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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I Just Don't Get It 

Take a look at the beatitudes preached by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12). Don't a lot of those conditions apply to the condition of the Iraqi people under the reign of Saddam Hussein? Mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for justice, persecuted?

Now he's gone, and the people who lived under his regime are seeing their country being built into something greater than it has ever been in modern times. By way of example, more of Iraq has electricity now than at any time in history, and all of the schools that were closed because of the war are now reopened, and some new ones have been built. Free enterprise is blooming in Iraq and the economy is growing rapidly. What made all this possible? While others looked away because it was unpleasant and unpopular, the U.S. and its allies took the brave and morally right step (I believe) in cleaning house in Iraq. Now they are rebuilding it with the goal of providing better conditions in all ways to all Iraqis.

We didn't go into Iraq looking for accolades, but we certainly do not deserve the treatment we are receiving now. Today's slaughter of four American civilian contractors and the mutilating of their bodies, in addition to the continued attacks on the U.S. military in Iraq (five brave troops killed today), just confounds me. It's beyond evil. Why in the world would certain elements in Iraq want to bite the hand that rescued them from tyranny, is literally feeding them, and planning to hand over full control of their country as soon as they can demonstrate that they can behave? Why is America so reviled around the world for routing out an evil regime, bringing a hurting people back to its feet, and for protecting itself from terrorism by hunting down killers? Do that many people in the world want evil to prevail? When the distinction between good and evil is so distinct, how can any rational person do and say the things that have been done to the U.S. and its citizens?

International crowds taunted the U.S. men's soccer team with chants of "Osama! Osama!" at the recent World Cup tournament. ("The Summer Olympics ought to be fun," the blogger said sarcastically.) The terrorists blow the hell out of Spain, and how do the Spanish people respond? They vote their government who stood with the U.S. and against terror and tyranny out of office. Sounds like the terrorists got what they wanted. ("The fall election season here in the states ought to be fun too," the blogger also said with dripping sarcasm.)

Even here in the states, there are many people who are livid with the Bush administration for the rebuilding of Iraq and the war on terror. These are the same people who advocate lifting up the less-fortunate and maintaining peace. That's exactly what we are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Liberia, Kosovo etc... but somehow, that doesn't count. What about here at home? Why don't we take care of our own here in this country? We do, big time! There's plenty going on to maintain peace and justice, and to help the less fortunate, but in typical mainstream media fashion, those actions tend to get put on the back burner because celebrity scandal seems to be so much more deserving of airtime.

When the terror attacks of 9/11/01 occurred, I remember commenting at the time to some friends that as numbing and horrific as those events were, it would only be a matter of time before the shock wore off and America and the world returned to complacency. Whining and moaning and tawdry affairs (remember Gary Condit, pre-9/11?) will be back on the front page, and the good guys will be manipulated in the media to look like bad guys again. The American people in general will become complacent, and we will be all too vulnerable to another September 11th-style catastrophe. I fear we may be nearing ripeness for picking again.

I just don't get it at all. Prayer is the only place any of us can hope to find the answers. Even then, those answers may not be meant for us to know.

My Radio Dial Doesn't Go That Far Left! 

Liberal Talk Radio Network Launches from the Associated Press via Yahoo News.

Oh, I could go on and on and have great fun making sport of this, but with Holy Week on the horizon, I choose to be (relatively) kind and say, in the spirit of free speech, "Good luck Air America. I'd prefer a window seat, and I'll have the fish. Thanks for the free peanuts and please don't lose my luggage."

I suspect that there will be lots of radio stations jumping on board with Air America initially, if for no other reason than that it offers alternative programming to conservative talk shows like Rush Limbaugh's, Sean Hannity's and Howie Carr's. What these counterprogramming radio stations will soon discover is that many listeners to those popular conservative programs are not necessarily conservatives themselves, but enjoy the entertainment factor that comes with the personalities and sometimes outrageous statements made by the hosts. I lean to the right politically, but I can honestly say that I only agree with Rush Limbaugh about two-thirds of the time. The other third of the time I think he's full of baloney, but he's entertaining regardless, so I leave the radio dial where it is.

So my official prediction is that unless Air America has some entertaining personalities to carry it, it will take off steeply, then crash hard in a few months. Al Franken can be genuinely funny at times, but he doesn't exactly have the voice or presence for the medium of radio.

(I wonder if Air America's motto is "We're good enough. We're smart enough. And, doggone it, people like us"?)

"Meet the new boss.." 

...not quite the same as the old boss, it seems. The Very Rev. Richard Joseph Malone was installed as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Portland today at a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Sean O'Malley at Portland's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Maine's media outlets are as good as any, but a story such as the installation of the new bishop in the Portland Diocese won't really be in print or online in any detail until tomorrow, when the newspapers get their take on things out there. It's the lead story on the local news reports this evening, and all reports are that it was a beautiful ceremony and Bishop Malone gave a stirring homily that reportedly really fired up the 250 clergy attending, along with hundreds of religous and lay people. Now-Bishop Emeritus Joseph Gerry did a lot of things during his tenure, but firing people up is not one of those for which he was known.

At this point, there are no images from the installation online that I can show you, and the only story is this rather general one by the Associated Press, which is being used by all online resources for now until the big splash comes in the morning papers.

You can count on more details of our new bishop's installation and first few days here in the coming days as they become available.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Peter Ustinov, Alistair Cooke... 

Not a good week to be an aged, sophisticated Englishman in showbiz! We should be grateful for the quality which both of these contributed to the entertainment industry. May God rest their souls, (though frankly, I thought the both of them had already died).

Who's next, Alec Guiness? Lawrence Olivier?


Oh, whoops, wait a minute...

What Would Jesus Eat? 

I just caught a bit about this at the end of NBC Nightly News tonight. Apparently the dieting craze has gone so far as to spawn a diet based on the Bible, to be published in a book next month: The Maker's Diet by Jordan Rubin.

If you really want to lose weight, try John the Baptist's diet (locusts and wild honey). It wouldn't be my thing, but maybe I could write a diet book based on that and pick up a few bucks.

David Defeats Goliath in the Land of the Rising Sun 

Well, maybe this post's title is more than just a little hyperbole on my part, but in the very first game of the 2004 major league baseball season (played in baseball-crazy Tokyo, Japan), the perennial underdog Tampa Bay Devil Rays (total player payroll=$29.2 million), made sushi out of the mighty New York Yankees (total player payroll=$182.8 million). The final score was Tampa-8, Yanks-3.

The full story is here from the Associated Press via Yahoo.

I love the lead from AP sportswriter Ronald Blum:
"Fans in the Tokyo Dome seemed surprised. The ones back in New York must have been shocked. On the other side of the world, playing when the rest of baseball was in bed, the New York Yankees looked lost. People back home got up in the middle of the night to see this? 'Hopefully, it's 5 a.m. and not many people were watching,' Alex Rodriguez said, thinking of when the game began, New York time."

Keep Your Filthy Paws Off Our Pope! 

Pope to Keep a Full Holy Week Schedule from the Associated Press via Yahoo News.

You've got to hand it to Pope John Paul, he is one courageous guy. If you've read anything of his early life in Poland, then you already know how he bravely stood up to the Nazis and then the Communists as they supressed the Catholic Church in his homeland. In 1981 he was shot in the abdomen and gravely wounded, but bounced back, and forgave his would-be assassin. He went on to become, along with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, one of those most responsible for the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. He has visited Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Central Asia, the Philippines and the Middle East at times when those were among the most dangerous places in the world. Now, in 2004, there are fears for his life right in Rome at the hands of terrorists, according to various national secret services, including the CIA . The pontiff, as always, refuses to wear a bulletproof vest under his vestments. He plans to carry on with a heavy Holy Week public schedule, which is an accomplishment in itself given his iffy health.

I think his bravery is actually just a small part of it. The pope has complete and total faith in Christ and the mission to spread His Word that was given to him to carry out as His vicar. John Paul must believe that, until he has fulfilled his part in God's plan, He will keep him safe, and will call him home when he has done his part.

Faith in God is more powerful than any worldly force. Terrorists can bring down man-made towers, but faith in God can move mountains. When things got dangerous, Saddam Hussein retreated to a hole in the ground, Osama bin Laden scampered into isolated mountain caves, and Pope John Paul stood openly in the midst of millions to celebrate the faith. How can anyone, Catholic or not, help but be staggered by his faith?

And I'm not to even going to get into the fact that nothing would unite the world more against terrorism than an attack on this pope, whose popularity and level of respect stretches across the boundaries of faiths and nations.

Let's keep our shepherd, Pope John Paul even more in our prayers than usual during the coming Holy Week.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Regardless of the Great Reception, Keep The Ringers OFF During Mass! 

There's an interesting story out of Vermont regarding a Catholic parish that has voted to allow a major phone company to install cell phone towers in their church's bell tower. The full story is here at Catholic News Service: Cell phone antenna plan divides Vermont parish.

On the one hand, there are the concerns about using chruch property for commercial purposes and the always underlying fear that there may be some health problems associated with such towers. On the other hand, there is the income that the parish will receive in these times where many, if not most parishes are struggling to make ends meet. This agreement could be a big boost for St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport, Vermont.

In my mind, I think it's fine to place the antennae, as long as they do not interfere with the asthetic and/or structural integrity of the church building, do not have any impact whatsoever on the parishioners' ability to worship as usual, and as long as the compensation the parish receives is enough to make a real difference in the parish budget.

What do you think?

Truth, Individual Dignity, Common Good 

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications is a smart guy. If even some of the mainstream media outlets here in the U.S. adhered to the advice he gave in a speech in Rome the other day, we would all be so much better off.

"All forms of social communication," he said, "evidence three basic principles: the priority of truth -- we are never justified in recounting lies; the dignity of the individual -- our communication should enhance and not diminish our innate human dignity; the common good -- our communication should contribute to the good of the community and not harm it morally or in any other way."
~from 3 Principles That Can Guide Journalists from Zenit.org.


The next time you tune in to the news, ask yourself if the story being reported fits these three criteria. For example, take some of the reports on Martha Stewart in the immediate wake of her court conviction. The media turned over every rock it could find to get people on camera who could recount some tawdry tale about the home design expert. Truth? Maybe, but who knows? Dignity of the individual? Hardly! The common good? More like water-cooler gossip to me.

If I was a journalism professor, I'd give my students the assignment to watch a half hour general news program from each of the three broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) and each of the three major cable news networks (CNN, Foxnews, MSNBC) and apply these three criteria to each report that is aired. It would be fascinating to see what is discovered.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: The media has an awesome power in shaping public opinion, by what they report and how they report it, as well as by what they choose not to report. Like any power, it must be exercised with care. Is a report on a celebrity spoofing the Super Bowl halftime show two months after the fact really more important than the killer drought in southern Africa about which hardly anyone in the U.S. has heard?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Okaaaay, whatever... 

Iceberg Off Western Greenland Painted Red from the Associated Press via Yahoo News.

No, it's not a protest, it's "art". Go figure.

From the article:
"We all have a need to decorate Mother Nature because it belongs to all us," Danish artist Marco Evaristti said Thursday. "This is my iceberg; it belongs to me."

AP Photo/HO/POLFOTO, Lars Nyboell
ART?!?!?


Which is it Marco? Does nature (of which that berg is a part) belong to all of us, or does it belong to you? I wouldn't want that iceberg now anyhow, so you can have it, much like I'd be willing to hand over the last piece of pizza to the kid who just sneezed on it. Just don't paint my iceberg red. (I prefer blue.)

Today in History 

When I looked at the calendar, today's date struck me for some reason as one I should remember. I went through all the birthdays and anniversaries and turned up nothing. I still don't know what it is, but here are some things that did happen on this day in history:

EVENTS:

*NUCLEAR ACCIDENT AT THREE MILE ISLAND: March 28, 1979

*PRESIDENT EISENHOWER DIES: March 28, 1969

*BEATLES BREAK ELVIS' RECORD OF CONSECUTIVE HITS: March 28, 1964

*SPANISH CIVIL WAR ENDS: March 28, 1939

Source: The History Channel

BIRTHDAYS:

*Reba McIntire (1955 - )

*Dirk Bogarde (1921 - )

*Dianne Wiest (1948 - )

*Vince Vaughn (1970 - )

*Edmund Muskie (1914 - 1996) A great Maine politician, even if he was a Democrat.

*Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928 - )

Source: The Biography Channel

Latest G.I.R.M. Warfare 

The Vatican is slated to release a long-awaited document on the monkeyshines in the liturgy that drive many of us so crazy, officially termed "liturgical abuses" sometime in April.

A draft got out last summer, and some concern was expressed at not only the strictness of the contents, but the harshness of the tone. It has since been revised, but reportedly still has its "teeth". Cardinals Ratzinger and Arinze, both of whom I personally hold in very high regard, and of course the pope himself all endorse this document.

From the article at Catholic News Service:
Part of the concern behind the document focuses on the lay role during liturgies. The Vatican does not want lay people giving sermons, pronouncing the eucharistic prayers, breaking the eucharistic bread, or distributing Communion unless there is an "urgent" need. The thinking is that all this diminishes the proper role of the ordained minister.

Other areas of liturgical and sacramental concern include:

-- The practice of inviting non-Catholics to share in Communion.

-- Allowing laicized priests to administer sacraments.

-- Substituting non-biblical texts for biblical readings during Mass.

-- Introduction of non-Christian elements in Catholic liturgies, and celebration of Mass in non-Christian places of worship.

-- Allowing non-Catholic ministers to wear Catholic vestments.

-- Adoration of the Eucharist in unworthy settings.

-- Giving first Communion outside of Mass and before first confession.

-- Using corruptible metals, glass or ceramic for the sacred vessels, including the chalice.

-- Breaking of the host at the consecration, instead of immediately prior to Communion.


Not one of these things sounds harsh or out of line to me at all. With an institution as large as the Catholic Church, it is exceedingly difficult to maintain consistency, and this document is intended to help bring things back into line somewhat at least to some degree.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: The Catholic Church is NOT a democracy. It is an entity outside time and not held to the sentiments that are most popular, but instead to uphold the spirit of the teachings and traditions of the Church established by Jesus. If the Church were a democracy held to the whims of the times in which it exists, then we'd be receiving low-carb hosts from married and/or female priests.

What worries me is that this will be glossed-over by the liberal bishops out there, much as some aspects of the revised G.I.R.M. have been. Maybe the Holy Father ought to appoint commissions in countries that are particularly troublesome with liturgical abuses (i.e.-U.S., Canada, and most of Europe), and start "kicking butts and taking names" of bishops and archbishops who are essentially borderline or de facto schismatics.

Bishop Richard Malone--Up Close and Personal 

The Maine Sunday Telegram today features an article and interview with Bishop Richard J. Malone, who will be installed as 11th Bishop of Portland this Wednesday at the Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception in Portland. Of course, in typical media fashion, they took the most tantalizing aspect of the article, the fact that he took a year away from the priesthood for discernment of his vocation as a very young priest, and used that in the headline:

Crisis affirmed bishop's calling by Gregory D. Kesich of The Maine Sunday Telegram.

I assume seeing the words "crisis" and "bishop" in the same sentence is bound to draw increased attention to the article.

This excerpt is of particular comfort for me:
That Malone will talk about the experience [of his time away from the priesthood] at all sets him apart from most bishops, said Eric Convey, a religion writer for the Boston Herald. But Malone is unusually open for a bishop, Convey said.

"He's very conservative theologically, but he doesn't come across as a thoughtless soldier," Convey said.

That opinion was shared by a colleague who could have been an adversary. Thomas Ferrick, the Humanist chaplain at Harvard, who teaches a doctrine based on ethical behavior, but not necessarily a belief in God, said he enjoyed his time working with Malone and their discussions on theology.


The VOTF, of course, doesn't loathe the guy with a seething hatred, but they do lump him in with all the other bishops in the Boston Archdiocese who wouldn't agree to sit down with them and get raked over the coals for their guilt by association and forced to make promises that they would be unable to keep. The VOTF people plan to hold a prayer vigil outside the cathedral as the installation is going on. If they were truly "faithful", it seems to me that they would respect the sanctity of the Mass in general and this installation in particular, and stay away. They have a right to protest, of course, but there is a time and a place. This isn't one of those. I don't think there is any member of the clergy in the world that the Holy Father could have appointed who would make VOTF happy.

It is a well-written article that gives real insight into the actual man who who take the reins of our diocese this week. With all due respect to outgoing Bishop Gerry, I personally have been pretty enthused about Bishop Malone's arrival, and expect the Diocese of Portland to be reinvigorated by our new prelate.

Maine Sunday Telegram photo by John Ewing
Bishop Richard J. Malone will head the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland upon his installation this Wednesday.


The lowdown:

*The service will be held Wednesday, March 31, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Cumberland Avenue in Portland.

*Malone will be the 11th man to hold the position, succeeding Bishop Joseph Gerry, who is retiring after serving 15 years as Maine's bishop.

*The Diocese of Portland includes 135 parishes with approximately 234,000 members, spread throughout the state.

*Archbishop Sean O'Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston will preside.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

A Catholic Book Club Blog 

Check out A Dusty, Sunny Corner: A book discussion forum for Catholics, moderated by Fr. Shane Tharp. He's proposed Meditations Before Mass by Msgr. Romano Guardini as the book for April, along with the following reading schedule, which he says averages out to about seven pages a day:

Due Date: April 9th-- Read chs. 1-7
Due Date: April 16th-- Read chs. 8-16
Due Date: April 23th-- Read chs. 17-24
Due Date: April 30th-- Read chs. 25-32

Here's what Fr. Tharp says about it:
"This book was a lasting gift to me and set me out on my love affair with the works of the good Monsignor. In this book, Guardini addresses the central issues that surround the nature of worship and the nature of the Holy Mass. I read this book for the first time when I was in the seminary. I didn't realize how influential the book was until one of the monks saw me with it and said, 'Wow, what's that your reading?' I told him and added the comment, 'I know it's pre-Vatican II...,' mainly as a way to deflect any obvious comments like that's not how Mass is celebrated now. But the monk's response is telling. He said, 'That doesn't matter. Some things are just correct.'

Also, with all the changes and the desire for a tight Mass, it would help all of us to keep the essential before our eyes as we work on the cosmetic."


This is a great idea that I truly hope works out. I'm going to hang back and watch for a little while, and maybe jump in if it takes hold. After all, I am both an active Catholic blogger and a big time book fiend.

By the way, in the comments section at A Dusty, Sunny Corner, our friend Steven Riddle of Flos Carmeli blog provides a link to a free online version of the book.

Lingering Influences of "The Passion of the Christ" 

I've just come from Saturday vigil Mass, and the gospel reading for this week was the story of Jesus "rescuing" the adulterous woman from being stoned to death by the Pharisees and their mob, who brought her before Him in order to trick Him. The reading is from John's gospel, and does not mention the woman by name. Popular tradition has held that it was Mary Magdelene, though I don't believe there is any confirmation of that anywhere.

In "The Passion", that tradition is held, and this very gospel story was presented as a flashback by Mary Magdelene in the film. Hearing it read at Mass for the first time since seeing the film a month ago, it had an entirely new and vivid dimension for me. The scene of Jim Caviezel's Jesus scootching down and dragging that stone around on the ground as he prepared to respond to the challenge the Pharisees had placed before him was replayed in my mind as clearly as when I first saw it on the big screen.

In the film, director Mel Gibson shot the scene of Jesus drawing in the dust with a stone in slow motion, and the sound effect of the stone dragging across the ground was amplified to an ominous rumble. It was almost as if to underscore the immense power Jesus has as Son of God and one-third of the Trinity. That stone in His hand that He was doodling with on the ground could easily have become a weapon of punishment for a sinner. The fate of sinners is not really in the hands of humans, it's in the hands of God and God alone. Luckily for all of us sinners, God is infinitely merciful, much more so than humans.

Instead of initiating punishment against the adulterous woman, He issued His famous challenge to the Pharisees and others in the mob ("Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."), and away they slunk. Then Jesus cast the stone had been toying with aside and told the woman to go and sin no more.

As we move closer to Holy Week and ultimately Good Friday itself, it will be interesting to experience other gospel readings at Mass that were depicted in "The Passion of the Christ".

Photo of Jim Caviezel as Jesus © Copyright Newmarket Film Group
Jim Caviezel as Jesus in the scene from the film that is also this weekend's gospel reading.


ANOTHER PASSION NOTE: EWTN has been broadcasting a 45-minute special entitled "The Making of 'The Passion of the Christ'", produced by Gibson's Icon Productions quite often lately. I caught it last night, and found it to be excellent. I'm not sure if other religious broadcast networks are showing it as well, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were. If you get a chance to see it, I'd recommend it.

News from Red Sox Nation, March 27, 2004 

Charles Krupa / AP file photo via http://msnbcmedia.msn.com
Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra


Nomar probably will miss Opening Day: Red Sox shortstop still bothered by injured Achilles' from MSNBC.com.

American League Pre-Season Standings as of 3/27 (for what it's worth, which isn't much)
Team (W-L)
1. Minnesota (16-8)
2. Seattle (13-8)
3. Boston (14-9)
4. NY Yankees (13-9)
5. Oakland (15-11)
6. Tampa Bay (10-8)
7. Kansas City (12-10)
8. Cleveland (13-11)
9. Anaheim (12-12)
10. Chi White Sox (12-12)
11. Texas (11-13)
12. Toronto (10-12)
13. Detroit (11-14)
14. Baltimore (8-13)

*If you can read anything into this, it looks at this point that it's going to be a two-horse race between the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East this year. Tampa Bay is playing so-so in preseason ball, but Toronto and Baltimore are not off to a strong start at all.

Results of Last Week's Poll on Excessive Odiferousness at Mass 

The question was: "With an increasing number of public places banning perfumes, colognes, and other scented body products for the benefit of those whose health is sensitive to them, should the Church recommend the same?"

The results:

*No (60.0%)

*No, but advance notice should be given when incense will be used (26.7%)

*Yes, but only at the individual parish level (13.3%)

*Yes (0.0%)


My vote was no, but with advance notice with incense. I have been blessed to have virtually no health problems and a rock-solid immune system, so I don't tend to suffer much from external influences, unless it's something I bring upon myself, like overexerting myself at something. However, there are some who do, and if something as strong as incense will be used at Mass, I don't think it is asking too much to make a note of it in the church bulletin the weekend prior. Once the priest starts swinging that smoky thurible, there's no place to get away from the scent except out of the building, as my non-Catholic, allergic-to-everything sister-in-law found out the hard way at my grandfather's funeral Mass some years back.

As for banning Mass goers from wearing perfumes, colognes or other scents, I think that should be left up to the individuals. Those who are sensitive to such things can always move somewhere else in the church. After all, I've got to have somewhere to wear my English Leather.

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.

Through the Grapevine (in a good way) 

St. Blog's is kind of like a real parish in that one person says something to someone else, they pick it up and tell someone else, and soon it spreads rapidly. Fortunately, the kinds of things that work their way through St. Blog's grapevine are usually good. Not always so in brick-and-mortar parishes.

Nathan at The Tower refers to Fr. Keyes at The New Gasparian who refers to Bishop Thomas Olmstead's column at The Catholic Sun newspaper from Phoenix, AZ entitled "Rebutting the ‘Catholic but…’". It's really great, and tackles the whole idea of "Yeah I'm Catholic, but...". The gist is that it's time to kick the Catholic "buts".

Not a Huge Deal, But It Does Meet the Blogability Threshold 

Since Ash Wednesday, the holy water fonts in my parish church have been filled with sand instead of holy water. It's not an issue that makes my blood boil or my hair stand on end, but it seems unnecessary. Lent is indeed a time of fasting from things that might but barriers between us and God, but I don't think a sacramental like holy water would qualify as one of those barriers.

Interestingly, Josh LeBlanc of Dei Gratia brought an article to our attention from Zenit.org on his blog. I usually check Zenit regularly, but this on must have slipped past me. It's another Q & A session with Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum. The full article can be found at this link, but I really wanted to excerpt the portion regarding the holy water issue.

Question 1: Is it proper to have holy water receptacles empty from Ash Wednesday on, through all of Lent? -- F.D., Scandia, Minnesota

Answer 1: The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments recently responded to a similar question (3/14/03: Prot. N. 569/00/L) giving a clear answer: "This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

"1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being 'praeter legem' is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.

"2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the sacraments is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The 'fast' and 'abstinence' which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church.

"The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday)."

Friday, March 26, 2004

Gaseous Admissions 

I filled up the tank on Ol' Red today, or at least, I tried. My wallet was empty long before my gas tank was full. Regular unleaded gasoline was $1.92 per gallon today, the highest I can remember it being since I started driving almost 20 years ago. It seems like just yesterday (actually it was this very time of year back in 1999) that I pulled into a gas station to top off the tank even though I didn't need it, just because I couldn't resist buying gas for 88 cents a gallon, which was the lowest I could remember ever seeing, and a typical price at that time.

After I got done emptying my wallet, as well as my pockets and all the change in the glove compartment, washing all the windows in the gas station and giving 8 pints of my own blood to pay for my gasoline purchase, I began to ponder as to why the price of gas is so high. I came up with the following list of top ten possible reasons:

10. The hamsters on the wheels that run the gasoline refineries are on strike.

9. The King of Saudi Arabia is saving up to buy a new country in a more peaceful neighborhood.

8. That weird dancing guy in the "Six Flags" TV commercials used up too much in that bus of his.

7. There's a shortage of numeral 1's for use on gas station signs.

6. There's a glut of numeral 2's for use on gas station signs.

5. It's a way to curb the increasing cost of those microwaveable burritos they serve inside the gas station.

4. It's a clever plot to keep the Britney Spears tour buses and trucks off the road for a while.

3. Wacko environmentalists have clandestinely cut supply lines in order to make it too expensive for the average American to mow his or her lawn this summer, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

2. The price of gas hasn't gotten higher, the value of your dollar to the big oil companies has gotten lower.

1. Two words: PURE GREED

Now THIS is Odd! 

Pets in New Mexico City May Have to Buckle Up from Reuters via Yahoo News.

Lead: "The city of Santa Fe may soon require pet owners to restrain their dogs, cats and ferrets in special pet seats or with seat belts while traveling in a moving vehicle."

Yeah, good luck getting Mr. Kitty Cat buckled up in your Subarus, Santa Fe folks! It takes an hour, leather gloves and a first aid kit just to get my cat into his carrier. (You can probably guess who needs the first aid kit afterward. HINT: It's the one with two legs.) But you know, I'd actually pay good money just to watch someone attempt to put a ferret in a seatbelt. My money would be on the ferret winning that battle of wills.

Keeping the Sabbath = Oddly Enough?!?!? 

Since when does the head of the Roman Catholic Church urging people to keep holy the Sabbath fall under the category of "Oddly Enough"? Yet that's where this news article is being run in both Reuters' and Yahoo's news sites.

Pope Says Sundays for God, Not Sports

From the article: "When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes subordinate to a secular concept of 'weekend' dominated by such things as entertainment and sport, people stay locked within a horizon so narrow that they can no longer see the heavens," the pontiff said in a speech to Australian bishops.

John Paul criticized the "culture of the 'here and now,'" urging Church leaders to "lead men and women from the shadows of moral confusion and ambiguous thinking."


I agree! I'm not saying that we should adhere to the notion of Sabbath that the Pharisees held in the time of Christ (where you couldn't even carry a mat down the street without being accused of sinning) but I do think that Sundays have become too much like every other day of the week. I don't feel sports is a problem necessarily, since athletics is an outlet for relaxation for many people, both participants and viewers. Entertainment per say isn't a big deal to me either, following that same line of reasoning. Relaxing is a relative thing.

The fact that so many people have no choice but to work on Sundays is quite troublesome to me. In an ideal world, businesses would treat Sundays as they would a major holiday such as Thanksgiving. Most would be closed, and those non-essentials that choose to be open for the sake of another day of income instead of for the sake of convenience of their patrons should be required to pay their employees above and beyond a typical weekday wage.

It's true that in order for some people to relax, others must work, such as those who operate the movie theaters, parks and sports facilities. While these are not necessarily "essentials", their being open on Sundays is a convenience to their customers who turn to them for relaxation on that day. The employees of such businesses should be fairly compensated in both their wages (maybe a special new minimum wage applicable to Sunday only?) and their time (by getting another full day off during the week to rest).

And above all, in my opinion no one of any denomination should ever have to miss church services because they are forced to work at the risk losing their jobs.

St. Patrick's Polar Bears 

I am late on reporting this story, which would have been perfect a week ago. It seems that God was feeling Irish and as a result, the polar bears at the Singapore Zoological Gardens have turned green, completely naturally.

Behold:
AP Photo/The New Paper


Well, as of that photo, taken on February 23, the zookeepers had bleached Mom (Sheba) with hydrogen peroxide so she's not so green anymore. Her 13-year-old son Inuka (on the left) was still obviously green on that date. (Isn't it just like a teenager to dye his hair green?) The usually white coats of the two polar bears turned green from algae growing in their hollow hair shafts. You see, polar bears don't really have white hair, they have hollow and clear hair shafts, and the light of the visible spectrum just gives it the appearance of white. But if something gets into those hair shafts...well, just ask Sheba and Anuka.

I've always been an animal fan, and polar bears are a particular favorite of mine for some inexplicable reason. If you want to check out some non-green polar bears (Kalluk, Tatqiq, Chinook and Shikari by name) live on a webcam at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, they are live from 12 noon to 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) at this link: http://www.wildanimalpark.org/zoo/polarcam.html

There are also links on that page to the park's webcams for the apes (the most active cam, and a real hoot!), the elephants (they just had a baby named Vus'musi), and the giant pandas (beautiful animals and the clearest cam).

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Score One for the Culture of Life 

Congress Passes Laci and Conner's Law from FoxNews.com.

This unborn victims bill makes it criminal to harm or kill fetus during violent crime. A sensible piece of legislation long past due, if you ask me. We;ve still got a way to go to protect the unborn though.

Ya Know... 

...between St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day and the Annunciation of the Lord, there sure are a lot of wondrous things to celebrate during this most solemn season of Lent. Sticking to my Lenten sacrifices has not been easy, but I suppose if it was, it wouldn't be much of a sacrifice, would it?

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." 

That is absolutely one of the greatest affirmations in the history of humankind. It was made, by a frightened Jewish teenage girl from the middle of nowhere whose complete and total faith in God overrode her anxieties and uncertainties.

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of Jesus Birth to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel.

Lk 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.


Ecce Ancilla Domini (The Annunciation) 1850 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti


There are lots of romanticized paintings of the Annunciation of the Lord in existence, (just go to http://images.google.com and type in "annunciation" to see what I mean) but they just don't ring true to me as the way it really was. This work by Rossetti is more like I envision it personally. Indeed, Mary is among the holiest of holies, but she is/was only human. She must have been scared to death and overwhelmed when this glorious archangel with a staggering proposition just shows up on her doorstep unannounced like some pre-Christian vacuum cleaner salesman. Come on, wouldn't you be more than a little taken aback by the whole thing? This painting seems to indicate the reality of the moment as I see it better than most.

Good old CatholicCulture.org has some great background information on this important day in the Church.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Sounds Like A Good Read... 

...not only if you are a big fan of Pope John Paul, but also if you are a history buff. Fortunately, I fit into both categories.

In new book, pope describes confrontations with communist authorities by John Thavis of Catholic News Service.

According to the article, it begins in 1958, when John Paul learned about his episcopal appointment during a canoe trip in the Polish mountains, and covers the period up to his election as pope in 1978.

"The style is direct, not artificial. I think the pope made a special effort to write in a way that could be understood by the greatest number of people," papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Walls said in a press conference today.

It is expected to be entitled "Get Up, Let Us Go," a phrase taken from the Gospel account of Christ's last encounter with his Apostles. The Italian version is completed; the Vatican is finishing the work on translations in English, French, German and Spanish. It will be released in Italian on May 18, the Holy Father's 84th birthday.

I Don't Know About You, But I'm Under God 

Finally, after what seems like an awfully long time, the Supreme Court is about to take up the "Pledge of Alliegance" issue. See Supreme Court Takes Up 'Under God' from FoxNews.com. Based on other federal court rulings lately, I've got a bad feeling about this.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Happy St. Gwinear Day! 

Yeah, I know, "here he goes on another saint no one's ever heard of". Indulge me. He was a pal of St. Patrick.

According to www.catholic-forum.com's Patron Saints Index:

Gwinear was born the son of the pagan King Clito of Ireland in the fifth century. When Saint Patrick arrived at Clito's court, the king was hostile; but Gwinear recognized Patrick's sincerity and piety, treated him well, and meditated on his message. He converted to Christianity and became a hermit. Upon his father's death, Gwinear returned home, gathered 770 other converts, and worked to spread the faith in Wales and Brittany.

Not much more is known about Gwinear, but legends purport him to have been a miracle worker and a martyr, beheaded c.460 at Hayle, Cornwall, England. A basilica was built over his grave. The Cornish village of Gwinear is named for him. At Pluvigner there is a stained glass window of Gwinear hunting a stag with a cross between its antlers, and there is a holy well with his name near the church.


There are no pictures available of St. Gwinear that I can find. I guess the film got erased when the camera went through security at the airport.

Easter Joy, 2004 

The state of Maine has about 1.3 million people, about 234,000 of whom are registered Catholics. It was recently announced by the Diocese of Portland that Bishop Gerry proclaimed that 409 individuals are now members of the elect who will receive the sacraments during the celebration of the Paschal Mystery this Easter. That doesn't include the babies who will be baptized, the children who will receive the their first Holy Communion, Sacrament of Reconciliation and/or Confirmation this year. We'll also have no small number of Catholic weddings which will doubtlessly lead to even more people coming into the Church, not to mention a few ordinations to the permanent deaconate and priesthood. For a state this size in times like these for the Church, that's definitely a sign of God's hand at work.

Movie Review: "Hidalgo" (Condensed Version) 

Saw it.
Liked it.
Not Oscar material.
Great cinematography.
Take "Indiana Jones", "Dances with Wolves", "Seabiscuit", mix, dilute the quality some, and you'll have "Hidalgo".
Go see it.
Worth price of ticket and box of Milk Duds.
Three out of four stars.

I wrote a much more insightful and detailed review of "Hidalgo" on Sunday night about which I was quite happy. However, in an attempt to soil my newly-cleansed soul (I made my Lenten confession over the weekend), it seems that Satan erased the whole hour's worth of typing and thinking when I went to post the opus on Blogger. I didn't commit any sins as a result, but it was a close call. This circumstance, you may recall, was detailed in yesterday's "#&%!*@ Blogger!" post.

Speaking of Credit Cards 

There has been lots in the news lately about how Americans are racking up huge personal debts like never before, and credit cards are the main culprits. Ever since I got my first one in college, I've marvelled at how very simple credit cards are to use. I could walk into an electronics store without a penny to my name but with a credit card in my pocket, and walk out the proud owner of a massaging leather easy chair, a high-end video game system and dozens of games, a surround-sound home theater system, and the complete works of Monty Python on DVD.

Like I said, too easy. So here are the basics of the bill that I'd like to propose my congressman introduce in the House of Representatives:
1. For purchases up to $100, you will have to stand on your head and sing the National Anthem in Latin on the store P.A. system before your credit card can be processed by the clerk.
2. For purchases between $100 and $1000 you will need to do the above, and also perform an operatic version of "I'm a Little Teapot" on the checkout counter complete with improvised interpretive dance.
3. For purchases between $1000 and $5000, you will need to do all the above, as well as allow Fox TV to film your every move, 24 hours a day for a month for a reality TV show to be entitled "America's Least Responsible People".
4. For purchases above $5000, all the above in addition to putting your first-born child up as collateral. If your children are grown or you are not planning on having any, then you will put up a much needed internal organ as collateral.

For online purchases: credit card users will need to write an authentic Shakespearean sonnet in "Olde Englyshe" on the subject of the national deficit and its effects on future generations (and it better be darn good!).

If this bill becomes a law, I think it will prevent future personal debt problems very nicely.

Flushing Out My E-Mail Account and Dreaming 

Even with filters, it seems that a preponderance of junk gets into my e-mail inbox every day. I'd have to say that at least 75% of what I find in there tends to be unsolicited garbage.

As I was shovelling out the spam today, I began to fantasize how great my life would be if all those claims the spam people made were actually legit.

(Cue cheesy smoke and harp sound effects here to begin dream sequence.)

I'd be able to lose all the weight I want without diet or exercise, and get all kinds of exotic foods mailed to me at "low, low prices and with free shipping". (I assume the former would take care of any pounds put on by the latter.) Not only would I not be overweight, I'd also have a "buff bod" without working out too. Great!

I'd have all kinds of low-interest credit cards thanks to the spam-people, and would have no trouble in paying them all off because I am told I can make up to $100,000 a year on EBay. Even without EBay, I could get out of my faceless corporate hack job and "work at home making thousands a month". I could also get plenty of money in some clever real estate investments, or from some nice former government official from Nigeria (only I have to send him money first). And naturally, I could refinance my mortgage with any number of companies in the Cayman Islands and "save thousands". Hard to beat all that!

My hair situation is okay, but should something go terribly wrong, there are all manner of ways I am offered which will grow hair "guaranteed". There's another part of my anatomy that the spam-people seem to think I would want to grow as well, and I am frequently offered opportunities to do just that. Oddly, there is another part of my anatomy, two of them under my shirt to be a bit more specific, that they also seem to think I would want to grow. I wouldn't, but thanks anyway.

Just think how great it would be if I could learn to play the piano in three days, master every piece of software ever invented, and even become a singer the calibur of the finalists on "American Idol" just by filling out some online forms and handing out my credit card and social security numbers.

I could get movies, music, books and concert & sports tickets for free, and apparently meet beautiful women with ease (the spam people tell me they are "sitting there waiting just for you") I hope these ladies have a book to read or a TV to watch while they wait. Of course, when I take up the spam-people's offer to "start your modeling career now", I won't need to seek out women, since they will come flocking to me like flies to honey.

Seminary? Divinity School? Who needs that when I could become an ordained minister in "The Church of (insert name here)" with just a few clicks, and even get a certificate to prove it! Oooooh! (Serious note: Catholics shouldn't do this, even jokingly. Bad juju!) To top it all off, just by responding to a spam e-mail, I can save my soul from eternal damnation.

Wow! These spam people can do anything!

(Cue cheesy smoke and harp sound effects again, to signal end of dream sequence.)

Or maybe I could just click "BLOCK AND DELETE" on these clowns. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Monday, March 22, 2004

A Word on the Poll 

The impetus of this poll comes from my job as a faceless corporate hack. I've been there for six months (seems like six decades), and really have been less than impressed with corporate culture in general, and this company's in particular. All of my other jobs have been in the public sector or for small businesses, so this has been a real eye-opener. Thankfully, it's just a "port in a storm" for now, and I hope to get back where I belong soon.

Anyhow, I am one of those rare GOP-ers who thinks unions are a good idea. There is no union at my current workplace to help keep things fair, and consequently those who run the place are inept, corrupt or both in how they treat their subordinates. If you kiss the right boots, you are on the fast track up the corporate ladder; if you make waves, they secretly build up a case against you and then fire you without any warning. And then there are many people like me, who keep their mouths shut, work hard, and stay the heck out of any controversies at all. (This is exceedingly hard for me, but a necessity for now.)

It seem that the "higher-ups" particularly enjoy enforcing their No Scents policy. In this workplace, no one is allowed to wear anything that carries what is arbitrarily considered "scented". This includes not only colognes and perfumes, but also scented soap or shampoo you may have used in the shower that morning, scented deodorant, or scented hair care products. You can't even bring a strongly scented food for your lunch, like a tuna sandwich. Their rationale is that one time long ago at one of their facilities, one employee had some kind of bad reaction to someone else's perfume or whatever, and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. When pressed for details of this event, no one seems to be able to come up with any.

If they can smell such a product on you, they will actually send you home to wash it off, and dock your pay for the time out of work. However, if someone comes to work reeking of body odor or cigarettes, nothing is ever said at all. Apparently, the company fears that those could possibly result in a lawsuit of some sort against them, where the other things, they feel, will not.

I myself have never been sent home for "scent offenses" (I'm not a smelly stuff kind of guy anyway), but on occasion a supervisor will come through my department actively and obviously sniffing the air to be sure that everyone is conforming to "the policy". I find this degrading and humiliating, and have stated such, to my own peril.

This policy is not unique to my stupid company, but the tyrannical means of enforcement probably is. It seems a recent development in the state of Maine, since I've only noticed them within the past few years. Has some terrible condition broken out among people where they can be harmed by scented products that wasn't a part of the human race until recently? Or, more likely, did some kind of silly court case determine that this is another way for our lives to be interfered with?

Whatever it is, I don't like it.

#&%!*@ Blogger! 

98% of the time, I am generally satisfied with Blogger, the provider which hosts this blog. But, oh, that other 2%! I spent a considerable amount of time last evening writing a review of a film I had just gone to see ("Hidalgo"), only to get the "Blogger screen of death" when I went to post it. Those of you who've been with Blooger know of what I speak. It's when you hit the "post" button, and instead of seeing your postings, you see a Blogger homepage in the space instead. Sometimes, if St. Jude is peering over your shoulder and puts in a good word with God, you can get back to your post with the "back" button on your browser, but that wasn't the case this time.

A couple of you web-savvy types have contacted me about moving "M.C. & B." to your own hosting servers. I don't think I'm quite ready to jump just yet, but let's just say I'm putting on my parachute.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

The Way of the Cross for Kids Online 

I am quite gratified that the youth ministry of my parish leads the Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent. When I was an altar boy, I was asked to serve at the Stations by the priests, but was usually the youngest person in the church by about 40 years. According to some things I've read lately, the Stations of the Cross are regaining interest with young people. This could partly be due to the influence of "The Passion of the Christ", but more likely is a grassroots interest among young Catholics to get closer to Christ.

There is a new interactive website entitled "Via Crucis" for kids in various languages produced by The Pontifical Mission Society for Missionary Childhood to allow young children to experience the Stations of the Cross online (with parental guidance the first time through in my opinion), as a means of devotion in the home, or as a primer for attending the service at church. It's very well done.

The link to the English version can be found here.

May the Rats Rest in Peace 

Philly's Veterans Stadium Imploded from FoxNews.com.

The former home of MLB's Philadelphia Phillies and the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles has been replaced by two new stadiums. The Eagles played in theirs last season, and the Phillies are gearing up to start the season in their new digs in a couple of weeks.

I've never been to Veteran's Stadium, but by all accounts, it was the most uncomfortable, decrepit, rat-infested venue in all of major-league baseball and the NFL. People may be mourning the memories of great moments on the field there, but as for the building itself, no great loss.

There's Some Kind of Allegory Involving "The Culture of Death" Here 

'DAWN OF THE DEAD' KNOCKS 'CHRIST' OFF TOP SPOT AT BOX OFFICE from Box Office Mojo via The Drudge Report.

You knew "The Passion" would slip from the top eventually, but to this movie?!?!?

Results of Last Week's Poll on Good Friday Baseball at Fenway 

The question was: "Opening day of the baseball season at Fenway Park in Boston coincides with Good Friday. Which matches your sentiment best?"

The results:

*The Red Sox should not play on that day. (66.7%)

*Neither. (33.3%)

*The archdiocese should dispense of abstinence from meat that day. (0.0%)


I don't think the Red Sox should cancel their game or the archdiocese should give dispensations. Good Friday is the holiest day of the Christian year, and giving a dispensation of any kind on that particular day, especially from something as relatively simple as abstinence from meat, is out of the question in my mind. At the same time, I don't think the Sox are out of bounds in playing on that day. It would be nice if all of society took that entire day away from the norm to reflect on Christ's sacrifice of Himself for our sins, but I think only the most devout of Christians will do (or ever have done) that.

The point of fast and abstinence is sacrifice and self-discipline. If it was too easy, then what's the point? Sitting in the staff room at lunch on a Lenten Friday with your smelly tuna sandwich or wilted green salad in front of you while the person beside you has a savory, meat-laden, foot-long sub whose fine aroma makes your mouth water and could encompass the state of Rhode Island, can be hard to take. That's the point! It's not supposed to be a cake walk!

Sacrifice can take on various levels. There are some who might say that going to a baseball game on Good Friday is not appropriate. I personally don't subscribe to that as long as other obligations are kept. In a side issue, I do think that devout Christian players who wish to be pulled from the lineup that day should be allowed to do so without penalty.

There are others, like me, who believe that attending the game, and being among others indulging in a delicious Fenway Frank smothered in ketchup, relish and onions and washing it down with a tall frosty beer while you deny yourself that pleasure of which you possibly haven't taken part since last October, is even more of a sacrifice than pulling yourself out of secular society for the day, since you are surrounded by temptation and must have the will to resist it.

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.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Please, Oh Please, Let's NOT Go There! 

Couples law blasted by GOP, church from the Bangor Daily News.

Lead:
"Maine House Republicans and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland chastised majority Democrats on Friday for passing a domestic partnership law that extends inheritance benefits to same-sex couples under limited circumstances.

The diocese and GOP lawmakers claimed the initial 72-60, party-line vote on LD 1579 would unravel the [state's] existing [legal] definition of marriage [which is that it is a union between a man and a woman] and create chaos in Maine’s probate courts."


Marc Mutty, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is quoted as saying “These are exactly the kind of steps that led to what happened to Massachusetts, by extending these kind of rights one at a time piecemeal, that justified the Massachusetts courts to do what they did. So that’s a big concern.”

Opponents are hoping that it will be defeated in the Maine Senate, where the Democrats have a majority by only one vote.

St. Blog's Parish Hall is a Must-Visit! 

This message board site is a great way for those of us who are members of St. Blog's to just chat about whatever, much as one might at a coffee social after Sunday morning Mass. Too often, the only interactions we have with each other as fellow bloggers at St. Blog's are in direct reference to a particular post one or the other of us have made. Visit! Read! Contribute! This could be a vital new addition to our growing online community.

The URL for St. Blog's Parish Hall is: http://server.scripthost.com/wwwboard?junipera, and is hosted by the person behind the Ever-New blog.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Kids of the 80s in Mourning 

J.J. Jackson, original MTV VJ, dies at 62 from MSNBC.com.

He collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack on Wednesday. Not only was Jackson a major force in the emergence of music video and its "golden age" in the early and mid 80s, but he was also a legend in the broadcast radio business. He came to the forefront at WBCN in Boston, and then made the move to L.A. where he worked for several stations prior to his MTV gig, most notably KLOS and KROQ. Most recently, in addition to hosting some nationally syndicated radio shows, he was afternoon host at L.A.'s KTWV, "The WAVE."

He had a genuine love of music and a warm sense of humor. He talked TO his listeners, not AT them, and that is a true and rare gift in a radio D.J. or video V.J. J.J. Jackson was a real class-act (and not related in any way, shape or form to those "other Jacksons" that dominate the tabloids these days). May his soul rest in God's arms.

The Solemnity of St. Joseph, Foster-Father of Our Lord 

All right, picture this: You're a middle-aged man from a poor but respected family, pretty well-known in your small town for being an upstanding guy, devoted to your religion, gifted in your trade as a carpenter, and engaged to be married to the most beautiful, gentle and kind young woman you've ever known in your life. Then, *BOOM!*, just before the marriage, your fiancee tells you she's pregnant, but she didn't cheat on you. The baby was conceived without relations with a man. Then, that very night, you have this whacked-out dream where an angel backs up your fiancee's story. What would you do?

Most of us would probably drop her like a bad habit and then drown our sorrows thoroughly for an extended period of time, if not worse. At the very least, we'd sign up for an appointment with a good shrink.

Well, not Joseph of Nazareth, descendent of King David. He had complete faith in God that all would be well, and through that faith, he went on to become one of the most important and prominent people in the earthly life of the Savior of the World, as well as a towering figure in the history of the great church the world has ever known.

When we pray to St. Joseph for intercession, it's important to keep in mind the major influence that he must have had on the human life of Jesus, particularly in his formative childhood years. At the same time, remember the incredible grace that Joseph must have received from his intimate personal relationships to Our Lord and Savior, as well as Mary, His Blessed Mother. It is thought by many that after the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph is the greatest of all saints.

Unlike my treatment of most saints on their feast days, I'm not going to go on with a biography of St. Joseph. You know most of his story anyway, and if you don't, click here or here or here to learn more. Much of what is known about Joseph comes from legends handed down over time that may or may not be completely accurate. We do know some facts from the gospels, such as his part in the Nativity of Christ, the flight to Egypt, and that he was still living when Jesus was 12 and lost in the temple at Jerusalem.

It can also be reasonably inferred from the gospels that Jesus learned the carpentry trade from Joseph and thus likely spent a gret deal of time with him, and that Joseph probably died in what is, in my opinion, the best possible circumstances imaginable: in the loving arms of Jesus and the Blessed Mother.

Image from http://www.stjosephsite.com


Blessed Joseph, husband of Mary, be with us this day.
You protected and cherished the Virgin;
loving the Child Jesus as your Son,
you rescued Him from the danger of death.
Defend the Church, the household of God,
purchased by the blood of Christ.

Guardian of the Holy Family,
be with us in our trials.
May your prayers obtain for us
the strength to flee from error
and wrestle with the powers of corruption
so that in life we may grow in holiness
and in death rejoice in the crown of victory.
Amen.


P.S.-Fr. Bryce Sibley notes that one of Joseph's titles from the Litany of St. Joseph is "terror of demons". Not too shabby a handle for a humble woodworker from a backwater town in Galilee, huh?

Farewell, Bishop Gerry 

Bishop Gerry salutes 'years of blessing' by Gregory D. Kesich of the Portland Press Herald.

From the article: [Portland Diocese] Bishop Joseph Gerry quietly said goodbye to his flock Thursday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The vespers service was the last official function for Gerry as the leader of Maine's 234,000 Roman Catholics. He will be replaced March 31 with the installation of Bishop Richard Malone, named the 11th Bishop of Portland last month by the Vatican.


Photo by Doug Jones of the Portland Press Herald
"For whatever good I may have had a hand in, I give thanks to God. For my failures, I ask God's forgiveness and yours. I ask your prayers that . . . God may enable me through the monastic way of life to have some small hand in your being drawn ever closer to his heart."

Pity Me 

I live in a place where, when the sun shines and it gets up to 37 degrees with no wind, the phrase "Feels like spring, doesn't it?" comes off the tongue of nearly everyone you meet.

Feels more like a good temperature for storing a side of beef, if you ask me.

The season of spring allegedly begins here at 1:49 a.m. Saturday morning. It will be spring in name only for a while. The weather doesn't usually lighten up seriously around these parts until mid to late April.

Jetsooooon! You're FIRED!!!! 

Trump Wants to Trademark 'You're Fired' from FoxNews.com.

Sorry Donald, but I think someone else beat you to it. Remember Mr. Spacely, George Jetson's boss at Spacely's Sprockets on "The Jetsons"? He rumbled out that same phrase near every Saturday morning for years before you even had to think of getting that lousy hair weave. But Donald, I understand the phrase "I'm a rich, greedy scumball" is still available.

Photo from http://www.cybercomm.nl/~ivo, a Jetson Fan Page
The resemblance between George Jetson's workplace and mine is remarkable.

A Novena to St. Joseph, Day 9 

St. Joseph's Day is today, of course.

First:
Say the Day Nine Prayer

Then:
Saint Joseph, I, your unworthy child, greet you. You are the faithful protector and intercessor of all who love and venerate you. You know that I have special confidence in you and that, after Jesus and Mary, I place all my hope of salvation in you, for you are especially powerful with God and will never abandon your faithful servants. Therefore I humbly invoke you and commend myself, with all who are dear to me and all that belong to me, to your intercession. I beg of you, by your love for Jesus and Mary, not to abandon me during life and to assist me at the hour of my death.

Glorious Saint Joseph, spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, obtain for me a pure, humble, charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

Loving Saint Joseph, faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I raise my heart to you to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the Divine Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly the grace of a happy death, and the special grace I now implore:

(Mention your request).

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel confident that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. Amen.


Finally:
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked for your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.

Photo from http://www.ewtn.com

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Kermit the Frog was Wrong 

It is easy being green! The Red Sox switched to green uniforms for St. Patrick's Day play yesterday, and churned out a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians behind six impressive innings of pitching by Curt Schilling. I am so thrilled that we've got Schilling on board. If only we had landed the A-Rod deal!

Photo from Brita Meng Outzen/MLB.com
Nomar O'Garciaparra in his "Green Sox" uniform on St. Pat's Day, 2004

We're Electing a President, not a King 

You know, it's funny...but for some reason a larger number of the American electorate than reasonably should seem to believe that the United States presidency is a position of unlimited power. Ignorant of the system of checks and balances our Founding Fathers wrote into the U.S. Constitution, too many people think that if a presidential candidate promises something and he wins, that it will happen.

While the American president is the singular most powerful person in the world, he and the departments he oversees are only a third of the American government, which is the most powerful secular institution in the world. Also worth keeping in mind is that many of the things in our lives that hit closest to home are under the jurisdiction of our state and local governments. Here in Maine for example, property tax relief, the condition of our transportation infrastructure, balancing the use and preservation of our natural resources and the condition of our schools are all major issues, and they all fall most directly under state and local jurisdictions.

I feel it's very important to keep this in the forefront of our minds as we are bombarded with presidential campaign promises through ads and media reports earlier than ever this year, thanks to the early emergence of the nominees in both political parties. President Bush and Sen. Kerry can promise us the sun, the moon and the stars, but without adequate support in Congress while they are in office, only so much of it can come to fruition. We are electing a chief executive, not a dictator or a king.

That being said, here's some of what I want the winner of the 2004 U.S. presidential election and his administration to fight for (in no particular order):

*Lower and fewer taxes
*Less government regulation and red tape (a smaller bureaucracy)
*Abolition of abortion
*Stopping the flow of American jobs to foreign countries
*Balancing strong homeland security and individual rights
*Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but only once a stable regime is established
*Increased funding for infant and preschool education and childcare programs
*Using the resources our nation has to benefit the poor and oppressed in other parts of the world
*A line-item veto
*Cuts in federal spending in "pork barrel" programs (see above)
*Opposition to "special rights" that allow opportunities to some that are not available to all (i.e.-affirmative action, gay marriage, etc.)
*Appointment of federal judges who do not intend to legislate from the bench
*Protection of the environment balanced with reasonable use of our natural resources
*Continued public education reform with better and more varied accountability methods than are now in place
*Abolition of federal sentencing guidelines so courts can exhibit discretion and true mercy when warranted
*More affordable and equitable health care
*School choice for parents (with reasonable regulation)
*Fewer reality TV programs and no more feminine hygiene or incontinence product ads on TV during hours when I am prone to be viewing (and possibly eating)

When you consider what issues are important to you, don't hold them up against the positions of just the presidential candidates. Those who write and pass the laws that govern our country are our representatives in Congress. Scrutinize the positions of the candidates for the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate where you live even more closely!

From Patrick to Joseph 

St. Joseph's Day Highlights Family, Says John Paul II from Zenit.org.

Excerpt:
The Holy Father invited young people to follow the example of St. Joseph, to "correspond every day with the Lord's wishes."

John Paul II presented Jesus' adoptive father to the sick as "support in suffering." The Pope also encouraged newlyweds to be "always docile to divine plans" as St. Joseph was.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Irish Humor, Installment XII 

A Protestant went to the racetrack in Belfast. While there, he observed a Catholic priest walk over to a horse just before a race, pull out a small vial of liquid, and put some of the contents of the vial onto the horse while muttering a prayer. That very horse went on to win the race, lengths ahead of the nearest competitor.

Before the next race the Protestant saw the priest go over to another horse and perform the same ritual. Just like the first horse, it went on to win its race by a large margin.

Putting two and two together, the Protestant said to himself, "If that priest does that to another horse, I am going to bet every penny I have on it!"

Sure enough, the priest went over to another horse before the next race, pulled out a vial of liquid, put some of the contents onto the horse and muttered a prayer. The Protestant hurried to a bookie and bet every penny he had on this horse.

The race started and suddenly the horse that the priest had prayed over keeled over dead as a doornail about 100 yards out of the starting gate.

The Protestant was devastated, so he stormed over to the priest and said, "What are you playing at?! The last two horses you saw went on to win their races, and this last one you did dropped dead after only 100 yards! I put every penny I had on that horse!"

The priest replied with a smile, "You are a Protestant, aren't you lad?"

The Protestant said that indeed he was, and asked, "But how do you know that? And what's that got to do with anything?"

The priest then said "Because, my boy, you clearly don't know the difference between giving a blessing and administering last rites."

Some St. Patrick Legends 

Fun and interesting, but not necessarily verifiable.

"It happed on a time that a man of that country stole a sheep, which belonged to his neighbour, whereupon Saint Patrick admonested the people that whomsoever had taken it should deliver it again within seven days. When all the people were assembled within the church, and the man which had stolen it made no semblant to render ne deliver again this sheep, then Saint Patrick commanded, by the virtue of God, that the sheep should bleat and cry in the belly of him that had eaten it, and so happed it that, in the presence of all the people, the sheep cried and bleated in the belly of him that had stolen it. And the man that was culpable repented him of his trespass, and the others from then forthon kept them from stealing of sheep from any other man."
~from "The Golden Legend-The Life of Saint Patrick" by Jacobus de Voragine.

"When Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary bishop, he was preaching one day in County Mayo (where the O’Malleys come from). A very fierce and famous chieftain asked to be baptized and received in the Church, and, since there were still no churches in Ireland, they gathered in a great field. A huge crowd arrived to witness the event.

St. Patrick arrived in his bishop’s vestments with his miter and his crosier. He stuck his staff in the ground and began to preach a long sermon on the Catholic faith. The chieftain to be baptized stood in front of Patrick. He grew pale; he began to sweat profusely, and suddenly fainted dead away. When they rushed over to help him, the people discovered to their horror that St. Patrick had inadvertently stuck his staff through the man’s foot. And when they threw water on him and revived him, they asked him, ‘Why didn’t you say something when this happened?’

And he replied, ‘I thought it was part of the ceremony!’ "

~from the installation homily of Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley, July 30, 2003, as quoted in St. Anthony Messenger magazine.

"St. Patrick is famous the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland. One story tells of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. Another legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small and the discussion became very heated. Finally the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea.

Of course, though it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, there probably have not been since Ireland was separated from the continent of Europe at the end of the last ice age."

~from Irish Lane website

"The Shamrock, in Irish "Seamróg", symbolizes the Trinity, that is, the Christian idea that there is One God but Three Persons in the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Before the Christian era it was a sacred plant of the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad. Famous stories tell of how St. Patrick used the shamrock in his teaching. Preaching in the open air about God and the Trinity, he illustrated the meaning of the Three in One by plucking a shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and showing it to his congregation. Just as the shamrock is one leaf with three parts, so God is one entity with three Persons.

The legend of the shamrock is also connected with that of the banishment of the serpent tribe from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on shamrocks and that it is a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions. The shamrock was a sacred plant for the Druids, and three was a mystical number in the Druidic religious tradition. It is probable that St. Patrick was aware of the significance of using a shamrock to illustrate this spiritual metaphor."

~from Irish Lane website

"Believe it or not, the colour of St. Patrick was not actually green, but blue! In the 19th century, however, green came to be used as a symbol for Ireland. Thanks to plentiful rain and mist, the 'Emerald Isle' is indeed green year-round, which was probably the inspiration for the national colour." (I hope you didn't pinch anyone wearing blue today!)
~from Irish Lane website

"Leprechauns--Okay, the little guys have nothing to do with St. Patrick. Zip. Nada. In Irish legend, leprechauns are a far cry from their happy-go-lucky modern counterparts.

They were generally seen as bad-tempered spirits, capable of great mischief. They did have pots of gold, and catching a leprechaun forced it to reveal the gold’s location, although the leprechaun was likely to come back at you later.

They probably became associated with St. Patrick’s Day because a) they were Irish, and b) they looked cute on greeting cards. I doubt the original leprechauns would be too pleased with this..."

~from St. Patrick's Day Traditions website.

Just the Facts Regarding St. Patrick 

St. Patrick is a figure who is steeped in stories and legends. The Irish are well-known for their storytelling prowess, and over the course of almost 1600 years, lots of stories have been told and retold about the patron of Ireland. The following are what are considered as the basic facts about Patrick, from Catholic Online:

Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote

"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more."

He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.

He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.


Most images of St. Patrick in art are highly romanticized. In truth, he was probably a pretty unkempt, dirty kind of guy much of the time, given the conditions in which he did his work of conversion in Ireland. This woodcut is one of the closest illustrations of what he may have really looked like, only picture him as much less combed and clean.

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


One of two pieces of writing directly attributable to St. Patrick himself is his "Confessions", which can be found in English translation many places online. One of those places is here at Christian Classics Ethereal Library.

The Lorica of St. Patrick 

This popular Celtic prayer comes out of the mists of Irish history as attributed to St. Patrick, although as is the case with many things associated with Patrick, due to the distant times and primitive places in which he lived, it can't be confirmed.
This version is a literal translation from an Irish text.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe in the Trinity in Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false
prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot,
Christ in the ship,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity,
I believe in the Trinity in Unity
The Creator of the Universe.


Photo from http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/

A Novena to St. Patrick, Final Day 

This concludes the St. Patrick Novena I've been posting for a personal intention as well as for the intention of a true and lasting peace among Catholics and Protestants in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Blessed Saint Patrick,
glorious Apostle of Ireland,
who didst become a friend and father to me
for ages before my birth,
hear my prayer and accept, for God,
the sentiments of gratitude and veneration
with which my heart is filled.

Through thee I have inherited that faith
which is dearer than life.
I now make thee the representative of my thanks,
and the mediator of my homage to Almighty God.

Most holy Father and patron of my country,
despise not my weakness;
remember that the cries of little children
were the sounds that rose,
like a mysterious voice from heaven,
and invited thee to come amongst us.

Listen, then, to my humble supplication;
may my prayer ascend to the throne of God,
with the praises and blessings
which shall ever sanctify thy name and thy memory.

May my hope be animated
by the patronage and intercession of our forefathers,
who now enjoy eternal bliss and owe their salvation,
under God, to thy courage and charity.

Obtain for me grace to love God
with my whole heart,
to serve him with my whole strength,
and to persevere in good purposes to the end,
o faithful shepherd of the flock,
who wouldst have laid down a thousand lives to save one soul,
take my soul,
and the souls of my countrymen,
under thy special care.

Be a father to the Church
and her faithful people.
Grant that all hearts may share the blessed fruits of that Gospel
thou didst plant and water.
Grant that, as our ancestors of old had learned,
under thy guidance,
to unite science with virtue,
we too, may learn, under thy patronage,
to consecrate all Christian duty to the glory of God.

I commend to thee my native land,
which was so dear to thee while on earth.
Protect it still, and, above all,
direct its chief pastors and all leaders of the Church,
particularly those who teach us.
Give them grace to walk in thy footsteps,
to nurture the flock with the word of life
and the bread of salvation,
and to lead the heirs of the Saints thou hast formed
to the possession of that glory which they,
with Thee, enjoy in the kingdom of the Blessed:
through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Amen.

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

V. Pray for us, O glorious Saint Patrick.
R. And obtain for us the intention of this Novena.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Class of 2004 

George Harrison, ZZ Top, Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, and Prince, among others were inducted last night. Wow! What a group! George Harrison is one of rock guitar's greatest pioneers, right up there with Clapton, Page and Hendrix, and yet was one of the most unheralded during his lifetime. "All Things Must Pass" and "Cloud Nine" should be in every true guitar rock fan's music collection. Prince is a brilliant musician, even though his lyrics and videos could be a bit lewd at times. "Purple Rain" was one of THE albums of the 1980s, and "Let's Go Crazy" one of the top ten rock anthems of all time. My friends and I wore out several copies of ZZ Top's 1983 "Eliminator" album back in junior high. Thank goodness they released "Afterburner" (their follow-up) when they did in 1985, because the local record store was starting to run out of copies of "Eliminator".

George Harrison photo from http://musicmoz.org
The late George Harrison

Better Than An Academy Award 

Passion actor Caviezel meets Pope from the BBC.

"The actor who plays Jesus in the controversial The Passion of the Christ had an audience with the Pope on Monday, the Vatican confirmed.
Jim Caviezel, 35, had a brief meeting with Pope John Paul II who then blessed the devoutly Catholic actor.

Caviezel's wife and parents-in-law were also present at the Vatican meeting."


Talk About Not Thinking Things Through! 

I would have posted this as a "Uniquely Maine" feature, but this truly bizarre story is not something unique to anywhere except Stupidville, U.S.A.

'No crime' seen in man nailing himself to cross from The Bangor Daily News.

From the article:
"Somerset County Lt. Pierre Boucher said the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on his living-room floor. He attached a note saying "suicide" to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.

"When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911," said Boucher. It was unclear whether the man was seeking assistance for his injury or help in nailing his other hand down."


For the record, the article also says the man told deputies he had not seen the movie "The Passion of the Christ".

Do you think maybe a few bad ice cubes may have been involved in this incident?
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