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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Thoughts on Tuesday's Gospel

LK 1:39-56

Mary was the first evangelelist as she brought forth the Word of God both through her own proclamation of what God had done in her life..."My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord" and even more in her bringing for the Word of God from her womb, from the very core of her being. She truly exemplified that saying ascribed to Francis to preach the Gospel...if necessary use words.

As Catholics, evangelisation does not come easy. Perhaps we think too often of door to door evangelists that are seen more as a bother than one proclaiming the good news. But proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ is necessary if we are let God's Word work through us to lift up the lowly, to fill the hungry with good things, to deliver God's promise of mercy.

St. Irenaeus said that the Word and the Spirit were the two hands of God that created the world. Now God asks to use our two hands to transform it as Mary transformed the lives of those she met and to whom she proclaimed the joy of her heart.

Can't you see the glow?

Well, I made it through six Masses this weekend. I wanted to attend them all so that I could get introduced to everyone in the Parish. While I guess I met everybody, it will take awhile to get to know all 800 families.

Overall it went pretty well, a couple of mistakes but at least I recognized that they were mistakes after I did them. I really think that all the Masses, even through it was tiring, was very helpful in getting me more comfortable with my new responsibilities. Tomorrow I preside at benediction for the second time in a week and hope that doing this several times will be helpful as well - practice makes perfect, right?

When I get the time, I'd like to blog a bit on how it feels to be a deacon, but I better get my rest - it will be busy again tomorrow.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Thoughts on Monday's Gospel

MK 12:1-12

On Memorial Day we remember those men and women who gave their lives so that we might live in freedom. These soldiers valued so highly our country and what is stands for that they were willing to sacrifice themselves completely so that we could enjoy the very values that they sought to preserve. Still, I can't help but look at what we have done with this freedom and cannot believe that much of what passes for freedom to day was what these soldiers died for. For some, freedom means simply the ability to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Some don't believe that they are excercising their freedom unless they are doing something shocking, pushing the boundaries. Like the tenents of today's gospel, they do not know the value of what they have been given.

For we are tenents of the freedoms that have been offered to us through the sacrifice of our soldiers and have we forgotten what these freedoms have cost?

In the same way, Christ offered his own life so that we might be free and we have become inheritors of that freedom. Do we truly value all that we have been given through Christ's passion and death? or are we like the bad tenets who seek only what seems to please us?

Don't dishonor the fallen soldiers by using our freedom poorly, rather use your freedom to improve the life of the neediest American.

Don't dishonor Christ by using the freedom he has given us poorly either, rather use your freedom to become more fully the one that God has created.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bingo Night

This evening I had my first Bingo experience - six hours of bingo experience to be exact. I really don't know where to begin. There were about two hundred players eagerly surrounded by sheets of about twenty bingo cards and a computer keeping track of even more bingo cards, tubes of ink to mark cards, lucky charms and dolls, cigarettes and more. People were spending hand over fist not just for bingo, but for these lottery cars as well. Many had to fork over at least two hundred dollars for these things.

I really think that a documentary filmmaker could do an excellent movie about the bingo culture. On any given night, including Sunday, there are at least three bingo tournaments going on in the area. Our particular church runs two bingo nights a week and earns about one hundred thousand dollars annually - 90% goes to the Parish school to keep tuition low, the rest goes to the parish.

I spent the whole evening walking around tables selling these lottery cards to people who couldn't get enough of them. I really don't know what to think about this, on the one hand I'm not sure whether it is a good idea to support gambling. Most of the participants were older and I don't know whether they could afford to spend the amounts that they were giving out. On the other hand, it is making Catholic education more affordable, especially for poorer Catholic families. At best it seems like a mixed blessing.

All I can say is that my feet hurt and I need a drink. I'm getting too old for this. I took this job to get to heaven, but I didn't think it would speed up the process.

Thoughts on Sunday's Gospel

JN 6:51-58

Jesus' words in today's Gospel are some of the most troubling and the most encouraging. From the time the Jews heard his words until today, people struggle to understand what he meant by saying that those who followed him needed to eat his flesh and to drink his blood. These words are at the root of many attacks on the faithful, accusations of cannibalism. Rather than wrestle with is words, it is often easier to simply assert that Jesus was merely speaking figuratively.

But if he was speaking literally, he is offering us the opportunity to live forever by receiving his very self. "This is my body...This is my blood" Can it really be true that our salvation lies in these words? Can he really be offering us his very life and, through him, the life of the Father?

As I said, the implication of these words can be troublesome for those who do not believe, but for those who believe - these words offer the fulfillment of everything we have ever hoped for. They offer eternal life.

New Photos are Up!

I have posted some new photos that I took today while walking around the Friary. You can get to them by clicking on the "My Flickr Photos" link in the Links section of the Blog site.

Kansan claims he is Catholics' true pope

Wichita Eagle | 05/28/2005 | Kansan claims he is Catholics' true pope

I am always intriqued by the number of contemporary anti-Popes. I don't really understand the appeal, it can't be power since none of these anti-popes have much in the way of followers.

Perhaps it is the location - maybe there is something about the Midwest that promotes religious creativity. After all, look at the wide variety of religious beliefs popping up around Kansas City - RLDS and Unity Village just to name a few.

This situation involving David Bowden is particularly sad. He believes he is the true pope, yet cannot celebrate Mass because he has not been ordained a priest. Asside from the historical objections that demonstrate that anyone chosen to be pope was to be immediately ordained to the priesthood - how could the Catholic Church possible exist without the Eucharist?

I mean, the Church is seen as being established through Christ's celebration of the Last Supper and so is pre-eminently Eucharistic.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ this weekend, it's articles like this that reinforce the great joy and wonder that I have in the blessing of Christ who offers himself to me and who humbled himself that I might live.

Yet another stupid anti-Catholic statement

A web cartoon portraying Pope Benedict as giving a Nazi salute to the Virgin Mary is causing a great deal of controversy up in Canada. While I can accept legitimate criticism of the Catholic Church, I have much less tolerance for what I call stupid anti-Catholicism that indicates no real attempt to find out what the Catholic Church really teaches.

This is the case with the publisher of the offending website Judy Rebick who was quoted as saying, "I object to the Catholic church's position on homophobia." Since the Catholic Church condemns homophobia, I guess this means that she supports it.

But what can you expect from someone who considers falsely presenting Pope Benedict as a Nazi, even though he has been praised by Jewish groups around the world.

Judy Remick proves the old adage that if your response to one who disagrees with you is to call them a Nazi, you have already lost the debate.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Musings of the first week of the Diaconate

Well, a lot has happened to me this first week. I have diaconated [is that a word?] at several daily Masses but have not preached yet. I will be at all of the weekend Masses, but still no preaching. My first words of wisdom come Monday night, my first preached Mass will be on Tuesday.

I have come to the conclusion that liturgical vestments are designed by sadists. I did benediction tonight and had to wear an alb, stole, and cope all on top of my habit. I knew that I would have to offer sweat and tears to the Lord, I just didn't think that he would ask for all of it in one night.

Today the parish kindergarten had its graduation and the kids all did their songs and skits before adoring parents. I wonder how it would be if high school and college students had to put on a show and sing songs before their graduation...

All in all things are going well, I'm learning a lot really quickly but I think that is good - after all, I will be doing much of this for the rest of my life. St. Stephen pray for this deacon.

Thoughts on Saturday's Gospel

MK 11:27-33

"By whose authority do you do these things?" Isn't that the question? Like the pharisees in today's Gospel do we really want to know the answer? For, if we truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God how can we refuse to do all that he calls us to, but if we allow ourselves to be sceptical - to doubt - how easy it can be to simply consider him just another prophet in a long list of prophets.

Contemporary Biblical scholarship wishes to emphasize Jesus' humanity at the expense of his divinity, yet it is his divinity that fills all that he does with power.

Moreover, if we recognize the answer to our first question - "By whose authority do you do these things?" We must also ask ourselves, "By whose authority do we act?" Who is the source for all we do, is it God or is it someone else - and if it is God, do we act according to his authority or against it?

Sister Mary Atlas

The magazine New Scientist had an article on steps for a better life that included this section on the value of being a nun:

Nuns on a run

If you don't want senility to interfere with your old age, perhaps you should seek some sisterly guidance

THE convent of the School Sisters of Notre Dame on Good Counsel Hill in Mankato, Minnesota, might seem an unusual place for a pioneering brain-science experiment. But a study of its 75 to 107-year-old inhabitants is revealing more about keeping the brain alive and healthy than perhaps any other to date. The "Nun study" is a unique collaboration between 678 Catholic sisters recruited in 1991 and Alzheimer's expert David Snowdon of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

The sisters' miraculous longevity - the group boasts seven centenarians and many others well on their way - is surely in no small part attributable to their impeccable lifestyle. They do not drink or smoke, they live quietly and communally, they are spiritual and calm and they eat healthily and in moderation. Nevertheless, small differences between individual nuns could reveal the key to a healthy mind in later life.

Some of the nuns have suffered from Alzheimer's disease, but many have avoided any kind of dementia or senility. They include Sister Matthia, who was mentally fit and active from her birth in 1894 to the day she died peacefully in her sleep, aged 104. She was happy and productive, knitting mittens for the poor every day until the end of her life. A post-mortem of Sister Matthia's brain revealed no signs of excessive ageing. But in some other, remarkable cases, Snowdon has found sisters who showed no outwards signs of senility in life, yet had brains that looked as if they were ravaged by dementia.

How did Sister Matthia and the others cheat time? Snowdon's study, which includes an annual barrage of mental agility tests and detailed medical exams, has found several common denominators. The right amount of vitamin folate is one. Verbal ability early in life is another, as are positive emotions early in life, which were revealed by Snowdon's analysis of the personal autobiographical essays each woman wrote in her 20s as she took her vows. Activities, crosswords, knitting and exercising also helped to prevent senility, showing that the old adage "use it or lose it" is pertinent. And spirituality, or the positive attitude that comes from it, can't be overlooked. But individual differences also matter. To avoid dementia, your general health may be vital: metabolic problems, small strokes and head injuries seem to be common triggers of Alzheimer's dementia.

Obviously, you don't have to become a nun to stay mentally agile. We can all aspire to these kinds of improvements. As one of the sisters put it, "Think no evil, do no evil, hear no evil, and you will never write a best-selling novel."

So, I figure that there will probably be a market for exercise and workout materials produced by religious sisters. If it works out, the religious brothers can hop on the band wagon as well. As one who doesn't exercise nearly as much as he should, this video could come in handy - especially when the pleats in the habit don't expand like they used to.

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Thoughts on Friday's Gospel

Mark 11:11-26

Today's Gospel is full of many difficult passages. Jesus condemns the fig tree even through it was not the time for figs. He tells us that we can command mountains to go into the sea. These things can be troublesome to understand - the first act seems unfair, the second seems impossible. While it might be easy to pull out the old reliance on "mystery", that hardly seems satisfying.

Perhaps, though, these events do have a place in real life. There is much that happens to us that seems to be unfair, we may often feel like the fig tree - punished through no fault of our own. Even in the darkest of times, miracles can take place that seem like mountains being commanded into the sea.

Yet, our relationship with God must be strong enough to survive apparent injustices on the one hand and not be based on the expectations of miracles on the other. Real life is somewhere in between and it is found in our everyday experiences and in everyday prayer to a God who forgives us and loves us everyday.

New Photo Page!

I have begun a photo site on Flicker. Feel free to take a look at some of the pictures I have taken. If you want a bigger copy of any of them, e-mail me and I'll be glad to send you one.

Most of them are pictures of nature. It's easier to take those since I don't have to worry about strangers wondering why I might be taking their picture.

Plus, plants don't move.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thoughts on Thursday's Gospel

MK 10:46-52

Today's Gospel is an object lesson in demonstrating the danger that the followers of Christ may indeed keep others from him by their actions. Bartimaeus cried for the Lord, despite the condemnations of many who didn't want him bothering the Lord - as if Jesus could ever be bothered by our cries for help.

These words of the Gospel indeed show us that persistence in prayer and, sometimes, shouting a little louder are signs of our faithfulness - that we truly believe that Jesus has the power to heal us.

May the Church not hinder the prayers of the broken by its actions or its condemnations, rather may she always join her prayers with the poor in a common hope for the saving power of God.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

No surprise...Christian education makes better persons

A survey in England reveals that boys at private Anglican and Catholic schools are less tolerant of pornography, more likely to wait until marriage before sexual intercourse, and less likely to feel depressed or consider suicide. They were also more likely to oppose abortion.

Support Catholic education and make a better world.

Another reason why the Catholic Church should stop supporting the UN

In another sign of the approaching apocalypse, some relief workers are expressing "grave reservations" because a "devout Catholic" might be appointed to head the new UN High Commission for Refugees.

For those who may think that anti-Catholicism is a canard, you only need hear some of the quotes in this article to see differently. For example:

"Relief workers fear that [Antonio] Guterres would use his authority to spread Catholicism among vulnerable refugees and internally displaced persons."


"Now we are going to have Guterres in UNHCR to look after Catholic interests. But we have no one to look after the interests of the poor, the children, and refugees."

When did we come to the point that being Catholic meant being not interested in the poor, the children, and refugees?

It seems to me that UN support for abortion and for policies that are diametrically opposed to the values of the Catholic Church argues not for futher ties to the UN but for a complete separation from this organization. I am all for greater collaboration of peoples, but not when that collaboration is built on falsehood.

Moreover, since the Catholic Church is the single largest aid organization in the world, perhaps the United Nations should think a bit more on who is really helping the poor.

Thoughts on Wednesday's Gospel

MK 10:32-45

Jesus again speaks of the importance of humility and service in today's gospel. The disciples instead seek to be made the greatest, to sit on Jesus' right and left when he enters his glory. Humility is reality, this means that one is not humble by minimizing who they really are, by falsely ascribing faults to themselves any more than one should falsely glorify oneself. CS Lewis speaks of humility as the ability of someone to rejoice in another's work as much as they would in their own.

Perhaps this is a good understanding of "Ordinary Time" as that time when we should take a better look at ourselves in truth - recognizing the need for conversion, but also recognizing the many gifts that God has given us to seek him in truth and in service.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Musings on the Diaconate

The diaconal ordination has taken place and I am still trying to get into my new reality as a deacon in the Catholic Church. I have served two Masses so far and each one is better than the last. Next week I will officiate at my first Eucharistic benediction.

It's kind of weird. Have I changed? In a way I feel different, but in another way I wonder if I really say a blessing over something has it changed in a way that it wouldn't have a week ago? They never tell you how it feels to be a deacon, perhaps it's not something you can learn - you can only do. Perhaps it won't really hit me until I preside at a baptism or wedding and really feel myself as an instrument of God's grace.

Saint Stephen pray for me.

Thoughts on Tuesday's Gospel

MK 10:28-31

Today, Jesus promises that the one who give up things for the sake of the kingdom will not go unrewarded. Though their may be suffering and persecutions, we will not suffer alone but will have the comfort of all of our brothers and sisters who have joined us in sacrificing everything for God's glory.

Again, this passage is a great comfort to the religious who has indeed sacrificed the possibility of marriage, of having children. However, as the religious immerses himself in the ministry to and with the people of God, they find themselves becoming spiritual fathers and mothers as they teach the faith and find themselves becoming spiritual children as they learn more about the mystery of God from those to whom they minister.

Perhaps Oakland should have used this as the model of their new cathedral

St's Peter & paul Catholic Church, Lewiston,Maine - Lachance/Bussell Family Genealogy

This is what a cathedral should look like and how architectural renovation should take place.

Unlike the Oakland Cathedral that seems more designed to be a greenhouse, the St. Peter and Paul Basilica in Lewiston, Maine is designed to facilitate the worship of God.

Vatican says no investigation of Legionaries founder

CNS STORY: Vatican says no church action planned against Legionaries' founder

The Vatican is no longer investigating the founder of the Legionaires of Christ for possible sexual abuse. While it is important to maintain the principle of innocent until proven guilty, there remains an air of suspicion that the allegations were not fully investigated. Given the current atmosphere of suspicion and earlier reports that the witnesses had been viewed as being credible I don't think that this will bode well for the Church as it tries to demonstrate that it is taking the tragedy of sexual abuse more seriously.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Thoughts on Monday's Gospel

MK 10:17-27

Jesus says, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." These words are one of those many hard sayings. Few, even among those who call themselves religious choose to follow this passage literally and it is easy to proclaim poverty while excusing oneself for the possessions one has. We believe that we need things either to deal with current problems or as supports for possible future problems.

I know that I myself am condemned by these words which call for a complete trust in the Lord even as I place my trust in the many things that surround me. To divest myself of all things seems to hard, perhaps I could try to live with less instead.

The continuing spread of architectural travesties - the Oakland Cathedral

Inside Bay Area - Local News

The Diocese of Oakland has begun work on a new cathedral - the Cathedral of Christ the Light that is to be completed in 2008.

You know that you are in trouble when the article states,

The unique cathedral design will surely draw visitors and tourists from all faiths.

Since, we all know that the purpose of a church is to draw people of all faiths, funny - I always thought that it was to inspire worship of God.

The new cathedral looks more like an auditorium than a church. Perhaps even like Superman's fortress of solitude. Images are available here.

Electing the pope with Green Smoke

Dr. Kwame Natambu feels that the use of black smoke to signify that a new Pope has not been chosen and white smoke to signify the election of new Pope is racist and should be changed to red smoke for the signifying of no new pope and green to signify a new pope.

In fact, the Doctor writes,

This papal decision-making process supports the contention that Christianity/Roman Catholicism is one of the nine potent weapons in the armoury of Europeans to destroy, decimate and annihilate Afrikan peoples.

Aside from the fact that I haven't heard any of the African clergy making this argument and that the colors red and green are just as culturally biased as the choice of white and black, I think the real problem is that the colors black and white have importance beyond the election of the pope and come not out of a European context but out of the Jewish traditions of the Middle East.

Chicago archdiocese ordains 16 Catholic priests

Chicago archdiocese ordains 16 Catholic priests

Here's some good news regarding the priest shortage in the US. I found it interesting that the Chicago Archdiocese had been seeing an increase in the numbers of its ordained every year since 1990.

However, the article also noted that several of the new priests come from outside of the United States which seems to indicate that work on improving the numbers of native born priests continues.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Diaconate - Part Four - The Liturgy

As I head out today for my ordination to the Diaconate tomorrow, I want to end my series on the Diaconate with a few comments on the ordination liturgy.

The ordination takes place during Mass and progresses in this fashion. The candidates for the Diaconate are presented to the bishop who asks whether the candidates are worthy. The friar in charge of formation then announces that the candidates have indeed been found worthy.

After the homily, the bishop speaks on the importance of the Diaconate, including the following words:

These men, your relatives and friends, are now to be raised to the order of deacons. Consider carefully the ministry to which they are promoted.

They will draw new strength from the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will help the bishop and his body of priests as a minister of the word, of the altar, and of charity. They will make themselves a servant to all. As ministers of the altar they will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and give the Lord's body and blood to the community of believers.

It will also be their duty, at the bishop's discretion, to bring God's word to believer and unbeliever alike, to preside over public prayer, to baptize, to assist at marriages and bless them, to give viaticum to the dying, and to lead the rites of burial. Once they are consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles and are bound more closely to the altar, they will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop or the pastor. From the way they go about these duties, may you recognize them as disciples of Jesus who came to serve, not to be served.

Next the bishop addresses each candidate for the Diaconate:

My sons, you are being raised to the order of deacons. The Lord has set an example for you to follow.

As deacons you will serve the Jesus Christ, who was known among his disciples as the one who served others. Do the will of God generously. Serve God and mankind in love and joy. Look upon all unchastity and avarice as worship of false gods; for no man can serve two masters.

Like the men the apostles chose for works of charity, you should be men of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. Show before God and mankind that you are above every suspicion of blame, true ministers of Christ and of God's mysteries, men firmly rooted in faith. Never turn away from the hope which the Gospel offers; now you must not only listen to God's word but also preach it. Hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Express in action what you proclaim by word of mouth. Then the people of Christ, brought to life by the Spirit, will be an offering God accepts. Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear him say "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord."

At this time the candidate makes a declaration of his intention to live a life of celibacy, to faithfully live out the responsibilities of the office of deacon, and obedience to his bishop and the bishop's successors.

After the recitation of the Litany of Saints, the bishop lays hands on the candidates and prays:

Almighty God, be present with us by your power. You are the source of all honor, you assign to each his rank, you give to each his ministry. You remain unchanged, but you watch over all creation and make it new through you Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord: he is your Word, your power, and your wisdom. You forsee all things in your eternal providence and make due provision for every age. You make the Church, Christ's body, grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple. Your enrich it with every kind of grace and perfect it with a diversity of member to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity.

You established a threefold ministry of worship and service for the glory of your name. As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance. In the first day of your Church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostles of your Son appointed seven men of Good repute to assist them in the daily ministry, so that they themselves might be more free for prayer and preaching. By prayer and the laying on of hands the apostles entrusted to those chosen men the ministry of serving at tables.

Lord, send forth upon them the Holy Spirit, that they may be strengthened by the gift of the sevenfold grace to carry out faithfully the work of the ministry.

May they excel in every virtue: in love that is sincere, in concern for the sick and the poor, in unassuming authority, in self-discipline, and in holiness in life. May their conduct exemplify your commandment and lead your people to imitate their purity of life. May they remain strong and steadfast in Christ, giving to the world the witness of a pure conscience. May they in this life imitate your Son, who came, not to be served but to serve, and one day reign with him in heaven.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Finally, the candidates are invested with the dalmatic and the stole, the signs of their new office and given the book of the Gospels signifing their responsibility to preach the Word of God.

Ministry, evangelism, faithfulness and uprightness these are the gifts and responsibilities of the Diaconate, pray that the Lord might give the the grace to live them.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Thoughts on Friday's Gospel

MK 10:1-12

Jesus is tested by the Pharisees regarding the possibility of divorce and stresses the importance of marriage from the beginning of creation. In fact, one could even call marriage the first sacrament. In marriage, the Father offers a symbol of his own relationship with his children - a covenental relationship in which God and humanity are joined, become one without losing any distinctiveness.

Sometimes this image can seem overwhelming for the married couples, who can make their life as perfect as the life of God? Therefore, it is important to see the image as a goal to which the couple strives from now and throughout eternity in the same way that the perfection of the Son is a goal for all Christians. None of us is perfect now and it is unlikely that we will attain the perfect humanity of Christ soon. Yet, what is possible is our ability to strive to live each day a bit more in conformity with that ideal. In the same way that a single drop of water may not have much of an effect on a stone, but a continual series of drops over a long time will eventually erode the stone away - so is the effect of grace upon the hardness of our hearts.

The Diaconate - Part Three - Today

Since the Diaconate has been restored in the Catholic Church after Vatican II, key details on its place within the spiritual life of the Church can be found expressed in several important Church documents.

The GIRM [General Instruction of the Roman Missal] notes the following responsibilities of the Deacon in the Mass - to proclaim the Gospel, assist priest in distributing Communion and purifying the sacred vessels, and dismiss the people at the end of Mass [59, 90, 171] The deacon may also give the homily, offer the intentions, and assist in the breaking of the bread, [66, 71, 83]

The Code of Canon Law notes other liturgical roles for the deacon - celebrate the rite of baptism, preside at the exposition and benediction of the Eucharist, officiate at a marriage outside of Mass [861, 943, 1116].

Lumen Gentium no.29 further mentions that deacons may bring Viaticum to the dying, instruct the people, admister sacramentals and officiate at funeral and burial services.

A deacon may also offer any of the blessings contained within the Book of Blessings in which it is explicitly stated that they may be given by the deacon.

As you can see, the deacon has many responsibilities of service and evangelization in the Church expressed both within and outside of the Liturgy. This is why it is so important that the deacon persevere in faithfulness and moral uprightness so as to ably excercise his office among the people of God.

I close with the words of St. Ignatius in his epistle to the Magnesians:

...the deacons also are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the worlds and appeared at the end of time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thoughts on Thursday's Gospel

MK 9:41-50

"Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward." These words of Christ express the call for us each to do things for the sake of Christ.

St. Seraphim of Sarov has said in regards to these words that we are all merchants gathering our reward but in order to obtain it we must not only do that which is good, we must do good things for the sake of Christ. We must do them for the sake of gaining Christ.

Jesus' words tell us that living the Christian life is not mighty deeds and fantastic miracles, but simply doing all things for Christ. Some still write the letters AMDG, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam - For the Greater Glory of God, on the top of their written work as a sign of this dedication. How many of us could inscribe these letters on the top of their foreheads as a sign of their devotion to God?

An injustice?

Perhaps this is a no-brainer and perhaps I am preaching to the choir here, but it seems to me an injustice has taken place at Saint Jude High School in Alabama.

Saint Jude is a Catholic high school which forbade a preganant student from participating in her high school graduation because of "safety concerns". The student decided to attend anyway, announced her own name and walked across the stage. After which her mother and aunt were escorted out of the church in which the commencement exercises were taking place.

However, the father of the child who was also a senior at the school was allowed to participate in the graduation.

First of all, while I have no problem in setting policies designed to keep teens from getting pregnant, if a student does get pregnant it would seem better for her and her child to help her finish her education and to recognize her when she does. Especially, if we want her to choose to keep her baby and not seek an abortion.

Moreover, if you are going to punish one person, should you not punish the other? Why was the father not banned from graduation? Is this not sending the wrong message that, for the man, there are fewer consequences in regards to pre-marital sex?

The Diaconate - Part Two - Tradition

Yesterday, I blogged on the Scriptural foundations of the Diaconate. Today I would like to write on the expression of the Deaconate within the writings of the Church Fathers and tradition. There have been many famous deacons from Saint Stephen to the founder of my own community, Saint Francis and the importance of the deaconate in the tradition of the Church is made quite clear in the writings of the patristics.

The same theme of ministry, evangelization, uprightness and faithfulness are continued for example, Saint Ignatius writes in his epistle to the Trallians:

It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all. For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would do fire.

A key element of the ministry of the Deacon is the distibution of the Eucharist as Saint Justin Martyr notes in his First Apology:

And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.

Deacons were also to proclaim the Gospel, help in the administration of the sacraments and in the practice of prayer.

The deacon is clearly an honored ministry, for example Saint Ignatius writes, "let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ..." [Epistle to the Trallians]. Saint Clement writes that the deacon, like the bishop has been an office integral to the Church since its foundation:

The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture a certain place, "I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith."

I end with the prayer for the ordination of the deacon as presented in the Constitutions of the Twelve Apostles:

O God Almighty, the true and faithful God, who art rich unto all that call upon Thee in truth, who art fearful in counsels, and wise in understanding, who art powerful and great, hear our prayer, O Lord, and let Thine ears receive our supplication, and "cause the light of Thy countenance to shine upon this Thy servant," who is to be ordained for Thee to the office of a deacon; and replenish him with Thy Holy Spirit, and with power, as Thou didst replenish Stephen, who was Thy martyr, and follower of the sufferings of Thy Christ. Do Thou render him worthy to discharge acceptably the ministration of a deacon, steadily, unblameably, and without reproof, that thereby he may attain an higher degree, through the mediation of Thy only begotten Son, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Thoughts on Wednesday's Gospel

MK 9:38-40

Jesus speaks the command not to hinder those who do mighty deeds in his name, even if they do not explicitly belong to his flock with the words, "Whoever is not against us is for us." These words have often been used in support of the ecumenical movement on the grounds that all are serving Jesus even if not explicitly united to him. A similar current goes through Karl Rahner's theology of the anonymous Christian, that is - everyone is a follower of Christ by doing what is good even if they do not recognize it as such.

I have a problem with this passive evangelization of those who, if asked, would state that they were, indeed not Christian and would not wish to think that they were - even anonymously. Neither would I wish to be known as an anonymous Buddhist or an anonymous Muslim. The name of Christian should not be minimized to simply a set of behavior.

I think that what Jesus is saying is that if someone is doing good in the name of Jesus, it would be foolish to stop them because Jesus' name will still be glorified, but rather than only "not stopping" we should strive to get this one who is already serving Jesus to do so within the bonds of the Church that Jesus established.

Doing "mighty deeds" in Jesus' name is good, but acting in Jesus' name amongst those who make up the Body of Christ is even better for it makes those deeds part of the over all salvation of God's holy people.

The Diaconate - Part One - Scriptural Foundations

As I prepare for my Diaconate ordination on Saturday, I wanted to put up a few posts about the Diaconate and what it means to be a deacon. Since the Diaconate was restored in the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II, few Catholics have seen a deacon much less know what a deacon is other than perhaps considering the deacon a "lesser priest".

In fact, the Diaconate is an order with a long noble history as will become clearer in this series of posts beginning with a reflection on the Diaconate in Holy Scripture.

The word diakanos appears several times in Scripture both in the Old and New Testament and carries with it the meaning of minister and servant. [For example, Esther 2:2 and Matthew 20:28] In this sense, it applies to the responsibilities of all Christian believers.

In terms of a specific office, the first reference to the Diaconate is in Acts 6:1-7 though the words deacon or deaconate do not appear. The office of the deacon is said to originate out of a need to ensure that the needy widowed Greek Jews be treated fairly in the daily distribution of food. The Church chose seven men "filled with the Spirit and Wisdom" and entrusted them to this task.

It is interesting that immediately after this, the Scriptures describe the deeds of one of these first seven deacons, Stephen. [Acts 6:8-60] Stephen, one of the first deacons and the first martyr to the Church, is known not for his ministry to the widows, but for the proclaiming of the Gospel of Christ. So, in addition to a service of ministry, we also see the deacon possessing a responsibility to evangelize. Evangelism is also demonstrated in the encounter of the deacon Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40.

The most explicit description of the Diaconate comes in 1 Timothy 3:8 in which we are told that deacons must be "dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy after sordid gain." So, again, the deacon must be one of moral uprightness. Deacons are also to remain steadfast in the faith. [3:9]

Ministry, Evangelization, Uprightness, Faithfulness are characteristics of the deacon as presented in Scripture, as this series on the Diaconate continues, we shall see more clearly how they are made manifest in the life of the deacon in the Church.


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Generation John Paul II

Much commentary on the newest generation of priests emphasizes their "conservative" mindset. I have tended to notice this as well; though I don't know whether that is the nature of fewer men seeking to enter religious life, a desire to rebel against the more liberal attitude of the baby boomer generation, or something else.

I know that some have become quite concerned with the desire of many young Catholics to restore devotionals such as Eucharistic Adoration that had fallen by the wayside in many areas. They fear that the youth are trying to restore the very things that they had struggled to eliminate.

I think that in the earlier generation, faith was simply a matter of acceptance and a matter of tradition. Now, with so many options available for people - those who choose to be Catholic must really have good reasons, they must really make their faith decision part of their way of living. This applies not just to Catholicism but to any faith or ideology, the youth are becoming much more passionate.

My experience of seminary life also confirms this, the priests of the future are much more interested in orthodoxy and spirituality - they want to know about their faith and they want to be good priests. Will this breed difficulties with an older generation that tended to identify themselves more in terms of social justice than the younger generation's focus on ritual and liturgy? That remains to be seen.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Thoughts on Tuesday's Gospel

MK 9:30-37

In the post-Pentecost period, we are called to open our eyes more fully to the work of the Trinity in our lives. As Jesus says in today's Gospel, whoever receives a child in Jesus' name receives Jesus and whoever receives Jesus receives the Father who sent him. Since the Father and the Son never act without the Spirit, in receiving the child, one receives the Trinity.

Christ came to reveal the Father and to offer to us the gift of the Spirit. The Trinity has been made known, what will be our response? Will we argue among ourselves who is the greatest or will we seek to model ourselves after Jesus who humbled himself unto death and after the Spirit who seeks to remain hidden while working God's will in the world?

Today's Gospel also recalls Christ's suffering and death to remind us that as we go out into the world to evangelize, to bring the Trinity to others we too will face persecution and opposition for "the servant is not greater than the Master". Yet, if we follow the master unto death, we will rise with him and if we follow the Master in humility, we will be glorified with him.

Ecumenism or self-repression?

At Benedictine University, they are allowing Muslim students to pray in the Catholic chapels, the article begins with

Mohammed Ahmed and Abrar Anwar draw curtains to cover the wooden altar, the pulpit and stained-glass images of St. Benedict and Jesus carrying the cross. Faruk Rahmanovic helps them move plastic chairs to the sides of the room and unroll colorful prayer rugs stashed in a cabinet.

Chicago Tribune | Different faiths, same spirit

Now, while I don't have any problem with Benedictine permitting Muslim students to pray on school grounds, I am a bit more uncomfortable with the covering of the altar and Catholic images, especially images of Jesus. I realize that such images may make Muslim students uncomfortable, but don't think that a Catholic school should attempt to hide its Catholic identity. Jesus was and is a sign of contradiction.

Perhaps a different building or structure could be used to both allow the Muslim students to pray while not attempting to hide Benedictine's Catholic heritage.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Thoughts on Monday's Gospel

MK 9:14-29

In today's Gospel, the disciples come down from the wondrous vision of the Transfiguration to find that they are unable to perform miraculous signs. Jesus in frustration says, O faithless generation, how long will I be with you?"

In the same way, we have celebrated the great feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit and we need to remember that our own relationship with Jesus continues - the sending of the Spirit is not the end just as the disciples' witness of Jesus in his glory did not mean that they no longer needed to cling to him. The Gospel reminds us that along with the gift of the Spirit, we need to continue to strengthen our faith and to persevere in prayer if we wish to overcome the evil spirits that continue to infect our world.

Everything is possible for the one who has faith, though this can be difficult. As the scripture states, "I believe, help my unbelief!"

This why prayer and the gift of the Spirit is so necessary. One to seek faith and the other to give it. In coming down from the mountain, from the spiritual uplifting that is Easter and Pentacost, we may struggle to cling to our faith. In our struggles, the Spirit will always be there as comforter and strengthener if we but call upon him.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Franciscans in the News - The beatification of Mother Marianne Cope / News / World / Europe / Vatican beatifies nun who helped lepers

Today Mother Marianne Cope of the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse was beatified. Mother Mariate worked extensively with the lepers in Hawaii. Robert Lewis Stevensen wrote a poem in tribute of her.

As Franciscan Sister said, "I have shivers to think that someone who did common, ordinary things can be come a saint." Yet, that is the secret of sainthood, that it comes with doing the ordinary in love. Still, what a challenge it can be.

Franciscans in the News - The Poor Clares of Langhorne

Philadelphia Daily News | 05/11/2005 | BLESSED BAKING

This is a great article about a group of Poor Clares who have spent their lives making Eucharistic bread used around the country. I particularly enjoyed the words of Sr. Mary Francis who continues to bake bread at the young age of 78,, "I loved doing this from the start. I like the work itself. The bread becomes Jesus - there's a beauty in it."

I have met a few of these sisters in my formation and can attest that they are truly holy examples to me of a selfless devotion to God.

May God continue to bless their holy work.

Thoughts on Sunday's Gospel

JN 20:19-23

In the evening Jesus comes to us with the words "Do not be afraid" and gives us the Holy Spirit. "Do not be afraid" were the words that John Paul II also put forward at the beginning of his papacy. Yes, there seem to be many problems in today's world - violence in Uzbekistan and Iraq, children being kidnapped, continuing fears of terrorism. How can we keep from fear in these times? Because we have the Spirit whose continuing presence is the continuing presence of the love of God.

Things may look bad but God's love endures, a hidden love made manifest in our love for one another and the mutual forgiveness of sins. Today I took the opportunity to visit the Sacrament of Reconcilliation to hear the words "Your sins are forgiven" to know that the many times I have not served as a minister of peace have been forgiven by the God of Love who calls upon me to do the same to others.

Yet, there are those who do not take the opportunity to participate in this Sacrament - perhaps because they fear what the priest will tell them, perhaps because they fear what the priest will ask, perhaps because they have already experienced poor behavior from a priest. This is a tragedy, that a sacrament meant to inspire hope and love has instead inspired fear. May all in this position receive the Spirit of courage and love and return to the sacrament. May all who minister the sacrament receive the Spirit of compassion and love welcoming back the sinner as they too have been welcomed back many times.

Revealed: how an abortion puts the next baby at risk

Telegraph | News | Revealed: how an abortion puts the next baby at risk

A new French study is demonstrating a link between abortions and premature births, saying that women have abortions are more likely to have give birth to a baby at less than 28 weeks.

The spokesman for the Royal College of Obstreticians and Gynaecologists said, "This study shows that surgical termination of pregnancies may have late complications and may not be without risks."

Fr. Robert F. Drinan, SJ's dictionary not quite up to snuff

The Kansas City Georgetown Club has invited Father Robert Drinan, SJ to teach a class on "legal ethics". I find it kind of funny that a Jesuit priest who has no problem supporting abortion and disobeying both his Jesuit superiors and the Pope is going to speak about ethics, but maybe they understand the meaning of that word differently at schools "in the Jesuit tradition"

In an article in a phone interview with the Kansas City Star, Drinan states that "I'm pretty depressed by the pope" because "He's been repressive and curbed the careers of hundreds of theologians". Let's see, by "hundreds" he must mean less than 12. And by repressed, he must mean "still have teaching positions and continue to publish".

He says that the Catholic Church is a religion of love which means supporting President Clinton when he vetoed the partial birth abortion bill and writing a defense of Roe v Wade.

Interestingly, he notes that his three nieces were brought up Catholic, but no longer practicing because, "The new pope has the bug that it's all relativism and all of them (young people who don't go to church) are evil." This must mean that obedience to the successor of Peter means to slander him and make false accusations against him.

Still, the good father is willing to "give him 100 days and see what happens." How kind of him.

My advice is for everyone to avoid Fr. Drinan's lexicon which seems to present falsehood as truth and hatred as love. And my advice for Fr. Drinan is not to "Be liberal" as he suggests, but rather "Be faithful." That seemed to attract millions of young people to see John Paul II. How many will be coming to see him?

Celebrating Pentecost

In former times, man, having been overcome by madness, sought to build a tower to reach up to heaven. But the Lord, by dividing their tongues, put a division in their evil desires. [Genesis 11:1-9] Now the Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles in tongues of fire in order to unify the divided world. The result is something new and wondrous; for just as in former times tongues divided the world and split an evil assembly, now tongues gather the world together and join in harmony those who had been divided. – Chrysostom [Second Homily on Pentecost, II]

The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles and the beginning of the Church. As a harvest feast for both Jews and Christians, the faithful decorate homes with flowers and green plants. Christians believe that the green branches and flowers symbolize the holy gifts and sanctified life that come through the Holy Spirit. In Italy, the feast is known as the Festa Rosalia or the Feast of the Roses, this name was later adopted by the Greek Christians as Rousalia and the Slavs as Rusalya. The Slavs also call the feast Zelenyi Sviata or the Green Holy Day because Eastern clergy wear green vestments on this day.

The Jewish people traditionally celebrated the Feast of the Harvest on the fiftieth day after Passover. [Leviticus 23:15-16] This feast was also called the Feast of the First Fruits. [Numbers 28:26] Since the harvest officially lasted for seven weeks, Pentecost was also known as the Feast of the Weeks [Deuteronomy 16:9-10] In the time after the Babylonian exile, the Feast of the Harvest was linked with the establishment of the covenant between God and the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai that the Jews believed had taken place on the fiftieth day after the crossing of the Red Sea.

In the time of Jesus and the Early Church, Greek Jews celebrated the Feast as “Pentecost” meaning “the fiftieth”. Jews would spend the eve of Pentecost in an all-night vigil. They held the tradition that Moses would wake the Israelites in the middle of the night to proclaim the Law of God to them. The Jews would also read the harvest and covenant Scriptures of the Bible including Joel 3:1-2 –

Then afterward I will pour out
my spirit upon all mankind.
Your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions;
Even upon the servants and the handmaids,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

This text would be very important to the Apostles when they preached to the Jews after the descent of the Holy Spirit.

For the Church, the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost also serves as a reminder of our own Baptism in both water and in the Spirit, the reality of our divinization in the Spirit, our adoption as Children of God through the Spirit, and, of course, of the fullness of the revelation of the Holy Trinity.

The importance of unity is particularly emphasized. The apostles and disciples are all gathered together “in one place” at the time of Pentecost. The tongues of fire are united until they separate to unite themselves with the Christian faithful. The people of different lands and languages are joined in a common understanding. As Christ ascended when He had fulfilled all that the Scriptures had prophesied, so does the Spirit only appear as the time of Pentecost is also “fulfilled.” Yet, fulfillment does not mean completion but rather that through the work of Christ, we have been prepared for the arrival of the Spirit in our lives.

Having recognized the reality of the divine and human working together in Christ, we are prepared for something similar to happen to us as well. Through prayer and contemplation, the disciples no longer are afraid in the upper room, now they have the courage to proclaim the truths of the Spirit openly. Within our own lives we too have had to move from fear to courage. We may have had fears about our relationship with the Lord, we may have placed all our attention on the suffering in our lives and not seen the light of the Resurrection or the light of Pentecost. The Apostles did not become Evangelists overnight and the Church, in her wisdom, has given us these many days of Lent and Easter to recognize more clearly as the Apostles did on that Resurrection day that there was no need to be afraid and that God will always be with us in His Son and in His Spirit.

My brothers and sisters, think about how the significance of this day’s solemnity compares with that of the Incarnation of the Only-begotten Son of God. The importance of these feasts should be considered to be the same. In the Incarnation, the one God, while remaining God, took upon himself our human nature. Today, humanity has received God within it as God descends from above. In the first, God became human by nature; in the second, we became gods by adoption. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, if we do not wish to continue in death as people of the flesh, let us now give our love to the Life-giving Spirit. – Gregory the Great [Thirtieth Homily, IX]

Thoughts on Saturday's Gospel

JN 15:9-17

Today Jesus tells us to "keep his commandments" and to "love one another as I have loved you". By keeping Jesus' commandments we will remain in his love and in the love of the Father. To keep Jesus' commandments we must love one another, even if it means sacrificing our lives - for, "no one has a greater love" than to lay down one's life for one's friends.

These are not new commands but a re-enforcement of the Shema's commands that we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourself.

In today's society, it is difficult to call for obedience. We value our independence and give it up only grudgingly. "What's in it for me?" is a question of some degree of importance for people today. I think Augustine put it well when he said, "Love God and do what you will". That is, if we love God and love one another than we will only want to do what God commands we will be obedient not out compulsion or fear, but out of love - not because we have to but because we want to. Our joy will be in the joy of the Father and the Son, it will be complete.

Therefore, when we look at our own lives and relationships with God, do we find that we truly do love one another with the love of Jesus? If we do so, we will bear great fruit - the fruit that comes from love.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The limitations of papal authority

Herald Sun: Pope pets on outer [14may05]

Who says that the pope can do anything he wants? Apparently there are limits because Benedict XVI is not being allowed to bring his two beloved cats into the Vatican and now has to visit them in his old apartment outside Vatican City. Other popes have had pets - Leo XII had a dog and Pius XII had birds, but it is ixnay on the catsay.

Poor Pope Benedict, perhaps this can be the subject of a new encyclical like Catsi Connubbi or Felines et Ratio. I mean, what's the point of being pope if you can't have your cat?

Pope Benedict and the Society of St. Pius X

AP Wire | 05/12/2005 | Traditionalist Catholic priestly society well acquainted with new pope

Pope Benedict XVI has not ingratiated himself with the traditionalists of the Society of St. Pius X by telling them that the documents of Vatican II "are magisterial and enjoy the highest doctrinal authority".

Pope defends Vatican II, now there is a headline you are not likely to see. I think it just goes to show further that the prejudices against Pope Benedict XVI even to the point of one Italian publication releasing an editorial cartoon of the new pope in a Nazi uniform show a manifest failure to really learn about the man.

Does his refusal to support the Society of St. Pius X make him a liberal? Does his tour of duty with the CDF make him a conservative? Perhaps he is simply trying to be faithful.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Thoughts on Friday's Gospel

Friday's Gospel presents Jesus on the beach asking Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Asking this question can be particularly difficult as I can especially remember in my years of dating long ago. For in asking this question, Jesus makes himself vulnerable. He opens himself up to hearing Peter respond negatively, for Peter, like all of us are entirely free to respond either "Yes, Lord I love you" or to respond "No, I don't love you".

If we respond "Yes" there are certain responsibilities placed upon us in caring for and tending the other brothers and sisters of Jesus that we encounter every day. But there is even more here, Jesus tells Peter that in his youth he goes where he wishes but when he is old, "someone will dress you and lead you where you do not wish to go". How true that is for those who minister! We may often think that the difficulty is to spend time with those in need, but the real difficulty is allowing others to do things for you that you feel you should do for yourself. We place a lot of importance in our ability to bathe ourselves, to feed ourselves, and to dress ourselves as signs of our dignity and our self-respect. How difficult it is to accept losing our ability to do these things to become the one who is helpless. In old age we enter again into the helplessness we had as children, yet we know that things will not ever improve - in this life. Can we make ourselves vulnerable as Jesus did? Can we ask Jesus if he loves us? Can we listen to his answer?

More academic stupidities

Another academic scandal is taking place at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where history professor Jonathan Bean, recently named College Liberal Arts Teacher of the Year, has become the victim of an academic witch hunt for assigned the reading of an article about the "Zebra Killings" in one of his classes along with readings from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. The Zebra Killings dealt with a series of murders of in 1972-1974 San Francisco involving the racially motivated murders of whites by blacks.

Six of Professor's Beans colleagues in the history department have accused him of distributing "racist propaganda" not only because of the content of the article but because in the web version of the article their was a link to a racist and anti-Semetic website. In the version of the article distributed to the students, that link was edited out.

Now, I teach courses in Russian history and will have students read materials by Stalin and Lenin does that make me a distributer of "Communist propaganda"? In my Western Civlization courses, it is impossible to present a realistic portrayal of the treatment of women in history involving primary sources without presenting something that today would rightly be condemned as sexist - does this mean that I should avoid having my students read that material? Should I no longer talk about the Crusades or the Inquisition at a Catholic institution? Of course not, if I as a teacher disagree with a particular perspective or article it is my job to show why.

I was particularly disappointed with the words of History professor Robbie Lieberman of SIUC who has been one of the main critics of Bean. Professor Lieberman has said that the attacks on Bean are not a case of academic McCarthyism. Because, "I know what McCarthyism is," Lieberman said. "I teach McCarthyism. It's absurd; there are no elements of it in this." This is because only conservatives can be guilty of McCarthyism, not liberals.

According to an article from The Southern Illinoisan, "Lieberman said no one is attacking Bean's views or even his right to discuss controversial topics in class. The main problem, she said, with Bean's handout is it came from an Internet source that had questionable ties. Using the Internet as a source of material in the history department is generally frowned upon, Lieberman said, because its validity is not always certain. 'I don't personally let students with research papers get things off the Internet,"'she said."

Now, isn't it her responsibility to help her student's separate the good from the bad on the Internet? What does she think her students are going to do when they graduate - just ignore the Internet? Presumably she teaches her students how to make qualitative judgments about the reliability of print resources in her courses, treating the Internet should not be any different.

What a disservice to the historical profession.

Perhaps if they called it "expulsion" instead of "excommunication" things would be different

FIRE - Student Dismissed for Personal Beliefs Files Multimillion-Dollar Lawsuit Against Le Moyne College

I am a big advocate of the principle of academic freedom both for faculty as well as students - especially at Catholic institutions. Now by academic freedom, I don't mean that the school has a responsibility to support speach it finds contrary to its mission, but it also shouldn't go out of its way to suppress it. If Catholicism is truly the search for the truth, then by hindering the quest for academic truth we are in fact acting counter to our Catholicism. I seek not students who agree with me, but students who are able to come to coherent, defensible positions - even if they are contrary to my own. Because, if I have a student who simply repeats the positions of their professors, who knows whether they will or will be able to defend those positions outside of the institution.

Now, I would really expect that position to be upheld at a Jesuit institution like Le Moyne but apparently the Jesuit desire to have freedom to disagree with the Pope as evident in the cases of Roger Haight, Jacques Dupuis and Thomas Reese comes to an end when if it means have contrary opinions in the students educated by their universities.

This is definitely the case at Le Moyne where a student was expelled after writing a paper defending corporal punishment in the classroom. The student received an A- for this paper and a 3.78 GPA, but apparently this wasn't good enough for the LeMoyne Graduate Education department who expelled the student. Now LeMoyne is not just seen as an institution apparently exercising censorship and poor judgement but is also facing a four million dollar lawsuit from the former student. Perhaps legal action will get Le Moyne to finally do the right thing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thoughts on Thursday's Gospel

JN 17:20-26

Jesus continues his words about the world that does not know the Father. For Jesus, and for us, the focus of our life is union with the Father through the Son and in the Spirit. Jesus has made the Father known to us and calls us to be united with him in the love that the Father has given to the Son since "before the foundation of the world". The origin of our lives is the Father and the completion of our life's journey is in union with the Father.

There is no union with the Father apart from the Son and so no salvation apart from him. This is why Jesus prays especially for those who have come to belief through the teachings of the Apostles, that they may persevere in their faith until the end.

In a world that "does not know the Father" there are many voices that seek to distract us from our journey, to point us in a wrong direction, or to even abandon our goal. It is certainly a trial to maintain ourselves and sometimes we must indeed take stock of ourselves and whether or not we have wandered off somewhere we didn't want to go. The good news is that no matter how far we may have gotten lost, the light of Jesus is always there to lead us back to the right path - if we but look for him.

Remember, there is no other name in Heaven, on Earth, or under the Earth by which we can be saved.

eBay offer - Pope Benedict XVI Toast - WOW!!!!

eBay item 5579753229 (Ends May-13-05 13:35:05 PDT) - Pope Benedict XVI Toast - WOW!!!!

Why didn't I think of this? The pope on toast. Unfortunately it doesn't come with any papal jelly. Still, mmm...Vatican goodness.

Vatican orders probe of Mexican order's founder / News / World / Latin America/Caribbean / Vatican orders probe of Mexican order's founder

This could be very big news, especially as allegations have been around for many years. I pray that justice is done and the truth comes out, whatever that may be.

Inside Higher Ed :: 'The Phantom Professor'

Inside Higher Ed :: 'The Phantom Professor'

Another article about the problem of blogging about where you work. The Phantom Professor taught out at Southern Methodist University and while she tried to write anonymously and did not mention anyone in her blog by name or where she taught, the students and staff caught on and she has lost her job as an adjunct professor.

On the one hand, I can support the notion of freedom of expression - on the other hand I don't think that blogging about difficulties with faculty and students is appropriate. In my experience, when I tell people I know that I blog, they want to know if they are in it because of a real concern about what I might be broadcasting to the world about them. So, I have been trying to reveal personal experiences while avoid speaking - especially negatively - about those with whom I live and work.

I also believe that the teaching environment can be negatively impacted if students believe that they might become characters in a blog post. I may have problems with a particular student, but voicing my opinions - even anonymously - is not likely to make those problems better and, in fact, may make them worse.

All this goes to say that whatever appears in a blog should be something that you wouldn't mind saying in public and to a complete stranger. Bloggers should be honest, but prudent.

Thoughts on Wednesday's gospel

JN 17:11b-19

Today Jesus tells us that we are not of the world, though we have been sent into the world. These words have been at the heart of large disagreements over our relationship to creation. Some would say that because we are not of the world that our primary concern is with the world above rather than the world below. Others, particularly Franciscans, would say that we have a responsibility to focus on the world around us.

It seems that both sides can go a little overboard in their views. Those focussing on the next world can sometimes miss on the need to deal with the needs of people in the here and now. On the other hand, those who overly focus on this world can sometimes forget about the real transcendent and start treating creation as the end rather than the beginning.

So, yes we are not of the world rather we are of God, but we are in the world and have been placed in this creation to work out our salvation. We cannot ignore the needs of creation any more than we can ignore the needs of our neighbor. All of creation groans as it awaits its salvation in the Lord.

Making the changes

I spent a good deal of the day doing a major revamp of Friary Notes. I have started fiddling with the CSS to improve the look of the site and add some links. I think it went well, though I still need to examine the system that blogger uses so that I can really fiddle with the presentation.

Not much more to say as the vacation continues, although the weather here heated up quite a bit and we had to turn on the air conditioning. I know...poor baby!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

In Beijing Orthodox Easter is celebrated in Catholic church

>>> <<< In Beijing Orthodox Easter is celebrated in Catholic church

I know that the Roman Catholic Church has it pretty bad in China, but not nearly as bad as the Orthodox Church that is trying to survive without churches and without priests. Still, they retain the faith to celebrate Easter publicly for the first time in forty years.

Kudos also go to the permission given by the Catholics - probably belonging to the Patriotic Catholic Church - that Beijing's Catholic Cathedral could be used for the Divine Liturgy.

Here's praying that the Orthodox in China will soon have their own priest and church in which to praise God.

Jesus Christ in legal battle to get license - Jesus Christ in legal battle to get license - May 10, 2005

Even Jesus Christ can't find his way through the Washington DC bureaucracy. The poor guy has been trying to get a driver's license ever since he changed his name fifteen years ago. I wonder if he finds it difficult to have so many people take his name in vain?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Relaxing away

Ah it is so good to be on vacation, Envy Me! I'm getting work done and have returned to work on the second book manuscript due to be published in about three years from now if I'm lucky.

The weather here has been nice and cool and I spend much of the day just sitting on the back porch listening to birds. Envy Me! I will be here for about a week before returning for ordination and the beginning of my deaconate. I am looking forward to a different type of ministry as well as getting back into the classroom in the fall, though I still have quite a bit of prep to do.

I'll be praying for you all.

Reality TV kicks off at the Monastery

Reality TV kicks off at the Monastery - news from ekklesia

Call me skeptical but I'm not sure that this is the best way of recruiting for the religious life.

The BBC is trying to do a reality series based upon life in the monastery but let me tell you, many of us friars have commented on how a reality show could be done about our life - but this is not a realistic portrayal. The prospective monks include a former soft porn producer, a PhD student studying Buddhism, and a former member of the UDA from Northern Ireland. I can guarantee that it is unlikely that these individuals would pass the screening process. In today's tense environment no one would want to take someone with a background in pornography for fear of legal problems and the others also throw up big question marks.

But, I would be eager to be proven wrong and I'm all for showing the treasures of Christianity to the modern world, so let's see what happens.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ascending with Christ

Now we, we who before were considered unfit to live even upon the earth are now raised up to live in heaven and ascend with Christ into the Kingdom of Heaven to take our seat upon a royal throne.Chrysostom [Homily on the Ascension]

The Feast of the Ascension commemorates the entrance of Christ as High Priest into the Holy of Holies where He offers His own blood as a sacrifice for our redemption. It commemorates Christ’s bodily ascension into Heaven to place our humanity on the throne of the Divinity. Now the Church lives in the presence of the glorified Christ and through Him sits at the right hand of the Father. The Church remembers that the One who has ascended, will return again one day.

The forty days between Christ’s resurrection and his ascension are not to be seen simply as forty calendar days, but rather as a sign that Christ has indeed fulfilled all He intended to accomplish in his Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection. Humanity that had become alienated from the Father through sin is now once more in communion with God and has been restored to its status as sons and daughters in the Lord.

While the Apostles initially hope that the completion of Christ’s earthly mission will mean the restoration of Israel in an earthly kingdom, they will soon see that Christ intends not the restoration of the earthly Israel but the restoration of God’s people into the kingdom of the heavenly Israel. The Apostles will be given an even greater gift than a restored homeland on Earth; they will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We on our Easter journey, have reached a point of transition. Jesus has completed his earthly mission and restored us into communion with the Father, the scriptures have been fulfilled. This is not to say that Christ does not continue to remain active within our daily lives; He certainly does, for the Father is always working with both of His hands - the Son and the Spirt. And we continue to be integrally linked to Christ’s divinity through baptism.

The Son has saved us; the Spirit calls us forth to spread that good news to others. The Son is the Light of the Word and the Life-giving Stream. The Spirit is the Fire of Pentecost and the sanctifying Water of Purification. The Son ascends and the Spirit descends both to glorify our humanity and bring us closer into union with the Divine. Indeed, the ascension of Christ does not mean the end of our Easter journey. We must now follow Christ’s command to await the coming of Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost.

Ascension Sunday?

Today we celebrated the Feast of the Ascension as did most Catholic Churches in the United States and today I saw once again what a bad idea it was to move the Feast of the Ascension from its proper day on Thursday.

I know that the purpose of the transfer was to enable more lazy Americans an opportunity to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension or more lazy priests from actually celebrating the Ascension Thursday Mass at a time when working people could attend but the result is that today we celebrated both the Feast of the Ascension and Mother's Day and you can guess what won out during the homily.

This is not to say that the priest did not say some good words in his homily, but that they were not about the Ascension. This is because it is difficult to try to explain to people what the Feast of the Ascension means to them and it is much easier to talk about the importance of Mothers. Everybody has a mother and talking about the importance of women is always a good thing. So, we will just drop a few words about that day's Gospel and quickly move on to our "We love Mom!" talk.

So, this is my little voice in the desert crying out to move the Feast of the Ascension back to Thursday. After all, why not move other Feast days to Sundays as well like Christmas or the Annunciation so more people could attend? Why not just scrap the Ascension and just move strait to Pentacost - it's so much more enjoyable to talk about? Argh!!!

Catholic League hacked!!!

The website of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has been hacked - apparently by some Moroccan hacker wishing to voice his support for Palestine and animosity to Bush and Sharon [Certain parts of his web hack have been censored by me in yellow].

I don't know why he would choose the Catholic League as a site to hack, since I have never found anything on that site that would mark it as either pro-Israeli or anti-Palestinian. In fact, the site seems to pretty much limit itself to events in the United States. I don't find the site is even very pro-Bush. It did demonstrate an animosity to John Kerry, but that was because of his pro-choice policies.

Perhaps it is an indication that for some in the Islamic world, Catholic and American are synonomous. Still, then I would have expected something anti-Catholic in the hack and there wasn't any of that.

In any event, I doubt this hacker won much support for his cause with this hack and only succeeded in alienating many Catholics from supporting a cause that does need more attention - especially the plight of the Palestinian Christians.
Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Darth Seraphim says, "Go to Church, say your prayers, tithe! thithe!" Posted by Hello

Turning to the dark side

Today my goddaughter and niece celebrated her first communion. I wore my habit to the Mass and of course attracted more attention than all the young girls in their first communion dresses and young men in their new suits and clip-on ties. The Mass was at the parish in which I grew up and so brought back some memories both good and bad. Yet, since they produced at least one vocation - the Spirit must be working there.

After the Mass, there was a reception at my brother's house and one of my little nephews, seeing me in my black habit, kept asking if I was from Star Wars. So, you can just add Darth Seraphim to my long list of titles.

The first communion Mass went well and my niece looked very nice in her communion dress, though she wanted to get out of it as soon as possible after the service. Personally, I think that all Catholics should start receiving communion immediately after baptism, but the choice isn't up to me. The Eucharist should be a sign of our belonging to the Church, not some kind of reward for "understanding" their faith. None of us is ever going to fully understand the faith - especially the Trinity, so why make it a requirement?

Ousted church members ponder next move - Ousted church members ponder next move - May 7, 2005

Well, everyone thought it would begin with the Catholics...

Several members of the East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, North Carolina have been kicked out of their church by their pastor for not supporting President Bush. Perhaps one good thing about the hierarchical nature of the Catholic Church is that no one priest could do this at his parish on his own decision and he would likely get into trouble with his bishop if he tried.

I don't think that any Church is served well by tying itself to a particular candidate or politician. I think it only detracts from a focus on the message of the Father as revealed in the Son and the Spirit.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Imitatio parodisio

Well, I don't know who thought of it first, but apparently there are some Benedict XVI trading cards available. You will have to make your own judgement about who did it better. Personally, I like mine but I'm biased.

I head off for a good vacation tomorrow. I hope to rest and prepare myself for the deaconate ordination that is quickly approaching as well as do some academic work now that I am back in the role of teacher once again. In fact, I get to supervise an exam tomorrow! Ah the memories.

Hope you all had a joyous Cinco de Mayo and a wondrous Ascension if you live in an area where it is celebrated on the right day. I don't.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Papal Trading Cards

Recently Reuters published an article about a trading card that Topps produced of John Paul II that sold for over eight thousand dollars. I thought I would get in on the deal with the first Benedict XVI trading card. I don't know whether it will approach what John Paul II's card reached, but it does come with a stick of e-gum. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Something tells me that Sen. Clinton has her work cut out for her. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 02, 2005

Health outlook improving

I went to see another doctor about the finger today and received a much smaller brace on my finger. It's plastic, whitish-pink and only covers half of the finger. Plus, I can take if off for showers. Unfortunately, I have to wear it for six weeks.

I did have a bit of a time finding the doctor as he had two offices in two different towns but with the same phone number. Needless to say, I went to the wrong office first and then had to drive another thirty minutes to get to the right office.

I am also learning to type with one less finger. I wonder if I will be able to return to normal when the brace is off?

Imposing the faith

Rep. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, said Owens imposed his own Catholic faith on women who have been raped when he vetoed House Bill 1042, which would have required hospitals, including Catholic institutions, to inform rape victims they have the right to emergency contraception. source

This is the time when I get on my soap box and rant so you may want to avoid reading this post.

This type of attitude always gets me mad. I certainly don't wish to minimize the horrors of rape, but I don't think that women are better treated if politicians are required to leave their beliefs at home. Does Rep. Boyd never allow her personal beliefs or political views to influence her decisions? Of course not. No politician is ever elected by 100% of the vote, yet we do not ever protest when Republicans or Democrats impose their political views on people who do not agree with them. That is the nature of democracy. Indeed, if politicians were never able to make policy decisions or votes based upon personal beliefs - nothing would ever get done. Politians would fear making law because "I don't want to impose my beliefs on someone who may not agree with me."

What if Rep. Boyd proclaimed to be a Democrat while rejecting major parts of the Democratic party platform? Would the Democratic party not be justified in no longer considering her a true Democrat? So why does she feel it is appropriate to call upon Gov. Owens to renounce his beliefs? Is she not seeking to impose her beliefs on him?

This is especially problematic in the cases given here regarding women who have been raped. They have had someone impose themselves upon them, take away their freedom and their right to make a choice regarding their body. Yet, Rep. Boyd would take away the right of choice from hospital officials and many other people as well. So, yes I feel terribly sorry for women who have been raped but I would feel even greater sorrow if all people - men and women were no longer able to do what their conscience feels is right because of a wrongful belief that to do so would be to "impose" upon someone else. That woman who has been violated is in a much better situation in which people are free to support and defend her - in which she can support and defend herself without being told to stop imposing herself on others. Only in a world in which people are free to act and speak their truths, can her voice be heard.

Therefore, I would feel much better if politicians like Rep. Boyd and Gov. Owens continued to act out of their consciences, out of what they believe to be right. I may not agree with them, but I can respect them.