Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Holiness Between the Sheets: Married Saints

I just saw an announcement in the Rite magazine, a magazine for liturgists.

It reads:

The National Center for the Laity is seeking to help the Vatican identfy married couples as candidates for canonization. It is looking to find couples who were devoted to each other (without choosing voluntary celibacy after raising their children), to their children and to their community. Preference will be given to North American couples. Write to the Center at P.O.Box 2921102, Chicago IL 60629

The words here have been chosen carefully so I don't think the Vatican asked them to search, but it seems that they have taken the initiative to do so and at some point will recommend a couple for consideration.

Rite is a publication of Liturgy Training Publications, which Cardinal George watches closely, so make of this announcement what you will.

On Amy Welborn's blog, there's a discussion about non-Catholic sects in Guatemala(sp?) and their encroachment on the Catholic faithful. Apparently up to 30% of Guatemalans are now Protestant up from almost nill.

I just wonder why this is a big surprise or shock. We constantly ridicule Fundamentalists and other groups, we call them names, proclaim them confused, etc. But we refuse to acknowledge that these people are making major headway and they have their fingers on the pulse of the modern person and that they have a message that appeals to depths of people's hearts.

Shouldn't the Catholic brass be asking why we are losing so many and what have we done to create an environment that people want to leave en masse?

Oh no, they can't ask that, because that would imply a faliure on their part. After all, there are a billion Catholics in the world and that number represents an increase over the past 20 or so years, so there really isn't any problem. In fact it should be dogmatically stated that no problems can and do exist.

And so the story goes on . . . the fundamentalists slowly siphon our people until we wake one morning and realize that they constitute 20 percent and then 25 percent and then 35 percent of the population. Or, on the flip side, we wake up and realize that we are not growing as fast as we should and then we realize that we are not growing at all and then, the unthinkable, our numbers are declining!

Quick, get the Vatican (that takes 6 months), call a meeting (8 months), address our urgent decline (5 drafts of a solution, 3 months in the making, 2 years for Vatican review, sent back for revisions, another 9 months, approved a year later, 6 months to discuss how to apply solutions . . .)

So what is the solution? There is none, we must prepare for a slow and steady demise, which is fine. I say, though, that we go down with dignity and proclaim our superiority till the end.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Did not blog yesterday because I was in transit from Toronto. Boy, security sure is tight at the airports especialy if you are going to Reagan National. It took almost an hour and a half to get through all the customs madness. I was with friends who do not think all the customs extra caution, being checked a thousand times, is unnecessary. As for me, I'm like a duck, my oily feathers make these things drip off me.

Yesterday, was my 2 year anniversary. We both met up at Reagan national, she was coming from Texas and I from Toronto, so half the day was spent traveling. I think I scored points with my gift. I actually bought a dress and she loved it. In Toronto, all my friends thought it was funny and that it was a risk, but after 2 years, I think I'm getting to know my wife.

As for marriage, I'm yet to see what is so bad about it and why guys go through cold sweats and all that foolishness when they are confronted with a marriage commitment. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and can't imagine life without being married. I wish more guys would get with it and stop being a chicken about marriage and I guess more of us married guys need to fight the negative hype.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to many more years and kids.

Monday Mission Thing

1. What is your favorite snack food? Does anyone you know have weird tastes in snacks?

Potato Chips, the saltier the better. I especially like hot, barbeque potato chips.

2. Ever caught yourself saying "well it can't get any worse" and it does? What's the story there?

My motto in life is that "Life sucks and then you die." So I've had those situations but I never say it can't get any worse, because I believe that if it can, it will.

3. I have a super-short attention span, and it always was my downfall in school, especially math class. What's your attention span like and how has it served you?

I have a pretty good attention span. It was pretty bad as a kid, but I think I can hold my attention span for a very long time.

4. Do you believe in the existence of extra-terrestrials?

Okay, trick questions. Every Catholic or Christians believes in angels and demons, etc, so that kind'a counts in my book. I do, however, believe that in this vast universe, God created other intelligent beings and just as there may be a Ahmed El Amin in existence somewhere in Jordan and that the chances of my meeting such a person are practically nill because of the size of our world, I think the chances of us meeting ET is low.

5. What do you think of the whole "crop circles" phenomenon?

I thought that they had shown that it was a hoax?

6. Ever had a time where you begin visiting with someone you don't know all that well and just find you "click" like long lost pals? Tell me about how that came to happen, and who was it? What kind of things do you have in common?

That happens with me often, but only if there two or three things that we share a passion for. Otherwise, I've been known to be an enemy of small talk. My wife has given me a rule, don't just given a one word or phrase answer to a questions, offer something else. For instance, some asks, "Do you like your Saturn?" "It's decent," is my reply, My wife says to add something else like give details or say, "I'm not sure I would get a Saturn next time."

7. When I was at the cemetery a few weeks ago, I began to recall my Dad's funeral so many years ago. It is so vivid, sitting there in the family room as his friends passed by and paid their respects, the music, his face, the tears. What funeral do you remember most vividly?

My wife's grandmother. It was recent and also her death was a surprise.I also remember my foster grandmother's quite well. It was in Nigeria and it took a week; there was partying, dancing, crying, weeping, everything.

BONUS: How can I forget you, girl?

I don't get it.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

WYD Update

I'm back from the Papal Mass at Downsview park in 'Toronto.

I left my hotel room at 5:30 am and took a shuttle down to the park. I don't think I was quite prepared for what i was going to see. It rained pretty badly last night and when I got there, the Park looked like a refugee camp. It was legitimate refugee, squalor conditions, but no one seemeed to mind though. I took some pictures which should be up here soon. I also took some personal ones which should be up soon.

This morning started off very frustrating. I had a place in the section that was closest to the Pope but I couldn't get there becuase of jams at all the pathways. And then I got stuck for an hour at this junction becuase they were clearing the way for the popemobile which they were expecting in a couple of hours. By doing this they prevented many who were getting food for their groups to be able to get to their groups. it was a nightmare, so much so that tempers flared and I heard someone use a phrase that I loved, he said, "the organizers must have had a cerebral meltdown." From what I understand, it is always like this. After 45 minutes of beind stuck I decided to brave my way back to open space and eventually I made it. I then caught the media shuttle which was supposed to take me backstage, but then the Papal helicopter was arriving and all vehicles were supposed to stop and so the shuttle dropped me off about half a mile and so it was another hike. It started raining really bad and so I went in a gate that led to a tent where disabled pilgrims had slept. Fortunately it was right by the landing pad and I was able to get a nice shot of the papal helicopter landing.

After that, I hiked around to the backstage place but we weren't allowed access to anything or place and so I hiked back to the main area. It really was hiking, the park is huge.

I was pretty miserable after that, I did get to see the Pope drive by but I was sickened by the state of things by that time. After a cup of coffee and two cranberry muffins, i was re-energized and I went back out.

The sun had come out and it was beautiful. I really admired the pilgrims who braved the conditions without pouting, unlike me. it was funny to note that in the same group of pilgrims, some were following along with mass, others were doing other things and some where sleeping. Also i noted that after the Pope arrived, there was a steady stream of people leaving as there was a steacy stream of people arriving. i think they expected 1-2 million people here. The vigil was supposed to have had about 400,000 at the vigil.

Overall it was a good experience. I don't think I got all I could have out of it, maybe because I was working but also because I am sensitive to squalor-like conditions and all that mud. I was fortunate to catch the media bus back, so I beat the rush.

I wasn't at the vigil last nite only because I had to be there this morning. I watched it on TV and thought that it went very well.

Well that was World Youth Day. I am undecided as to whether I'd be interested in going to Cologne 2005, where the next WYD will be held. I probably won't be staff there and that makes it less appealing. For one thing, the Germans are prompt and plan meticulously, so that may be worth going to just to watch the Germans run the show. Another funny note is that it is my understanding that the German bishops announced that the next WYD would be in Germany before the Vatican announced it, or even acknowledged, so Cologne 2005 is not official. Anyway, peace and love ya'll, I'm going to find some food.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

I am leaving the office now and heading up town. I will walk some ways to take a few pictures and then retire to my room, of course, I need to get my sweethearts something from Toronto . . .but what?

There is going to be a lot of people at the Sunday Papal mass, especially since it has now been opened to the public. It has been opened to the public because the numbers for WYD are lower than what was originally anticipated.

I have a lot of thoughts about what has gone on here. One thing I will say is that it has had a positive effect on me. After the scandal broke, my respect for the hierarchy and anything hierarchical was down to nill. I'm still close to there but meeting many individual bishops here has done something to restore my faith in something, I'm not sure what. Anyway, i've always felt that it is not the men that are the problem it is the structure. individually, priests and bishops always turn out to be very nice people, but when they are plugged into the system, things fall apart.

I think the kids have gotten a lot out of this experience. I'm still not convinced that conservatives and the hierarchy have connected with the young people. I think that the presence of so many young people here has been interpreted to mean that the Church is fine and young people are on fire for the Church. Well, not quite. They love and adore the Pope, but many could care less about many issues that are flash points for orthodoxy and when pressed, their thoughts do not necessarily jive with conservative views. I call them walking contradictions, and often i put myself in that category. You may be passionate about your church and not see anything inherentlly worng with being a cafetaria Catholic.

WYDays are always great ways to get young people involved, I hope parishes and diocese would follow up.

wYD Update

I forgot to mention earlier. At the parish catechetical site, confessions have been going on at a brisk pace.

Also, I met a priest from LIBYA!!! Praise Jesus! LIBYA! I think we in the Church need to pray very hard for the Church in North Africa, this is the true cradle of the Catholic faith and many in those countries wish to worship openly or even convert but it is nothing short of dangerous.

Lets see . . . Friday, now what happened?

On Friday I headed out to my catechetical site, Salvador del Mundo parish, at 5:30 am. I normally stop at Java Joe's to get coffee and two blueberry muffins for the road. I said hi to a sister, a fellow employee. BTW they had no blueberry or banana nut muffins, it was only my WYD charity that restrained the bubbling stream of profanity within.

This time I had settled on a completely different route to the parish and Yes! it worked out perfectly. I got there in under 45 minutes. The day had started of wonderfully.

The church was full and we were all ready to go. On Friday we had Cardinal Bevilacqua giving catechesis and celebrating mass. I had asked earlier about him and I was told, in good humor, that he was like the godfather. They told me that he was very regal and very Italianish. Well it was true. He is absolutely great. he appears very regal and I could see what they meant about him being like the godfather. His appearance is nothing like Brando, but it is just that he has very well defined and powerful features and a strong presence. He is from Brooklyn and has a very Brooklyn accent and he is utlimately down to earth. Needless to say, THE YOUNG PEOPLE ABSOLUTELY ADORED HIM!!!!

I don't know much about the cardinal but I am a fan. His talk was a mixture of prepare text and spontaneous delivery. He had the young people rolling in laughter and his honesty endeared him to them. They loved him. After his catechesis, the leader broke them up into groups to talk about the catechetical topic which was "Be ye reconciled to God." However, many abandoned their groups and tried to accost the Cardinal to take a picture with him and so we had the makings of a riot. I had to stop them and promise pictures after mass, even though I had no idea if the Cardinal would be available. He is a take-charge kind of guy, but very, very easy to work with. The musican had asked to go over the mass and I suggested that he talk with the Cardinal, the poor guy was trembling but His Emminence was really re-assuring, great guy! Mass was also wonderful, his homily continued the theme of reconciliation and again he had the youth laughing and listening.

After mass, I had to lock the sacristry doors to give the Cardinal a moment to catch his breath. Even though he had a later apppointment, he was gracious enough to remain and take pictures with everyone. so we created a line going down the aisle of the church and he began to take pictures with the pilgrims. They couldn't get enough of him. There were young girls hugging him like he was their grandfather. he wanted to know everyone's name and where they were from and he made sure to give them his blessing.

When we finally got done, I asked if he would bless my rosary that my wife gave me for Xtmas so that I can give it to my daughter. His brow popped, up. "What's your daughter's name?" I told him (it's Oviereya which is a Urhobo [my folk's Nigerian language] word for Queen). "How old is she?" "8 months" I replied. He then pulled out a plastic bag with a buch of little crosses and gave me one of them for her and then he blessed the rosary. needless to say, I was estatic. Now, you have to understand, I generally could care less about blessings or things like that, I'm not sure why, but this meant a lot to me and I think it was because I met him in person and was personally touched. (Of course, when I got to my hotel I called my wife and insisted on speaking to my baby and I told her, I think she got the gist, her babble and cooed response was good enough for me).

Friday was also the way of the cross re-enactment. I did not see it in person, again because of the crowds. However, I watched it on TV and was very moved by it. I think it was powerful and I only hope it had the desired effect on the youth.

The Canadian media coverage has been pretty good in my estimation. I think that they are obliged to cover all aspects including opposition, so I think criticisms of the media coverage by Catholic conservatives is unwarranted. Also the coverage from Buffalo, whose TV stations are accessible here have been pretty good.

WYD Update

Today everyone's headed uptown to Downsview park for the Papal vigil and tomorrow's mass, so the crowds are clearing up downtown and I'm going to do some shopping and sightseeing today. A friend of mine told me that the Canadian dollar fell against the US yesterday, which bodes well for us shoppers.

OKay let me see if I remember thursday.

On Thursday I had to go the catechetical site that I was in charge of, which is a parish in Mississauga about an hour or so west of Toronto. The parish is called Salvador del Mundo, a Portuguese parish with a parish school in which a bunch of mostly US pilgrims were staying. I happened to take pictures of this site when I was there.

Because of my subway and bus snafu on wednesday, I decided to use another bus route this time. Well it was another hellish experience, but less frazzling this time. From the end of the green line I had to take a bus 30 minutes south of the place I was headed and then take another bus 25 minutes north almost back to where I started. I had to do this because no bus went directly from the station to the intersection I was headed. When the bus arrived at the intersection, we weren't sure which of the three bus stops was mine. They made a call in for me but to no avail. Anyway, I got off at the third bus stop and realized that I needed to have dropped off at the first one, so I began walking back there which took another 15 minutes and then from there, it was 15 minutes to the parish. I was 30 minutes late but again the worship leader and the musicians and the local volunteers had everything all ready.

The Bishop was from Ghana, Bishop Peter Turkson. He was a wonderful person: very, very, humble. Some people would come to him and kiss his ring which made him uncomfortable and he would kiss their hands back. He was very easy going which makes it easy for those of us organizing things. When he was introduced, he received a rousing response from the people present. His Catechesis was also very, very good. He spoke spontaneously and used a ton of scriptures in discussing the theme for the day, which was, "You are the light of the world." He had the young people laughing and everything. They enjoyed themselves and learned something in the process. There weren't as many questions as the day before, I think because he was not American, the young people were not sure what kind of questions to ask.

After the catechetical session there was mass, 14 priests and a Bishop. Thankfully, everything went smoothly. Bishop Turkson's homily was 28 minutes long, but then again because it was punctuated with stories, anecdotes and was a great teaching session, no one noticed. I personally enjoyed it because I grew up listening to very scriptural sermons that generally ranged between a hour to two hours in length. When I returned to the Catholic church, and since then, my tolerance for homilies has greatly decreased, and I generally cannot take more than ten minutes of a catholic homily. Here, i was spell bound for all 28 minutes so I enjoyed and I think the young people did also.

After mass, a Knights of columbus volunteer was going to take the Bishop back to his hotel and I caught a ride with them. It was great talking to him about things in general. When you get the bishops in relaxed situations you can get quite of bit of interesting information. I asked about the visa situation and how that hurt numbers from Africa. He said that they (BTW he is the president of the Ghanian Bishops' Conference) negotiated with the Canadian authorities and it was agreed that, for approval, pilgrims would have to be personally known to and vouched by a Bishop. He told stories of how many people, who weren't even catholic tried to get his approval. He noted that there is a legitimate problem as was clear at Rome WYD 2000 when many Ghanians as well as other nationals violated their visas and dissappeared, even someone in a national catholic position bailed out on them. So I guess it is that serious an issue. On a side note i hear that the Canadian authorities rejected about 25 percent of visa applications and that the average is about 20 percent. So far, they say about 10 people have filed for refugee status,though they are not releasing an information.

Thursday evening was when the pope came. I was indoors at the US Pilgrims Office and watched it on TV. It was a jungle out there but the excitement was palpable. I watched his entrance as people went wild. I then went out to the grounds when the ceremony began. It was beautiful. The Pope was in great spirits and feeling very strong. The crowds loved him and, as we all know, he loves them too. I was amazed at his stamina and how he was able to deliver so many talks in different languages.

One exciting part was when they called out the names of the different countries represented. Loud points go to the Germans, Italians and the French. But U.S. and Canada were nothing short of thunderous. It was an electrifying moment. Patriotism and culturalism runs very high at WYD. Oh I forgot,t he Mexican's were quite loud too.

One other point is that Toronto has been exceptionally hospitable. Okay, I think that was Thursday, the train ride back to my hotel wasn't too bad. I think I crashed asap because I had a Friday morning catechetical session to attend and organize and given my commuting adventures of the previoius two days, I needed to get up early again . . .5:30 am.

I should have my Friday adventures soon. I need to take a break.

Friday, July 26, 2002


Okay what day is today, I guess it is Friday. It has been a long couple of days.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, there have been morning catechetical sessions and mass at various parishes in the greater Toronto area. Each session is led by a Bishop, or two. The Bishops do Catechesis for 30 -45 minutes and then they have a question and answer session for the young people with the Bishops.

I was assigned to be a site coordinator at Salvador del Mundo parish, a Portuguese parish in the Mississisuaga and so I've had very interesting experiences.

On Wednesday, I got up at 5:30 am and caught a train at 6:10 to the end of the Toronto subway green line. The idea then was to take a bus to a stop near the parish so that I can be there to set things up. Well I was misinformed by a bus driver who took me 25 minutes north of my desitination. I then had to catch another bus to return me to the station. At this point I was a touch frazzled because I had to be at the parish by no later than 8 am.

I then took a cab but it so turned out that the cab driver did not know where the church was so that was another adventure. In fact, he got so lost that he had to stop, pause the meter and consult a map. I finally got there and thankfully there were great volunteers and musicians there and it made everything go smoothly.

The bishop at the site that day, which was wednesday was Archbishop Chaput of Denver. He was a very gracious and funny man, I liked him. He was easy going and made things flow smoothly. He delivered a very nice catechesis on being the salt of the earth. The pilgrims also responded well to him and asked quite a few questions.

Let me see if i can remember any questions . . . there was one that was basically a question about one true Church stuff and why we can't share Eucharist with other Christians. As is customary of the Archbishop, he does not skirt around such issues, his response was firm on the Church's position. I can't remember much else question and answer-wise, i guess I was in the back making sure that everything was all set for mass. We had about 12 priests and 2 Bishops celebrating so the logistics had to be worked out. But it was great.

Afterwards, we all had to take public transportation back to Exhibition Place which is ground zero for all the activities and where pilgrims get food. That took about 2 hours.

The food has not been too impressive. It probably tastes better than it looks. The way they do it is that you have to get in groups of six and a leader gets the food for the group. This cuts down on crowds at the food distribution place. They got his idea from Rome, which made more sense than trying to deal with thousands of individuals.

After lunch on Wednesday, i was totally run down. On Tuesday at the opening ceremony I had to take pictures after working all day at the US pilgrim office and so coupled with Wednesday's work, I got to my room at 3 and crashed for the rest of the day. it worked, because the headache that I had been sporting for the previous days had gone, when I woke up on Thursday.

The downside to all this is that I am away from my wife and baby girl, who is growing by the hour. She recognizes my voice on the phone which sort of makes up.
Okay so that was wednesday. Oh! on Wednesday i watched Spy Game, for $11.99 Canadian. I was truly satisfied. It is not often that you can watch an intelligent, action, drama movie that is well written, directed, acted, etc. I recommend it highly, 4 out of 5 stars.

Okay, that was wednesday. I have to go but I'll probably have more to say today about my Thursday and Today. Peace

Tuesday, July 23, 2002


Long, long day, lot's of fun though. the crowds are now here and it is simply amazing. There are flags from Japan to Malawi to the US. The Germans have distinguished themselves as the loudest of the bunch, but the Mexicans have been pretty vocal too. Of course, the U.S. groups are "slammin."

I got some great pictures, but I may have ruined them as I mistakenly opened up the camera before the film was completely rewound(sp?).

there is a vocation's exhibit where religious orders and diocesan offices are encouraging young people to consider the religious life or priesthood. I happen to know that the drool factor is pretty high because it should be a profitable time for them: so many young people on fire for the Church.

The opening ceremony was packed and very nice. All you see is a sea of people and flags, but even though there were thousands there, it wasn't bad for a claustrophobic like me.

Tonite, there's going to be many concerts: BTW there is music everywhere, groups from different countries and different languages can be heard all over the place. It is also not unlikely to find a group of pilgrims pull out a couple of acoustic guitars and start a mini concert.

Wednesday thru Friday will focus on catechesis in the mornings. So pilgrims will go to different catechetical sites around the city. Each site will have a Bishop who will do the catechesis.

You can find journal entries and photos at the USCCB WYD website.

Public transportation was covered in the registration fee so to get around, just hop on a bus or train and don't have to fool around with tickets, passes, tokens, etc. The official WYD food has also been surprisingly pretty good.

Tomorrow is also going to be busy for me, so if I get to blog, it'll be a late blog.

Monday, July 22, 2002


I just had lunch, italian sausage for $6 Canadian, not to bad. I saw a dried "Original" Philly Steak, 3 inches long, for $6 Canadian, no fries, or drink. I think it is a rip off.

there are quite a few religious orders here at the vocations exhibit. They all seem excited and expectations are high. I know a few people working at the different religious order exhibits, so I'll know more later in the week.

Not as many book and gift vendors as I thought, maybe more are coming.

From what I understand, there'll be about 125 U.S. Bishops here, not a bad number at all.

Ono out!

Toronto is fun so far, beautiful city. Not too many people here yet, but that should change soon. Hopefully, I'll have pictures soon.

Amy Welborn has the link to the Washington Post story about the homosexuality at the nation's premier seminary, Theological College in D.C. affiliated with Catholic University of America. Sad, but not completely out of reach, I knew some of the guys there and they are great people, but the point of the article is that there is an unaddressed gay subculture, which is a concern.

The question, though, is that in asking the hierarchy to deal with this are we asking the foxes to guard the henhouse?

Sunday, July 21, 2002

My foray into sci fi is a short story called Table of the Lord.

Don't Read This If You Intend to Watch Minority Report!

I give it a three out of five stars, maybe a three and a half. I liked it and thought it was clever. I had two main problems, one of which cost the movie a star.

First of all, the movie is set in the year 2054 in DC. How unrealistic! The mistake many sci-fi books and movies make is that they don't ever consider the political situation and trends, nor do they consider infrastructure changes, all they want to do is show off how well they can come up with fancy looking technology. In Minority Report they have these fancy appartments that have tracks for your cars and the car zooms up to your appartment and you step out into you appartment. Also the roads are all configured for these new space age cars, how silly! I've got news for them, do you want to know what 2054 will look like? Look out the window.

Technology changes are not the hard part, they take place at a blistering pace but the infrastructure change regarding roads, cars, buildings, etc will take hundreds of years. There has to be a paradigm shift before politicians begin to appropriate funds for that kind of development and usually it is spurred on by some kind of disaster that prompts a rebuilding effort. Besides, someone always stands to lose money when there are infrastructure changes, which always implies a political fight and compromise. I think we could have such technology by 2054, but it'll take much longer to stick.

The other problem I had was in the story. The Justice dept guy. He apparently was smart enough to reconstruct the unethical dealings of the one guy but was completely unprepared that the guy was going to kill him. How monumentally stupid! That was a major flaw, one which bothered me and forced the removal of a star in the rating.

I did like the fact that it was sci fi without too much sci. I think a good story works in past, present and future without much reference to technology, etc.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

On my flight from DC to Dallas, yesterday, i read Pete Vere's Schism and Other Stories a collection of Pete Vere's short stories, available at Francisidore Press for a dollar.

For a dollar, I thought it wasn't a bad deal. My wife and I read the stories together as we passed our little one back and forth until she fell asleep.

Schism and Other Stories is a collection of five short stories, all by Pete Vere. Mr. Vere, in the introduction, lets us know afore hand his enduring interest in the horror genre and his history as a re-membered schismatic Catholic. These two nuggets of information are important because they color the work in important ways. Some of the stories are as long as four to five pages and there is one that is a page long.

Peter Vere I think is making an important contribution to the Catholic horror and existential novel genre, which is, no doubt a developing genre. The story ideas were fresh and creative, displaying imagination and promise. There were some shortcomings. In some of the stories, especially the very short ones, Mr. Vere begins in the story teller mode and ends as a journalist reporting a story. The story telling is not always consistent, so that many characters are not sufficiently developed or the dialog seems to move too quickly and not build up gradually as it often does in everyday life. Without a gradual build up through dialog or without sufficient character development, it becomes difficult to empathize with the characters' drama. It is also hard to identify with the characters in the stories because they are obviously tied very closely to Mr. Vere's personal history, which is somewhat uncommon.

The two stories I enjoyed the most were "The Priest and the Raven," which I would give a high creep factor and "Schism," which was the most compelling of the stories. "Canons in the Night" is a story which I would classify in the genre of existential absurdity. The story invites introspection and reflects on some aspects of the absurdity of life, as I see it. It has the potential of a wonderful romantic story, but the earlier reflections apply here, the dialog seemed too rushed and the characters could have received more development. Nonetheless, there is a moving story there and you get the point. "Avenue of the Damned" was the shortest and one that I do not think attains the level of the others. It has a very interesting sketch and potential for a compelling story, but what we get is something of a journal report that is insufficiently developed. I think Mr. Vere can re-do this story and flesh it out much more, it would be interesting to get into the mind of the "damned" and understand her motives and her view of where she ends up. Finally, there is "The Forest and the Trees." I think this had the highest creep factor. The end leaves you scratching your head, but that may be the point, to make you read it over and more closely. Nonetheless, the story freaked me out, which is what you want horror to do.

The criticisms notwithstanding, you absolutely cannot go wrong for a dollar. Mr. Vere's writing style is very descriptive and some of his paragraph's are simply masterful. I happen to think that writing these stories was very cathartic for Mr. Vere, there is a very real quality about them. When I was done reading, I was entertained and I learned something. Not bad at all for a dollar.

I was reminded today about a couple of burger incidents in my recent past. I went to Wendys' drive through and ordered a double cheeseburger value meal. When we got home and unwrapped everything I noticed stuff hanging off the side. I turned the burger around, there were four beef patties on my bun . . . gross!

Almost a year ago, my wife and I were at a restaurant. I ordered a burger and my wife, a fajita. When the burger finally arrived, I felt that there was something wrong with it. I just couldn't put my finger on the problem. Anyway, i set up the burger with ketchup and mustard and then took a bite. It tasted funny and then I placed it down, opened it up and there was no meat! A cheesburger with no burger.

When it rains it pours and vice versa.

P.S. I ate the big Irish burger at Benigans which is a pound of meat. I finished it even though I had to be rolled out of the restaurant. My wife said that eating that burger was like placing a meatloaf between two buns and chomping away . . . now that she puts it that way, of course it does sound gross.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Light blogging over the next 10-14 days. I'll be heading to Dallas and then to Toronto. I do expect to blog but not at as much as I would like. Hopefully I can get in a few WYD blogs from Toronto.

Mike Yaconelli: Ten Easy Steps to Guarantee a Successful Youth Ministry! As Mrs. Lively would say, "reader caveat!"

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Dave Pawlak of Pompous Ponderings
sent this nice email

Loved your post about Church Speak vs. Church Action, and why poor parishes
are often ignored (and eventually closed). It is often the case that the
Anglo parishoners prefer to let their parishes die rather than open them up
to the new people in the neighborhood. I've seen that here in Milwaukee.
Unfortunately, consolidating and closing parishes which have dwindled to a
handful of members, and are only a few blocks from each other, and in an
area which has few Catholics, is sometimes a sad necessity. Of course, I'd
rather we go out and do some old-fashioned proselytizing, and fill those
churches up again........

And I mostly agree with you about talking the talk without walking the
walk. "Faith without works is dead." But I would caution against creating
any false dichtomy between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Love is indeed what
counts in the end, but you need the "complete package": adoration as well
as helping out at homeless shelters, rosaries as well as food pantries,
apologetics as well as AIDS ministry. Mother Teresa and Fr. Groeschel both
understand that.

Some sites which have that complete package (you may know them already):

Thanks, and God bless!

-- Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Point taken. I tend to get very passionate and hot headed when incensed, so I do not always give proper emphasis. I think I was trying not to denigrate works and devotion, but rather, show that we miss out often on the point of devotions. The devotions and rituals of our faith are meant to give us the graces and strength to do the works we are called to do. I tend to get angry that may of us, as conservative minded Catholics, have substituted the heart of the faith with rituals. My point is that to be a good Christian does not lie in doing rituals, but in doing God's will which pre-existed the contemporary Catholic ritual. We sometimes seem to forget that people please God sor thousands of years before there was a Catholic faith and they did so without the Catholic rituals. So we haven't cornered the market of pleasing God.

For instance, in Hebrews 11, we have a long litany of models of faith, or hall of faith, as some would say. It is noteworthy that most of these, if not all are from the Old Testament. Pleasing God is through faith and this faith to please him has always been attainable. God does not need and never will need rituals to please him, so that if we place more emphasis on ritual than on faith in God, then we fall short of what is required. Now, this definitely does not mean that God does not value and love the rituals, such as sacraments, he has put in place, but the point is that they should be a means not an end.

A frequent example I give is the Eucharist. I have a friend whose kids say "Jesus" every time they see the Eucharist elevated at mass. At first I though it was cute and very commendable that they recognized Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and I still think so. However, I developed a strong concern which is basically this. The Eucharist is not Jesus, it is the sacrament of Jesus. Sacrament being, as Vatican II and Catechism say, a sign and an instrument. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the Lord's body and not the Lord's body itself. There is a real, actual Jesus who rose up bodily from the grave and he is Jesus: the reason there can be a Eucharist in the first place. What the Eucharist does is that it is a sign of that real Christ who is present today and an instrument by which we can partake truly of that risen real bodily Christ.

I get concerned when we forget the sign aspect of sacraments so that we focus, in the case of the Eucharist, on real presence and forget that there is a sign componet without which the Eucharist cannot be the Eucharist. This for me is an example of the means becoming mistaken for the end. The Eucharist is meant to bring us into a deeper relationship with the "living, breathing Christ," so to speak. The Eucharist is not the terminus but an instrument, albiet a most sacred instrument.

I guess this is where I am coming from. I would like to see more conservative Catholics,(granola and non-granola) recapture the sign value of sacraments and sacramentals so that we get at the point of it all, which is faith, hope and charity. For me the point of our earthly existence, (all humans, catholic or not), is summarized in these three verses:

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is in vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the Fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:26-27

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:14

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. Micah 6:8

Okay I decided to give this Monday Mission thing a shot . . .on Tuesday.

Monday Mission 2.28
1. Have you ever sold anything through an online auction? What did you sell and did you make very much?

I've sold tons of Fontanini statues on ebay, I don't know what would qulify as doing well. We sold many but at discounted prices. Never had a problem though.

2. Have you ever bought anything through an online auction? How was your experience?

No, I just can't pull the trigger.

3. Do you like the sun? Getting a suntan? Have you ever had a bad sunburn?

Not really, I don't see the point in sun tans for me, I got a great one at birth. If I've had sunburn, I haven't yet seen it.

4. Are you a vegetarian? Why? If not, have you ever considered it?

I once was, but I gave it up becuase it was too expensive and I was losing too much weight. I 'm told I look better and am more attractive, chunky.

5. Suppose you are getting into your car after you've just made your purchase from a store you visit twice a week. You suddenly realize you had a .35¢ item in your hand and you forgot to pay for it. What would you do next? (what *would* you do, not what *should* you do)

I would keep it and pay for it next time.

6. Sometimes it seems that there is just not enough time to do everything that must be done. Was there anything you wanted to accomplish this weekend that didn't get done?

yes, everything. I was so drained from the week that I pretty much lounged in front of the TV and searched for B-movies. I caught Die hard 1 & 2, . . twice!

7. What is your favorite game to play with a group and/or an individual? (board game, computer game, athletic, etc.)

Scrabble and Taboo

BONUS: One headline why believe it ?

Bush engaged in insider trading. Why, I'm burning on the inside because I voted for Bush based on Pro Life issues even though I disagree with much of everyhting else he stands for and I regret it. I'll never vote for him again and I hope they prove insider trading. It is so embarrassing that a president and administration can be so openly and brazenly self serving and sold out.

I have some thoughts on the Blessed Virgin that i'd like to put down in book form the problem is that I have so many projects going at the present time, tis crazy. As much as I love to sleep, I hate to sleep these days because it is a waste of a good 5-8 hours.

Do we need another book on the Blessed Virgin in addition to the 123, 645 out there? Maybe if I can answer this in the negative then I won't feel compelled to take on yet another project. : Couple Accused of Plotting Race War. The screwed up part of this story, besides the allegation itself, is that this guy, who is trying to blow up black and Jewish landmarks, is biracial, white and black, go figure.

Dale and Heather Price in their new blog, To Love, Honor, and Blog, are relishing in their brand new, no doubt, gorgeous baby. I smile because they are going through the debates many parents go through, which is, should we let the baby sleep in the crib all night of can she/he at least sleep with us some?

My wife and I caved completely and our baby slept with us from when she first came home till about 6 weeks, when we gradually did the cradle and then the crib thing. It's been seven months now and the crib transition was fairly smooth and she sleeps through the night.

A close friend also had a baby at the same time and it is interesting to see the little developing personalities. Our friend's daughter is really into playing. She takes her playing so seriously that if you take her toy from her, she'll lose it. Our daughter, on the other hand, is so much less into play and far more into people. She finds her toys slightly amusing but after five seconds it's time to move on and look someone in the eye. We've found out also that she loves to laugh, moreso than other babies and has developed quite the sense of humor. If you look at her and scrunch your face, she laughs and responds in kind. Basically anything that you do to make her laugh, she tries to mimic.

She's an exciting little thing and I can't wait to have another. The thing I find tricky here is that am I going to have to split love between the two or is it possible that I can love another kid like I do my little one now? I guess it is!

Monday, July 15, 2002

Church Speak vs Church Action

Had a busy day today and part of my day was taken up in an extensive meeting with a priest who works in Brooklyn. The purpose of our meeting was something else but the discussion could not help but gravitate to his parish.

His parish serves the poor of the poor, but the word is that the diocese of Brooklyn is looking to shut it down because the population is very low and it is probably a drain on resources, manpower and finances.

What hurts here is that there have been 42 baptisms in the past year and for many of the people in that community, black and hispanic, the church is the only thing positive in their lives. There are kids there who were born with AIDS, there are children of prostitutes, addicts, felons, and also of very, very poor people there. The church is where they get food, love, support, etc. These are who the Church is here for, yet such places get the lowest priority on the Catholic food chain!

For all the Church's talk about option for the poor and the like, the fact is that we leave so much to be desired that we border on hypocrisy. Can we justify $1 million renovations on basillica domes when five parishes that serve the most needy parishes have to shut down? Especially when those parishes could have survived on that money for basic operations for 4-6 years.

The fact also is that many of these populations are black, hispanic and immigrant. And if the Church is serious about reaching out to these communities, then these Churches, which are outposts of evangelization are necessary.

To the credit of some Bishops like Hickey and McCarrick, both of Washington, they see the sustenance of these parishes and inner city Catholic schools as a priority. Unfortunately this is not the case in many other dioceses.

I often ask why these things happen. After all racism, which would be a culprit for these type of actions has been eliminated among God fearing Catholics . . . right? There is no racism among our Catholic faithful, or in our Catholic schools, or in our Catholic parishes or administrations, or among our Catholic priests, or even especially among our Bishops . . . but why then do prejudicial actions abound? Coincidence? I think not.

In addition to our dirty little secret of racism that the Church still festers, we really have failed miserably to live up to our expectations in our mission to the poor. If we are not about the poor and the oppressed, what then makes us Christians? Are we such wonderful Catholics because we, unlike those liberals, adore the Eucharist, understand the canons of Trent, can spout apoogetic arguments, love Mary, defend orthodoxy, etc?

I contend we can partake of the Eucharist all day, be at adoration all week, pray every rosary and chaplet and novena ever created, sing to Mary all we want, in short do all the things that make us possibly boast about orthodoxy and be worfully short of being a true Christian.

I think we need to read Matthew 25 and 1 Cor. 13 over again and again in the Church until it finally sinks in. In the end all that counts is love. Not hours of adoration, not songs to Mary, not evangelicals converted, in the end all that matters is love. Did we love who we are asked to love? Were we true channels and images of God's love?

I give up! I can't get rid of this run time error deal. If anyone has ideas, I'm all ears.

After days of beautiful weather, we finally got a gray dreary day which ruined our plans to go see the Jackie O. exhibit. Maybe next time.

Probably not much blogging today. Got lots going on, possible workplace change, please pray. Next couple of weeks are going to be very busy. I am going to World Youth Day and so the prep for that is on.

I am looking forward to WYD and I hope it is worth it. I am going as staff and I'll be the site coordinator at St. Salvador de Mundo Church on Wed, Thurs, and Friday. At other times I will be working at the USCCB office, not all the time but sometimes. I'll be busy. I dread these events because of crowds, I hate crowds.

Abortion Industry Fears Toronto Pilgrims--Spirit Daily .

Sunday, July 14, 2002

A Washington Post reviewer looks back at 125 years of American Literature.

Male minister becomes a woman . . . raises issues for United Methodist Church.

Washington Post article by Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Henry Brinton on the strengths and weakness of lay participation in Church governance.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Wife, daughter and I are going to the Jackie Onasis exhibit today(Sunday). I'm not especially excited but my wife is. I don't quite get the gawking at Jackie's evening gowns and so on. Maybe I'll change my mind later.

We are just about an hour from DC and we've lived in the area about 6 years now, yet I haven't done all the tourist things, like the Smithsonian etc. We try but not enough time. Besides, we are in Southern Maryland which has quite a bit of history including significant U.S. Catholic history.

I just finished reading Kathryn Lively's Little Flowers earlier this afternoon. These are my initial thoughts before I offer a more comprehensive review. Great book, I strongly recommend it. Besides being well written and being an enjoyable read, I think it is a book that Youth and Young Adult ministers and moderators should take a close look at and consider adding to their libraries. It is very instructive in an appealing way. The story is about the murder of an abortion doctor and the solving of the case. I would have thought that in a novel about abortion, you'd expect to easily find the people you like and those you hate, but KL allows us to get a feel for the psychology of each character which makes the people real. She takes us into the minds of the characters and you get to understand everyone's motivations. I think this book is a very good way to explore the abortion issue and issues regarding the pressures of young adult life.

Good work KL!

Now unto Schisms by Peter Vere.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Mark Shea weighs in on the issue of masculinity and femininity of the Catholic Church in this article.

Mark Shea is saying that Catholic spirituality is more feminine and evangelical spirituality is more masculine and both need a healthy dose of a corrective, i.e., Catholic spirituality could use some masculine spirituality and evangelicals could benefit from the feminine spirituality of Catholics. I find this interesting, if not somewhat truthful, of course it is over-simplified. But I don't think Mr. Shea's intention was to give the fullest and most comprehensive treatment of the issue.

I don't like the phrase "feminization of the Church." It sounds like a terrible thing and as though women and the feminine mystique, spirituality, presence, etc have been negative to the Church, which would be a ridiculous assertion. The point is not to make the Church more masculine or feminine, but how do we project a Church that maintains an intrinsic appeal to both sexes.

I do think that the Church lacks in its appeal to men.

I think men are drawn to power, exertion, aggression, status, and hierarchy and th e like. I say this at the risk of over-generalizing

First of all, one weakness of the current Catholic Church culture is that Catholicism is removed from Scripture. Scripture is mediated to Catholics by the Church and her theology and so we have not learned to think or be Scripture. The Scriptures have a very masculine undercurrent to them, so much so that the gentleness and love called for in them seem less of a threat to a man's masculinity because there is always the masculine current to draw on. The early Church was much closer to Scripture than we are now, and this coupled with early Church stringent asceticism and martyrdom, the Church had a militant appeal, which appeals to men.

For instance, in my pentecostal days, the common wisdom was that Luke appealed more to women because of his approach and John appealed to men because of his very direct confrontational, black and white style. The beauty of direct exposure to the Bible is that one can immerse one's self in both approaches without contradiction. The problem in Catholic culture is that everything is sent through the filter of the Church's hierarchy and while the content may remain untarnished and, may even be enriched, the original voices of Scripture are missing and thus the appeal of many Scripture favorites of men are lost.

When the bible says things like, "O Lord, destroy my enemy and crush his children," (I made that up but the Psalms are full of this kind of stuff), words like "let me wash my hands in the blood of my enemies," or "He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn, the lord shall have them in derision," there is something aggressive in these verses, and many more like these that just don't seem to have any place in the Catholic canon of thought. But I contend that men need to hear words like this which abound in Scripture. This is the reason I think Handel's Messiah is so popular, even with men, because it captures the full range of emotion and expression the bible has to offer. So while we may hear "I know that my redeemer liveth," at one moment, the next moment we hear, "Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Men eat this stuff up. Again, i say all this at the risk of casting too broad a net

I have more thoughts on this, I just have to organize them in my head. But I think it is an issue of utmost concern, i.e., that we are losing our appeal to men and we need to attract them back into the Church.

" . . . call it . . . the Perfect Storm!"

Do you recall that line from the movie The Perfect Storm? Well, it is my firm contention that that line in the actual movie differs from the line used in the trailer. That said, my wife and I have this ongoing debate, she says that in the trailer, the meteorologist uttered that line somewhat non-chalantly, more as a matter of fact. I, on the other hand, remember the line as a dramatic raspy whisper full of drama and danger.

We'll never the know the truth, i guess we'll just keep debating!

Bishops' are being persecuted says Mexican prelate. How unfair to those poor Bishops! I think all those victims of sex abuse should have just shut up so that the Bishops' won't feel so persecuted.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

I just lost my blog below. It was in response to Mark Shea and the issue of the masculinity and femininity in the Catholic Church. I will post, probably in the late afternoon on the topic.

Mark Shea in

At In Between Naps I've been involved in an interesting discussion on the issue of evangelicals gaining ground in Brazil.

Part of the discussion centered around liberation theology and some feel it is to blame for discontent with the Catholic Church in that area of the world. While I do agree that liberation theology has or has had its problems, I think it was a very necessary correction to the blindness of a staid brand of Catholicism that was not seeing the world as it needed to be seen.

The church has now adopted many of the ideas of liberation theology, such as "preferential option for the poor" and the idea of "sinful structures." In fact, the idea of social sin is now gaining ground thanks in large part to liberation theology. Of course, one must unequivocally disavow any allegiance to violence or atheistic Marxism in many liberation theologians, but even then this should be done with care.

I often ask: besides our Lord, which one man has had the most profound effect on the 20th century?

Karl Marx. This man spent countless hours in libraries and was shunned by the intelligentia of his day in both Germany and England, yet his ideas had profound consequences for the 20th century world. I contend that you don't have that much impact unless you have something legitimate to say.

I think much can and has been done in dialog with Marx's thought so I would not encourage an outright dismissal of Marxism.

The roots of liberation theology are actually said to be in a statement made by the South American Bishops in the early 70s, so Guitierrez and Boff are not the founding fathers of liberation theology. And even prior to the Bishops' statement, many agree that the ultimate roots are in the work of many German theologians of the 50s and 60s.

One interesting side note about liberation theology that is hardly known in Catholic circles is that there is a vibrant theological field of black liberation theology. Black liberation theology came about independently in 1967 with James Cone's Black Theology and Black Power. Cone was writing in the south and had no knowledge of Latino liberation theology which was still brewing under the radar in the late 60s. They have different approaches: Cone deals with race, while the Latin American theologians deal with class. Cone is entertaining and provovative and very extreme, but he singlehandedly put the theological issue on the map. But like the South Americans, Cone was influenced greatly by German theologians, especially Karl Barth.

Liberation theology basically centers around the notion of the Kingdom of God. More specifically, that the Kingdom of God is not some utopia that we are looking to fly to when we die, rather, that the Kingdom is here present and we are the ones who will make it happen. For that reason it is incumbernt upon us, i.e., it is our sacred and solemn christian duty to fight sinful structures and establish justice on the earth in the now, not the hereafter. The problem that many liberation theologians have fallen into is that they focus so much on establishing the Kingdom here and now that they have forgetten completely that there is a true future heavenly hope. If both can be balanced, like JPII does, then you do have something powerful.

One last note, Jurgen Moltmann, another very influential Protestant German theologian, in his book The Coming of God, speaks about God's coming. The idea is that God, in Christ, is not necesary coming at some time in the future, so if we imagine the timeline as a train, then God is five stops away and time is destined to meet God, or rather, God will come at that time. No! Moltmann has the Hegelian idea that God comes literally from the future and empties himself out in the world in the present. So when we speak of God's coming, it is not the coming of a later date, but the coming of God into our present.

The idea is that if God is coming into our present then the power of that Kingdom of God is present here and now and not at some future time. I wouldn't subscribe to all of Moltmann's thought, but I do think that this is a very powerful idea and worth Catholics taking a look into.

Earliest Human Ancestor? ( I always knew that Adam was older than Lucy.

Baltimore Pursues Complaint On Priest ( The allegation is that this happened in April!!!

Israel bans porn on TV

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I was teaching a class last night and we spoke about the sacrament of marriage. One question that interests me and that I asked of the students is, what is the difference between a sacramental marriage with its graces as presented here in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and a successful marriage that is non-sacramental?

Surely, no one would suggest that sacramental marriages, i.e. between two baptized persons, are better or that they are capable of being better than non-sacramental marriages.

I would argue that the grace of the marriage sacrament is not present to make one's marriage "a success," rather it is there to enable one's marriage to be useful in building the Kingdom of God. So what a sacramental couple can do by virtue of their sacrament is tap into that grace and use it in a special way to build the Church.

However, I think that to have a top notch marriage, special grace is not necessary, or else God created an institution that was doomed for failure except for in the lives of very relatively few in the world's history who had access to this grace. The fact is that we all know non-sacramental marriages that are nothing short of wonderful and sacramental marriages that leave much to be desired.

The analogy I like to use is that the sacramental couples sign up to be in the Church's army and have a specific additional purpose built into the structures of their marriage, while the non-sacramental marriages are not automatically "signed up," so to speak, for this purpose.

Farrakhan on Iraq's Side. Okay! The brother has major issues!

EWTN has a report in which the Vatican decries its exclusion from the World AIDS Conference in Barcelona. Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan thinks, like many of us, that the Vatican's exclusion was due, in no small measure, to its lack of support for safe sex practices, in spite of the fact that the Catholic Church operates a significant number of AIDS care facilities around the world.

I am sympathetic up to this point, this is what gets under my skin:
The archbishop accused wealthy nations of concealing the facts about the AIDS epidemic. "They tell us that poverty is the principle cause," he said, "when in fact Europe and the United States are largely responsible for exporting AIDS to poor countries through sexual tourism and the spread of libertine attitudes." He argued that "poverty is not a cause, but a condition."

This is where I get sick in the pits. Why does the Vatican insist on blaming everything on the "libertine" values of rich Western countries, including the issue of abusive priests.

I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves and we, in these countries, should hold back on some of our $$s until we can get an ounce of respect.

No doubt the west has its problems and has exported so many unfortunate aspects of its culture to developing nations, but why not just let that be and work to try to counteract that? The Vatican is not going to change the West by railing against it and when they need help, we all of a sudden become "wonderful people with deep spiritual values."

For the record, I'm not the West's biggest fan, but I also can't stand taking easy shots at the West because it is such a big target. You'd expect the Vatican to show a little more restraint in their rhetoric.

The Senate, yesterday, approved legislation that would send much of the nation's nuclear waste for storage at Yucca Mountain . I called the Diocese of Las Vegas but they do not have a statement out on that yet.

I am most interested in finding out what their position is and if it would be in conflict with the USCCB.

I think it is sad that we gang up on one state and make our waste, especially we East Coasters, their problem. Of course I have no solutions to offer but there is something about the whole deal that is just plain wrong.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Very busy today, can't blog much. It is almost 3 pm and I have not had a sip of coffee yet. Amazing, how manly!

Based on what has been said in Blog for Lovers, A Saintly Salmagundi and in In Formation Blog I am now utterly confused how to live out my masculinity in the Catholic Church.

I must say, though, the men on EWTN, are a touch to subdued and, to the untrained eye, under Mother's thumb. Wouldn't it be refreshing if they swore, snorted and burped on TV, like true men?

Dioceses should have a manly retreat every summer, where we all gather and hunt and eat raw meat or something . . . anything to address the dismantling of masculinity discussed in those blogs.

Of course I say all this in jest, please do not email me!

Monday, July 08, 2002

There is something seductive about sin, duh! And for this reason, I'm going to start a restaurant that highlights sin.

For instance, the desert menu will be called The Seven Deadly Sins

We'll also feature Adulterous Chocolates, down right heretical Key Lime Pies, Lustfully lusty Cheese Cakes and stuff like that.

I do need help with sinful food suggestions, so if you have any great ideas, please email me.

There will be an after dinner pennance mint and a glass bowl for donations to a righteous cause, for those who will need redemption after a night of sinful indulgence.

Daniel Rudd, in the late nineteenth century, believed that the Catholic Church held the most promise for former slaves. He believed that the Catholic Church would someday be the prominent Church for Black folk in America. I guess nothing can be further from the truth, at the present time.

I was talking with friends this weekend about the recent, in my view, silly, hymns exemplified by the Gather Hymnal, and my friends pointed out that the impetus for many of the hymns was the desire to create American hymns. Commendable in many regards, but what kills me is that there was already an existing tradition of American born hymns in Black spirituals and music. Black culture was ignored then as it is now, and it hurts the Black Catholic community.

African American Catholics, among African American Christians, are the most likely to remain faithful to their denomination, which explains why the community still thrives despite the blatant racism, in the Catholic Church for centuries and it still persists now. Unfortunately, such patience does not exist among their children and African American Catholics could become relatively extinct someday. There are about 2 million now, what will it be in 50 years?

I think the number will remain relatively steady but that African American Catholics would be at less than 1 percent of the U.S. Catholic population, which in 50 years may very well be close to 100 million (unscientific projection). What makes this particularly embarrassing for the U.S.Catholic Church is that our society reflects, or should reflect, true unity in diversity and true catholicness. This "catholicness" of American society coupled with the Catholicness of the Catholic Church should give us in the U.S. catholic church a double leg up. The U.S. Catholic church should be the best example in teh world, and possibly, ever, of what a diverse and multicultural and truly Catholic church should be. Unfortunately it is not and the trends are not looking good
Is there the will or the interest to do anything about this?

Steve Schultz of Catholic Blog: Catholic Light just found out that Marty Haugen is Lutheran. I'm shocked, I thought he was Catholic, not that his music particularly reflected Catholicism. I just thought that for such poor quality, at least in my uneducated view, he'd better be a part of the family.

I think all the hymns from the past 40 years should be banned with the exception of Pande Vida, Here I am Lord, I Am The Bread of Life and a couple more which I can't recall at the present time.

Vatican policies, inculturation dominate Jesuit talks on liturgy

For the record, I am for liturgical inculturation and I love the Jesuits. But I'd like to share a joke I heard when I was in a Jesuit summer formation program:

What is the only thing that doesn't change at a Jesuit liturgy?

The bread and the wine!

Bishops Face Obstacles to Tough Policy ( Due process or erosion of Charter to protect the young? Five Chicago priest are appealing to the Vatican to have punitive actions under the new policy repealed and according to Canonists, they have a good chance.

Catholic Clout Is Eroded by Scandal (

The article, among other things, talks about how many liberal groups took advantage of the Church's troubles to sneak, otherwise un-passable legislation through in Catholic stronghold states.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

I attended a mass celebrated by a close friend today. Last time I saw him, he was deacon and now he is a priest. It was a great experience. We both started studying theology together when I had contemplated the priesthood and he did attempt to recruit me into his religious order. I guess this is why it had a very profound experience on me, the fact that we were both on the same track and it could have been me up there under different circumstances.

So what do guys who wanted to be priests think when they see former classmates up there doing the priest thing? I dunno!

The strange thing about my desire to be a priest, was that I wanted to be like St. Jerome and not have to say Mass. People often asked, "what's the point?" To that I shrug my shoulders. I guess it is why the Jesuit life looked so appealing.

Since the evening that my wife-to-be and I did dinner at a friend's house, with their two kids playing loudly and experiencing something of the craziness of family life, I never looked back, I knew I wanted a family with all its craziness. By that time the priesthood had become a distant call due to a number of factors.

One thing that I'd suggest to religious orders and dioceses is that they need to begin taking into serious consideration the fact that most young men and women come through the undergraduate system with significant debt. Like the Jesuits, they need to consider that debt an investment not an impediment.

Peter Sean Bradley of The Latin Write blog believes my thinking on Mary and Christ is tenable.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

I once worked for my school's summer programs and there was an association of mathematicians who were going to have their annual meeting at the school. The guy in charge had a question about the reception and we referred him to the proper person to handle his situation. This is what we heard . . .


"Yes, this is ____ with the Association of ____ Mathematicians."

"Our reception is at 4 p.m. today and we had asked for a tray of fruit."

"I have since found out that not everybody likes fruit and so I thought maybe they would like cookies instead, because some people like fruit and some like cookies. Could we have a tray with both fruit and cookies so that those who like fruit can have fruit and those who like cookies can have cookies? This way those who don't like fruit can have cookies and those who don't like cookies can have fruit. Of course, there are some who don't mind either cookies or fruit. So those people can have both fruit and cookies.

Yes, I find this hilarious!

Afghan vice president assassinated: The perils of nation building!

Fourth was great. Did not go to see fireworks, we stayed in with a few friends and daughter and watched The Apostle. This was the nth time I have watched the movie. My wife and I love it. I can relate to it in a strange way because I was a fundamentalist pentecostal for almost half, if not more, of my life. After a lengthy period of denial and some soul searching, I've come to accept myself as a fundamentalist-pentecostal in Catholic skin. I will say though, I have not and probably will not have anything to do with the Charismatic movement. It seems to work out that way often. When Pentecostals convert, or revert, as in my case, they don't necessarily flock over to the Charismatic movement.

On the fifth, my wife and I watched another one of Kevin Kostner's string of Award winning movie classics, right up there, in the line of classics such as The Postman and Water World, we watched Thirteen Days. I reserve comment because I do not have the energy to mount a tirade. Pathetic is the word that comes to mind, but I shall merely keep that word a thought, for the record.

I had promised to respond to the issue of the theological necessity of Mary being the sole source of Jesus' humanity. In thinking about providing a good and comprehensive response to my claim, I realized that I would almost have to write a paper of significant length. I may just have to do that in the course of time, someday I hope to write about the Blessed Virgin Mary. In talking with a few friends who are theologians, they agreed with me on the issue but not right away, they had to think about it. The reason is that that particular question had not arisen in their minds as such. So I am pondering how to address the question since it may be the case that it is not quite as clearly spelled out in the tradition.

I guess I would say that in the tradition of Christology, one of the key issues has been the idea that God became man so that man can become god. This is what the priest basically utters at mass when he puts a drop of water in the chalice with wine. Human beings are historical creatures and to belong to the human race one must come from human stock. By human race, I mean, be a child of Adam. If God added miraculously, anything to Mary's conceived seed, then we would have a different kind of human, and not one of Adam's children. The importance of Jesus' being human is linked to the Athanasian point that what was not assumed was not redeemed. So for Christ to redeem human, he had to become human, he absolutely could not be anything else. And being human was being born of the Virgn Mary. At least this is how many in the very platonic East saw the issue.

I would recommend a reading of the 8th chapter of the second book of Anselm's Cur Dues Homo, Why The God-Man. He argues that the man who offered satisfaction for the sin of Adam had to be himself of Adam's stock. I also looked though William Jurgen's The Faith of the Early Fathers which has a comprehensive and well indexed list of quotes from the Father's of the Church. In the Doctrinal index #311, there are quotes about XT's humanity and Mary as its source. Many of them make it clear that the Fathers, and thus, the tradition, see Mary as the source of the full humanity of Christ while God is responsible fo the divinity and person of XT.

Another quick point that I should make is that if we take note regarding the wording of the hypostatic union, i.e., the union between the second person of the Trinity, with his divine nature, and his human nature, the language always points to union and not creation. God united himself indissolubly to human nature to become Jesus Christ, he did not create but unite. The question may then come up about the soul of humans, which the Church teaches is created by God at the moment of conception. This would not negate my point, my point is that God did in the case of Mary what he normally does with other human beings, thus the soul of Christ was created as any other would with no special creative supplements. The conception of Christ is miraculous but more credit must be given to the faith of Mary for the miraculous nature of the birth. In this lies her greatness and glory. Her faith made it happen. She believed that God could be born of her and he was indeed born of her.

I also thumbed through a book I have called Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelly,a widely regarded historian, whose work on early creeds and early XTian doctrine is considered extremely good. He has a chapter on Christology and in surveying it, the point is there and seems to be the major point that Christ is one divine person, with two distinct and separate natures, the divine nature is from God and the human from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Finally I looked at the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs #430-507, and I read it to make the same emphatic point that the source of Jesus' complete humanity is Mary and his divinity is God. Other references would be Hebrews 2, Romans 5 and I Cor. 15, about the first and the last Adam. Christ is the last Adam because he is the Son of Man, i.e., the Son of Adam, which is what Luke's genealogy was attemtping to prove. I hope all this is sufficient to back the earlier claim that I had made here and here.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

“Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hast formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Psalm 90:1-2

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14


Have a happy fourth!

Wednesday, July 03, 2002


Welcome to Saint Blogs!,

One question I had was about your assertion that "it is theologically crucial that Jesus' full human nature is derived from Mary and not created by God, or the purpose of God's revealed plan of salvation is nullified.",

I don't think that Jesus can be, biologically, the descendant of David whether he is a "clone" of Mary or not because the genealogies in both Matthew and Luke make clear that the Davidic descent comes through Joseph not Mary.,

On a different matter, I'm not sure why Jesus would be any less fully human if God had, in some sense, placed a blastocyst in her womb rather than "cloning" Mary. Human is human, it seems to me.,

You say this is theologically "crucial" but I'm not aware of any dogmatic pronouncement from the Church that takes a definitive position on the biology of Jesus' conception. Can you enlighten me?,

All the best,

Peter Nixon
Sursum Corda

I'll be happy to respond. Please give a few days for the break and to dig up sources, quotes or any pronouncements that may exist. If I am correct, for the sake of clarity, the issue is: is it necessary that the entirety Christ's human nature come from Mary? Couldn't God have created afresh some part of it? The question is not the content of XT's human nature but its source(s).

I was teaching a class on sacraments at a parish last night and we discussed holy orders. It was a revelation to many that celibacy is not intrinsic to the priesthood and that we had married priests for the first few hundred years of the Latin Church.

A gentleman in class then said that regardless of the aforementioned fact, the celibate life is inherently superior to the non-celibate life. To which I forcefully repsonded, No! Of course, we didn't agree and, I guess we agreed to disagree.

I am a staunch supporter and believer in the ascetic life and thus, passionately argued for the superiority of celibecay at a certain time in my life. I don't believe in its superiority any more and I am extremely bothered by the unstated assumption in this regard that persists in Catholic circles, an assumption that is tacitly supported by the Catholic hierarchy.

I know that when I once considered the priesthood, I had felt that way. However, in retrospect, I think my assumptions were such that they had to buttress my leanings towards a celibate lifestyle. What I mean by this is that if you are a celibate, but believe that the married life is superior, then you'd most likely have a conscience problem because you are consciously chosing an inferior way of life. It is natural to argue for your state in life as not-inferior to another.

My point here is that there is very little impetus on the part of celibate priest, Bishops, Cardinals and Popes, to consistently elevate the married state to a level that it deserves, and consequently to not overstate the inherence holiness or strengths of celibacy. The reason is, to do so would create an internal conflict and raise the question of why they aren't married if marriage is so great and sanctifying? When I read what the hierarchy says about marriage, I frequently get put off. I find it so patronizing and useless. I feel like the point is to make us content where we are, and where we are is at the feet of the hierarchy, only because we are celibate.

Another lady raised the issue of the time dedicated to ministry and how a family man would be unable to devote as much time, without reserve to ministry. First of all, I have seen priestly ministry up close and I am not convinced that it is inordinately overwhelming. Priests are no more busy that teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, business people, professionals, etc.

The fact is that in today's society many professions are very demanding and require odd work hours. It is not a crazy idea to say that celibacy frees up a priest for ministry, because it seems to sound reasonable. It just simply is not true. The interesting thing I find is that St. Paul, in Timothy and Titus, saw a Bishop's family life as a way to determine how effective he can be in church governance. If he can't govern his children well, how then shall he govern the house of God?

The Catholic hierarchy as a whole is not going to change its attitudes towards marriage and celibacy any time soon, but what I worry about is the unyielding stubborness that may cause a break in the wall. There has to be a reasonable amount of elasticity in the Church's outlook or when things change, they'll change with such a force. I only point to Vatican II as an example. For better or for worse, the magnitude of change, at so late a time, had catastrophic effects which we are still recovering from.

God bless our priests, and God knows, I have in my close circle of friends, not a few priests, so I try to be careful when I discuss celibacy so as not to make it seem like I don't like priests. But the structure of unchecked power in the hands of an undiverse group never bodes well for anyone.

So what should the hierarchy do? I'm not recommending anything, all I would like to see is an honest and frank reflection and discussion on the issue.

In my post earlier today I made a few points, one of which I wish to expound on.

It is theologically crucial that Jesus' full human nature is derived from Mary and not created by God, or the purpose of God's revealed plan of salvation is nullified. Note that God could have created the man Christ from the dust of the ground but it important that Christ be of the seed of Adam, the seed of Abraham, of the House of David and the second Adam who would undo what the first Adam did and regain what the first Adam abdicated.

This is why I insist that Jesus' full and complete human nature is solely from Mary's intervention with NO help, so to speak, from God. She was even made immaculate for the purpose that the sacred flesh of Christ be untainted..

In the early Church there were heretical sects that taught that Christ's humanity was not real but only an apparition, even his death. The Church countered and insisted that Christ was fully human and to make this point, the phrase "born of the Virgin Mary" was inserted into the creeds. This phrase, as most historians and mariologists agree, was less of a statement about Mary and more about Christ's real humanity. I hope this fully explains my position.


In my heart, I really do believe that nihil obstat is only doing us all a favor by raising the quality of Catholic discourse lest we founder (flounder?) (I guess both work, help Nihil!) in the quagmire of literary mediocrity.

Coolest movie lines of all time:.

(In no particular order).

1. "We keep you alive to serve this ship, row well and live." Ben Hur (My all time favorite).

2. "If you were not a bride, I'd kiss you good bye," "If I were not a bride, there'd be no goodbyes to be said." Ben Hur.

3. "Thank you for doing this, Ellen." Dave.

4. "Help me, help you!" Jerry Maguire.

5. "They may take our lives, but they can't take our FREEDOM!!!" Braveheart.

6. "Why are you smiling?" "I know something you don't" The Princess Bride.

7. "et cetera, et cetera, and so on." The King and I.

8. "Oh mah Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, Lawd, . . .hmm hmm, hmm hmm." Slaves singing in Glory.

9. The line from Remember the Titans, about they'll remember the night the played the Titans..

And to round it off, a line from my favorite bad movie of all time, Deep Blue Sea!

10 "She fooled with the sharks, now they're fooling with us.".

Noteable mention.

"Hope is a dangerous thing, my friend." Shawshank Redemption

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Jesus and Mary, Clones?

In an earlier post I said that there is a sense in which we can say that Jesus is a clone of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I received the following email in response:

Dear Ono,

"There is a sense in which we can say that Jesus is a clone of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her genetic material was sufficient to produce a full human being."

Actually, this is not possible. Mary, as a woman, had two X chromosomes. Jesus, as a man, had an X and a Y chromosome. At the conception of Jesus, God brought into being the Y chromosome and, I presume, the other 22 chromosomes that matched up with the X chromosome and the other 22 chromosomes in the egg from Mary's ovary (I don't know the exact manner in which He did this and I don't care).

(This is, I think, a small example of Providence at work. If men had two Xs and women an X and a Y, then it could be argued that Jesus was a "clone" of Mary; this would certainly be done by materialists who would say it was an example of natural parthenogenesis.)

(Name withheld)
Lower Nazareth, PA

I appreciate the scientific specificity being brought to bear on my statement , but I tried to cover myself by saying "in a sense," because I'm not certain about the science. However, theologically I can say that Christ's human nature, theologically speaking, had to have been the product of Mary, somehow, and not God supplying an additional element ( Y chromosome). So if Mary was missing the Y chromosome as a woman, I'm fairly certain that it would be theologically incorrect to ascribe Jesus' Y chromosome to God's infusion. The point of the incarnation is that the man Jesus is born of a woman and the presence of the phrase "born of the Virgin Mary" in the creed is to emphasize the fact that Jesus has a complete human nature because he was born of a woman.

So if we choose to stick to scientific precision, which is certainly not undesirable, I would like to think that in Mary's fiat and because of the faith of her fiat, her faith created in her what was needed to produce a whole and complete human nature. This is the "sense" in which I call Jesus a clone of Mary.

I like the term "clone" because of the physical ontological link it evokes, but I certainly am not wedded to it and would be open to use a more appropriate term. But did I say I like the term clone? Anyway, I appreciate the feedback on such an interesting issue, to me anyway.

I received this response to my earlier tirade against Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist.

Greetings -- always glad to see another thoughtful Catholic blog. I disagree
with you, though, on your complaint about the lack of "compassion" displayed
by Justices Scalia and Thomas in the Atkins decision. In my view, though I
oppose the death penalty, the Atkins decision, like all constitutional
decisions, is not supposed to be about "compassion," but about the content of
certain legal texts. What might appear to be the "compassion" of the
majority's ruling is really lawlessness. Let's urge our legislators to ban
the death penalty; but let's not praise judges for usurping our power.

Anyway -- random thoughts from a law geek.

I withhold the name just in case he didn't want it revealed. Suffice it to say the person is from Notre Dame's law school and as I practice, I don't question or get into debates with people from Notre Dame law school. Chances are they are much smarter than I am.

Why are domers so darn crazy about their school?