Sunday, November 27, 2005

2005 Vatican II Awards Prayer Service and Ceremony

These are awards established by then-Archbishop Weakland in various areas
to honor men, women and young adults who exemplify the Church's vision set forth in the Second Vatican Council.

In case you wondered, that vision is described thus.
Vatican Council II speaks of the Church as engaged with the world, witnessing through word and action the justice and love of Jesus Christ. It is a Church wherein laity, priests and religious together make unique and integrated contributions to the mission of Christ.

If so, then if there aren't new religious, that vision will not be fulfilled.

The Age for Reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation

Our Archdiocese will hold "A Consultation" on this issue.
What is the timeline?
1. November 2-December 12: Registration (required)
2. January 28, 2006 Study Day
3. February 25, 2006 Dialogue & InPut to APC
4. March 2006 Results of the Consultation are sent to the APC and ACP members
5. April 1st, 2006 APC receives consultation report
6. June 3rd, 2006 APC acts on the question

The APC is the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, made up of delegates chosen by parish councils from the 16 districts, and the ACP is the Archdiocesan Council of Priests ... I think.

The Church of the Future

Will the telepathic homilies be shorter? Will there be enough parking for our flying cars? Will the parish school cafeteria have a food-a-rack-a-cycle? Get answers at this upcoming Voice Of The Faithful event, noted (on page 4) in the November 20th Bulletin [.6 mb PDF] at our parish.

For a taste of the future, I responded to a post at From the Anchor Hold a week before she planned to post it.

St. Paul's Lutheran

This is the latest Franklin church to send a postcard invitation.
You are welcome! Come! Visit!
Share Jesus with us!

St. Paul's belongs to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, so I read the exclamation points as showing emphasis rather than excitement. Also in the Synod is Wisconsin Lutheran College. For the past three weeks, some of its biology professors have given presentations for the St. Paul's Bible-sharing hour:
- "The Christian and Stem Cells: Adult, Cord, and Embryonic"
- "The Christian and Environment"
- "The Christian and Arguments against Evolution"
Today the hour will show the concluding half of the movie Luther.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Collapsing the Maya

Roger Sandall in The Culture Cult takes issue with Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
It is simply not the case that the Maya once lived in warm, loving, supportive communities, reciting nature poetry and drinking jasmine tea... and then somehow lost their way. Instead they were doing what bellicose tribal populations have always done--straining the carrying capacity of the land, warring with neighbours, and trying in grisly ways to appease their gods.

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Catholic high school an expensive dream

Cindy Crebbin, with Brian T. Olszewski, reported in the Catholic Herald of November 3, 2005 on a meeting about a possible new Catholic high school near West Bend. At the meeting were Capuchin Br. Bob Smith, director of Educational and Formational Services for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (and president of Messmer High School and Preparatory School), John Stollenwerk, president of the Catholic School Advisory Board (and CEO of Allen-Edmonds), the potential land donor, and the members of of a previously-established exploratory committee.

Stollenwerk estimated the cost at $15 to $20 million, Smith estimated it at twice that. Funding the project would need donors of millions. Tuition might run $5,000 to $8,000 per year. Smith raised the possibility that at combined middle and high school or even a K-12 school would attract more support and interest.

The committee wants more direction and evaluation. Maybe they could consult with people who started small, like Brookfield Academy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Some gays face 'priesthood ban'

Robert Mickens reports in The Tablet.

Full text translated by Rocco Palma at Whispers in the Loggia.

(via Open Book)

Update: The New York Times quotes the Rev. Mark Francis, superior general of the Clerics of Saint Viator, a religious order based in Rome on how a homosexual seminarian might react.

"You could say, 'I believe I am gay, but that the tendencies toward being gay are not deep-seated,' " he said. "What constitutes deep-seated homosexual tendencies?" he said. "How does one judge that?"

Sin and Grace

Matthew Lundin in Books & Culture reviews The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany by Ronald K. Rittgers.
... The City Council had long striven for full control of the city's church life and now, thanks to the Reformation, had final say in all religious matters.

This happens when the average Catholic has less confidence in the average bishop than in the average alderman.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Recommended reading:
by Xenophon at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews): The return of Xenophon, by Robin Waterfield, The Philosophers' Magazine, Issue 37

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Speaking our Truth from a Deeper Place

This colum by Fr. Ron Rolheiser ran in the Catholic Herald of October 27, 2005 under the title "Get beyond liberal, conservative labels." Expect Father Rolheiser, like Father McBrien, to return to this theme from time to time unless and until the Left makes significant electoral gains. While Father McBrien claims the middle-of-the-road, Father Rolheiser takes the label-transcending approach of Jim Wallis.
The importance of what's being said here stuck me recently as I read an interview in Sojourners magazine. A young woman, an Episcopalian priest, was being interviewed. She had just published a book with a very strong message challenging us all to be more respectful of nature and was about to set off on a book-promotion tour.

Thus the trees that went into that book, Soujourners, and the Catholic Herald did not die in vain. She asked how she expected her book to be received in the hinterland.
Her response contains a lesson: In effect, she said, "I'm not worried. Most people are sincere and I find that, among sincere people, there isn't any spiteful resistance to God's word. People resist ideology (and they should) but my experience is that, if you preach God's word and not liberal or conservative ideology, most sincere people will hear you!"

Sojourners itself ran this Rolheiser column so I wonder that he didn't quote her interview, rather than putting quotation marks around his paraphrase.

He goes on to summarize the now-perfected Christian message which most people will accept in short order, concluding with

"Both the life of the unborn child and the freedom of a pregnant woman must be morally defended."

Assuming he does not mean he's personally opposed to abortion but etc., this raises the question of what is the freedom he refers to as particular to a pregnant woman.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Seminaries await apostolic visitation

Brian Olszewski reports in the Catholic Herald of October 27, 2005. The "apostolic visitation" is a Vatican-instigated outside inspection of seminaries. This includes Saint Francis Seminary and Sacred Hearts School of Theology locally.
The "why" is not a secret. The request was made by U.S. cardinals and included in article 17 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People: "We pledge our complete cooperation with the Apostolic Visitation of our diocesan/eparchial seminaries and religious houses of formation recommended in the Interdicasterial Meeting with the Cardinals of the United States and the Conference Officers in April 2002."

Or, less vaguely, the "why" is because thousands of priests nationally and dozens from local seminaries engaged in various kinds of sexual abuse of children. To accomplish this, the visitations have two objectives.
- To examine the criteria for admission of candidates and the programs of human formation and spiritual formation aimed at ensuring that they can faithfully live chastely for the Kingdom;
- To examine other aspects of priestly formation in the United States. Particular attention will be given to the intellectual formation of seminarians, to examine fidelity to the magisterium, especially in the field of moral theology, in the light of the 1993 encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II, "The Splendor of the Truth."

The visitation teams will send questionnaires to faculty, staff, students, and recent alumni. (These have 56 question, not 96 as Father Richard McBrien said in a recent column.)
Of the 56 questions, one has generated more attention and discussion than others: "Is there evidence of homosexuality in the seminary?"

More attention and discussion than all the others put together. Saint Francis Seminary rector Fr. Michael Witczak addresses the issue, at a high level of generality.
"We're looking for candidates who will live the Christian lifestyle, and can be good, effective leaders," he said. "We want them to know and love the teachings of the church and to be able to share them."

One source of the problems might be teaching a lifestyle instead of The Way.

Catholic Worker house: zoning and insurance

Does your parish have an underutilized building? Wondered if you could adapt it to serve to shelter the homeless? Figured that the hard parts might be getting zoning approval and insurance? Thought that the Catholic Worker folks would have the answers? Doesn't look promising.

Zoning is addressed in the Catholic Worker's FAQ. If someone wanted start a Catholic Worker house, their general advice includes,

Check out the zoning, occupancy, and public health laws of your community. Whether or not you choose to comply with them is up to you but it's good to know them in case you run into difficulties.

On insurance, Robert Waldrop of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City explains.

Although Catholic Workers don't take "vows" in the sense that religious do, part of our charism is nevertheless to be poor and in solidarity with the poor. Since we don't have a "Rule", we try to figure out how this works, and often that means we deliberately embrace precarity, inconvenience and personal discomfort.

Most Catholic Worker houses are completely uninsured. ...

And if I sat here in a fully insured building, maybe I would feel a little less personally precarious, and thus somehow lose something indefinable in words about the way we live and minister as Catholic Workers. Less passion, less honesty maybe, or perhaps less authenticity.

While life is, in some ways, more precarious for the poor, it holds some precariousness for us all. That's why property insurance exists, to share the individual losses among the group exposed to the risk. Of course, the lower your income, the less you have to spend on insurance, just as the less you have to spend on housing. So why would the Catholic Workers put a roof over the heads of the poor but not put insurance coverage over that roof?
Then there's our heating system, or rather the lack thereof, hehehe.

They could substitute hot air about passion, honesty, and authenticity.

(via From the Anchor Hold)

Update: Milwaukee's Catholic Worker group are personalists rather than Heideggerans.

Friday, November 18, 2005

William Carlos Williams

Recommended reading: Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Poet's Choice, by Edward Hirsch, Washington Post, November 28, 2004

Chicory and Daisies, review by Stephen Burt of Collected Poems: Volume I by William Carlos Williams, edited by A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan, and Collected Poems: Volume II by William Carlos Williams, edited A. Walton Litz and Christopher MacGowan, London Review of Books, March 7, 2002

Thursday, November 17, 2005

God on the Internet

Jonathan V. Last in First Things,
One of Joseph de Maistre's pet theories was that the authority of the Church depended in large part on mystery. Blogger Mickey Kaus recently wondered if the notion of mysterious silence on the part of religious institutions has become outmoded: "If you were a respected authority you used to be able to get away with maintaining a meaningful silence. Now you've got to be blogging in your own 'unique voice' about every little thing that comes up, or else some ambitious lesser authority who posts more frequently will steal your flock."
There's a lot more I'd like to see on Church web sites, and it's not the pope's, bishop's, or pastor's weblog.

(via BettNet)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The preachin's so bright I gotta wear shades

Disputations on a recently-ordained priest.
His homilies, as you can see, tend to start with a bang: ...

"Wow. I know of no other way of expressing my amazement at tonight's readings. Wow!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Some Notable Quotes of the Archbishop Sheen

Not listed, but I've heard that when someone said to him, "I'd be a hypocrite if I went to church," Sheen replied, "We always have room for one more."
(via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)

Walt Whitman

The realization of the American Dream as an apocalypse, an eschatological event which would give the life of man its ultimate significance, was an invention of Whitman’s. --Kenneth Rexroth, Leaves of Grass, Classics Revisited (1968)

Recommended reading:
by Walt Whitman at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Walt Whitman, Taking Poetic License With His Image by Peter Carlson, review of special Whitman issue of The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, April 12, 2005

Poet's Choice column, by Robert Pinsky, Washington Post, January 23, 2005

Whitman and Dickinson, by M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Daneen Wardrop, American Literary Scholarship, 1998

In Praise of Mess, by Richard Poirier, review of With Walt Whitman in Camden: Vol. VIII: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891, by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac, and With Walt Whitman in Camden: Vol. IX: 11 February 1891-30 September 1891, by Horace Traubel, edited by Jeanne Chapman and Robert MacIsaac, London Review of Books, June 4, 1998

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Work of Human Hands: When Catholicism Becomes a Hobby

Anthony Esolen in Crisis,
When the fathers of Vatican II called for a renewed appreciation for the laity and their more energetic participation in the Church, they did not mean that laymen should meddle in the choice of hymns to be sung on a Sunday, elbow the priest from the pulpit, or subject fornication to a plebiscite. They meant, as our Holy Father Benedict has insisted, that the laity should assume the responsibilities of adults in the Faith: fully committed to it and ready to evangelize, to bring Christ where it is inconvenient or difficult for the priest to go--to the oil derrick, down the mine, into the hospital ward, into the chambers of a party meeting, at a city council table. That would be to recognize the charism of the laity, to honor the distinction between church and the secular order, and to affirm that the secular order's health can be restored only in Christ.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Nobel Peace prize recipient preaches compassion

Amy Guckeen reported in the Catholic Herald October 27, 2005 on the recent visit of Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala. In her recent visit here, she talked about the severe damage there from the recent hurricane.
While the search for food and water is the top priority in the effort to help the people of Guatemala, Menchu noted another aspect of relief in respect to the culture of the land.

"People have gathered to help out the victims, donating food and clothes," Menchu said. "But the Mayan women have never worn anything other than their traditional dress. There is a danger of losing ancestral traditions. It's my people. We must, if possible, avoid these kinds of cultural losses. This is a very important moment for Guatemala. When rebuilding housing, what is culturally appropriate?"

It's as if Marie Antoinette said "Let them eat their traditional native cuisine." What is appropriate is to provide them with clothing and shelter as soon as possible. Given it's Ms. Menchu, her "cultural concerns" are probably bunk. She doesn't mention Mayan men, who also had a traditional style of garment. From what I've seen in Guatemala, I suspect she doesn't mention them because they have largely abandoned traditonal clothing. So either the remains of Mayan culture are more than half gone, or they haven't been much affected by a change in clothing. As far as I can tell, the Mayans, like most people, tend to stick with what they've been doing unless they're convinced there's a good reason to change. Losing everything is, for most people, a good enough reason to replace it with what's readily available.
... The youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and first indigenous woman, Menchu is known for her work in trying to end the oppression in Guatemala and her strong belief in advocating the struggle for Indian peasant people's rights.

Ms. Menchu received the Peace Prize largely for her book I, Rigoberta Menchu. Later research indicated it would have been more appropriate to award her the prize for Literature.

Two-Way Traffic

Gregory Wolfe in Image Update responds to
a sweeping denunciation of what he calls the "spiritualization of American poetry"

by Ira Sadoff.

This 'Shrew' is a different animal

Damien Jaques in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Rising sensitivity and feminism during the last half century turned Shakespeare's classic comedy "The Taming of the Shrew" into something of a pariah. A macho man subjugating a feisty woman by physical and psychological means made many people uncomfortable, at best.

It certainly ran flagrantly counter to our evolving sense of fairness, equality and respect in gender relations. Theater companies agonized over how to stage the play, and some decided to simply duck the issue and not perform it.

Theater-goers appear to be people who enjoy themes that they think make the right people uncomfortable, that is, other people.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A fruitful day of dialogue

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan's Herald of Hope column in the October 27, 2005 Catholic Herald raises what he sees as a problem.
Remember the heat of the election campaign? Instead of bringing light and reason to the fractious debate, we Catholics seemed as divided as the rest of the electorate.

Seems to me that division is the purpose of the election debate. But our Archbishop saw the need for something more, if not something else.
One thing all agreed upon -- Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, individual bishops and pastors, Catholic politicians, and Catholic faithful -- was the indispensable value of dialogue. Particularly urgent was the necessity of dialogue between Catholic political leaders and their pastors.

Domenico Bettinelli asks Is dialogue enough?

Our Struggle For Community

This column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser appeared in the October 20, 2005 Catholic Herald. He asks
Why, when we so desperately want community, do we find it so hard to achieve and sustain?

His answer,
Perfection is the enemy of the good and what we over-idealize will invariably disappoint and frustrate us. And that's exactly our difficulty with community - with marriage, with family, with church, with friendship, with civic community. Simply put, we're often unable to sustain community because we have false notions and false expectations as to what constitutes it. An overly romantic notion so much clouds our vision that we rarely even recognize real community when we see it.

To idealize, or over-idealize as he puts it, is to romanticize. He gives an example of what he calls an idealistic young member of a religious order who complained of the superficiality within his community. The community finally sent him to a psychologist who concluded "What you're looking for you won't find inside a religious community because what you're looking for is a lover - not a religious community!"

It seems to me that the young man was not looking for a lover, as such. To regard one's lover as perfect is romanticizing, certainly. But this young man was no more likely to find a perfect lover than a perfect religious community, or a perfect anything else on this earth. Perhaps this longing came from this young man thinking he met his own standard of perfection. Perhaps he was acutely aware he fell far short of it, and longed to find it met in his religious community. But a lover would have been as sure to eventually disappoint a longing for perfection as his religious community was.

Another difficulty is that Fr. Rolheiser talks about both community more generally and about Christian community specifically. On the latter, he concludes,

Simply put, it is a gathering around the person of Christ in a way that displaces our selfishness so that we begin to live in a charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, long-suffering, faith, constancy, mildness, and chastity that make it possible to precisely live with each other beyond differences, fears, and incompatibilities.

He himself seems to here confuse the hopeful realism of "begin" and "possible" with the romantic idealism of "precisely."

Rexroth on urbanism and on poets

The Bureau of Public Secrets has recently added some additional works by Kenneth Rexroth (some of whose recommended reading is included on my list).
Urbanism and Community Planning
The New American Poetry
Allen Ginsberg in America
The Authentic Joy of Philip Whalen
Gary Snyder: Smokey the Bear Bodhisattva
The Poetry of Eli Siegel
Prefaces to books of poetry

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Conservative Quack-up

Yesterday at Open Book, commenter "Bender" discounted occasional Latin Masses in pigeonholing Judge Alito's Catholicism.
Hmm. Every committed Catholic and every committed pro-lifer I've ever met cannot contain themselves when in the presence of like-minded people and will openly proclaim their faith and antipathy towards Roe. Yet, Altio rarely brings up his Catholicism in the presence of prominent Catholics ...

You know, if someone quacks, he has a bill and feathers, and his name is Daffy or Donald, he's probably a duck. And we should quit pretending that he is not a duck.

Eagle-eyed "reluctantpenitent" responded
Daffy didn't quack. Both he and Donald spoke perfectly good English. They were Novus Ordo ducks.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Casino Night

Tomorrow our parish school has this fundraiser. The parish has a dinner and silent auction fundraiser in the spring. I thought this meant the events had been coordinated. Maybe they were, but I've heard a bit of the usual grumbling that the school is hurting the parish.

New Day Church

Today's mail also includes a card from this Franklin church. These folks don't come right out and say they care, but
Present this card on Sunday, November 13th to enjoy a free spaghetti lunch for the whole family after the service.

Southside Church of Christ

Today's mail includes a flyer from this church here in Franklin. It bills itself as "a church that cares". Enough to send the flyer, at least.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

The Design of Evolution

Stephen M. Barr in First Things
By saying that "neo-Darwinism" is "synonymous" with "'evolution' as used by mainstream biologists," [Cardinal] Schonborn indicates that he means the term as commonly understood among scientists. As so understood, neo-Darwinism is based on the idea that the mainspring of evolution is natural selection acting on random genetic variation. Elsewhere in his article, however, the cardinal gives another definition: "evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense [is] an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection." This is the central misstep of Cardinal Schonborn's article. He has slipped into the definition of a scientific theory, neo-Darwinism, the words "unplanned" and "unguided," which are fraught with theological meaning.

Today's Seminarians

This Richard P. McBrien column ran in the Catholic Herald of October 20, 2005. Father McBrien takes his topic from Peter Steinfels September 24, 2005 "Beliefs" column in The New York Times. Steinfels is concerned with whether the quality of seminary education will be well-served by the upcoming Apostolic visitations, says Father McBrien.
He points out that the official Vatican guidelines for the teams of "apostolic visitors" consist of 96 questions to be posed to faculty, seminarians, and some alumni. "The thrust of these questions," Steinfels notes, "is to assure that future priests are fully prepared to live celibate lives, as well as morally disciplined and prayerful ones, and that they are thoroughly committed to church teachings, especially as laid out in recent official documents from the pope and Vatican offices."

Not that there's anything wrong with that?
However, what properly concerns Peter Steinfels -- and should be a matter of concern for all Catholics -- is that there are no explicit questions about the seminarians" "capacities for initiative, creativity or imagination and consultative leadership...."

Here you go:
97. Can you make the Consecration more meaningful by ad libbing it in a Trying Out For The School Play voice?

Monday, November 7, 2005

We are missionaries, evangelists, apostles

In his Herald of Hope column in the Catholic Heraldof October 20, 2005, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan's Eucharistic procession leads him to mission.
There is an essentially missionary dimension to every Eucharist. The final words of the celebrant are, literally, go. In fact, our common word for the celebration of the Eucharist, Mass, comes from the Latin close of the liturgy, "Ite, missa est," "Go, you are sent." As I carried the Body of Christ outside the cathedral, so are we all summoned to bring Christ to the world. We are missionaries, evangelists, apostles.

But he warns of a danger of congregationalism, as when people say,
"We're not going to give any more money from our parish to that consolidated Catholic school to help those kids; hardly any of our kids go there ... ."

Which reminds me that my parish can't even give a tuition break to students from other parishes in our "cluster."

South side high school potential considered

Sam Lucero reported in the Catholic Herald of October 20, 2005 on talk of opening another Catholic high school on the south side (or sout' side as we natives call it) of Milwaukee.
Capuchin Br. Bob Smith, director of the archdiocesan Department for Educational and Formational Services, told the Catholic Herald that he sees the merits of a new Milwaukee Catholic high school.

"My personal view is that the south side is large enough for more than one Catholic high school," said Br. Smith, whose department oversees Catholic schools. "Not more than 15 years ago, we had three."

And more before that. Besides the high schools that were closed, on old diagrams of the grounds of my parish there was a site for a possible southwest side Catholic high school. The land was later sold, the proceeds used for the auditorium-style "new church" built in the mid-1980s, and apartments were built on the high school site.

2005 Local Recipients of Catholic Campaign for Human Development

The Catholic Herald of October 20, 2005 had an article on this, and the same information is at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee web site. Before listing the awardees, it gives the basics.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is a social justice project of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. CCHD's mission is to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community controlled, self-help organizations, and through transformative education.

Assuming "transformative education" is synonomous with "transformative learning," here's the entry at Wikipedia, purportedly in English.

At the USCCB web site, here are the CCHD Community Organizing Grants Criteria & Guidelines. These, in turn, link to Basic Principles of Catholic Mission, where the footnote cites

Resolution on Crusade Against Poverty, adopted by National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Nov. 14, 1969. NOTE: The Crusade Against Poverty was later renamed the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

If the grantees and the underlying theories seemed familiar, then it's probably because you're old enough to remember the War on Poverty and The Great Society.

Update: Fortuitously, the above tour of the Church staffocracy's ideological clutter comes in time for Interaction Day. In case you thought a "change agent" was that machine in the vending room.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Florentine relocates 'Fidelio' to East Germany

Tom Strini in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Also, if the male lead isn't thin, it's hard to believe he was almost starved to death.

More on Saints

This column by Father Richard McBrien ran in the October 13, 2005 Catholic Herald.
Does the Church canonize saints to increase the number of those who can render powerful spiritual and material assistance to those of us still living on earth? In other words, are saints primarily intercessors and miracle-workers?

He proposes an alternative.
Saints are also exemplars or models of the Christian life, of what it means to be truly holy.

Which, for him, raises a quandry.
Whom should the Church raise up for the emulation of the overwhelming majority of its members, who are lay, married, parents, and grandparents, and who are in no realistic danger of being martyred for the faith?

Somewhere along the way, the idea of learning from experiences different from our own has been lost. I've read reports of controversies about suburban high school literature classes reading novels about suburban high school students. Some parents objected to the sexual content. I'd object to the parochialism. Father McBrien serves as a spokesman for the increased parochialism of the post-Vatican II Church.
It would be a wiser pastoral course for the Church to canonize more saints who were not martyred, were married, had children and grandchildren, and who did not enter a convent or found a new religious community after the death of their spouse.

One possible future candidate phoned in.

Parish Mission: "The Eucharist" with Dr. Dan Scholz

This week's bulletin [.5mb PDF] features our annual "parish mission," which means presentations by a speaker Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings. This year it's Dr. Dan Scholz. He marketed the mission with homilies at this weekend's masses.

He formerly taught at Saint Francis Seminary, where he instructed priests and deacons in "unpacking the Word." Usually it's "breaking open the Word." Do they unpack it after breaking it open? Do they break it open if they lost the key, and gently unpack it if they didn't? Perhaps I'll never know.

He asked that people attend tonight, giving him a chance to show it's worth their while to attend Monday and Tuesday. He almost convinced me, except that I had attended the first night of some prior parish missions.

Dresden Cathedral Reopens, 60 Years After the Bombs

Longtime readers might recall that while on vacation I saw a televised concert in the Dresden Cathedral to benefit its reconstruction. The Washington Post ran this Associated Press report of its rededication last Sunday.
For 47 years, Dresden residents had known the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, as a 43-foot-high mound of rubble flanked by two jagged walls. That was all that remained after British and U.S. planes strafed the city with firebombs on the night of Feb. 13-14, 1945.

My vicarious experience of which was reading Slaughterhouse Five in college. Seems like an odd use of strafe.
... Part of the church's uniqueness is its round structure, the pews fanning out from the altar in a circle like ripples from a stone thrown into water.

Find a Mass: Special Services anomaly

At the Archdiocese of Milwaukee web site, there is a page with a Find a Mass search feature. It includes a search for "Special Services" which says
To find specific masses or comments (e.g. Spanish Mass, Youth Mass), enter the search word(s) in the box below:

When I enter "Spanish Mass" or "Youth Mass" it produces a list of parishes. The links to those parishes' pages include their respective Mass schedules which show the Spanish Mass or Youth Mass.

You might think that "Latin Mass" or "Tridentine Mass" would work the same way. They don't; either search produces no result. Entering "Latin" or "Tridentine" produces a page which says

Mary Help of Christians
1204 S. 61st St.
West Allis
Tridentine Latin Community at 11:30 am Sundays

It's because it says "Tridentine Latin Community" that the search results work, and don't work, the way they do. And unlike the listings for other parishes with "Special Services," the site's Mass schedule page for Mary Help of Christians does not list the the Latin Tridentine Mass.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

A different path to God

This article by Tom Heinen might really be in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel just for the accompanying photo evoking Hopper's "Nighthawks."

In case it's not ...

If Tim Hoeksema fulfills his vision, the unmarked storefront where his fledgling faith group meets on Fond du Lac's Main St. will become the Connect Cafe, a warm and welcoming public gathering place where everybody knows your name and Christianity flows gently with cappuccino.

In other words, it's a storefront church.
One thing's for sure. It won't be called the Connect Church.

Showing the importance of presentation.

They sometimes show

what is known as a Christian Nooma film - a short, challenging video that in this case was about noise in modern life.

Apparently completely different than the insipid filmstrips it sounds so like.

On Turning Forty: Visions for a New Generation

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee web site notes this November 6th event.
The Catholic-Jewish Conference of Milwaukee presents "On Turning Forty: Visions for a New Generation" featuring Rabbi David Sandmel, Rabbi, K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation, Chicago, IL and Dr. Mary Boys, Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, NY. This event marks the conclusion of a year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate.

The Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions.
... Opening remarks will be offered by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.

Grade Alignment Report

This 41 page report [.4mb PDF] was submitted to the Franklin Board of Education. The Introduction (p. 5) begins,
The adolescent learner is changing. It truly is a time of excitement, growth, and change for boys and girls who are entering the stages of early adolescence. The body of research regarding children between the ages of 10 and 17 years of age has never been stronger in looking at the complex play of body chemistry, brain development, and cognitive growth (Buchanan, Eccles, & Becker, 1992). Moreover, educators are in a critical position to promote healthy adolescent growth by providing reasonable, supportive environments that have a predictable, enforced structure.

I count 13 teachers, principals, and other staff on the Grade Alignment Committee, each of whom presumably read the above and saw no problem with it.

The Lively God of Robert Jenson

David B. Hart in First Things is writing on Jenson who he considers the best of American systematic theologians. What particularly caught my eye was this passage.
Trinitarian doctrine, then, is not merely an abstract metaphysics forcibly imposed from above upon the more spontaneous and vital experiences of the Church (though it most certainly requires and gives shape to a number of profound metaphysical conclusions); it is first and foremost a "phenomenology of salvation," a theoretical articulation of the Church's experience of being made one in Christ with God Himself. It would not be too much to say, in fact, that this is the central and guiding maxim of all Christian dogmatics, which in the twentieth century was enunciated with admirable clarity by Karl Rahner: The "economic" Trinity (that is, God in the history of salvation) is the "immanent" Trinity (that is, God in Himself) and the "immanent" Trinity is the "economic" Trinity. In witnessing the drama of redemption, we are seeing nothing less than the triune God's revelation of His eternal life within time; and so in that drama we may discern (within the limits of our created intellects) who God is.

It caught my eye because, you might recall, I asked for last year to change texts in the Christian Formation class I teach at my parish. The text I used covers the "economic" Trinity and the "immanent" Trinity on pp. 41-42. The other text? It was probably shorter than Hart's article.

Last year only six of the mandatory classes were actual classroom instruction, which seemed to me far from enough. This year there are three, which is probably below the "why do I bother" level. Tuition is $100 for parish members, $200 for non-members, even if their parish belongs to our cluster. There are, altogether, eight mandatory classes for students and one other presentation parents must attend. For $200, that's over $10 an hour.

We've signed up for next year's spring parish mission to Guatemala. There's also a summer mission, and maybe a fall mission to Peru. The number of mission trips and who can go depends on parishioner interest. In Peru, we'd be teaching kids English; it's tempting.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Christian Life Resources 2005 National Convention

This event takes place tomorrow at the Four Points Sheraton - Milwaukee Airport. Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, will speak on "Carrying a Burden in Love."

Making the Connection

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's web site notes this "Young Adult Ministry Training."
This two-weekend training course [November 5-6, 2005 and January 21-22, 2006] will provide a curriculum of practical knowledge, skills and tools for creating young adult responsive faith communities and developing a ministry targeted around the specific needs and hungers of young adults today.

"Targeted around"? If they don't know what a target is, it's unlikely they'll hit it.

Cardinal George Pell on the dictatorship of relativism

From his September 21, 2005 address to Australia's National Press Club, published in A.D. 2000 magazine,
Examining how relativism in the form of school-based post- modernism proposes to make students into "agents of social change" makes it apparent very quickly that there is another agenda at work underneath it all. Generally accepted understandings of family, sexuality, maleness, femaleness, parenthood, and culture are treated as "dominant discourses" that impose and legitimise injustice and intolerance.

These dominant discourses are then undermined by a disproportionate focus on "texts" which normalise moral and social disorder. Too much time is given to narratives about sad and dysfunctional individuals and shattered families. ...

My generation has had the benefit of learning from the tradition and thus we can critique it. To give youngsters all-critique-and-no-foundation leaves them rudderless. School syllabuses or university courses in which great works of literature and the study of history are dismissed as "elitist" or relevant only to "the dominant ethnic and social group" dismantle the sense of an objective reality in young people, by denying any philosophic foundation for adhering to humanist values.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Back to the dictionary again: The Lectionary for Masses with Children

In the Herald of Hope column in the Catholic Herald of October 13, 2005, Bishop Richard J. Sklba addresses the children's lectionary, based on the Contemporary English Version (CEV) of the Bible.
This translation is known as a dynamic equivalent version, namely translating every concept though not necessarily every word.

Would, then, a dynamic equivalent version of "dynamic equivalent version" be "paraphrase"?
Another less helpful characteristic of the CEV is that its authors decided to eliminate some of the more technical religious vocabulary associated with the mystery of salvation such as "redemption" or "righteousness" or "justification." I myself understood the concern, but over the years I have objected to the decision, even when made on the grounds that people were not familiar with the terms, because it seemed to me that the very omission of the language contributed to the ignorance it was trying to combat.

Sounds a bit like a dynamic equivalent version of The Screwtape Letters.
The Holy See approved the experimental use of the CEV for the Lectionary for Masses with Children, and its usage has become very popular, especially among catechists at the parish level.

So if its use leaves the kids ignorant, you might think this experiment would be judged a failure. Experimental, here, has been taken to mean something more along the line of avant garde; lack of results makes it seem even more so. Hence Christian Formation programs not only keep using the CEV, some have been using it beyond the primary grades.
We are told the current use of the CEV keeps children at an elementary biblical level and does not adequately prepare them for participating in truly adult celebrations of the Eucharist.

And so Bishop Sklba joins the ranks of those who conclude that a decree of the Second Vatican Council was implemented in an infantalizing way.
I've been involved in the review and restudy of the Lectionary for Masses with Children for the past two years. There is a growing consensus on this question among the experts who truly know children as well as the Eucharistic liturgy.

"Hey, we're in a hole!"
They are convinced that another translation probably should be developed for use with our children that would better prepare them for the young adult experience of the Word of God.

"Better keep digging."
This coming November the bishops of the country will be asked to vote on this new text. It may be helpful to know that it is the catechetical specialists in child faith development who have made this recommendation to the bishops of the country.

Helpful in the sense that he's given us reason to have no confidence in their judgment.


Catholic Retreat for Post Abortion Women and Men

My parish's bulletin had a notice that Post Abortion Healing (formerly Pregnancy Aftermath Helpline) sponsors this retreat Friday through Sunday.
To protect the privacy of the retreatants, the exact location is given only to those who plan to attend.

Respect Life Conference

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee's Office of Catholic Social Action presents this conference Friday and Saturday. October was Respect Life Month, so maybe this is an early start on next year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Meeting of Catholic group will address changing times

Tom Heinen reported in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Call to Action convention starting this Friday. The convention theme of "Religion, Money, Politics: What's God Got to Do With It?" and speakers
were selected on the heels of a hotly contested, religion-laden U.S. presidential election.

That was before the 2005 election. Of Pope Benedict XVI.
Organizers bolstered the list of plenary speakers with Father Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theology professor and Catholic newspaper columnist whose views resonate with liberals, to speak on "The Pontificate of Benedict XVI: A Preliminary Assessment."

Liberals? Better tell Father McBrien; in his weekly column he claims to hold the middle of the road.

Also on tap

A Friday seminar titled "Whither Women of the Church?" includes among its four speakers Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, who was in Rome for the Synod on the Eucharist and delivered 30,000 petition signatures advocating optional celibacy for priests.

On that nostalgic note
Call to Action is joining with Catholics for Justice and Peace, and Peace Action Wisconsin, for a "Rally Against the War in Iraq" at 4:30 p.m. Friday at N. 4th and W. Wells streets.

Catholics for Justice and Peace? What about Catholics for Peace and Justice, Reg?
Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea!