Thursday, April 28, 2005

Some people are just right, darn it!

I am full of admiration for Archbishop Chaput of Denver. Every time I read something of his, I have to stop and mull about it for a while, paying him my supreme compliment of thinking "I wish I'd said that!" As if I could.

His latest column in the Denver Catholic Register is a great discussion of our new Holy Father. Here's a taste:
Benedict XVI is not only more experienced in the life of the intellect and Christian conscience than his critics, he’s also more faithful to the mission of the Church and more anchored in the peace that comes from knowing and loving her founder — Jesus Christ.

And he directly addresses some of the editorial comments recently in the media, to wit:
As one columnist bitterly observed, “the cafeteria is now closed.” Of course, for believers, it was never open.

Witty, pithy and sensible. I only wish I were eligible to invite him to dinner. Vivat, Archbishop!

Minute meditation on predestination - continuing

Deep in work and life details, but I keep returning to this in prayer: We didn't choose God as our Father any more than we chose our own parents. That's a non-negotiable, permanent relationship. The heck with those kids-divorcing-their-parents stories; not possible, although the circumstances are very sad to ponder.

But Jesus Christ as the Lover of our souls, that's different. We choose Him; we accept Him, we follow Him, we dedicate ourselves to Him. He won't un-choose us, because He is Father and Son/Bridegroom of the Church. But we can sure un-choose Him, and can live our entire lives in opposition to Him.

Sometimes when reading Scripture (God is foreordaining those He forechose...) I worry about the claims of predestination-oriented Christians. Especially the idea of double predestination; where some are chosen to be saved, and some consigned to perdition. I feel better when I realize that our relationship is both permanent and deliberate at the same time. Not just for myself, but all my lost family and friends, who are on my heart right now.

Your thoughts? Best Scripture to illuminate this?

UPDATE: I pulled this post back to the top because of the very good discussion going on in the comments box. Please add to the story of God's Love for us!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lawrence Welk a Catholic - who knew?

Another "Who Knew?" discovery of a Catholic celebrity.

Lawrence Welk is one of my guilty pleasures. I grew up watching his TV show faithfully, since my parents and grandparents loved him. I secretly liked him too, but how could I admit that in the 1970's? Even today, when PBS runs a fund-raiser reunion program, I watch it, and sing along with the closing song ".....adios, au revoir, auf Wiedersehn......good NIGHT!"

His parents were Bavarian-born Catholic farmers who fled the Ukraine in the 1870-80's because of religious persecution. They found farmland in Strasburg, North Dakota and settled there in the 1890's. Lawrence was born in 1903.

While Lawrence was pursuing his band career, he and his wife Fern moved to River Forest, Illinois, which is where Fern wanted to stay:
So he called me and said, "Fern, I think we found our niche. I think we should think about moving to California." I said, "Before we pull up stakes, let's feel reasonably sure it is the place. If it is the place, I'll take the children and come. But," I said, "we have three kids, we're situated so well, we have grade school, high school and college within three blocks of us." Rosary College was there, Trinity High School and St. Vincent School all within three blocks of us. However, when the kids got up to college, none of them attended Rosary College. They wanted to go away like kids do when they get to that age, or most kids anyway.

Cool in a two-degrees-of-separation way because I went to Trinity High School. (I also know someone who is good friends with someone who was Cher's hairdresser. We have to get our celebrity jollies where we can...)

Fern and Lawrence Welk attended St. Monica's Church. Read the link on the quote above for an interview with Fern about their life on the road, includes an occasional mention of church.

UPDATE: Whoops, forgot a biretta tip to Fr. Sibley whose post about Lawrence Welk brought a comment about the Welkman going to daily Mass, which got me started. Mea culpa.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day through God's eyes

I thought about God in an adult way first, in college, when I allowed physics and chemistry to convince me that God was merely the Law of Conservation of Energy: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Aha! God! So I had all the convenience of a First Cause, a Creator, with none of the baggage of Him loving me or expecting anything of me. Until He told me different.

During that God-as-Energy to God-as-Father transition, I discovered this dear chapter in the Bible:

For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works;

but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.

If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them.

And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them.

For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.

Yet these men are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him.

For as they live among his works they keep searching, and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.

Yet again, not even they are to be excused; for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?

- Wisdom 13:1-9

- - - - - - - - - - - -

I'm sure he's reassured when we's Benedict XVI challenging the notion of "I can worship God on the beach / golf course / woods / my back yard:"

"The cardinal leaves room for arguments that are sometimes heard nowadays: "I can also pray in the woods, submerged in nature."

"Of course one can," Cardinal Ratzinger replies. "However, if it was only that way, then the initiative of prayer would remain totally within us: Then God would be a postulate of our thought. That fact that he responds or might want to respond, would remain an open question."

"Eucharist means: God has responded," the cardinal continues. "The Eucharist is God as response, as a presence that responds. Now the initiative of the divine-human relation no longer depends on us, but on him, and so it becomes really serious."

- his book, An Intimate God, excerpts in English from the web

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The Earth won't love you back.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

eBay's answer

I complained, like many Catholics, to eBay about selling, twice, what has been represented as being consecrated Communion hosts. Many bloggers have reported eBay's response as being "eh, so what? not our problem."

This is the actual email answer:

Thank you for taking the time to write us. We know your time is valuable and we appreciate your taking a moment to express concern over this particular item.

We understand that you are upset at having seen certain Catholic items or items related to the Pope on eBay. Because eBay's community is a diverse, international group of more than 135 million users with varied backgrounds and beliefs, there are times when some items listed on eBay by sellers might be offensive to at least some of our users somewhere in the world. At times, members may see listings that they may consider morally wrong or objectionable. However, even though these listings may be offensive to some, please remember that most of the time the law does not prohibit the items.

Due to the fact that eBay's focus is to have a free and diverse community, we are reluctant to interfere with listings that are not illegal. Regarding offensive items, there are many items that are considered sacred to many people of various religions, and we sometimes hear complaints about these items. Examples would be Catholic relics of saints, Mormon (LDS) garments, certain Buddhist tablets, etc. However, eBay has made the decision not to prohibit any item only on the basis of the item being endowed with sacred properties by certain religious groups. In general, eBay will remove items for a violation of our Offensive Materials policy only in extreme examples in which the listing explicitly promotes hatred, violence, or racial intolerance. However, we do not remove religious items that are otherwise legal for sale and do not violate any other eBay listing policy.

Please keep in mind that many of us at eBay may also share your distaste with an item, and may not support the sale. In fact, eBay has many Catholic employees. However, we do our best to understand and tolerate the many viewpoints held by our worldwide community. The Eucharist is not illegal to sell, and is generally allowed on eBay as long as the seller does not otherwise include hateful text or images in the listing. Although we realize that you may not agree with this decision on eBay's part, we hope that you can respect the diverse and open nature of eBay's marketplace.

Again, thank you for your report. We appreciate your help in keeping eBay a safe and reputable forum to conduct business.

eBay Community Watch

I don't agree with their policy. But I give them points for trying to be polite, compared to the standard sullen we're-sorry-you-feel-offended-not-that-we-did-anything-offensive answer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

B16 ... Bingo!

Isn't that just TOO Catholic?

An awful lot of ordinary Catholic pew-sitters are going to think they should be unhappy, because the media will tell them so. We need to get our apologetics acts together, folks, and tell people why we are happy today. First, we need a Papa. Second, it's this particular Papa!

(And I'm just enjoying writing headlines!)

Another point of view

The Jerusalem Post has a good article on the election of the Pope. It also published an article addressing the "Ratzinger and Hitler Youth" issue entitled "Ratzinger a Nazi? Don't believe it."

We will get used to this, eventually.

Benedict XVI presented to the crowd at St. Peter's Square.

Law and Order XVI

Couldn't resist. The talking heads on cable TV (bless them, they're simply not allowed to shut up) are beginning to discover that their liberal spokesfolk are not too pleased with the choice, while trying not to sound too disloyal. Their noses keep wrinkling up; they're going to stay that way.

I am so very happy to have a Holy Father again; I'm thrilled that it's Josef Ratzinger; I am impressed with his serene intelligence and firmness; but I am getting the giggles over the effect it's having on some "Catholics."

So, there were these two Catholic ladies sitting in a bar . . .

I was lunching at Chili's with my sister today in celebration of her admission to graduate school. We both got cell calls at the same time from our significant others letting us know that the smoke was white and the announcement of our new Pope would be made in about 30 minutes.

We prevailed upon the management to switch the sports-bar TVs to Vatican coverage, so we were able to see the presentation of our new Holy Father, Benedict XVI. We garnered some attention from the patrons and waitstaff as we greeted the news with enthusiasm usually seen only when the Michigan quarterback completes a Hail Mary in a close game. (Hmm, appropriate enough terminology, isn't it?) We eventually had mercy on them and left, allowing them to return to Championship Billiards or whatever had been showing previously.

What a fun way to share the news. May God give his Church joy and the continual leading of the Holy Spirit under our new Papa.

Daddy's Home!

Habemus Papam!

Pope Benedict XVI! A holy man, serene, intelligent. The liberals don't like him but the Holy Spirit knows what we need. Gott' sei dank!

Monday, April 18, 2005

I spilled pop on my PF's when the hi-fi fell against the davenport

This is the blog equivalent of muttering "How 'bout them Cubs?" while we all pace around and await the naming of the new Pope.

Here's one of those regional English testers: American English Dialect Test. Hat tip: Cor ad cor loquitur. It's mostly the usuals, skipping what you call a long sandwich with layers of meat and cheese (submarine, for me) and adds what you call an easy course (I won't tell you, take the test yourself). I scored 55% General American English and 25% Upper Midwestern. Proudly emitting Chicagoese with vowels so flat you can bake pizza on them, I'm not surprised.

One of the questions was whether you call them tennis shoes or sneakers. This strikes me as a question of age, not region. I call them tennis shoes, or sometimes feeling whimsical I call them PF's. Isn't that because I'm in my 40's and we didn't have Nikes or New Balances? We just had Keds or PF's.

The shoe progression and other words I think are age-related, not regional:

Tennis shoes to sneakers/keds/PF's to running shoes
Nylons to hose to pantyhose
Victrola to record player to hi-fi to stereo
Sofa to couch (where's davenport?)
Hair-do to hairstyle (where's coiffure?)
Icebox to refrigerator (is this the same technical lag in naming that makes us say that we are dialing a phone?)

And there's even an action progression: making a circle with your thumb and index to indicate "okay," to sticking out an extended thumb to indicate "okay."

I am sure there are others, tell me, do.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Birthing the Pope

One good thing about the news coverage right now, particularly on EWTN, is that we are reminded often that the Church teaches that the Holy Spirit guides and directs the College of Cardinals in choosing our next Pope. This just slays many uneducated, breathless, smirky reporters standing in front of the Vatican, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded of it ourselves.

A father is not elected; he is not guaranteed fatherhood; he becomes one in unity with his bride and by the gift of life from God. Neither is a Pope identified or anointed at birth as Pope.

Jesus as the Son of God was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin's womb. God granted St. Joseph the protection of Jesus; even Jesus needed a father and a family. The Holy Spirit, wishing never to leave alone the Church, his Bride, "conceives" for us a father, a Holy Father, not by biology, but by spirit. Not a replacement for God, but a head of our family, a shepherd, a leader.

When they cry out "Habemus Papam!" on the balcony, it will be just as exciting as when you hear from the delivery room "Your baby has been born!" I can't wait!
* * * * *
ADDENDUM from Roz: Here's a nifty graphic of Vatican City showing conclave locations and details. Hat tip to Amy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Lunch with Regina Caeli

When I first came roaring back into the Catholic faith, I grabbed at everything I could remember from my Catholic-school childhood, and the Angelus was one of those things. We were supposed to stop on the playground and say it to ourselves when the noon bell rang, or we said it in the lunchroom before we went out for recess. Like most kids, I wasn't enchanted with anything that took me away from Pom Pom Pompadour or Four Square. But I'm trying to be faithful to the Church's daily routine of thanksgiving and petition again.

During the Easter season, until Pentecost, we replace the noon Angelus with a prayer to the "Queen of Heaven," Regina Caeli:

Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia: Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia. Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, Alleluia,
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus: Deus qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

In English:

Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia: For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray: O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Like all good prayer, it creates a pause between our earthly activities. I face my yogurt and sandwich with a different, calmer attitude. Thanks, Mary!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Please, Sir, can I have some more?

I was reading Psalm 81 the other day and came across the line "But I would feed you with the finest of wheat and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you" (ps 81:16).

Sweet honey. From the Rock. That's what we got from John Paul the Great -- honey from Cephas. From the chair of Peter sweet honey came to us. Honey with the Bread of Life. And with it, by God's grace, we were satisfied.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Ten Things I'd Like To Do Before I Die

There was quite an entertaining flurry of posts all around the Catholic blogworld about the ten things you'd done that most people hadn't. I listed my lucky breaks. Roz listed her praiseworthy and eclectic ones.

Now, I'd love to hear the ten things you have yet to do. No "cures for cancer" or "world peace," unless you are actually a oncologist or a diplomat. What's on your life list of things you'd like to do before the end?

Here are mine:

1. Work a cotton candy machine at a fun fair.
2. Appear on the "Jeopardy" show.
3. Meet the President and/or the Pope, not just look at them from a distance.
4. Make change from one of those metal coin tube things that hang from a belt.
5. Learn to play the drums.
6. Visit every one of the fifty states.
7. Live in an English-speaking foreign country, in regular housing, doing regular everyday things, for at least a month.
8. Make a pilgrimage: to Avila or Lisieux. Stay in convents, walk most of the time, wear simple clothes, fast, the whole scallop shell experience.
9. Sponsor someone into the Catholic Church.
10. Cook dinner for Martha Stewart. (Honest! It used to be "Cook dinner for Julia Child!")

Most likely? The cotton candy gig, with one of those coin things on my belt, seems like a reasonable career goal. Least likely? Martha, Martha, Martha.

UPDATE: This is a hard list to keep short. I removed my original #2, "ride in a helicopter." I'd probably scream the whole time up and down, anyway. Thinking up good and exciting things to come is very cheering.....

Friday, April 08, 2005

All pray for some time in silence.

We see that phrase in our missals or Magnificats a lot during Holy Week, occurring often during the reading of the Passion, after Jesus gave up the Spirit and died. There is a rustling while people kneel down (and a quiet thudding as kneelers are unlimbered by the less-prepared) all over the Church. Breathing quiet, heads down, composing the mind and soul, waiting for the sign from the priest to stand up and continue.

We've had Lent, and Terri Schiavo, and now the Holy Father. I'm spiritually exhausted, and I bet many of you are too. Shall we take a moment for silent prayer, and then come out with a brave face and a happy spirit?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

With God, nothing is impossible

Like the parting of the Red Sea, God continues to demonstrate his sovereignty by turning powerful forces inside out. This time, the tsunami engulfs even the mainstream media. My tender heart knew deep down that there were really human beings in there.

With billions of impassioned viewers tuning in across the globe, the death of Pope John Paul has been a media moment like no other in recent history.

Journalists and editors have been caught up in a story that left some of them as dazed, saddened and inspired as their viewers and readers. [via Reuters]

Read more.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dustbunnies in pajamas do these days proud

My fellow bloggers have surpassed themselves this week. In the face of sadness and glory, I don't know if I've ever seen such a collection of wonderful reflection and thought. Some gleanings:
  • Smockmomma brings us the Holy Father's own encouragement.
  • Fr. Sibley passes along a lovely narrative from a friend in Rome.
  • Mark Shea finds the perfect passage to post in tribute.
  • Dom at Bettnet offers us a classic -- the Pope in the coolest shades ever, and the story behind it.
  • Bill at Summa Minutiae offers us a fitting farewell and the most beautiful picture of the Holy Father that I've seen so far.
  • And finally, as we think about taking up our cross and following Jesus further up and further in, Henry Dieterich makes a good case for which name the next Pope might take.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I have a mustard seed and I'm not afraid to use it!

See the clever Curt Jester for the citation.

Isn't that a rallying cry for today?!

Home sick with the Pope

Lucky me. I have "walking pneumonia." What with an interesting side-effect of steroids, a surge of energy, I seem to have "tap-dancing pneumonia." But I'm home from work for a few days, and I am able to watch a lot of TV coverage of the Pope's death. I'm trying not to get too worked up about the lousy commentators on the Catholic Church, because there are a surprising number of good commentators, too.

Home sick, in a nest of dirty kleenexes and glasses of water with straws in them (a must-have when I was growing up, a glass of water with a straw in it meant you were officially SICK) I was able to watch every stitch of the procession with the Pope's body yesterday from the chapel to St. Peter's.

I channel-hopped among all the major networks and some of the cable channels, and in every case, as the Litany of Saints began, every commentator was caught by the music, the call-and-answer rhythm. Some stations had knowledgeable commentators who offered an explanation of the communion of saints, but even the uneducated anchors were somehow touched and slowed by the music and asked what it was. On CBS, twice, the station anchor asked his color guys to be quiet so they could just listen and watch the procession.

Did you note that they prayed, not "ora pro nobis," pray for us, but "ora pro eum," pray for him? We just sang that on Holy Thursday, asking for the saints and angels to pray for us, and now we commend our Holy Father to their intercession and care.

Omnes Sancti et Sanctae Dei, intercedite pro nobis!

All you holy men and women, pray for us!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

We love you and will miss you

Good friend, pray for us.

Only a few degrees of separation

We are astonishingly close to our Holy Father, when you measure it in terms of "degrees of separation," the game of seeing how few people you know who know people who know people who know the target.

We are under the care of our bishops, who are under the authority of the Pope. That's it; two degrees. When people get bent out of shape about the Catholic Church's hierarchy, they don't realize that it's that intimate. Certainly, if I waltzed up to a Swiss Guard and demanded to see the Pope, they'd send me back to negotiate layers of official channels, but in terms of prayer, and thought, and care, it's not that long a path between the Pope's blessing and my heart.


Twice yesterday, my Catholic jaw went slack when I heard:

Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests For Life on a panel discussion with Dr. James Dobson on the Moody Bible radio station. They called him Father, which usually doesn't happen, they squeak out a "Reverend" (and I kind of sympathize with people who aren't used to calling a priest "Father"). The issue of course was Terri Schiavo, and the panel agreed on the truths and tragedies surrounding her death. Dr. Dobson has an excellent show at 5:30 pm CST and has become a passionate speaker about the "culture of life," but the Catholic Church's leadership in these efforts is usually the Elephant In The Room that Dr. D won't talk about, except for a bone thrown to the Vatican now and again. This was a heartfelt and unifying discussion, very encouraging.

And last night to hear from of all people Pat Robertson a glowing and affectionate tribute to John Paul II! Pat called him a man who truly loved God and who loved Jesus Christ, a man of prayer. For a change, Pat managed to NOT get in a dig about "even though I disagree with the Catholic religion" (sure tipoff when you hear someone call it the "Catholic religion;" we're going to get called Mary worshipers in the next sentence) and came off much more grieved and impressed than some of the We-Are-Church hippie theologians that are starting to pull their old notes together to come and complain before the microphones in the Pope's last hours.

Terri and John Paul are drawing the Godly together even more strongly than the election issues. What an alliance we can form!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Too good to be missed

A commenter on Amy Welborn's blog cites a wonderful statement of hope.
"A friend of mine had a sign in his room which said, 'Don’t worry. It might not happen.' I composed another for him which said, 'Don’t worry. It probably will happen. But it won’t be the end of the world.'

It will not be the end of the world because the world has already ended. When Jesus dies the sun and the moon are darkened; the tombs are opened, and the dead walk. This is the end of which the prophets spoke. The worst that one can ever imagine has already happened. The world collapsed. And then there was Easter Sunday."


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"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009