Sunday, August 30, 2009

Off to the Monastery

September 2-9 I'll be staying at the traditional Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New Mexico.

Throughout the day I'll go to Mass, pray the
Divine Office, meditate, read, and work.

Here's the schedule the Brothers live at the monastery; I'll try to keep up with them:
3:00 a.m. Rise
4:30 Lectio Divina (Divine Reading)
6:00 Angelus, Private Mass, Mental Prayer in the Choir
7:00 Breakfast
Prime, Chapter
8:00 Lectio Divina
Terce, Conventual Mass
10:30 Class, Study, or Manual Work
12:00 p.m. Angelus, Lunch
2:00 (the office of)
2:15 Manual Work
Vespers, Mental Prayer in Choir
6:30 Dinner
Compline, Angelus
8:00 Retire

Read more about this particular monastery here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Will the Spectacular Last?


Catholics Come Home (CCH) is a Roswell, GA based outfit (just around the corner from my own chapel) that uses its web site and television ads to invite Catholics who have stopped attending Mass to return. It uses the glamour of digital means to win attention and engage audiences.

Though Catholics make up an estimated 23% of the U.S. population, only 33% of them attend Mass on a weekly basis. In the Atlanta Archdiocese the figures are even more grim: the number of Catholics is about 750,000 (officially; unofficially the number is 950,000), but not quite 150,000 attend weekly Mass. The harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few.

Curiously, Catholics are being invited to return to the modernized mass, catechism, etc. that drove everyone away to begin with. The Emperor's birthday suit hasn't improved with age.

I expect the CCH media campaign that is kicking off in Sacramento and is hoped to bring 100,000 Catholics back to the pews will be more spectacular than profound. The history of American Catholicism has been to prefer the exciting to the routine, exterior works to interior acts, speeches to prayers.

I say that knowing that my own conversion was facilitated by reading numerous entries in the online Catholic Encyclopedia, so like St. Maximilian Kolbe I recognize the potential here for the good use of media. But I do wonder how long the return of the prodigals will last. It would be interesting to see a follow-up study in another year or two to see how many people returned to the modernized Church and stayed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And the Numbers Say...


A survey conducted by Georgetown's University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate has found that Catholics in the United States favor the availability of the Latin Mass by a margin of 2:1.

When asked "Do you favor as an alternative to the newer Mass, bringing back the older Latin Tridentine Mass for those who would prefer this option?"
* 25% were in favor
* 12% opposed
* 63% had no opinion

Support for the Latin Mass is higher among:
* Older Catholics
* T
hose who attend Mass weekly
* Political independents
* Those with graduate degrees

Or, as my friend Dave put it, support is highest "among God fearing, properly practicing, intelligent, educated Catholics who believe that humanity should be governed by God's laws and not man's."

A similar survey conducted in 1985 found that 40% of Catholics favored the Latin Mass.

An interesting point here is that the bishops have said for decades that they didn't want to have a Latin Mass in their diocese because no one was asking for it. It makes you wonder who they were listening to.

In any event, it appears that only 1 in 8 Catholics would resist having a Mass in Latin. Why do the bishops make 7 of 8 Catholics accommodate what a small minority thinks? For the sake of community, wouldn't it make more sense for the 12% to acquiesce?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Betrayed by Amnesty


The Anglo-Maltese writer Fiorella Nash has decided to cease supporting Amnesty International.

Nash owes the release of her father from prison in Malta in the 1970s to Amnesty International; her support for the organization over the years ever since was a given.

What changed her mind?

In August of 2007 Amnesty revealed its intention to campaign for abortion.

The decision to move from not having a position on abortion to campaigning for it led bishops and laymen worldwide to withdraw their membership from the organization, calling the abortion agenda a betrayal of the group's founding principles.

“Its conferences on the issue only include pro-abortion speakers, there is no open debate on the issue,” Nash said.

Nash was pregnant when Amnesty publicly revealed its pro-abortion slant. “I was pregnant with my first son and I thought, ‘When my father was in a defenseless situation I helped him. What am I doing now to help the equally defenseless unborn?’”

What indeed: quitting the traitorous Amnesty International is a grand beginning.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Donating Blood

I dropped in on the Red Cross center today and donated my 23rd pint of blood. The BP came in at a healthy 122/80. Pulse was 66. Temp was 98.4. Iron was 14.4. Not a bad checkup.

On a previous occasion when I was having blood taken the lab tech told me she was from Transylvania (true story). This seemed fitting, as the first time I ever gave blood was on October 31 (in 1985, for the record).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Sistine's Maestro Perpetuo


Original in Italian

Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci, the Sistine's Maestro Perpetuo, is asked questions about the old and new Mass.

From the interview:

"The reform was done by arid people, arid, arid, I repeat it. And I knew them."

“How come that we make liturgists who know nothing about theology?”

"The voices that raised themselves to defend the two thousand year old Tradition of the Church, were cleverly hushed."

"The young generations of priests are maybe better than those who came before them, they do not have the ideological fury of an iconoclastic ideology, they are full of good feelings..."

"The liturgy with a big 'L' is the one that comes to us from centuries back, it is the reference, it is not the debased liturgy which holds so many compromises 'that make God sad and the enemy happy' ('a Dio spiacenti e a l’inimici sui')"

"In front of our liturgy of many centuries we should contemplate it and venerate it and remember that in our mania for 'improvements', we only risk doing great damage."

"There persists a certain blindness, almost a complacency for all that is vulgar, coarse, in bad taste and also doctrinally temerarious."

"The liturgical problem is serious, do not listen to the voices of those persons who do not love the Church and who oppose the Pope and if you want to cure the sick then remember that the merciful doctor makes the wound purulent (fa la piaga purulenta)."

Ad Orientem


Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has returned to the practice of celebrating Mass ad orientem in his cathedral.

Bishop Slattery explained in his diocesan newspaper about Mass celebrated with the priest facing the people:

Unfortunately this change had a number of unforeseen and largely negative effects. First of all, it was a serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition. Secondly, it can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. Thirdly, it places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage.

When we study the most ancient liturgical practices of the Church, we find that the priest and the people faced in the same direction. With the traditional Mass the priest doesn't turn his back on the people any more than the people in the front pew turn their back on the people in the pews behind them. Rather, the entire congregation -- with the priest at its head -- is oriented in the same direction to adore God as a unified body.

The modern business of the turning the priest around to face the people has taken the focus off God and put it on the people. There's six days in every week to do that if you're so inclined; leave Sunday for focusing on our Heavenly Father.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Public Option: In or Out?


Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that a new, government-run health-insurance program wasn't the "essential element" of any overhaul plan.

An unidentified administration official soon revealed that
Sebelius misspoke. Another official then contradicted the unidentified official.

Though the statements and misstatements and contravening statements make for an interesting circus show, for my part I'd be would be glad if the public option vanished.

I realize that saying as much puts me at risk of someone notifying the Flag Crew (that team has an email where you can report "fishy" opposition to the health-care agenda) that I'm a dissident.

If contacted, I intend to ask that if it was bad for Nixon to compile an enemies list, why are they now doing it?

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Assumptio Mariae
(by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta , 1735)

Today marks one of the ten Holy Days of Obligation in the Catholic Church: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. At the end of her life her body was assumed directly into Heaven -- a testament to what will happen at the end of the world for everyone who will be counted among the blessed in Heaven. This feast is the most significant and the most ancient of those dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God.

The Gospel from the day’s Mass is Luke 1:41-50, which describes the meeting of the Blessed Virgin and her cousin St. Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary, the child leapt in her womb, she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and she declared, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb” (these words form part of the Hail Mary).

The part about the child leaping in Elizabeth’s womb reminded me of a recent conversation with a friend who does not understand why Catholics object to NFP and birth control. One problem with the latter, I pointed out, is that artificial birth control can act as an abortifacient.

My friend just about hit the roof when I said that. An abortifacient, after all, causes an abortion by bringing about the death of the zygote, embryo, blastocyst, or fetus after conception has occurred.

Note that the point is not that contraceptives directly kill an embryo. Rather, contraceptives suppress ovulation, but they do not entirely eliminate it – that is why there is occasionally breakthrough ovulation, which can result in a fertilized egg.

An additional effect of the oral contraceptives is that they prevent a fertilized ovum from implanting on the uterine wall – and when that happens, the ovum dies. It is this fact of an ovum not being able to implant itself because of the effects of the contraceptive that constitutes the abortion.

Some researchers maintain that because the contraceptive only prevents implantation and does not directly kill the fertilized egg, that therefore “abortion” is the wrong term to describe this operation. But that’s like saying that if I withhold food and water from you I haven’t killed you, you just died from malnutrition. At best that’s delusional.

U.S. Law, for the record, marks the beginning of pregnancy at implantation, and not at fertilization. Such are the sad times we live in that plenty of healthcare providers are willing to promote that devious notion.

To each doctrine a particular morality corresponds. The same Mary who concluded her time on earth with her bodily assumption into Heaven began her sojourn by being immaculately conceived: from the first moment of her existence she was preserved from original sin, and it clearly follows that all of us also began to exist as human beings from the first moment of our existence.

When the scientists and lawmakers let us down for political or financial gain, it’s good to know that we have the dogmas of Holy Mother Church to remind us of what’s true and reliable.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesu.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tonight's Meteor Shower


Every August the skies above the Northern Hemisphere are peppered with little bits of space debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle that create the Perseid meteor shower. The debris is ancient, tiny (the size of a pea), fast, bright (it vaporizes on entering the atmosphere), and occasionally leave persistent trains or even spark into cosmic fireballs.

The Perseid's are so named because they appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus.

Constellations Perseus and Andromeda

The best time to watch is between 12:00-5:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lenin Kills Again


This morning an inebriated Russian in Minsk clambered atop a 16' tall statue of V.I. Lenin.

The statue then toppled over, killing the drunken climber in crude but effective fashion.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kneel for Communion


Pope Benedict XVI desires that when receiving Communion, Catholics kneel and receive the Host on the tongue -- not standing, not in the hand.

The Holy Father's reasoning is simple: "We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God."

Communion received in the hand was introduced to the world by the heretical Arians of the 4th century as a means of expressing their belief that Christ was not divine. It exists today in the modern Church only as an abuse: Rome never wanted it, but in the effort to modernize everything a number of folks who thought they knew better went ahead with it anyway, reasoning that if enough people did it then Rome would have to give in.

Pope Benedict is having none of it. Thank you, Holy Father.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sick Excuses

Today is Monday, which means it's time to break out the old list of sick excuses and see what might be brought to the fore.

The exercise of collecting sick excuses began during a project I was on earlier this year. I was facilitating a client meeting and had my laptop plugged in to the projector. Several attendees were giving a nod in the direction of fashionably late, and while I chatted with the on-time participants the conversation turned to the subject of humorous sick excuses. It seemed nearly everyone had a point of view on this, and as my computer was already being projected onto the white board, I started typing them in.

Here is where we began:
* Pregnant with quadruplets
* Dead
* Abducted by aliens
* My multiple personalities are misbehaving
* Call in rich
* I have a headache
* I’m washing my hair
* Out of the country
* Out of my medication
* The (WebEx) meeting has been canceled
* Today has been canceled (lack of demand)
* Trapped under something heavy (alternately, a bookcase fell on me)

The fad became an agenda item, and at the start of each meeting we could not begin until someone (often enough yours truly) came up with a new entry. Here is what the next several meetings yielded.
* Drowned on the way to the car
* Overheated
* I have a headache scheduled for this time
* Lice
* My aura has been siphoned off
* He’s off his rocker
* Swine flu

I admit to doing a bit of research for some of the topics, at one point even running an online search for "Epstein's Mother." But the truth is that the reasons just seemed to come to me. I don't know which muse would be the patron of sick excuses. Melpomene? Thalia perhaps?

Anyway, other people got in on the act too. One chap came up with these gems, which are noteworthy simply because he said they came from a former colleague who'd actually used them.
* My family was quarantined by the CDC.
* I was on my way to work, got stuck in traffic, and soiled myself.

Even after I rolled off the project the excuses kept coming in. For example, this one is a true story, and is definitely valid material for a sick excuse.

This one from Paul is in the wishful thinking department, and produced these excuses.
* Sorry, I cannot attend because I’m too busy castle-shopping.
* Sorry, I cannot attend because I was just appointed royalty.

What's your sick excuse?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Drip, Drip

One hazard for homes where the washing room is upstairs is that a leak will manifest itself in the form of water marks in the living room ceiling down below. Such is the dilemma I find myself with today. The matter can and will be resolved with a bit of handyman know-how.

This scenario reminds me of another story my mother told me about my younger years. My brother Guy and I are just a year apart in age, and when we were wee lads we terrible two kept my mother on the edge of her seat (to say nothing of at the limits of her sanity). One morning while she prepared herself for work Guy and I busied ourselves in the upstairs guest bathroom by stopping up all the drains in the sink and tub and letting them run while we splashed about. When we tired of that diversion we sought our entertainment elsewhere.

And so the stopped-up faucets continued to run unattended. For about an hour.

When mom discovered that particular bit of handiwork, the upstairs of the house had been covered by about an inch of water. There wasn't time to clean the mess before she had to leave to work her two jobs, so she left the indoor lake as it was for the day with the intention of attending to the situation when she returned home that evening.

While we were away the water soaked through the plaster, which finally gave way in the living room. When we returned home that evening, there was a hole several feet across in the living room ceiling where the plaster had collapsed.

I was too young to remember this little incident, so when my mother related the story to me years later, I asked, "What did you do then?"

She replied, "I opened the door, looked in, shook my head, shut the door, and went shopping."

I considered this a moment and then asked, "Mom, why did you let us live?"

She shrugged, then said, "I was used to that sort of thing by then."