Monday, April 19, 2004

"...and for Chris" 

I have a very difficult day facing me Tuesday, and again I ask for your prayers of support and friendship. You don't have to go out of your way, just do me the kindness of saying "...and for Chris" at the end as you offer your intentions to Our Lord prior to your regular prayers.

I'm not sure what God has in mind with all this, but I am placing all my trust in His hands.

Thank you so very much, and may God's blessings be upon you all.

Another Marian Prayer 


Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying. O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let thy name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.

O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what emotion fill my soul when I pronounce thy sacred name, or even only think of thee. I thank God for having given thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely pronouncing thy name: let my love for thee prompt me ever to hail thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.

News from Red Sox Nation, April 20, 2004 

Image from http://boston.redsox.mlb.com

At Fenway Park in Boston, Monday April 19, 2004:

Boston Red Sox-5
New York Yankees-4

The Red Sox take the series 3 games to 1!

Kapler's hit lifts Sox, 5-4 by Ian Browne/MLB.com

*Next game: Tuesday, April 20 in Toronto against the Blue Jays at 7:00.


Image from http://www.seadogs.com

At Hadlock Field in Portland, Monday April 19, 2004:

Portland Sea Dogs-8
Trenton Thunder-7

Wow, that's two wins in a row. Hmmm.

Sea Dogs Score Another Comeback Win from www.seadogs.com.

*Next Game: Portland vs. Trenton Thunder at Hadlock Field at 6:00, Tuesday, April 20.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Results of Last Week's Poll on Holy Week Service Attendance 

The question was: "How many organized Catholic worship services did you attend from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, inclusive?"

The results:

*More than 7 (11.1%)

*7 (0.0%)

*6 (22.2%)

*5 (0.0%)

*4 (22.2%)

*3 (11.1%)

*2 (11.1%)

*1 (11.1%)

*You mean last week was Holy Week?! (11.1%)

Not very conclusive results at all. Some polls garner better outcomes than others.

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. You may only vote once from a given computer, and neither the polling service nor I can track the origins of votes.

Divine Mercy Sunday Message from Fr. Roger Landry 

This is a portion Fr. Landry's homily for today, as posted on CatholicCulture.org. This particular part explains the relatively new observance of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Today we celebrate throughout the whole Church "Divine Mercy Sunday." This feast was instituted by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, in response to a direct request by the Lord Jesus to a Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, whom Pope John Paul II canonized that year. Beginning in 1931, Jesus began to appear to St. Faustina in her convent in Krakow and asked her to become his "secretary," and take down what he revealed to her for the good of the Church and the world. He revealed to her the message of his divine, merciful love. She wrote down what the Lord said and it filled in her diary — what turned out to be 689 pages in the English translation. The Lord talked about how he wanted to pour out on the world his mercy, how he wanted people to trust in his mercy and ask for it, and how he wanted them to share his merciful love with others. Jesus didn't teach us anything new about his merciful love; he just reiterated it. What was new was that the Lord Jesus asked the Church, and that means each one of us, to grow in his Divine Mercy by five practices:

Divine Mercy Sunday, which we're celebrating today for the fourth time — The Lord said, "I want... the first Sunday after Easter ... to be the Feast of Mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day are open all the divine floodgates through which graces flow." The Holy Father, four years ago, said, "It is important that we accept in its entirety the message that comes to us from God's Word on this second Sunday of Easter. From now on, throughout the whole Church, this day will take the name of 'Divine Mercy Sunday.'" But we have to live it, seek confession within eight days of the feast and properly receive Holy Communion.

To pray to the image of Divine Mercy — The Lord revealed to St. Faustina an image that he desired to be made: "One night when I was in my cell, I perceived the presence of the Lord Jesus dressed in a white tunic. One hand was raised in blessing, the other rested on his chest. From an opening in the tunic in the chest, two great ways were coming out, one read and the other clear... After some time, Jesus said to me, "Paint an image in accordance with what you see, with the inscription, "Jesus, I trust in you." A little later, Our Lord explained to her the meaning of the two rays: "The two rays represent the Blood and the Water. The white ray represents the Water [baptism], that justifies souls; the red ray represents the Blood that is the life of souls [the Eucharist]. Both rays flow from the depths of my Mercy when, on the Cross, my Heart in agony was opened by the lance."

To pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy — This is something that people can pray on Rosary beads. It is a devotion that is happily becoming more and more popular today. St. Faustina heard an interior voice that taught her this prayer. On the larger beads of the Rosary, one says, "Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and for those of the whole world." On the ten smaller beads, we pray, "For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." You pray five "decades" in this way, after which, one prays three times the "Holy, Holy, Holy" from the Good Friday reproaches, "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One," "have mercy on us and on the whole world." What we're doing in this beautiful prayer is offering Christ's own sacrifice during the Triduum, to the Father. We're lifting up the Eucharist — Christ's body, blood, soul and divinity — and making Christ's prayer our own. There is no more powerful prayer! Jesus promised, "It pleases me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet... if it be compatible with my Will." This is especially true of the moment of death. Jesus specifically asked priests — and I'm obeying him right now — to "recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once [with an attitude of trust, humility and sorrow for sin], he would receive grace from my infinite mercy."

To pray particularly at three in the afternoon, the time in which Jesus died on the Cross, invoking the Mercy of the Lord — Jesus said to St. Faustina, "At three in the afternoon, implore my Mercy, especially for sinners, or at least briefly reflect on my Passion, especially on the abandonment I felt at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great Mercy for the whole world. I will allow you to penetrate my mortal sadness. In that hour, I will deny nothing to the soul that asks me in the name of my Passion. Jesus gave three indispensible conditions to hear prayers made at the hour of Mercy: the prayer has to be directed to Jesus, take place at three, and invoke the value and merits of his passion.

To make a novena between Good Friday and Divine Mercy Sunday to implore divine mercy. He gave St. Faustina an intention for each day of the novena. He said, "I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fount of My mercy, that they may draw from there strength and refreshment and whatever graces they need in the hardships of life and, especially, at the hour of death. On each day you will bring to my Heart a different group of souls, and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy, and I will bring all these souls into the house of My Father. The groups, for each of the days, are all humanity, especially sinners; priests and religious; the pious and faithful; those who do not believe in Jesus and who don't yet know him; our separated Christian brothers and sisters; the meek and humble and children; those who venerate the mercy of Jesus; those in Purgatory; and the lukewarm.

We obviously don't have the time to describe in greater detail these practices. But there are booklets now available everywhere describing these practices. There are many websites devoted to Divine Mercy. The Lord wishes for each of us to start more deeply to trust in his mercy, to invoke it, receive it and share it. As Jesus said to St. Faustina, "Humanity will not find peace until it turns trustfully to divine mercy." We need to turn to him now for the peace our hearts desire, for the peace our world needs.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Another Prayer for Divine Mercy 

I fly to Your Mercy, Compassionate God, Who alone are good.
Although my misery is great and my offenses are many,
I trust in Your Mercy because You are the God of Mercy,
and it has never been heard of in all ages,
nor do Heaven or Earth remember,
that a soul trusting in Your Mercy has been disappointed.

(State your intentions)

Jesus, Friend of a lonely heart, You are my haven.
You are my peace.
You are my salvation.
You are my serenity in moments of struggle and amidst an ocean of doubts.

Zenit.org has another good article about Divine Mercy Sunday, which is tomorrow, on their site here: Divine Mercy Sunday: A Call for Confidence

This Doesn't Seem Right... 

One thing I admire about NASCAR is that they don't schedule a race on Easter Sunday out of respect for the holiness of the day. Professional basketball, baseball and hockey, which are also playing at Eastertime, don't seem to acknowledge the day as being different from any other. For every game that is played on Easter, not only are there players, coaches and team employees at work, but there are also ticket-takers, security people, concessions workers, facility employees and (usually) broadcast people on the job. As I've mentioned before, I don't think that professional sports should be prohibited on all Sundays, but I do think that the other leagues should follow NASCAR's lead on Good Friday, Easter and Christmas, as well as making the games optional (with no strings attached) for those who would be involved if they are non-Christian and the game falls on one of their holiest days.

That being said, there's this news about the just-released professional football schedule for 2004-2005 from MSNBC.com entitled, Merry Christmas from the NFL. This year, the NFL has scheduled a game on Christmas Eve afternoon at 3:00, and two games on Christmas Day itself. How many families will not be together on one of the holiest days of the year as the result of this decision? The NFL chalks it up to a fluke of the calendar, since Christmas Day is on a Saturday this year, and they have network contracts to honor. Whatever happened to putting people first?

It seems to me that during the rest of the regular season, typically all NFL games are played on Sunday, with one on Monday night. Why the difference for Christmas? Something tells me there are lots of dollar signs in the answer.

The Ninth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena 

From EWTN.com:

Jesus asked that this Feast of the Divine Mercy (the Sunday following Easter) be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent.

Image from http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals

Day Nine (Saturday in the Octave of Easter):
"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

EWTN has an excellent place on their website explaining the Divine Mercy devotion in its entirety.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

How to Tell a Duck from a Fox - Thinking with the Church as We Look toward November  

The following column, posted on CatholicCulture.org, was written by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. of the Denver Archdiocese and published on April 14, 2004. It's real food for thought as the presidential campaign slogs along.

"If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck. A fox can claim to be a duck all day long. But he's still a fox."

We've all heard that saying, or some version of it, a thousand times. The reason is simple: It's true. Our actions prove who we are. If a gulf exists between what we say, how we look and what we do, we're not living in a spirit of truth. A fox, even if he quacks, is still a fox. Sooner or later, it becomes obvious.

I remembered this last week as I read yet another news report about candidates who claim to be Catholic and then prominently ignore their own faith on matters of public policy. We've come a long way from John F. Kennedy, who merely locked his faith in the closet. Now we have Catholic senators who take pride in arguing for legislation that threatens and destroys life — and who then also take Communion.

The kindest explanation for this sort of behavior is that a lot of Catholic candidates don't know their own faith. And that's why, in a spirit of charity, the Holy See offered its guidance and encouragement in a little document last year On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life.

Nothing in this Roman document is new. But it offers a vision of public service filled with common sense.

First, quoting John Paul II, it reminds us that, "man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality." In other words, unless our personal faith shapes our public choices and actions, it's just a pious delusion. Private faith, if it's genuine, always becomes public witness — including political witness.

Second, while Christians "must recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs," they are also "called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism." Appeals to a phony definition of pluralism and tolerance can never excuse inaction in the face of grave evil — including attacks on the sanctity of life. Catholics can only ensure real pluralism by "living and acting in conformity" with their religious convictions so that, "through political life, society will become more just and more consistent with the dignity of the human person."

Third, "(democracy) only succeeds to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person." Catholic lawmakers who do not vigorously seek to protect human dignity and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death are not serving democracy. They are betraying it.

Fourth, "those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a `grave and clear obligation to oppose' any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them." Politics is the exercise of power. Power always has moral implications. And God will hold each of us accountable — from the average voter to senators and presidents — for how well we have used our political power to serve the common good and the human person.

"Pro-choice" candidates who claim to be Catholic bring all of us to a crossroads in this election year. Many Catholics, including some Church leaders, argue that "(we) should not limit (our) concern to one issue, no matter how fundamental that issue is." That's true — but it can also be misleading.

Catholics have a duty to work tirelessly for human dignity at every stage of life, and to demand the same of their lawmakers. But some issues are jugular. Some issues take priority. Abortion, immigration law, international trade policy, the death penalty and housing for the poor are all vitally important issues. But no amount of calculating can make them equal in gravity.

The right to life comes first. It precedes and undergirds every other social issue or group of issues. This is why Blessed John XXIII listed it as the first human right in his great encyclical on world peace, Pacem in Terris. And as the U.S. bishops stressed in their 1998 pastoral letter Living the Gospel of Life, the right to life is the foundation of every other right.
(This is my own emphasis added here.)

The humorist James Thurber once wrote that "you can fool too many of the people too much of the time." Our job as Catholics this election year — if we're serious about our faith — is to not get fooled.

Candidates who claim to be "Catholic" but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life are offering a dishonest public witness. They may try to look Catholic and sound Catholic, but unless they act Catholic in their public service and political choices, they're really a very different kind of creature.

And real Catholics should vote accordingly.

This item digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Left Behind? Catholic Kids Ought to Leave the Books Behind. 

I am pretty up on literature, but the books in the "Left Behind" series of books for older children and teens have flown beyond my radar over the past few years. I've been aware of the basic premise of the books: the apocalypse occurs, many are taken to Heaven in "the Rapture", and those left behind are left to deal with seven-years of "tribulations". That last part explains the title of the series, I guess.

The series is now up to an even dozen books, with the latest, "Glorious Appearing" having just recently been released. The books have been very popular, obviously, to result in a series of twelve.

The religious overtones may cause some unwitting adults to encourage the children in their lives to read these books, in hopes that it might fire up the readers' interests in books and/or religion, in the same vein as "Harry Potter" and "The Passion of the Christ".

I don't have a problem with these books being on the shelves, but Catholics should be aware that the premise behind them, the whole idea of a terrifying end to the world and a vengeful God, runs contrary to Roman Catholic teaching. For other denominations, these books might be acceptable. They certainly have a place in literature and on bookshelves, but they aren't in line with Catholic beliefs. Potential adult readers should go into reading any of these books knowing this fact, and anyone supplying these books to Catholic children should think twice about it, since it could cause some real confusion and even some unfounded fears in young ones.

I would urge you to read this article from the Catholic News Service for the whole story: 'Left Behind' series called 'overtly anti-Catholic' by CNS reporter Jerry Filteau.

Do They Have Poi-Filled Doughnuts, I Wonder? 

Ahhhh, life in Hawaii...palm trees, tropical temperatures, some of the most beautiful vistas in the world, and it's still in the United States! Still, all is not perfect in this version of paradise. Due to the cost of transporting goods to the islands, the cost of living is high, as are the taxes I've heard. And it's more than a little isolated. Someone with an average, middle-class salary might be lucky to leave Hawaii to visit some other place other than an island only a few times in their lives. (After a long Maine winter, I'd be willing to live with those drawbacks!)

Well, the citizens of Hawaii can add another problem to their lists: too many doughnuts. It seems that the popular Krispy Kreme doughnut shop chain has opened a franchise on Oahu. It's the only one in the state and is apparently very, very popular. So popular in fact, that the inter-island plane flights, which are one of the most common ways to get from one Hawaiian island to another, are getting stuffed with boxes of Krispy Kreme. It's apparently such a problem that it's been deemed worthy of news coverage, as found here at Yahoo News via Reuters: Flights Jammed with Flying Doughnuts.

Krispy Kreme has made it all the way out to Hawaii, and yet to my knowledge, the good people of Maine, for the most part an enthusiastic doughnut-eating lot, have not got one of the stores yet. We hear about how completely great the Krispy Kreme doughnuts are, but most of us have never had the experience. What's the big deal about them? What makes them so great? Help me out here, people.

Patriot's Day 

For those of you reading from outside Maine or Massachusetts, you may not know that next Monday is Patriot's Day in these two states. For that matter, many people in Maine and Massachusetts don't know it. It's not exactly a day when the world comes to a stop, but certain government institutions, all schools, and some random other entities are closed on that day. It's to observe the anniversary of "the shot heard 'round the world", the beginning of the American Revolution with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. That's when Paul Revere rode around on his horse like a crazy person screaming "The British are coming!" to rouse the Minutemen to prepare for battle with the Redcoats.

Tom Fitzpatrick of Recta Ratio has shown himself to be very knowledgeable about the American Revolution, especially the New England angle, in his past postings. He has an interesting one on his blog looking for more information on the British point of view on the start of the revolution entitled: Boston April 14, 1775, Seen Through British Eyes. It's an interesting read, and if you can direct Tom to further info, please do so.

"This Ain't Oprah" 

That quote is known around St. Blog's as "The Dale Price Rule", since it originated with fellow blogger Dale Price of Dyspeptic Mutterings. I've got some very heavy stuff going on in my life right now, but it is not going to become fodder for postings here other than the occasional request for prayers as needed. At this point, they are needed on an ongoing basis, and may be needed even moreso in the near future. For those who have already offered prayers for me, thank you from the bottom of my heart, and please continue to do so. For those who are just hearing of my request for prayers, I humbly ask you to please offer a few for me.

Meanwhile, "Maine Catholic & Beyond" will continue to be what it has been for me all along: a pleasant diversion, a means of creative expression, and a vehicle for putting forth the Catholic faith through my eyes. That means I'll continue quoting the pope, providing Red Sox/Sea Dogs updates, spouting conservatism, engaging in G.I.R.M. warfare, and tossing in the occasional strange but true news story.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Please Pray for Me 

I received some long-dreaded news today that is likely to have a very negative impact on the rest of my life. My Catholic faith is my fortress and prayer is my weapon. I offer all of my fears and anxieties up to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who was able to rise victoriously when all seemed hopelessly lost.

Please, please, offer prayers to Jesus and to His Blessed Mother that I will be able to weather this terrible storm and see God's plan in all of this.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Urbi et Orbi, Easter 2004 

Whoa! Lots of blogables tonight! This is the last one, but I could not leave it out. Here is the text of Pope John Paul II's Urbi et Orbi Message for Easter 2004, courtesy of the Vatican website:

"Resurrexit, alleluia - He is risen, alleluia!"
This year too the joyous proclamation of Easter,
which echoed powerfully at last night's Vigil,
strengthens our hope.
"Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen" (Lk 24:5-6).
Thus the angel encourages the women who have hastened to the tomb.
Thus the Easter liturgy repeats to us,
the men and women of the third millennium:
Christ is risen, Christ is alive among us!
His name now is "the Living One",
death has no more power over him (cf. Rom 6:9).

Resurrexit! Today you, O Redeemer of mankind,
rise victoriously from the tomb to offer to us,
troubled by many threatening shadows,
your wish for joy and peace.
Those who are tempted by anxiety and desperation
turn to you, O Christ, our life and our guide,
to hear the proclamation of the hope that does not disappoint.
On this day of your victory over death,
may humanity find in you, O Lord, the courage to oppose
in solidarity the many evils that afflict it.
In particular, may it find the strength to face the inhuman,
and unfortunately growing, phenomenon of terrorism,
which rejects life and brings anguish and uncertainty
to the daily lives of so many hard-working and peaceful people.
May your wisdom enlighten men and women of good will
in the required commitment against this scourge.

May the work of national and international institutions
hasten the overcoming of the present difficulties
and favour progress towards a more effective
and peaceful world order.
May world leaders be confirmed and sustained
In their efforts to resolve satisfactorily the continuing conflicts
that cause bloodshed in certain regions of Africa,
Iraq and the Holy Land.
You, firstborn of many brothers, grant that all
who consider themselves children of Abraham
may rediscover the brotherhood that they share
and that prompts in them designs of cooperation and peace.

Take heed all of you who have at heart mankind's future!
Take heed men and women of good will!
May the temptation to seek revenge
give way to the courage to forgive;
may the culture of life and love
render vain the logic of death;
may trust once more give breath to the lives of peoples.
If our future is one,
it is the task and duty of all to build it
with patient and painstaking far-sightedness.

"Lord, to whom shall we go?"
You who have conquered death, you alone
"have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68).
To you we raise with confidence our prayer
which becomes an invocation of comfort
for the families of the many victims of violence.
Help us to work ceaselessly
for the coming of that more just and united world
that you have inaugurated with your resurrection.
Accompanying us in this task is
"she who believed that there would be a fulfilment
of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45).
Blessed are you, O Mary, silent witness of Easter!
You, O Mother of the Crucified One now risen,
who at the hour of pain and death
kept the flame of hope burning,
teach us also to be,
amongst the incongruities of passing time,
convinced and joyful witnesses
of the eternal message of life and love
brought to the world by the Risen Redeemer.

"The Passion" Resurrects 

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was back in the number one spot at the movie box office this weekend, three weeks after dropping off the top. A resurgence like this is very unusual, but this is no ordinary movie. The only times the film was playing at a theater near me (an hour away) were evening showings that conflicted with Mass times during Holy Week. Otherwise, I would have gone back for another viewing myself.

Read about it here: 'The Passion' Rises Again from Foxnews.com

Playing Down "The Catholic Factor" with Kerry 

Analysts: Faith Less of a Factor for Kerry from Foxnews.com.

Some excerpts:
"The Massachusetts senator agrees with the church on social justice issues, including immigration, poverty, health care and the death penalty, and he did seek an annulment from the church after his first marriage. But Kerry holds different opinions from church doctrine on such issues as abortion and same-sex unions, both of which he supports.

Kerry has argued that he is a politician and not a cleric, and should be judged not on his adherence to his faith, but on his commitment to the U.S. Constitution. But whether or not his faith matters remains to be seen."

"'I'd like to think that religion is not a big factor these days. I think people will say whatever religion he has, that’s his,' said Rev. Robert F. Drinan, a Catholic priest and former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts."
(A Catholic priest would like to think that religion is not a big factor these days?!?!?!)

"'There is no candidate that is in agreement with the church on all issues,' Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

Still, church decisions could play a central role in swaying Catholic voters. In January 2003, prompted by international debate on stem cell research and human cloning, the Vatican released a 'doctrinal note.' Among other things, it said that 'a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.'"

"Catholic Democrats disproportionately backed Kerry over his opponents during primary season, and a Fox News-Opinion Dynamics poll taken earlier this week shows that of 269 registered Catholic voters polled, 47 percent supported Kerry while 41 percent preferred President Bush. Catholics also have a favorability rating of Kerry of 48 percent, while the general public has a rate of 43 percent. The margin of error was 6 percent.

The numbers have led some analysts to question whether Kerry's departures from Catholic doctrine will have any impact at all."

This report comes from arguably the most right-leaning of the mainstream media outlets. Imagine how this has and will continue to play in the more liberal outfits like CBS!

It is our job as Catholics and also the job of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops to make sure that Kerry's departures from Catholic doctrine have an impact on Catholic voter opinions. As the U.S.C.C.B.'s Ms. Walsh noted, no candidate is in agreement with the Church on all issues, (I doubt many Catholics are), but all issues are not created equal. Abortion is murder and homosexual civil unions are another contributor to the deterioration of the family unit, both of which are major issues, and both of which Kerry supports. The Church, from the U.S.C.C.B. on down to us pew-dwellers need to get motivated in the interest of social justice and discourage votes for Kerry and other candidates for office who are in conflict with the Church on the "big issues".

If Kerry does get elected, I believe that Pope John Paul II will force his hand. Given JP2's personality and the types of issues with which Kerry conflicts with the Church, I think there is much more of a likelihood of a clash between Washington and Rome with this J.F.K. and this pope than the ones we had in place after the presidential election of 1960. If he continues to advocate abortion and gay civil unions as president, then I think the pope will and should excommunicate him. Do we want a president who is willing to dispose of his faith in the interest of politics? If we had a Jewish president, I would want him to be a Jew in good standing and true to his faith. If we had a Methodist president, as we do, I would want him to be a Methodist in good standing and true to his faith. The same applies to a Catholic president.

Remember "The New Hampshire Primaries"? That Name's Been "Scratched". 

Ha, ha, ha, hoo, hoo, hoo, hee, hee, hee!!! I crack myself up!

OK, maybe you don't get it yet. Read on and you might.

I blogged here late last fall that the new AA baseball team to be based in Manchester was going to be called "The New Hampshire Primaries". The post was entitled: Why Not Just Cut Out the Middleman and Name them "Ignore Us"? I was of the opinion that this was by far the stupidest name for a baseball team that had ever been concocted in the entire history of the world, and no small number of New England baseball fans agreed. The uproar in the Granite State was so great that the team did indeed change their name. Now they are the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. It's definitely a step up, although I'm not exactly sure what a "fisher cat" is. It reminds me of that cartoon feline on the label of my cat's can of food. You know, the one with the yelllow slicker hat on his head and a rod and reel over his shoulder?

By the way, the Fisher Cats are 3-1 on the season so far, which isn't a half-bad start for an inaugural season, although every season is like an inaugural season in AA ball. Team rosters don't stay intact for long in the minors.

Get it now?!? "Scratched"?!? "Fisher Cats"?!? Well, at least I thought it was funny.

Results of Last Week's Poll on Holy Thursday Foot Washing 

The question was: "Who should be invited to have their feet washed at the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday?"

The results:

*Men only (70.0%)

*Men and women (10.0%)

*The ceremony shouldn't be part of the Mass. (10.0%)

*Men, women and children (5.0%)

*Women only (5.0%)

I guess how one votes all depends on how one is interpreting the role of the apostles in John 13:1-17. If you are looking at Jesus showing them how they should act strictly in their roles as the leaders of His new Church, in other words as clergy, then the majority opinion makes sense. He wants the leaders of His Church to know fully that it is their job to serve the faithful, not the other way around.

One could also say that this was a precursor to His giving the apostles the power to forgive sins, since when Peter asked for his hands and head as well to be washed, Jesus said ""Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over...". In other words, after being baptized, we are clean in the eyes of God, but need the occasional Sacrament of Penance to rinse away the "dust" of the sins we accumulate in life.

I think there is plenty of merit in both of these interpretations, and there are liley several others that I haven't written about here. However, here's how I see it. I think Jesus was trying to get across that we all need to be humble and to serve each other. Whether we are a manure shoveler or the Queen of Sheba, we are all equally loved and valued in the eyes of God, and therefore should act humbly toward all and serve each other. If He, one-third of the Holy Trinity, could perform a task so lowly that it was not even required of a slave in Palestine at that time, then surely we, who are so much less than He, can perform acts of charity and humility toward others.

He washed the feet of twelve men because that happened to be who He had on hand at the time. It's not just "a guy thing" if you ask me. We are called by Christ to serve all: men, women, and children. Where there is a need that we are able to fulfill, it is our duty as children of God to fulfill it, no matter what our station in life. That is the message the Spirit instills in me as I aboserve this ceremony each Holy Thursday. So my vote was to do it they way my parish has for some time now: to have the priest wash the feet of a cross-section of the parish population, from the very old to very young, and both male and female.

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. You may only vote once from a given computer, and neither the polling service nor I can track the origins of votes.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Return of THE King! 

Image from http://www.saintcatherineofsiena.org

Luke 24:1-8

At daybreak on the first day of the week they [Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James] took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.

They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day."

And they remembered his words.

A Couple of Nice Easter-Related Stories from Maine Parishes 

Having lived my entire life in the Diocese of Portland, and having been a parishioner in three parishes, in addition to a visitor in a countless number of others, I can tell you that these articles about St. Gabriel's in Winterport and their devotion to the Stations of the Cross and St. Louis Church in Portland and their celebration of Easter with Polish traditions are typical of the kind of parishes you will find in most places here in Maine.

Easter ritual brings Jesus story to life by Judy Harrison of the Bangor Daily News.

Poles together by Ray Routhier of the Portland Press Herald.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Easter Vigil Homily of the Holy Father, 2004 

The pope is pretty worn out about now, as most Catholic clergy tend to be at this point in Holy Week. I've been to more than one Easter Vigil Mass where the priest's voice was either hoarse or practically gone. JP2 truncated his homily somewhat according to the Vatican, and had some cardinals do some of the singing for him, but other than that, he held up well. It's probably a good thing he had the cardinals do the singing for him, since, and I mean no disrespect in this at all, even in his prime Pope John Paul was never much of a singer.

Photo from REUTERS/Max Rossi

At any rate, here's the text of his homily from this evening's Easter Vigil in Rome from the Vatican website:

"This same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord . . . throughout every generation" (cf. Ex 12:42).

On this holy night we celebrate the Easter Vigil, the first - indeed the "mother" - of all vigils of the liturgical year. On this night, as is sung over and over again in the Preconio, we walk once more the path of humanity from creation to the culminating event of salvation, the death and resurrection of Christ.

The light of him who "has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor 15:20) makes this memorable night, which is rightly considered the "heart" of the liturgical year, "bright as the day" (Ps 139:12). On this night the entire Church keeps watch and recalls, in meditation, the significant stages of God's saving intervention in the universe.

"A night of watching kept to the Lord". There is a twofold significance to this solemn Easter Vigil, so rich with symbols accompanied by an extraordinary abundance of biblical texts. On the one hand, it is the prayerful memory of the mirabilia Dei, in the re-presentation of key texts from the Sacred Scriptures, from creation to the sacrifice of Isaac, to the passage through the Red Sea, to the promise of the New Covenant.

On the other hand, this evocative vigil is the trusting expectation of the complete fulfilment of the ancient promises. The memory of God's work reaches its climax in the resurrection of Christ and is projected onto the eschatological event of the parusia. We thus catch a glimpse, on this night of Passover, of the dawning of that day that never ends, the day of the Risen Christ, which inaugurates the new life, the "new heavens and a new earth" (2 Pet 3:13; cf. Is 65:17; 66:22; Rev 21:1).

From its very beginnings, the Christian community placed the celebration of Baptism within the context of the Easter Vigil. Here too, on this night, some catechumens will be immersed with Jesus into his death to rise with him to immortal life. Thus the wonder of the mysterious spiritual rebirth, wrought by the Holy Spirit, is renewed; the rebirth that incorporates the newly baptized into the people of the new and final Covenant, sealed by the death and resurrection of Christ.

To each of you, dear Brothers and Sisters who will soon receive the sacraments of Christian initiation, I affectionately offer a special greeting. You come from Italy, Togo and Japan: your origins manifest the universality of the call to salvation and the gratuitousness of the gift of faith. Together with you I greet your relatives, friends and all who have seen to your preparation.

Thanks to the sacrament of Baptism you will come to be a part of the Church, which is an immense people on pilgrimage, without limits of race, language or culture; a people called to the faith starting with Abraham, and destined to become a blessing in the midst of all the nations of the earth (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Be faithful to him who has chosen you, and to him entrust your entire lives with generous commitment.

Together with those who will shortly receive Baptism, the liturgy invites all of us here present to renew the promises of our own Baptism. The Lord asks us to renew the expression of our full obedience to him and of our total dedication to the service of his Gospel.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters! If this mission may sometimes seem difficult, call to mind the words of the Risen Lord: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20). Certain of his presence, you shall fear no difficulty and no obstacle. His word will enlighten you; his Body and his Blood will nourish you and sustain you on your daily journey to eternity.

At the side of each of you there will always be Mary, as she was present among the Apostles, frightened and confused at the time of trial. And with her faith she will show you, beyond the night of the world, the glorious dawn of the resurrection. Amen.

The bold print words at the end are my own added emphasis. If those aren't among the strongest words of encouragement for anyone in troubling times, then I don't know what are! Viva Il Papa!

On a Lighter Note: Welcome to Peepsville! 

It's the time for those sugary secular Easter icons, the Marshmallow Peeps, to take their annual fifteen minutes of fame. In their honor, here is an historic timeline of these sugary little critters that (I think) are better slightly stale. The timeline comes courtesy of the Just Born Company at http://www.marshmallowpeeps.com, a.k.a. "Peepsville".

Marshmallow Peeps® History

1910 – Sam Born comes to US
Sam Born, who grew up in Russia, immigrated to the United States from France. Born introduced “French Chocolates” to New York City.
1917 – Sam Born opens retail shop in New York City
Born opened a small retail candy store in New York. He displayed daily-made candy in his store window, marketing its freshness with a sign that declared, “just born.”
1923 – Sam Born starts his own manufacturing company
Born opened a small factory in Brooklyn, New York. Additionally, Born’s brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, joined the company shortly after the retail stored opened.
1932 – Just Born relocates to Bethlehem, PA
Just Born moved its operations to an empty printing factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
1953 – Just Born acquires the Rodda Candy Company
Just Born acquired Rodda Candy Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Although better known for its jellybean technology, Rodda also made a small line of marshmallow products that fascinated the Just Born family. A three-dimensional marshmallow Easter Peeps was made by hand-squeezing marshmallow through a pastry tube.
1954 – Just Born mechanized Peeps forming process
Bob Born, who joined the company in 1946, helped to mechanized the Marshmallow Peeps forming process. As a result, Just Born has become the world’s largest manufacturer of novelty marshmallow candy.
1960’s – Just Born introduces Seasonal marshmallow products
Just Born produced marshmallow trees and snowmen for the Holiday season and pumpkins & cats for Halloween under the Rodda Candy brand name.
1978 – Born and Shaffer legacy continues
Cousins Ross Born and David Shaffer joined Just Born. After more than a decade of shared responsibility with their fathers, they became Just Born’s co-presidents.
1980’s – Peeps Giant Bunny Introduced
As the demand for Just Born's Peeps product increases so does its size. Peeps Giant Bunnies are now available.
1995 – Just Born introduces new color Peeps
A new color Peeps was born…Lavender! It was the fourth color added to the Easter lineup, which already included Yellow, Pink and White.
1998 – Just Born turned 75 and launched Blue Peeps
Blue Peeps were introduced to celebrate Just Born’s 75th Anniversary. Now there were five colors available during the Easter season (Yellow, Pink, Lavender, Blue and White).
1999 – Just Born rolls out first-ever flavored Peeps
The first-ever flavored Peeps were introduced – Vanilla Creme Eggs. Additionally, Peeps Jellybeans hit the shelves for the first year. Peeps also launched their first national television advertising campaign during the Easter season, as well as the
Marshmallowpeeps.com website, and the Peeps Fan Club.
2000 – New packaging for Peeps is revealed
Marshmallow Peeps were marketed in new colorful packaging. All shapes for all seasons were called Marshmallow Peeps. Additionally, Strawberry Creme Hearts (for Valentine’s Day) and Eggs (for Easter) were launched.
2001 – New Peeps shapes & flavors are added to product line
Peeps Vanilla Creme Snack-Size Ghosts were rolled out for the Halloween season – the perfect size for trick or treating! Additionally, Cookie Flavored Cutouts (for the Christmas Season) and Peeps Vanilla Creme Hearts (for Valentine’s Day) also hit the shelves.
2002 – Now Peeps are available all year long
Marshmallow Peeps Stars joined the Peeps family. With the introduction of Peeps Stars in 2002 for the Summer Holidays the candy was now available all year long! Additionally, Cocoa Bats, the first-ever cocoa flavored Peeps, joined the Peeps line for the Halloweenseason.
2003 – Marshmallow Peeps celebrates its 50th Anniversary
Marshmallow Peeps celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a year full of festivities. This year includes: new advertising campaign for all five Peeps seasons; a Peeps float in theMacy’s Day Parade; launch of the Peeps Fun Bus Program; introduction of the PeepsPoints Program; and the re-launch of Marshmallowpeeps.com.

Fun Facts about Marshmallow Peeps (also from http://www.marshmallowpeeps.com):

*Due to demand, Just Born now produces more than one billion individual Marshmallow Peeps a year covering all of its holiday seasons.
*In 1953, it took 27 hours to create one Marshmallow Peep. Today, it takes six minutes.
*During their early years, Marshmallow Peeps were squeezed one at a time out of a pastry tube and the eyes were painted on by hand. Now, technology can create 3,800 Peeps eyes per minute.
*As many as 4.2 million Marshmallow Peeps, Bunnies, and other shapes are made each day at Just Born's Bethlehem, Pennsylvania factory.
*Last Easter, more than 700 million Marshmallow Peeps and Bunnies were consumed by men, women, and children throughout the United States.
*Strange things people like to do with Marshmallow Peeps: eat them stale, microwave them, freeze them, roast them, and use them as a pizza topping.
*Marshmallow Peeps and Bunnies come in five colors and received new packaging in 2000.
*Yellow Peeps are the most popular, followed by pink, lavender, blue, and white.
*Each Peep has 32 calories (160 calories per five-chick serving) and 0 fat grams.
*Each year Just Born receives thousands of letters, e-mails, and phone calls from consumers acknowledging their passion for Peeps.

Image from http://www.rhino.com/fun/peeps
Rock on, Peeps!

FINALLY...no post on Marshmallow Peeps would be complete without reference to the "Peep Research" website, where science types conduct some major-league experiments on Peeps, such as their reaction to cold, reaction to heat, solubility testing, and their reaction in low-pressure environments. Also tested are Risk Analysis (Investigating the effects of smoking and alcohol on Peep health), Medical Miracle! (Quintuplet Peep siblings, conjoined at birth, have been separated through this daring application of modern medicine!), and Fear Response (Discover what causes this dramatic Peep behavior). You have got to see this site to believe it!

All Is Silent 

It's difficult to imagine what things were like in Jerusalem the day after Jesus' death. Many of his believers had turned against him, and most of the rest were now likely completely disillusioned. "Another false messiah" must have been on the lips of many of the common people.

The apostles must have been beside themselves with fear and doubt. This man, who they believed to be Son of God had been brutally tortured, humiliated, and killed, and was now lying in a donated tomb. One of their very own had betrayed him and was now dead as well. Surely the Judean leaders and temple elite were going to continue their work in stamping out all remnants of what Jesus had built up. Were they to be next to face trial, torture and brutal death?

I can see Peter, still distrought over his denials of Jesus, breaking down into tears every once in a while and questioning what he believes and what kind of man he really is. I can see Thomas, who said "Let us go up to Jerusalem to die with Him," questioning his beliefs and integrity as well, having fled once the soldiers arrested Jesus. I can see John, who remained near Jesus throughout the ordeal. His bravery in staying with the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdelene through it all surely must have been overwhelmed by the emotional trauma inflicted upon him by the horrors he pesonally witnessed.

Only Mary, Mother of God, while full of grief, must have had unwaivering hope within her that this was not the end. Having been Jesus' first discliple, having seen even more of the power of Christ than any of the others, and also having been one for thirty years longer than any of the others, the trust in the power of the divinity of her Son must have still burned within her, although the shadows of the complete and total rejection of the humanity of her Son must have caused her Immaculate Heart to ache with pain beyond description.

Meanwhile, behind the immense stone in the silent darkness of the garden tomb, guarded by Roman soldiers, the battered, bruised and scarred body of the Savior of the World lie lifeless on a cold slab of stone. Jesus is not in the world on that first Holy Saturday. He is elsewhere, for the sake of salvation of all of us.

When all seems utterly lost and totally defeated, keep faith as the Mother of God did. The greatest triumph in the history of the world is just over the horizon.

Friday, April 09, 2004

"We Have Been Given the Love That Is Stronger Than Death" 

Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at the conclusion of the Stations of the Cross he presided over on Good Friday night at the Colosseum in Rome from Zenit.org.

"Venit hora!" The hour has come! The hour of the Son of man.

As every year, we follow Christ's "Via Crucis" around the Colosseum and participate in that "hour" in which the Redemption was fulfilled.

"Venit hora crucis!" The hour "to depart out of this world to the Father" (John 13:1). The hour of the heart-rending suffering of the Son of God, a suffering that, 20 centuries later, continues to overwhelm and question us profoundly. The Son of God came to this hour (see John 12:27) precisely to give his life for his brothers. It is the "hour" to hand himself over, the "hour" of the revelation of infinite love.

"Venit hora gloriae!" "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified" (John 12:23). This is the "hour" in which we, men and women of all times, have been given the love that is stronger than death. We are beneath the Cross on which the Son of God is nailed so that with the power that the Father has given him over all human beings he may give eternal life to all those who have been given to him (see John 17:2).

Is it not, therefore, a duty in this "hour" to give glory to God the Father "who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all" (Romans 8:32)?

Has not the moment come to glorify the Son who "humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8)?

How is it possible not to give glory to the Spirit of him who resurrected Christ from the dead and who now dwells in us to also give life to our mortal bodies? (See Romans 8:11.)

May this "hour" of the Son of man, which we live on Good Friday, remain in our minds and hearts as the "hour of love and of glory."

May the mystery of the "Via Crucis" of the Son of God be for all an inexhaustible source of hope. May it console and strengthen us also when our hour comes.

"Venit hora redemptionis. Glorificemus Redemptorem!" Amen.

Pray for All Innocents in Iraq 

As we observe Good Friday, let us keep in the forefront of our prayer intentions the people in Iraq, both foreign military and civilian people there with a job to do, as well as innocent Iraqi citizens. A small group of terrorists is creating chaos in that country which has already suffered so much for so long. Let us offer up the suffering of the innocents to Our Lord Jesus, in communion with His suffering for all of us in His passion and death, and pray for lasting peace, freedom and stability in Iraq.

Text of Pope John Paul II's Homily from the Mass of The Lord's Supper at St. Peter's, 4/8/04 

From Zenit.org:

"He loved them to the end" (John 13:1).

Before celebrating the last Pasch with the disciples, Jesus washed their feet. With a gesture that normally corresponded to a servant, he wished to impress upon the minds of the apostles the meaning of what was about to take place.

In fact, the passion and death constitute the fundamental service of love with which the Son of God has freed humanity from sin. At the same time the passion and death of Christ reveal the profound meaning of the new commandment given by him to the apostles: "love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (John 13:34).

"Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 11:24,25) -- he says twice, distributing the bread that has become his Body and the wine that has become his Blood. "I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do" (John 13:15) -- he had recommended earlier, after having washed the feet of the apostles. Christians know, therefore, that they "must remember" their Teacher in rendering one another the service of charity: "to wash one another's feet." In particular, they know that they must remember Jesus by repeating the "memorial" of the Supper with the bread and wine consecrated by the minister who repeats over them the words then spoken by Christ.

The Christian community did this from the beginning, as we heard Paul attest: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The Eucharist, therefore, is a memorial in the full sense: the bread and wine, by the action of the Holy Spirit, really become the body and blood of Christ, who gives himself to be man's nourishment in his journey on earth. The same logic of love precedes the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary and his making himself present in the Eucharist. It is "agape," charity, love in the most beautiful and pure sense. Jesus repeatedly requested his disciples to remain in his love (see John 15:9).

To remain faithful to this request, to remain in him as shoots united to the vine, to love as he loved, it is necessary to nourish oneself with his Body and Blood. Saying to the apostles: "Do this in memory of me," the Lord has united the Church to the living memorial of his Pasch. Although he is the unique Priest of the New Covenant, he wished to have men, consecrated by the Holy Spirit, act in profound union with his Person in distributing the food of life.

Because of this, while we fix our gaze on Christ who institutes the Eucharist, we have a renewed awareness of the importance of the priests in the Church and of their union with the Eucharistic sacrament. In the Letter that I wrote to priests for this holy day, I wished to repeat that the Sacrament of the altar is gift and mystery, and that the priesthood is gift and mystery, both having flowed from the Heart of Christ during the Last Supper.

Only a Church in love with the Eucharist generates, in turn, holy and numerous priestly vocations. And she does so through prayer and the testimony of holiness, offered in a special way to the new generations.

In the school of Mary, "Eucharistic woman," we adore Jesus truly present in the humble signs of bread and wine. Let us pray to him so that he will not cease to call to the service of the altar priests configured to his heart.

Let us pray to the Lord that the Bread will never be lacking to the People of God to sustain them along the earthly pilgrimage. May the Holy Virgin help us to rediscover with wonder that the whole of Christian life is centered on the "mysterium fidei," that we solemnly celebrate this evening.

The Reproaches of Good Friday 

This is one translation of The Reproaches of Good Friday from the original Latin. The italicized text is read or chanted by the presider, and the congregation responds with the bold text.

My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!

I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom: you led your Saviour to the cross.

Holy is God Holy and strong! Holy immortal One have mercy on us!

For forty years I led you safely through the desert. I fed you with manna from heaven, and brought you to a land of plenty; but you led your Saviour to the cross.

Holy is God, Holy and strong! Holy immortal One have mercy on us!

What more could I have done for you? I planted you as my fairest vine, but you yielded only bitterness: when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink, and you pierced your Saviour with a lance.

Holy is God, Holy and strong! Holy immortal One have mercy on us!

I opened the sea before you: but you opened my side with a spear.
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me

I gave you saving water from the rock: but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!

I gave you a royal sceptre: but you gave me a crown of thorns.
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!

I raised you to the heights of majesty: but you raised me high on a cross.
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!

With eternal love have I loved you: but you raised your Saviour on the cross.
My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!

Diego Velazquez Painting

Thursday, April 08, 2004

John Paul II's Stations of the Cross 

I was reading over some Lenten reflections when I came across the text of some alternative Stations of the Cross written by Pope John Paul and used on Good Friday of 1991. They are, according to the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops' website, "a way of reflecting more deeply on the Scriptural accounts of Christ's passion".

A link to them on the U.S.C.C.B. site is here at: http://www.usccb.org/nab/stations.htm

They include the following stations:
*First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
*Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested
*Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin
*Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter
*Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate
*Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns
*Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross
*Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross
*Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
*Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified
*Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief
*Twelfth Station: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple
*Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
*Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

They are much the same as the traditional stations, only they are based on some different aspects of the Passion of Jesus. I may give them a try on my own tomorrow afternoon, before attending the traditional Stations of the Cross at my parish.

There is also an online Stations of the Cross site at EWTN.com, with reflections written by Mother Angelica. It can be found here at this link: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/stations/face.htm

The Wrap-Up on the Mini-Pilgrimage 

Last night, I attended the Mass of the Holy Oils for the northern portion of the Diocese of Portland, celebrated by Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, our bishop for a full week now. The Diocese of Portland is a vast one geographically, with over 360 miles of sometimes rough terrain separating the most northerly parish from the most southerly. A single Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday morning in Portland just wouldn't be feasible for priests from such distant locations to attend while also giving proper attention to the upcoming Triduum liturgy preparations in their own parishes. So, the tradition here has been to have the Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, with a Mass of Distribution of the Holy Oils held on Wednesday of Holy Week in one of the larger parishes in the north. In the days when we had a bishop and an auxiliary bishop, two Chrism Masses could be held simultaneously in the north and the south, but since Bishop Michael Cote was transferred to Connecticut, we've been without an auxiliary, and I doubt we'll be getting a new one.

Anyhow, it was a beautiful ceremony, and well worth the long drive I had to make. Bishop Malone is a very dynamic personality and a very impressive homilist and liturgist. He proved that he is quick on his feet when something goes wrong in the liturgy, as often does when the bishop is visiting. Bishop Malone appears very comfortable in his own skin, and celebrates Mass in a way that is both appropriately reverent, and yet distinctly personal. To use the venacular: He's really into it, and not just going through the motions. His homily was very engaging, which has not usually been the case in bishops' homilies in this diocese since 1988. (That's not a slam against Bishop-emeritus Joseph Gerry, it's just that his delivery did not always do justice to his message during his homilies.) He is very animated in his facial expressions and gestures, and can ad-lib brief and relevant (and often humorous) anecdotes off the cuff with ease.

What impressed me most about Bishop Malone was this: Not being good at timing out trips when I drive, I ended up at the church where the Mass was to be celebrated over 45 minutes early. I went in and found a good spot, and figured it would be a good opportunity to meditate and pray for some time prior to Mass. Quite a few others also arrived early, and from the sounds of laughter and comradery coming from the sacristy, the many gathering priests of the north were having lively reunions and discussions. A half hour before Mass was slated to start, Bishop Malone emerged out of the hubbub, not yet attired in liturgical garb, just priestly street clothes with Roman collar, took a seat in an empty pew in the middle of the church, and prayed in silence for 15 minutes. Only a few of us who saw him emerge from the sacristy knew it was Bishop Malone, and those streaming into the church after he took his place had no idea. One woman washanding out prayer cards with the bishop's photo on them to people in the pews who didn't get them when they came in, and she offered him one before she got a look at his face and realized who he was. He laughed out loud and politely refused the card, not making the lady feel embarrassed at all. Once a parishioner started reciting the Rosary aloud (a pre-Mass tradition at this parish apparently), he quietly got up and went back to the sacristy, probably so he wouldn't have to exit in the middle of the Rosary, but the guy had to get ready, and Rosary was going to run right up to the starting time of Mass.

Clearly, Maine's new bishop is a man who knows that he is not the seat of power in this diocese; that power comes from Heaven above and Bishop Malone relies on God in His wisdom to guide him in sheparding this new flock of his.

Some other random notes:

*I got to sit beside diocesean spokeswoman Sue Bernard during the Mass. She is a native of the area, and by some of the words and phrases that Bishop Malone sprinkled into his speaking, you could tell she prepped him well for the locals. Ms. Bernard is a very friendly and bright woman, not to mention very pretty, and the diocese is lucky to have her as spokeswoman. She did cough into her right hand a few times during Mass, so if I come down with a cold in the next few days, I'll know where it came from, thanks to this parish's hand-holding during The Lord's Prayer, and of course the Sign of Peace. (I can think of worse ways to catch a cold!)

*With all due respect to the man, the priest of the host parish who concelebrated with Bishop Malone could easily be actor-comedian Jon Lovitz's twin. Except for the hair (the priest has a full head of it, Lovitz doesn't), their dialects and vocal inflections, physical builds and mannerisms are identical. I received the Eucharist from him, and couldn't help but smile a little as I did so.

*Have the Knights of Columbus ever put an eye out with those swords of theirs? There was quite an armed contingent of them there, and they really added to the majesty of the Mass, but the average age of them must have been around 75. As they marched past me with their swords held up, I have to admit that I edged away from the aisle and a few feet closer to Sue Bernard until they safely passed. They sat arrayed in the front pews of the section behind me, and as they sheathed their swords, the sound brought images from the "Lord of the Rings", "Sleepy Hollow" and other sword-wielding films I've seen lately flashing into my mind. I emerged from the church unscathed, you'll be happy to know. (Nota bene: I am very supportive of the K of C. I'm just having a little fun here.)

*In that part of Maine, meeting the bishop apparently qualifies as a "major brush with celebrity" for some people. There were a couple of middle-aged women across the aisle from me who talked all through the Mass as though the bishop were some Hollywood star. It was kind of creepy, not to mention distracting. I can't imagine they got much from the actual liturgy. I suspect their minds were fixed on the reception to be held in the chruch hall afterward, so they could actually meet with "the precioussssssss". They were the first ones out of their pew and headed for the reception after the final blessing was given. Forgive me for not being entirely charitable, but they reminded me more than a little bit of a couple of Gollums.

*Best ad-lib from Bishop Malone: "I've been so touched by your gracious hospitality. I'm looking forward to returning soon...very soon as a matter of fact, as confirmation season gets underway, or as we bishops call it 'The Chrism Trail'."

*If you've never attended a Chrism Mass (or in this case with me, a Mass of Presentation of the Holy Oils), make time to do it! If you missed it this year, then do it next year. It adds yet another dimension to an already spiritually-rich week.

The Easter Triduum Starts Today 

It's the holiest time of the year in Catholicism. Here are some of the highlights of what the Pope John Paul II had to say about the triduum at his general audience yesterday, courtesy of Zenit.org:

"Christ Jesus ... humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him" (Philippians 2:8-9). We just heard these words of the hymn contained in the Letter to the Philippians. They present to us, in an essential and effective way, the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus; at the same time, they make us perceive the glory of the Easter of resurrection. They constitute, therefore, an introductory meditation to the celebrations of the Easter triduum, which begins tomorrow.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, we are preparing to relive in the next few days the great mystery of our salvation. Tomorrow morning, Holy Thursday, in all diocesan communities, bishops together with their presbyteries, will celebrate the Chrism Mass, in which the oils are blessed: the oil of catechumens, that of the sick, and the sacred chrism. In the evening we remember the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. The "washing of the feet" reminds us that, with this gesture carried out by Jesus in the Cenacle, he anticipated the supreme sacrifice of Calvary, and left us as the new law, "mandatum novum," his love. In keeping with a pious tradition, after the rites of the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the faithful remain in adoration before the Eucharist well into the night. It is a singular vigil of prayer, which is united to the agony of Christ in Gethsemane.

On Good Friday the Church remembers the passion and death of the Lord. The Christian assembly is invited to meditate on the evil and sin that oppress humanity and on the salvation effected by the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. The Word of God and some evocative liturgical rites, such as the adoration of the Cross, help us to reflect on the different stages of the Passion. Moreover, on this day Christian tradition has given life to various manifestations of popular piety. Striking among these are the penitential processions of Good Friday and the pious exercise of the "Via Crucis," which help to internalize the mystery of the Cross.

A great silence characterizes Holy Saturday. In fact, no particular liturgies are planned on this day of expectation and prayer. Everything is silent in the churches, while the faithful, imitating Mary, prepare for the great event of the Resurrection.

As night falls on Holy Saturday, the solemn Easter Vigil begins, the "mother of all vigils." After having blessed the new fire, the paschal candle is lit, symbol of Christ who illuminates every man, and the great proclamation of the Exsultet resounds joyously. The ecclesial community, while listening to the Word of God, meditates on the great promise of the final deliverance from the slavery of sin and death. There follow, afterward, the rites of baptism and confirmation for the catechumens, who have gone through a long course of preparation.

The proclamation of the resurrection bursts in the darkness of the night and the whole of created reality awakens from the sleep of death, to acknowledge the lordship of Christ, as the Pauline hymn underlines which give rise to our reflections: "at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:10-11).

Dear brothers and sisters, these days are particularly opportune to make more profound the conversion of our heart to Him who out of love died for us. Let us allow Mary, the faithful Virgin, to accompany us; with her we stay in the Cenacle and remain next to Jesus on Calvary, to find him at last risen on the day of Easter. With these sentiments and auspices, I express my most cordial wishes for a happy and holy Easter to you here present, to your communities, and to all those dear to you.

In a show of faith, strength and courage, the Pope will preside openly in Rome over all these triduum celebrations, which will end with the traditional blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) on Easter Sunday.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Back From My Mini-Pilgrimage 

I just landed back home after not small amount of driving to the Mass of the Holy Oils celebrated by Bishop Malone for this part of the Diocese of Portland. Very moving and very impressive! I'll blog more about it tomorrow. I've taken Holy Thursday and Good Friday off from work to reflect, meditate, and pray, and writing for this blog often helps me do these things. Much... too...... tired........ to........... blog............... more............ tonight.............................. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Art's a Funny Thing... 

...not "funny=ha, ha", but "funny=strange". No two people will have exactly the same opinion or interpretation of a piece of fine art. Tom at Recta Ratio and I have been bantering back and forth a little about art, and in particular about images of the crucifixion. It brought to the surface something I've felt for some time: too many paintings and other artworks depicting the life of Christ are "idealized", and yet are viewed by many as "the way it really was". Not all art is intended to be painted versions of photographs. That's obvious in the works of masters such as Picasso or Van Gogh, but not so much in other works. Even if it looks real, is it realistic?

By "idealized", I mean that the artists cleaned things up and romanticized them to make them more palatable to their audience. We've been surrounded by these images for most of our lives. They are not "bad" by any stretch, but unfortunately they have so firmly fixed certain images of how things must have been in our minds, that we have a hard time thinking otherwise. This is part of why "The Passion of the Christ" hit so many people like a ton of bricks. In my mind, Gibson's portrayal of the last twelve hours of Jesus' life are probably closer to the way it really was than what we are used to seeing hanging on the walls in museums and churches.

For example, compare these depictions:

The upper is probably the kind of image we've seen most often throughout our lives, while the lower, from "The Passion of the Christ" is one that shocked so many. Which is probably closer to representing the real thing, do you think?

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the great works of art depicting Christ are so much tripe. They are (mostly) great masterpieces and deserving of all the accolades they get. I am merely saying that we need to bear in mind that they are just one artist's depiction, and that we would do well to take what we see from many sources, combine them with our other knowledge, and come up with our own mental images of Jesus and the events of his life.

PARTING SHOT: Does THIS look like John the Apostle, a poor, grizzled fisherman from Galilee who hung out in the hot sun all day for most every day of his life? Master artist Giovanni Baglione (1566 - 1643) thought so. Maybe this was painted after those "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" guys got hold of him. Give me a break!

Monday, April 05, 2004

What Do The Following Images Have In Common With Maine Weather in April? 

Image from http://science.msfc.nasa.gov
A Black Hole

Image from http://www.houstonvacuum.com
A Vacuum Cleaner

Image from http://alpha1.fmarion.edu
A Lamprey Eel

Mel who? Oh, I Just Love "The Velvet Fog"! 

Excerpts from the MSNBC article:

Mel Gibson made a surprise visit to the St. Joseph Home for the Aged, in Louisville, Kentucky, where he gave a screening of his controversial film “The Passion of the Christ.” Gibson also made a donation to the center, which is run by a group of Catholic nuns called Little Sisters of the Poor.

“Mel wanted to come bring his DVD to the shut-in people who wouldn’t get the opportunity to see his movie,” Sister Gonzague told [MSNBC]. “He was a wonderful person. Very unassuming. Very humble and friendly with everyone.” Sister Gonzague says she was the one who hit Gibson up for money. “We’re very limited on funds. We solicit from everywhere. He took out a personal check and wrote us one.” She says it was “substantial — and would cover utility bills for about a month. We’re a big facility.” The senior citizens who watched the movie were “very touched. It’s a very overwhelming experience,” she says.

Gonzague, however, wasn’t star-struck. "I’m a sister. We don’t go to movies a lot," she explained. "One of the employees said to me ‘That’s Mel Gibson.’ I knew his name because it was attached to ‘The Passion of the Christ’ so I went over and talked to him. I asked him how he came to be a producer and asked him, ‘Were you an actor?’ He burst out laughing."

Online in Time for Holy Week 

Here is the full text of Bishop Malone's homily given at his installation Mass last week in Portland. I was going to post the whole thing on this blog, but it's rather lengthy. Still, it is an inspiring message and all Maine Catholics, and Catholics "from away" too, should find it worth reading.

Weather permitting, I'll be making a mini-pilgrimage this week to a parish a ways from here for Chrism Mass celebrated by Maine's new bishop.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

St. Gilligan, Pray for Me! I'm Overwhelmed by Palms! 

James, the Catholic Packer Fan presented an excellent question in the comments box of a post over at Catholic Ragemonkey that I am going to toss out here. What in the world is one supposed to do with the palms one has from last year? As sacramental items, there must be a protocol for disposing of them reverently. The trash can doesn't seem reverent, to say the least, and I don't know if it would be appropriate to just toss them in the woodstove. I'm afraid if I took them outside and tried to burn them by themselves, some unfortunate accident would happen with an errant gust of wind, and then I'd be on the news (and probably become the subject of more than a few ribbing posts around St. Blog's). One year, my parish asked us to turn them in for use as ashes on Ash Wednesday, but I missed the window to get them turned in and now I have four years' worth of palms hanging over my favorite crucifix. I've commented that it now looks like the kind of shrine one would find on Gilligan's Island.

Surely, as least one of you must know: HOW DO I PROPERLY DISPOSE OF OLD BLESSED PALMS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS? I've got to do something, because at this rate, the room where my favorite crucifix is located will look like the interior of a grass hut in a few years.

Poll Change 

You might notice that I changed the poll I originally had in place for Holy Week. The original question was for you the reader to choose the most spiritually moving celebration of Holy Week for you personally, and I knew before I even put it together that it was not a great one. In just 24 hours, everyone else voted for the Easter Vigil and then there was my lone vote for Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper. I suspect that it wouldn't have changed much during the week, and plus I got a better idea based on some chatter I've been reading around St. Blog's.

The issue of whose feet should be washed at Holy Thursday Mass is apparently bubbling in some parishes, and seemed a much more intriguing question for our consideration. Please take the time to think on it and click. As I've said before, there are no strings attached to voting.

Pray for Our Priests, Deacons, and Other Religious and Liturgists 

They have just stepped into the most intense week of the year, Holy Week. The very task of coming up with a meaningful homily for each of the services that are to come in the week is daunting in itself, but there are also the logistics of have all the right people and all the right things ready and in the right places at the right times. There are choirs to whip into top shape, complicated liturgies to go prepare for that may not be the same kind of "second nature" as a typical Mass, since they are only celebrated once a year, and of course, people in the parish continue to get sick, to die, and to experience circumstances in which they desperately need to have the services of a priest, regardless of whether it's Holy Week or not.

It's especially tough on priests here in the Diocese of Portland, where the vast majority of parishes have only one priest, and in many cases share that priest with a nearby parish (or two).


O Jesus, our great High Priest, hear my humble prayers on behalf of Thy servants. Give them a deep faith, a bright and firm hope, and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of their life. In their loneliness, comfort them. In their sorrows, strengthen them. In their frustrations, point out to them that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show them that they are needed by the Church; they are needed by souls; they are needed for the work of redemption.

O Loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests and religious, take to your heart your children who are close to you because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much. Be their comfort, be their joy, be their strength, and especially help them to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy. AMEN

In addition to prayers, a warm handshake or pat on the back after Mass, along with a kind comment about the service would go along way toward shoring up our local shepherds.

JP2 Celebrates Palm Sunday at the Vatican 

Tighter Security as Pope Ushers in Palm Sunday from Reuters via Yahoo News.

Image from Reuters via Yahoo
Pope John Paul II sprinkles Holy Water at Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican

Some homily snippets from the article:

"Do not be afraid to go against the current," the pope, wearing resplendent red vestments, told the young people. He urged them to shun the pack mentality of a material society.

"Certainly, the message that the cross communicates is not easy to understand in our day, where material wellbeing and comfort are proposed and sought after as priority values," he said.

"But you, dear young people, do not be afraid to proclaim, in every circumstance, the Gospel of the Cross. Do not be afraid to go against the current!"

Clearly a man with great optimism for the future of the Catholic Church in its young people. I pray that dioceses around the world will make an even more concerted effort to include and chatechize children, teens and young adults in the Catholic Church to the greatest extent possible.

Palm Sunday Reflections 

Lk 19:28-40

Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany
at the place called the Mount of Olives,
he sent two of his disciples.
He said, "Go into the village opposite you,
and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered
on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you,
'Why are you untying it?'
you will answer,
'The Master has need of it.'"

So those who had been sent went off
and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them,
"Why are you untying this colt?"
They answered,
"The Master has need of it."

So they brought it to Jesus,
threw their cloaks over the colt,
and helped Jesus to mount.

As he rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road;
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives,
the whole multitude of his disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed:
"Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest."

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
"Teacher, rebuke your disciples."
He said in reply,
"I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!"

Into Jerusalem Jesus rode, like a conquering hero. Rightly so, since he had done some pretty impressive things: spoken words that inflamed hearts from Galilee to Judea and performed works that could only be those of someone with the power of God, who indeed He was. Among the common people, Jesus was arguably at his zenith of popularity, while among the religious leaders of Judea, this same man had crossed the final line for them, and needed to be exterminated in some way. What outside observer, surveying Jesus' triumphant entry into the city for the Passover celebrations, could have predicted that within less than a week, many of these same people would be crying for this man's death by crucifixion, and would get their wish?

It must have been a bittersweet time for Jesus, riding atop that little donkey as the people of Jerusalem acclaimed him with "Hosannas". Given all He had done, said, and was about to do, this was the treatment He deserved. However, Jesus knew that His hour had come, and that this acclaim would be fleeting. It's hard to imagine how His human nature could "keep it together", considering what His divine nature revealed to Him about what was to come later in the week. I can only surmise that Jesus kept His eyes on what would be the fruits of His pending sacrifice: the salvation of His people, whom He loved (and continues to love) without limit.

Our lives can be a lot like the experiences of Jesus during that first Holy Week. Just when everything seems to be going your way and all is as you feel it should be, things take a sudden, and sometimes terrible turn. A job is lost, a family member becomes seriously ill, a friend dies, or some other adversity is placed before us. We can follow Jesus by example in how He dealt with his passion and death. During the week, He kept on preaching His Word to the people and carrying on with life as usual, including celebrating Passover with his friends. He worried and prayed to His Father fervently, as evidenced in His agony in Gesthemene, and then faced His fate with grace, dignity, and in a manner which truly practiced what he preached. In the face of unjust authorities and unspeakable violence, He did not grow defiant or belligerent. He took His passion and death as God's will, as indeed they were, knowing that there was a purpose for all this. A major one!

Jesus was different from us in that He knew what God's plan was in all He was going through. We don't have that advantage when suffering is placed before us. However, we can look to Jesus as the example of how to live in crisis. Don't crawl into a hole and hide from the world. Enjoy the parts of life that are open to you (as he did during his entry into Jerusalem and in celebrating Passover with His friends), go on with your everyday routines as regularly as you can (as He did with his continued preaching of the Word in the days prior to His arrest), and when the hammer comes down and the crisis reaches the point where it reaches its peak, keep your trust in the providence of the Father in Heaven. Maintain your faith, act in loving and forgiving ways, do not let your negative feelings overwhelm you, and hold your head high that your are playing a part in something bigger than you are, to which you are not privy right now.

Quite simply: Take up your own cross and follow Him. The story of Jesus' horrific death had a happy ending (if you want to call it an ending) in His resurrection, and yours will as well, so long as you cling tightly to your faith in God.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

For Palm Sunday: The Legend of the Cross on the Donkey’s Back 

I read this in a booklet of Lenten reflections the other day and felt compelled to share it here in time for Palm Sunday. It's a very old tale of unknown origin, most likely not at all true, but moving nonetheless.

Once there was a donkey who was strong, smart, but smaller than the other donkeys. Because of his size, he was often overlooked when people needed a donkey to ride.

One day the donkey stood tethered on the street near one of the gates of Jerusalem. The city was crowded because of Passover, and donkeys were being used to transport people to various placed in the city. And once again, no one chose this donkey.

But then two men approached and eyed him with interest. They glanced at each other, nodded, and began to untie him. A fellow nearby asked what they were doing. They said, “Our Master told us to get a donkey no one has ridden, and we’re going to bring him this one.”

When they brought the donkey to Jesus, he smiled and climbed on its back. The donkey proudly began walking into Jerusalem as a crowd of people waved palm branches and cheered “Hosanna!” The donkey never stumbled on the cobblestone street or faltered beneath the weight.

As they approached the Temple, Jesus drew the donkey to a halt. He climbed down, patted the animal’s back and said, “Well done.”

The next day, people noticed the markings of a cross on the little donkey’s back. To this day, the smaller breed of donkeys proudly wears the sign of the cross on its back.

Image from http://www.mostholyredeemer.org.uk

Let All the Creatures of the Sea Rejoice! 

For I am entirely sick of eating them and do not plan to do so again for some time. These fishy Fridays we've been having are getting very old, very fast. Seafood is okay, but every single Friday for two meals these past six weeks has me all "fished-out". I think I'm going to order a nice cheese pizza on Good Friday, and then wait until a lobster feed this summer before my lips touch seafood again. Enough is enough!

Photo from Pixar Inc. via http://www.hugereviews.com
"Hey, hey buds! The blogging dude says he's sick of eating us! We can chill for a while."

Results of Last Week's Poll on Sacramental Wine 

The question was: "What type of sacramental wine does your parish church typically use?"

The results:

*Red (87.5%)

*White (12.5%)

Yeah, I figured as much. It makes sense. My parish has been using white wine since the early 1980s, and I'm not sure why. The first few years when the Holy Blood was offered in the late 1970s, it was red wine, then it was inexplicably switched in the middle of the pastorate of the priest in residence at the time. Nobody seems to know why, but "that's just the way we do it around here" now, so it's stuck. Whatever. Red seems more apt, but it's not something I feel strongly about one way or the other.

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. You may only vote once from a given computer, and neither the polling service nor I can track the origins of votes.
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