's British cartoon superhero "Dangermouse", but someone dumb enough to think I'd provide real information might just fall for it.

Dangermouse image from http://www.kids-brands.com

The way I see it, you can either let stuff like this irritate you, or you can have great fun with it. Feel free to e-mail Dr. Chowderhead with particulars of your own favorite cartoon character, and "top of the day to you".

Sad News from Red Sox Nation 

Longtime Red Sox broadcaster Ken Coleman died today at the age of 78. He did play-by-play radio broadcasts for the Sox for over twenty years, and had my ear for many of them in the 1980's, along with longtime partner and current Sox radio broadcaster, Joe Castiglione. Ken was with the Red Sox from 1966-75, and from 1979-89.

From boston.redsox.mlb.com: Former Red Sox Voice Ken Coleman Dies

Knock, Knock! 

Today is also the anniversary of Our Lady of Knock, Ireland. On this day in 1879, an apparition of the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and St. John appeared there at the south gable of the Church of St. John the Baptist. Behind them, inside the church on the altar, was a cross and a lamb with adoring angels. Over fifteen parishoners witnessed this for two hours in pouring rain. Knock is one of the most visited shrines devoted to Our Lady, after Lourdes and Fatima, yet not nearly as well known. Pope John Paul II made a pilgrimage to Knock on the centenary in 1979, and Mother Teresa also made a pilgrimage there in 1993. Being the good Irishman that I am, I felt it was my duty to post at least a few words on this day to Our Lady of Knock.

Our Lady of Knock image from http://www.marypages.com

They have an excellent website. Click here for the story of the apparitions, and then go on to explore the rest of the website. I'd love to visit there someday.

Pius X's Memorial Brings Up a Question in my Mind 

When Pope John Paul II was elected pope in 1978, he was touted as the first non-Italian pontiff in several hundred years. Yet, when Pius X was elected in 1903, I believe that his birthplace of Riese was still a part of Austria, and had not yet been annexed by Italy. If that's the case, then Pius X wasn't really an Italian pope, was he? I need some input from someone more knowledgeable about papal history, early 20th Century history, or both on this one.

Today is the Memorial of St. Pius X 

Born Giuseppe Sarto in 1835 at Riese, Treviso, Venice, Austria (now Italy), Pius X was elected pope 100 years ago, in 1903. He served as pontiff until his death in 1914. Among his accomplishments were reforming the liturgy, promoting clear and simple homilies, bringing Gregorian chant back to services, revising the Breviary, and teaching of the Catechism. Pius X reorganized the Roman curia (we could use him in the Vatican today), and fought Modernism, which he denounced as "the summation of all heresies". He was canonized in 1954 by Pope Pius XII. He is known as the "Pope of the Blessed Sacrament ", and is patron of first communicants as well as numerous dioceses and archdioceses.

Pius X Photo from Catholic-Forum.com

"Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven."~Pope St. Pius X

As a young child, I was always impressed by Pius X, because he was a saint who actually lived during the time some people I actually knew lived! Those were the pre-JPII days, and at that young age I thought saints were people who lived hundreds of years ago and wore tunics or robes, wandering around Europe and the Middle East. To think that my grandparents could remember Pius X in their lifetime really impressed me. He was the only 20th century saint I had heard of at that point.

One of the great legacies of Pope John Paul II's pontificate will be the large number of people he has elevated to sainthood. There are saints among us today, and we can look for models in how to follow God in the people around us. The person in the pew next to you could be a future saint, or maybe even you yourself!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

So Tell Me... 

Is it better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all? Sometimes I wonder.

Today We Celebrate the Great St. Bernard! 

St. Bernard dogs image courtesy of www.krittercards.com

NO! NO! Not THAT kind of St. Bernard. THIS one! (Sorry, pups!)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux image courtesy of Fountains Abbey in England

AmericanCatholic.org, a Franciscan "supersite", suggests that St. Bernard of Clairvaux should be considered the "man of the century" for the twelfth century. You can read all about his life and many accomplishments at Catholic Online if you click here.

A quote from the great saint of Clairvaux : “In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”

A quote from the dogs: "Woof."

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

CAR WARS: The Environment Strikes Back! 

Remember that controversial (and very silly) anti-SUV ad campaign the environmental lobby bankrolled a few months ago? They were putting forth to television viewers the age-old theological question that has plagued us for literally weeks: "What would Jesus drive?" Well, if the article linked below is any indication (and the incident it describes is deemed "an Act of God") then we can be pretty certain that Jesus Christ wouldn't be found behind the wheel of a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

1,000-year-old Sequoia Crushes Car (from MSNBC.com)

Photo from National Park Service via Associated Press via MSNBC via ME!

Personally, I think He'd drive a cobalt blue new VW Beetle convertible with all the accessories. Of course, I could be wrong.

The Name Game: Fr. Billy or Fr. Smith? 

Special thanks to G. Thomas Fitzpatrick over at Recta Ratio for this link on how to properly address various members of the religious community from an organization called Tradition in Action.

I've noticed the migration from referring to priests as "Fr. (Last Name)" to "Fr. (First Name)", and lately, even a few cases of first name only, with no "Father" at all. It just doesn't sound or feel right to me. Thankfully, my parish priest prefers to be addressed as "Fr. (Last Name)", and I am very glad to oblige. Even when a priest is called "Fr. (First Name)" by seemingly everyone else in the parish, I've always stuck with "Fr. (Last Name)". No priest I've ever addressed this way has objected or corrected me on it.

I've also never quite been sure how to address a bishop. I have always used "Bishop (Last Name)" and kept the conversation brief, but haven't been sure. If I ever met the pope in person, it wouldn't be a problem, because I know I'd probably have lockjaw from the awe of being in his presence. I'd likely manage to squeak a timid "Holy Father", and then pass out cold.

This first name vs. last name for addressing priests may be fodder for a future poll on this blog. Who knows?

Where was the Pope when the Lights went Out? 

Although not nearly on the same scale as what happened in the northeast U.S. last week, it seems that the Vatican had its own electrical troubles today. The story comes from the British newspaper The Guardian Unlimited: Lights Go Out Atop St. Peter's Basilica.

JP2 was at his summer place, Castel Gandalfo, when it happened. The Vatican Press Office refused to comment on this relatively trivial incident, which makes me wonder, what do they comment on anyway? Their hiding (yes, that is correct grammar) from the media on even simple matters that they don't have control over is part of what fuels the fire in the media that the Vatican is overly secretive and has things to hide.

Some other miscellaneous Catholic-related news on the U.S. blackout last week and its aftermath can be found here at Catholic News Service.

Find THIS in the Curriculum at P.S. 107 Down the Street! 

St. Louis Catholic Schools Stress Importance of Praying the Rosary is the headline from Catholic News Service.

I just hope that this instruction continues beyond Pope John Paul's Year of the Rosary, currently underway.

Monday, August 18, 2003

The Second Installment in our Interactive Series on "The Lord's Prayer" 

In my effort to reinvigorate "The Lord's Prayer" in my heart and in those of others interested in doing so, I started this interactive discussion based on the portions of the online Catechism of the Catholic Church pertaining to it. The goal, as stated before, is for this to be an enriching and interactive feature that will hopefully involve reflections, insights, and points of view from a variety of readers, newcomers and veterans.

Also as stated before, I won't be connecting the embedded reference links (the numbers which will appear in bold) in the text, but I will provide the link to the section of the catechism to which I am referring with each installment, so you can check the footnotes there, if you like. There's only so much time in the day, you know!

Part Four: Christian Prayer, Section Two: The Lord's Prayer: "Our Father!", Article 1: "The Summary of the Whole Gospel"

2761
The Lord's Prayer "is truly the summary of the whole gospel."7 "Since the Lord . . . after handing over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, ‘Ask and you will receive,' and since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord's Prayer] is said first, as the foundation of further desires."8

I. At the Center of the Scriptures

2762
After showing how the psalms are the principal food of Christian prayer and flow together in the petitions of the Our Father, St. Augustine concludes: "Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord's Prayer."9

2763
All the Scriptures—the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms—are fulfilled in Christ.10 The Gospel is this "Good News." Its first proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount;11 the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation. It is in this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the Lord is illuminated: "The Lord's Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. . . . In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them."12

2764
The Sermon on the Mount is teaching for life, the Our Father is a prayer; but in both the one and the other the Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires, those inner movements that animate our lives. Jesus teaches us this new life by his words; he teaches us to ask for it by our prayer. The rightness of our life in him will depend on the rightness of our prayer.

II. "The Lord's Prayer"

2765
The traditional expression "the Lord's Prayer"—oratio Dominica—means that the prayer to our Father is taught and given to us by the Lord Jesus. The prayer that comes to us from Jesus is truly unique: it is "of the Lord." On the one hand, in the words of this prayer the only Son gives us the words the Father gave him:13 he is the master of our prayer. On the other, as Word incarnate, he knows in his human heart the needs of his human brothers and sisters and reveals them to us: he is the model of our prayer.

2766
But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically.14 As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father. Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same time he gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us "spirit and life."15 Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial prayer is that the Father "sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!'"16 Since our prayer sets forth our desires before God, it is again the Father, "he who searches the hearts of men," who "knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."17 The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.

III. The Prayer of the Church

2767
This indivisible gift of the Lord's words and of the Holy Spirit who gives life to them in the hearts of believers has been received and lived by the Church from the beginning. The first communities prayed the Lord's Prayer three times a day,18 in place of the "Eighteen Benedictions" customary in Jewish piety.

2768
According to the apostolic tradition, the Lord's Prayer is essentially rooted in liturgical prayer: [The Lord] teaches us to make prayer in common for all our brethren. For he did not say "my Father" who art in heaven, but "our" Father, offering petitions for the common Body.19

In all the liturgical traditions, the Lord's Prayer is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office. In the three sacraments of Christian initiation its ecclesial character is especially in evidence.

2769
In Baptism and Confirmation, the handing on (traditio) of the Lord's Prayer signifies new birth into the divine life. Since Christian prayer is our speaking to God with the very word of God, those who are "born anew . . . through the living and abiding word of God"20 learn to invoke their Father by the one Word he always hears. They can henceforth do so, for the seal of the Holy Spirit's anointing is indelibly placed on their hearts, ears, lips, indeed their whole filial being. This is why most of the patristic commentaries on the Our Father are addressed to catechumens and neophytes. When the Church prays the Lord's Prayer, it is always the people made up of the "new-born" who pray and obtain mercy.21

2770
In the Eucharistic liturgy the Lord's Prayer appears as the prayer of the whole Church and there reveals its full meaning and efficacy. Placed between the anaphora (the Eucharistic prayer) and the communion, the Lord's Prayer sums up on the one hand all the petitions and intercessions expressed in the movement of the epiclesis and, on the other, knocks at the door of the Banquet of the kingdom which sacramental communion anticipates.

2771
In the Eucharist, the Lord's Prayer also reveals the eschatological character of its petitions. It is the proper prayer of "the end-time," the time of salvation that began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and will be fulfilled with the Lord's return. The petitions addressed to our Father, as distinct from the prayers of the old covenant, rely on the mystery of salvation already accomplished, once for all, in Christ crucified and risen.

2772
From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which "it does not yet appear what we shall be."22 The Eucharist and the Lord's Prayer look eagerly for the Lord's return, "until he comes."23

IN BRIEF

2773
In response to his disciples' request "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11:1), Jesus entrusts them with the fundamental Christian prayer, the Our Father.

2774
"The Lord's Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel,"24 the "most perfect of prayers."25 It is at the center of the Scriptures.

2775
It is called "the Lord's Prayer" because it comes to us from the Lord Jesus, the master and model of our prayer.

2776
The Lord's Prayer is the quintessential prayer of the Church. It is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office and of the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Integrated into the Eucharist it reveals the eschatological character of its petitions, hoping for the Lord, "until he comes" (1 Cor 11:26).


Photo courtesy of http://www.angelfire.com/ms/spiritual

Please do not hesitate to contribute to this prayer discussion in the COMMENTS section, as several of you did with the first installment.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Update on my Campaign for California Governor 

I was busy "pressing the flesh" today. Actually, I only shook hands with those around me during the Sign of Peace at Mass, and no mention of my candidacy was made, but that's still pressing the flesh, isn't it?

I've also hired as my campaign security manager, cartoon superhero Underdog! He hasn't been working much lately, and has been kind of depressed since his recent breakup with sweet Polly Purebred. (Turns out she wasn't so "sweet" after all!) He joins the late John Chancellor on my growing campaign team.

Underdog Pic from www.themeworld.com
My Gubernatorial Campaign's
New Security Manager, UNDERDOG!


I've also released my first official political position to the California public (aside from pro-life, anti-gay marriage/special rights, pro-school choice, and anti-eels, all positions which were included in the announcement of my candidacy). I firmly believe that it was the intent of the Founding Fathers of this great nation that toilet paper should hang from the dispenser over the front of the roll, not the back. When elected, I will see to it that all Californians can enjoy the pleasures of toilet paper hanging off the back of the roll, even in those nasty blue portable toilets found at public events. My fellow members of the "Everyone Else Running Seems Like Some Kind of Loon" Party (the late John Chancellor, cartoon superhero Underdog and my 8-month-old niece Zoe) strongly support this position, even though it is not applicable to any of them.

So remember, vote for Chris for California governor on October 7: "Everyone else is running, so why shouldn't he?"

Maybe the U.S. isn't the Bawdy, Hedonistic, Center of Evil for the Entire Known Universe After All... 

This story comes to us from the Associated Press via Yahoo News:
Europe Suffering Values Crisis, Pope Says

Between this announcement and Canada sitting in a handbasket and asking where they are going, the good old U.S.A. is looking mighty decent these days. I don't know about you, but it makes me all warm, fuzzy and prickly as an American. (I'm not sure how my relatives in Ireland are feeling about it though. I'd ask them, but the phone line at the pub is busy all the time.) With all due respect to the Holy Father, do you think the fact that his native Poland is joining the E.U. in 2004 is part of the reason he's optimistic that things will get better?
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