Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Martinifest leaves art museum shaken and stirred

Mary Louise Schumacher reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a February 11th event at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
People threw up, passed out, were injured, got into altercations and climbed onto sculptures at Martinifest, a semi- formal event organized by Clear Channel Radio ...

"Hindsight is 20-20 . . . it was probably too cheap," Kerry Wolfe, a local programming director for Clear Channel, said of the event's premise - unlimited martinis for $30.

So much for those local public television ads featuring John Cleese saying "You probably think I consider you a bunch of beer-swilling cheeseheads ... "

Update: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel continues in-depth coverage with columns by Jim Stingl and Tim Cuprisin and this martini backgrounder.

Lent begins this week

is the title of a (print only) insert in last Sunday's bulletin at St. Al's which includes this.
Our standing and sitting, kneeling and processing, our genuflecting and bowing, speaking and listening tells us something too. They tell us that we are God's people, joined together and united in Christ in the work of Salvation.

Kneeling? Genuflecting? We don't do either at Mass at our parish, and the people in charge of liturgy have gone to great lengths to keep it that way.

Timothy, Richard and Rembert, our bishops

From the Inbox,
Are priests in Milwaukee supposed to pray for Weakland during the Eucharistic prayers at mass? If you know.

Was at a parish last weekend that prayed for "Timothy, Richard and Rembert, our bishops" and thought is was a bit off...

That is, should the Eucharistic Prayer mention our retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland by name. Not from what I can see.

The General Instruction for the Roman Missal [pdf] 149 [p. 46 of 131] says,

The diocesan Bishop or anyone equivalent to him in law must be mentioned by means of this formula: una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Episcopo (or Vicario, Prelato, Praefecto, Abbate) (together with your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop [or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect, Abbot]).

It is permitted to mention Coadjutor and Auxiliary Bishops in the Eucharistic Prayer, ... . When several are to be named, this is done with the collective formula et Episcopo nostro N. eiusque Episcopis adiutoribus (N., our Bishop and his assistant Bishops).

It appears that, as a retired Archbishop, he would either not be mentioned or, if he is considered to serve as an auxiliary, he and Bishop Sklba would be referred to collectively, not by name. Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, addressed a related situation and reached the same conclusion.
It does not seem that the bishop emeritus (that is, retired) is usually mentioned unless he conserves the government of the diocese until a successor is named.

Saying "Timothy, Richard and Rembert, our bishops" without distinction goes further, making it sound like the archdiocese is headed by a committee.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Memo from the Vatican

Paul Rudnick in The New Yorker on the questionnaire to detect the deeply-rooted among seminarians. For example,
6. If you found yourself attracted to another priest, you would:

(a) Ask him to pray with you to battle the sinful urge, over drinks.

(b) Banish all such thoughts from your mind until you lose fifteen pounds.

(c) Ask him, "What's black and white and wants your number?"

Dorothy Day and the Pros & Cons of Canonization

This was the presentation at this month's First Friday meeting of the St. Thomas More Society of Wisconsin. It helps to keep in mind that the Catholic Worker movement is not being being considered for canonization. As for Dorothy Day, she apparently didn't spend much effort on being likeable, but likeability isn't a criteria for canonization.

The quote "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." was here attributed to Day. It's usually attributed to Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife, Brazil. But I've heard it attributed to other Latin American bishops, and my former pastor claimed a version of it. Given that it's what "they" say to the self-pitying cleric, I doubt if Day used it, or that anyone ever said it to Archbishop Camara, either.

The cause of her canonization does stir up controversy about the Catholic Worker movement, with some strange alignments. Paul Likoudis, news editor for The Wanderer, was convinced Day is a saint by reading a book about her by Mark and Louise Zwick (see his review in GodSpy). The Zwicks run the Houston Catholic Worker house and publish the Houston Catholic Worker. Likoudis came across the Zwicks

as a result of probing the increasingly acrimonious battle in the Catholic "blogosphere" between critics and defenders of influential Catholic "neo-cons," such as philosopher Michael Novak, Fr. Richard Neuhaus, economist Fr. Robert Sirico, Deal Hudson of Crisis magazine, among others ...

Christopher Blosser fired one shot in that battle in this post, in which he notes, among other things, the Zwicks' use of paraphrase rather than direct quotation in trying to make their case against Novak or Neuhaus.

We have the Zwicks and Likoudis on one side and Neuhaus, Novak and Blosser on the other. Next stir in the controversy over the appointment of Fr. Michael Baxter, C.S.C., a Catholic Worker theologian, to the theology faculty at Notre Dame. The Zwicks defended this move in the face of criticism from Father Richard McBrien ... and George Weigel.

So now we have the Zwicks and Likoudis on one side and Neuhaus, Novak, Weigel, Blosser, with McBrien covering the left flank, on the other.

Which side was Archbishop Rembert Weakland on? What follows is from from his 2000 address to the St. Thomas More Society of Wisconsin.

There has been a return to integralism among American Catholics. Integralism means that American society is so bad and so corrupt from capitalism and democracy, etc. with no ethic, that in response we're going to form our own sub-culture. If I oppose publicly the Ave Maria Law School it’s because I see this as a return to integralism and not healthy.

Ave Maria would be, more or less, Weakland versus Fessio. No surprise there.
The difficulty with integralism is that it leads to sects, sectarianism, in the worst sense of the word. It leads to isolationism and parochialism,and you can only live so long that way. The only person I know in the States now who preaches integralism is Father Michael Baxter at Notre Dame. Michael Baxter comes out of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Movement and he sees the role of Catholics as staying away from the public square. He doesn't want the Church to make statements about anything of this sort. It's a radical Catholicism,a prophetic Catholicism that believes we’re called to be "over against" that world. His students come out with that thinking.

I notice that, like the Zwicks, he doesn't quote the person he's criticising.

That puts the Zwicks and Likoudis on one side and Neuhaus, Novak, Weigel, Blosser, with McBrien and Weakland, on the other. Weakland once wrote to Likoudis

... I believe you come as close to being a truly evil person as I expect to meet in my lifetime.

so the lines are drawn.

Oh, yeah, canonization; a couple miracles and she's in.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

2006 Pallium Lecture Series with John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter

John Allen, National Catholic Reporter columnist and Fox News analyst, will speak on Monday, February 27th at the Archbishop Cousins Catholic Center, 3501 S. Lake Dr., in St. Francis.

His lecture is titled "The Papacy at the Center of the Modern World."

Vespers begins at 6:30 p.m. and Mr. Allen's presentation follows.

Volunteer Appreciation & Leadership Service Awards

Being a catechist at St. Al's, I received an invitation to today's event.
An afternoon is planned in your Honor! ... Please designate the dish you wish to bring when you call in your RSVP.

I can understand that serving food adds something to the event. And I can understand if the parish can't afford to have it catered. And I understand that we can't expect the staffers to cook for everybody. But something about the "A toast to you - BYOB" aspect seems to take the shine out of the polish.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science

It's signed by over 10,000 clergy from around the country, including over 400 from Wisconsin.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe ... that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests.

Perhaps next we'll read of clerical opinion on superstring theory, or Biology teachers will endorse the Q hypothesis.

The letter resulted from a campaign to protest

a series of anti-evolution policies passed by the school board in Grantsburg, WI.

The campaign was organized by
Michael Zimmerman
College of Letters and Sciences
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

So our tax or tithe dollars were at work on both sides of the controversy.

Dad29 has taken the trouble to search out our local Catholic clergy among the signers.

Friday, February 24, 2006

What's Worthwhile is Worth Waiting for

This column by Fr. Ron Rolheiser ran in "our" February 16, 2006 Catholic Herald.

He says that regarding Church teaching on sexual morality and its difficulty in practice

Liberals too easily write off the ideal and conservatives too easily refuse to see the hard truth ...

return to sender?

Diogenes at Off the Record answers the question, What is the term for when a bishop receives the counterpart of a priest boondocked by a bishop?

Voice Of The Faithful

Last Sunday's St. Al's bulletin [pdf, p. 4] had this item.
Ken Smits, OFM Cap., will speak on Patriarchy, Clericalism and the People of God, on Saturday, February 25, 9:00AM-Noon, at St. Matthias Parish, 9306 W. Beloit Road. Father Smits will present an analysis of shifting relationships in the uneasy house called Church. Time will be allotted for expression of views and to ask questions

Smits last spoke to the local VOTF chapter on May 14, 2005. If you go, be careful during the "expression of views." Last time, an audience member expressed the view that Smits' presentation undermined Church teaching on contraception. Smits refuted this with his poor dead mother who, he said, suffered due to that teaching.

To see how the poor dead mother refutation works, here's another variation in Father Richard John Neuhaus's account of A Spot of Unpleasantness in a debate with Peter Singer.

In my opening presentation, I suggested that Singer's claim to "neutrality," to representing the rationality of "the disinterested observer," was a kind of "view from Nowhere," and I pointed out that nobody actually lives in Nowhere. In this connection, I referred to the public discussion of Singer's very preferential treatment of his mother. I said he was to be commended for what he did, but that it is a cockeyed ethical theory that is embarrassed by a son's caring for his elderly mother. Prof. Singer very sharply, one might say rudely, interrupted my presentation, protesting that I was invading his privacy, that his mother had recently died, and that the New Yorker article misrepresented his views. I was quite taken aback and apologized for any offense given, while noting that I thought he had made the subject a matter of public discussion, and that it did drive to the heart of his rule that none counts for more than one. But his appeal to his privacy and bereavement did score him points, as indicated by applause from much of the audience.

Lawrence Durrell

Recommended reading:
by Lawrence Durrell at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

A Seductive Spectacle: The languid bazaar of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet still beckons 50 years later, by Charles Trueheart, The American Scholar, Summer 2007
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

four essays (1957-1960) by Kenneth Rexroth

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Papacy is gift from Jesus

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan's "Herald of Hope" column in the February 16, 2006 Catholic Herald was for yesterday's Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. (Unfortunately, the paper doesn't give a permanent URL for the column until the following Thursday's issue so I don't link to it before then.) Our Archbishop reviews that
A "chair," of course, symbolizes authority.

(By the way, the Latin word for chair is sede, which is where we get our phrase, "Holy See.")
We Catholics consider the papacy a gift from Jesus, a wonderful way in which Jesus remains with us as shepherd and teacher. We look to the man who sits in the Chair of St. Peter as our Holy Father, as the vicar of Christ on earth, as the universal pastor. His authority is normative, essential, formative for us as Catholics.

Not everyone so considers him, but I do note this from The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (Bishop Callistos of Diokleia).
... Orthodox believe that among the five Patriarchs a special place belongs to the Pope. The Orthodox Church does not accept the doctrine of Papal authority set forth in the decrees of the Vatican Council of 1870, and taught today in the Roman Catholic Church; but at the same time Orthodoxy does not deny to the Holy and Apostolic See of Rome a primacy of honour, together with the right (under certain conditions) to hear appeals from all parts of Christendom.

"Youth Bible" Problems Persist

Helen Hull Hitchcock in Adoremus on the Catholic Youth Bible (which is provided our Christian Formation students at St. Al's).

It certainly seems counterproductive to me that any student who actually reads it will find it's a different translation than the one used at Mass.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hark! the Herald

Or should I say "Hark! our Herald"? Beginning with the February 16, 2006 issue, our archdiocesan weekly refers to itself not as "the" Catholic Herald but rather as "our" Catholic Herald.

You've probably seen this rhetorical device before. For example, your boarding pass for a short commuter airline flight might say "Your aircraft is not equipped with a restroom." The intent might be to deter you from complaining since, after all, it was your aircraft. But it also provides an occasion for some comeraderie of the manipulated, as passengers point this out to each other and the flight attendants.

I suppose that this blog might serve as something of a journal of semi-pro manipulations by parish and archdiocesan staff. They do seem to often forget to close the cover, and we see the gears turning and stripping, with results along the lines of Me Tarzan, You Jane, We Church. In this case, the "our" technique must now be so passe that it's reached the Cousins Center.

Executive Editor Brian T. Olszewski's (print-only) "Banter" column promises more changes starting with tomorrow's issue. Since it's now my Catholic Herald, what changes might I consider (other than going back to "the")? If you've been reading this blog, you've probably seen most of these.

In general, I'd want more of everything. I've been able to fold some issues of the Herald to fit in a standard business size envelope. That's a newsletter, not a newspaper.

Any mailing to every Catholic household in the Archdiocese would be part of an issue of the Herald. This would include the recent Stewardship Appeal, the annual report, and To Live Is Christ. Since we are paying to print and mail this stuff, why not make it part of our newspaper? These mailings could be reformatted as extra pages wrapped around or inserted in that issue of the Herald, and issues going to everyone would, of course, prominently display subscription information.

I'd like to see more such coordination and integration of the Herald and Archdiocese's web sites, as well. And it wouldn't hurt to let us know a bit more of what's going on in the other dioceses in Wisconsin and their publications. It's seemed to me there's less about them in the Herald than there is about Latin America.

The online edition needs more content, too. Perhaps they're concerned that more online content will cannibalize the print edition, which is required to pay for itself with advertising and subscription income. I'd be content with no current issue content online if everything were posted one issue late. And why not post links to the online sources of print content, like Catholic News Service and columnists Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, and George Weigel?

I have to wonder if they could at least link to the other sources, like Vatican News Service, Catholic News Agency, and Zenit, and to columnists they don't run in the print edition. As it is, a determined blogger could link to much more content, just from the news services, columnists, online periodicals, and the Archdiocese's site, than is in the Herald.

P.S. Mike has already weighed in on our Catholic Herald.


At the Drive-In Church

A photo essay in Time.

Notice they leave empty spaces, just like in the pews.

No more disagreements on when to sit, stand or kneel.

Is there a cartoon countdown clock for the homily? And which is longer, a drive-in movie intermission minute or a homily minute?

Are there communion car hops? No one likes those long lines at the refreshment stand.

Pittsburgh 'Strict' on Kid Texts

Judy Roberts reports in the National Catholic Register's catechism investigation series. She visits a parish that uses the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori approach.
"It’s very orthodox in the different presentations, which are tied to liturgy and Scripture," he [Andrew James, director of religious education] said, "but it allows the children to reflect personally and to develop a sense of the holy on their own."

There is just one problem: It does not use a student textbook, meaning there is no way of determining whether participants are getting a systematic, comprehensive presentation of the faith in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

A defender of the program said she believed the students could pass any test they'd be given on the faith.

At St. Al's the text I use for my tenth grade Sunday School class, Send Out Your Spirit, remains on the list of "texts and series have been found to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church" according to the Catechism Update. But this is only because I complained the assigned text wasn't on the Bishops' list. Instead, it was selected some time back by a parish subcommittee. Their textbook exemplified The Error of Incompleteness. Its actual text sections totaled fourteen pages, with lots of white space and pictures. On page 14 it says

Roman Catholics believe that the act of faith is intimately connected with the content of the faith ...

The Bishops' committee apparently didn't think it met that need.

On the other hand, the students do take an archdiocesan test at the end of the year. Its fifty multiple choice questions. (Maybe we should instead have them take these.) The publisher's lesson plans contemplate 90 minutes to three hours for each of the text's ten chapters. Since I have four two hour classroom sessions (up from three originally planned), I have less than an hour per chapter. As a result, I'm pretty much teaching to the test.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Halfway to Heaven

"A Catholic millionaire's dream town draws fire." says the subhead, but, contra Genesis 19:28-29, it's just a figure of speech.

Susannah Meadows reports in Newsweek that discouraging the sale of contraceptives in Tom Monaghan's Ave Maria Town development has drawn criticism.

The ACLU of Florida is worried about how he's playing the game. "It is completely naive to think this first attempt [to restrict access to contraception] will be their last," says executive director Howard Simon. Armed with a 1946 Supreme Court opinion that "ownership [of a town] does not always mean absolute dominion," Simon will be watching Ave Maria for any signs of Monaghan's request's [sic] becoming a demand. Planned Parenthood is similarly alarmed.

United States Catholic Catechism for Adults Set for Publication By March 31

says (or hopes) the Catechism Update.
When the text of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is published, it will contain two indices: a subject index and a Scriptural index. Two complementary publications are also planned. One will be a Leader's Guide, offering directions and suggestions for uses of the text. Another publication planned is a discussion and prayer journal which will contain the discussion questions, meditations and prayers from the text in a layout which will allow for a reader to make notes.

Catholic Blog Awards

Consider the nominees listed at the bottom of the CBA page for your blogroll.

Prodigal son, father get musical treatment

Amy Trumble reports in the, I mean "our", Catholic Herald. She begins
The prodigal son is a familiar biblical figure, but who is the prodigal father?

From people I know and reading blogs, the prodigal father is a twist on the interpretation of this parable which had quickly spread from coast-to-coast. Specifically,
as Jeff Honore, 49, director of liturgical music at St. Matthias Parish, pointed out, "the one who is really prodigal is the father." The term prodigal, generally associated with being extremely wasteful, can also mean extremely generous.

So the metaparable is that of the equivocal homilist.

The article, though, is more specifically about the production of the musical Lost and Found at St. Matthias.

"It has the flavor of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," said [parishioner and stage director Mary Beth] Topf. "Modern music set in biblical times."

Like Mass at many parishes.

Monday, February 20, 2006

World Mission Ministries

Some folks came from this office at the Archdiocese to talk at our last parish mission group meeting about what mission means. Our leader said this was because he thought maybe it was time we heard from someone else.

It's less a problem of who's talking than what's being said. As you might expect, any discussion like this includes a lot of handouts. One this time was Bono's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. Nothing against Bono, but the Catechism sections 849-856 on Mission, 1943-1948 summarizing Social Justice, and (2450-2463) summarizing the Seventh Commandment, are shorter, more pertinent, and probably about as likely to be read.

Another handout of quotations included a [modified]one from Martin Luther King, Jr.,

The world in which we live is geographically one. ... The challenge we face today is to make it one in [sister]brotherhood. ... Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood, and yet ... we have not had the ethical commitment to make it a [sister]brotherhood.

You recall that an Archdiocesan Parish Consultant wrote the Catholic Herald to remind us of some of Dr. King's words. Maybe next January there will be a coordinated Archdiocesan commemoration of what King [should have] said.

Also among the handouts was a chart of based on Spiritual Growth & the Option for the Poor by Albert Nolan, O.P.. It showed as Stages Toward Solidarity With The Poor:
Experience > Emotion > Response > Hazzard
We'd been provided with other copies of this chart over the years. Since the typo "Hazzard" has never been corrected, I wonder if, in all the years and all the places it's been handed out, anyone ever actually looked at it.

President's Day Protest

The Gallery at New Orleans Voices for Peace posts a notice of plans that
Cindy Sheehan will be bringing her protest to Houston. This time she will be targeting Barbara Bush.

I suppose if President Bush were younger, Ms. Sheehan might be targeting his grandmother, as well.

(via From the Anchor Hold)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Liturgical Song" Parodies: by Christopher J. Garton-Zavesky

Includes "I have loved you with a narcissistic love".

The many Comments include this observation by Mr. Garton-Zavesky.

Is Father O'Leary contributing to the discussion, or merely dominating it?

Father seems to either not know or care about this impression left by his frequently consecutive comments.

(via Dad29)

MAPA Convening Board December 13, 2005

Our local priests' union's executive committee has posted the minutes of its meeting of December 13, 2005 [pdf].

The account of the business meeting started with this, apparently on the recent instruction on homosexual seminarians.

We evaluated our process of "up/down balloting" re: Commendation of Gay Priests and Lay Leaders. Tom Heinen of the Journal/Sentinel staff said that he though [sic] the statement would not be printed because it did not actually quote the document from the Vatican.

I didn't know reporters also acted as media consultants for the organizations that they cover. The "Commendation" was referred to a committee which was to meet at the Cousins Center January 5, 2006.

On the questions about their flyer

A motion was made to send a letter drafted by Ken Mich to Fr. Paul Hartmann. It basically stated that we were not at this time entertaining the possibility of meeting with him or working on a re-write and re-publication of the document: Protecting Your Rights as a Priest, a Practical Guide.

Priests may toil from sun to sun, but a webmasters work is never done.
We have discussed the possibility of getting some issues out in front of the membership for discussion/action through our website. Steve Amann was asked to get the Alliance Bulletin Board Website cleared off; and then Dave Cooper would post a listing of topics and descriptions and notify the membership by email that guys should check out the website listings. The membership would be invited to comment and share opinions and state priorities. Among the issues was the new proposed legislation banning Gay Marriage in Wisconsin.

Their site formerly had a public discussion board and a private chat room. If their comments and opinions will be on the public board, that might make for interesting reading.

In committee reports

Generations of Priests - Ken Mich reported only one response so we would need to rework this item or re-include it in the items on the website.

Maybe this means younger priests are wary of MAPA.
Vatican Document on Homosexual Candidates for priesthood - group being formed.

In other reports, what looks rather like a religious ed. counterpart to MAPA is misapplying the same management techniques.
A reminder was given to Dave Cooper to email an invitation to the Open Space Meeting for Priests and Directors of Religious Education sponsored by MAREDA. The meeting was for January 17th.

They took no position on changing the age for Confirmation.

Next MAPA board meeting January 9, 2005. Minutes presumably will have to be approved at the meeting after that before posting on their web site.

Building a Catholic Action Plan for Reform

Peter Mirus at Catholic Culture.
The letter writing process can be painful. In the reexamination of wrongs that you would like to express, emotions may surface that make it difficult to be calm, clear, and charitable. In keeping with the strategy of focusing both on the good and the bad, you need to hit both the highlights and the lowlights, without being personal.

Revelation in a muddy field

Maryangela Layman Roman reported in the Catholic Herald on a visit to Milwaukee by the Archbishop of Chicago. He recounted attending a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at the World Youth Day in Cologne.
Speaking to more than 600 people at the Cousins Center for the first of four lectures in the annual Pallium Lecture Series, Cardinal George described how in that moment he recognized the link between the Eucharist and the papacy.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

MAPA Convening Board November 14, 2005

Our local priests' union's executive committee has posted the minutes of its meeting of November 14, 2005 [pdf].

On the business agenda

Evaluation of "An Evening with Fr. Donald Cozzens": 28 of the brothers attended and though no new ground was broken it was a good event. We did get some ink in the Catholic Herald.

Why break new ground when no one's sowing the seed?
We spent a considerable amount of time discussing a response to Fr. Paul Hartmann's letter to the Priests' Rights Group requesting that our flyer on protecting your rights as a priest be made more canonically correct. He claimed that there are a number of inaccuracies in the flyer as sent out.

You might think that since the flyer gives advice to their members, they'd be very concerned. But, for once, their hands are tied by the rubrics.
The discussion focused on Fr. Mike Sturm's point that since the membership voted acceptance of the flyer at a General Meeting this now belonged to the Alliance and not to the Priests' Rights Focus Group.

Therefore, no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the flyer on his own authority.
There was some consensus that our flyer was not meant to be a canonical document but a guide to help priests.

Presumably to help them with canon law issues, among other things.
Our discussion was inconclusive and we did not agree on whether or how to respond to Fr. Hartmann.

At least they inflict inconclusive discussion on each other, and not just on the laity.

In the committee reports, the attempt to co-opt younger priests is going slowly.

Generations of Priests -- Ken Mich sent out email and had only two responses. He will continue to pursue the topic.

Next meeting December 13, 2005.

Wanted: Manly Men

From a Commonweal editorial reply to Fr. Richard John Neuhaus on homosexuals in the priesthood.
It is true, however, that like many Catholics, Commonweal is engaged in the difficult task of discerning whether new understandings of homosexuality are compatible with the gospel and the church's moral tradition. We look first to the church for guidance and instruction. But since God's presence in the world is not confined to the church, we also look to the lives and testimony of our friends and neighbors.

What if their congenial opinions was a factor in who your friends and neighbors are?

Daniel Defoe

Recommended reading:
by Daniel Defoe at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

A Paradoxical Genius, by Philip Zaleski, First Things, June/July 1999

The Strange Shipwreck of Robinson Crusoe, by Philip Zaleski, First Things, May 1995

Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, Classics Revisited (1968) by Kenneth Rexroth

Friday, February 17, 2006

MAPA Convening Board October 10, 2005

Here are the minutes of the Milwaukee priests' union's executive committe's meeting on October 10, 2005 [pdf].
Dave [Father Dave Cooper] has added many of the minutes from November of 2004 to the website. There are still three that need to be added: December 10, 2004 and two in 2005 (April & May).

The business agenda included planning for the then-upcoming meeing with Father Donald Cozzens.
[Father] Dick Aiken agreed to have snacks and soda available for all who attend.

A side order of Melchizedek?

Elections were coming.

Bill Burkert will develop a nomination ballot to be sent out ASAP. We will Then determine the time-line for the election.

After all the time they spent on their constitution and by-laws, I expected the time-line would be spelled out.
The date of the next General Meeting is March 15, 2006. This is a Wednesday. The meeting will be held at St. Matthias in Steiger Hall. There was a lot of discussion on what to do for that meeting. We thought that it would be good to continue on the topic of engaging a dialogue with the Archbishop. Perhaps we should invite him to the next General Meeting.

Here's a topic for "dialogue" from the committee reports
(new) Witch Hunt for Gays in Seminaries -- [Father] Steve Amann chaired this break-out group at the General Meeting. There are quite a number of priests interested in pursuing discussion around this topic. We will ask Steve to chair that group and to call some meetings.

Witch Hunt used to mean convincing yourself you found what you should have known wasn't there.

Next meeting Noveber 14, 2005.

mocha smiles

Diogenes at Off the Record falls prey to the Catholic Herald's practice of waiting until the following week's issue to assign a permanent URL to a "Herald of Hope" column. The column by Bishop Sklba on "The Scourge of Racism is now here.

I used to frequent the monthly businessmens' prayer breakfasts of The Peter Favre Forum. Bishop Sklba is its spiritual director. Each month's meeting has a guest speaker. One spoke on the experience of black Catholics and felt compelled to note the scandal of Milwaukee's closed inner city parishes. I don't recall the exact words of Bishop Sklba's sputtered response, but between it and his column it appears that any other institution closing its inner city facilities was racism, but the Archdiocese of Milwaukee closing them was a sad necessity.

The Parish: Where the saving work of the Church gets done

Or doesn't. Charles M. Wilson explains.
In response to the requests of more than a few Christifidelis readers as well as some Foundation clients, this article will discuss the relationship between the parish and the diocese, provide some examples of how that relationship has become distorted, and suggest some steps to improve the situation.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

At stake: Catholic identity

From an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter
Today’s church finds itself in one such cycle, in which the optimistic embrace of "the world" associated with the Second Vatican Council is giving way to a strong impulse toward recovery of a distinctive Catholic identity. One may lament this, but doing so is a bit like lamenting the change of the seasons; like or not, it’s coming.

Clown Mass

As defined in A Modern Seminarians' Dictionary
Liturgical innovation comparable to the innovation of Gregorian chant; relevant: “A clown liturgy may sound sacrilegious but those who attended a special Mass at St. Agnes Church described it as moving, uplifting, spirited and colorful” (Catholic Herald, Milwaukee, February 16, 1984).

Like the circus, itself.

Didn't want to let the 22nd anniversary of that article go unmarked.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Substance and symbols

This is a republication of an article by Father Frederick Heuser in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

Earlier today Dad29 posted that Fr. Heuser has died.

Update: In a letter to the editor Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, published September 25, 1999, Fr. Heuser said that in a story on indulgences the Reporter should have used better sources.

Update 2: A republication of another article by Fr. Heuser from Homiletic and Pastoral Review, imagining what it might be like for A Resigned Priest on his Deathbed.

Update 3: From "Dear Tom and Ray," letters to Car Talk,

Tom: Today we have some more winners from our Nouns of Assembly contest. We asked our readers to come up with collective nouns for all things automotive. We've mentioned a few already, like "a Harrison of Fords," and "a ring of Saturns." Here are some more we like. ...

Ray: Father Frederick Heuser of St. James Catholic Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin was apparently working on our collective noun endeavor between masses. He came up with "a stuff of Legends," and "a rattling of LeSabres." That's good, Father!

Update 4: from Tradition, "A Newsletter to Celebrate St. Joseph High School's Legacy of Faith," [pdf, p. 9]

Father Heuser celebrates his fiftieth anniversary in the priesthood. He has served as pastor of St. James parish for the past 30 years. Before that he was associate director of the Catholic Family Life program, taught at St. Catherine High School in Racine for three years, and served at St. Mary's parish, also in Racine, for five years. Fr. Heuser currently teaches theology at St. Joseph Interparish Junior High School. Last year he taught seventh graders about the life of Jesus and the meaning of the sacraments. His support of St. Joe's is truly a blessing.

Update 5: Not online, so from my files, a letter to the editor from Fr. Heuser, published in the September 24, 1998 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

On Sept. 17, two letters appeared in the Journal Sentinel suggesting solutions to the priest shortage. One advocated ordaining women and the other allowing priests to marry.

The problem with this thesis is that it falsely assumes that the priest shortage is nationwide. It isn't, of course. The dioceses of Peoria and Rockford, Ill., Arlington, Va., Fargo, N.D., and Lincoln, Neb., are examples of places with not only a sufficient number of priests but many seminarians, as well.

This August, I was in Lincoln for the dedication of a new seminary, St. Gregory the Great Seminary. The bishop of Lincoln is the former pastor of St. Bernard's Parish in Wauwatosa, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

I was amazed at the number of young priests there. The new college seminary has 23 students. In addition, there are 40-some seminarians studying theology in Maryland. Thus, in a diocese of 70,000 Catholics, approximately one-tenth the size of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, there are 63 men who, God willing, will be ordained priests.

The question is not whether women should be ordained priests or whether priests should be allowed to marry. The question is: Why do other dioceses have so many vocations and the Milwaukee Archdiocese so few?

I'm on record as saying that's a good question.

Jack Bauer's Unborn Son Thwarts Attempted Abortion

Dennis York reports
The cause of death for the abortionist was listed as "Fetus playing by its own rules, practicing its own vigilante brand of gestation."

All Nations before God's Throne: Evangelicals in the Interfaith World

Nicholas M. Price in Cross Currents on his experience as an evangelical Christian at the National Conference on Interfaith Youth Work.
Before long the question was no longer, "Why don't religious conservatives participate in interfaith dialogue?" but became "How do we make sure that we set a place at the table for religious conservatives?" While these two questions look similar at first glace the truth is that they operate with a totally different set of assumptions. The first of these questions assumes that religious conservatives have an inherit aversion to participating in interfaith dialogue, much less the religiously plural atmosphere of modern American society, and that we must somehow strong arm them into dialogue or go over their heads and build a society around them which will, ultimately, force them to accept more "moderate" or "mainline" ways through which to view their own faith.

However, I would argue that the problem is not that most religious conservatives do not want to participate in interfaith dialogue, but that they do not feel welcome in the places of public discourse.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Am But A Vessel Through Which God Drones On Indefinitely

Continuing our homiletic theme, here is The Rev. Michael Barrodale in The Onion.
I cannot be faulted for the self-love you hear in my voice. That self-love is God's alone, for He taketh great pleasure in an audience, and in the airing of His thoughts before it. My seeming indifference to your flagging interest is, in truth, my Father's. For my Father rarely considers His listeners. And the tired rhetorical devices I use and tame shaggy-dog stories I tell are my Lord's, as well.

Doing ceremonial things unceremoniously

Domenico Bettinelli on why this topic.
What brings this to mind is an emailer who says that Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee had a recorded message played during Masses this week (in place of the homily) to kick off the annual fundraising appeal for the archdiocese. The message was full of folksy camaraderie and such and ended with this statement: "Okay, I'll shut up now and let you get back to the Mass ..." Does that sound like an appropriate way to speak of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

It wasn't in place of the homily, it was the homily. (Well, okay, at St. Al's it was a second homily.) His "folksy camaraderie" isn't to everyone's taste, but that doesn't make it inappropriate. I have a book of sermons by St. Alphonsus himself, and while he isn't folksy, he isn't ceremonious, either. Archbishop Dolan saying he's letting us let us "get back to the Mass" strikes me as no more inappropriate than saying we're "going to Mass."

Update: Diogenes at Off the Record presents an excerpt from Bishop Gumbleton's homily for this Sunday. My pastor in his homily likewise said the word was "anger" not "pity".

Killing Civilians Intentionally: Double Effect, Reprisal, and Necessity in the Middle East

Michael L. Gross in Political Science Quarterly [pdf 26 pp.] examines the arguments that Palestinians and Israelis offer when innocent lives are taken. He challenges Palestinian claims that existential threats (supreme emergency) or reprisals for past wrongs can justify terror attacks on noncombatants. At the same time, he objects to Israeli explanations that invoke the doctrine of double effect and claim that noncombatants are not killed intentionally but die as an unintended side effect of necessary military operations.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Theologian engages scriptures as feminist, Indian

Janina Gomes in the National Catholic Reporter on Sister Rekha Chennattu, the first Catholic woman in India to hold a doctorate in scripture.

Chennattu has a metaphor that goes beyond "breaking open the Word."

Though her passion was for the poor and the downtrodden in India, she felt that by realizing her dream of unraveling the Word of God for hundreds of students and sharing God’s mission, she would multiply her efforts several fold. ...

It is a common experience to find that effort must multiply after something unravels, for example in Genesis Chapter 3.

But Chennattu sometimes talk just like her Western counterparts.

Chennattu says she bases her teachings on grass-roots level experience and believes, "One needs to have creative and constructive dialogue among various groups -- biblical scholars, psychologists, sociologists and grass roots level people -- in order to arrive at meaningful paradigms that are mutually enriching."

The paradigms of her Western counterparts have not always been so enriching for women at the Indian grass roots.
They often shrink back from the rhetoric of feminism, she says, because some Indian women theologians have been tempted to imitate Western feminism, which is characterized by anger and animosity towards men and patriarchy.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

For devout couples, love is divine

Tom Heinen reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a revival of courtship in place of dating for some young couples in what he calls conservative Christian churches.
Evoking images of bygone eras, the time that O'Gorman and Pardee spend together is in public, within view of family members or within earshot through an open door. Their parents did not arrange their pairing, but neither young person would have gone ahead without consultation and approval from their parents.

Heather Pardee and Oriel O'Gorman are the engaged couple featured in the article.
She and O'Gorman hold a belief taught at Falls Baptist Church and common among Christian courtship advocates: that dating, with its breakups and emotional scars, is a better preparation for guardedness and divorce than for marriage.

Sounds like something that might be subject to empirical verification.

Case against Jesus' existence dismissed

The Associated Press reported
An Italian judge has dismissed an atheist's petition that a small-town priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed, both sides said on Friday.

The losing party said he is considering an appeal.

(via WI Catholic Musings)

The Rise of Dominionism

Frederick Clarkson on in Public Eye
Recently however, the term has become fashionable with some lumping every form of evangelical Christianity and every faction in the Bush White House into one big, single-minded imperial dominionist plot. Dominionism is narrower and more profound than that. It is the driving ideology of the Christian Right.

The sidebar, in making distinctions, characterizes as hard dominionism Christian Reconstructionism.

Gary North in the reconstructionist Chalcedon Report sees things just the opposite. What Went Wrong with the Christian Right, he says, is that it is not driven by the reconstructionist agenda.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Back from boarding

East Pass, Alpine Valley Skeptics who said "I'd pay to see you on a snowboard" can expect to receive their bills shortly.

Thanks to the Ski Patrol at Alpine Valley, East Troy, Wisconsin, for taking the photo.

Sleep Therapy

Lauren F. Winner in Books & Culture
When folks from my local church gather for an evening meal or adult education class, we usually close with Compline, the nighttime service from the Book of Common Prayer. This service--in which we pray for a peaceful night and a perfect end, repeating the nunc dimittis (originally uttered by Simeon in a somewhat different context, asking God to let his servant depart in peace)--is helping me to understand sleep as part of faithfulness. For it is sheer hypocrisy to pray with my community for a peaceful night and a perfect end if I know I am going home to put in three or four more hours answering email.

Sleep more: this may seem a curious answer to the question of what Christians can do for the common good.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Jesus in space

Mark Hosler in Stay Free! interviews "Joe" who makes robots and murals for Christian theme parks and churches.

Family planning row in Guatemala

The BBC reports on the controversial override of President Berger's veto of a bill that
requires the government to promote the use of contraceptives and provide sex education classes.

(via New Oxford Review)

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

Chekhov always insisted that the five plays of his maturity that his audiences insisted were tragedies were simply developments, precisely in maturity, of the hilarious short farces of his youth. --Kenneth Rexroth, Chekhov, Plays, Classics Revisited (1968)

Recommended reading:
by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Tales of Chekhov by Anton Chekhov, translated by Constance Garnett, review by Mona Simpson, The Atlantic Monthly, at Powell's Review-A-Day

Imitation of Life, by Lee Siegel, The Nation, December 13, 2004

A tour around Chekhov, review by George Walden of Chekhov: Scenes From a Life by Rosamund Bartlett, Telegraph, April 7, 2004

Thursday, February 9, 2006

The Word in Words

Richard John Neuhaus at On the Square on backtracking to the road not taken.
One pastor writes me that he has found a way of getting out from under the bishops conference imposition of the wretched New American Bible (NAB) translation. He says that there is another translation that is permitted--the Latin. So at Mass in his parish, he says, the prescribed lessons are read in Latin, followed by their being read in the Revised Standard Version. I think he may be putting me on, but it’s an idea with interesting possibilities.

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Dave Robinson in The Catholic Peace Voice recounts a recent trip to Belgium on behalf of Pax Christi Flanders (the Belgian region, not Ned).

To Flanders fields, Pax Christi goes,
And 'gainst the Yanks its slanders sows ...

The Encyclical of Death

Fidei Defensor concludes a three post series on the culture of death with this commentary on Schering's Family - My Free Choice, its philosophy of teenage contraception marketing campaign.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

A 'Single' Church

Melinda Liu and Duncan Hewitt in Newsweek on far ostpolitik and Vatican approval of the choice of an auxiliary by Bishop Aloysius Jin of the government-sanctioned "patriotic church."
The Vatican's relationship with Jin is a clever move. It helps bring Shanghai's patriotic church into the Roman Catholic fold. (Jin claims that 90 percent of Shanghai Catholics belong to the patriotic church, while only 10 percent remain underground.) And for Jin, it appears to validate his decision to work within the patriotic church—even though he's believed to have quietly received Vatican validation sometime in recent years. "Ten years ago, there were still people saying we shouldn't open seminaries, we should wait for the fall of communism," he recalls. "If I'd listened to their advice, there would now be only six old priests like me in Shanghai." Instead, the Shanghai diocese has 62 young priests, and its seminaries have trained 350 priests who work throughout China, he says.

What Should the Laity Be Doing?

Russell Shaw in Crisis
First of all, we need to realize that there are ways for lay people not to respond adequately to the need for a new evangelization. Simply ignoring it is one way, of course. But so is putting so much emphasis on activities within the structures and institutions of the Church--lay ministry, that is--that apostolate in and to the secular world gets short shrift and is virtually ignored.

Puts me in mind of Nancy Brown's comment on adult altar servers, in response to this earlier post.

What is role of parish consultant?

Not all the print content of the Catholic Herald is published online; letters to the editor are not, for example. The post title is that given a letter to the editor from M. Holasek of Cudahy in the February 2, 2006 issue.

Holasek writes that

A recent letter (Catholic Herald, Jan. 19, 2005) praised a liberal social activists more controversial stands and was signed by a "parish consultant" of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The liberal social activist was Rev. Martin Luther King, and the parish consultant was Mark Peters. It was one of those letters that "reminds" us that King's work against segregation, for which he is commemorated, was followed by years of more radical advocacy. (See this Common Dreams post on the recent death of Mrs. King.) Defenders of segregation had earlier tried to use allegation of leftist sympathies to discredit King's work for integration. They failed. More recently, there are attempts to use King's work against segregation to bolster support for his later overt leftist views. These also fail.

Holasek was concerned that Peters' political views color his work for the Archdiocese. Based on my parish council experience, I would say not. Rather, as you might see from this post at Ten Reasons, the work of parish consultants is a part of why I say after being on parish council Dilbert is funnier than ever.

Most likely there will be a reply to Holasek from Peters, who I assume can walk it down the hall at the Chremlin Cousins Center. In an August 25, 2005 letter about Catholics for Peace and Justice, he caused a stir when he wrote

inspired by the same Catholic vision of a world in which respect for life--all life, from birth to death and every stage in between--

He must have heard there was some feedback on his "from birth." The September 22, 2005 issue of the Catholic Herald carried his backtracking letter even as his oversight was being pointed out in letter from Ralph Scrima of Waukesha.

Eva J. Diaz, another of our archdiocese's parish consultants, is a regular contributor to the "Scripture Reflections" column in the Catholic Herald. Rather than all these letters, maybe it should just have Peters write some social justice op-eds, preferably also published online.

One topic might be why our archdiocese's suburban headquarters and shuttered inner city parishes are irrelevant to the credibility of its social justice preaching.

Update: Parish Consultants are one of the ministries supported by the Catholic Stewardship Appeal.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Death Row Conversion

Sara Catania in Mother Jones writes on the death penalty and conservative Catholics and, along the way, on Father Mark Reamer, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, home parish of Jeff Meyer.
Meyer was sentenced to death in 1988, before Reamer arrived at St. Francis. But when a violation of courtroom protocol led to a new sentencing trial in 1999, Reamer sat with the Meyer family during the proceeding. He learned that in December of 1986, Jeff Meyer and a fellow soldier stationed at the U.S. Army base in Fayetteville, North Carolina, disguised themselves in ninja suits and broke into the house of an elderly couple, intending to rob them. Startled by the husband, Meyer shot him with a blowgun and then stabbed him to death with a butterfly knife. The pair then stabbed the victim's wife to death and fled with jewelry, credit cards, and a television. "It was very painful to hear about," Reamer says.

But sitting in the courtroom as the case unfolded, Reamer was certain that the community's pain would only be compounded by executing Meyer. When the jury imposed a death sentence, Reamer was despondent. "I remember thinking, how could 12 people do this?" he says.

Hearing about the two murders was "painful," but the murderer's death sentence is incomprehensible? The article notes Catholic opinion swinging against the death penalty, probably not due to insightful homilies.

The Saintly Sinner

Joan Acocella in The New Yorker concludes her review of "The two-thousand-year obsession with Mary Magdalene" saying
The young Bible scholars should have all our support, and we should agree with them that the energetic, far-seeing Magdalene of the Gnostic texts is good evidence that the Church should ordain women.

There might be a consensus building that all a church needs to give up in exchange for women's ordination is the Bible.

What age for confirmation?

Maryangela Layman Roman reports in the February 2, 2006 Catholic Herald on a meeting in the first part of the consultation process on lowering the age for Confirmation. (Consultation process means a bunch of meetings.)
Some of the 230 participants, many of whom are involved in religious education, offered strong, passionate comments either in favor of leaving the age for reception of confirmation at 16, junior year in high school, while others were equally passionate about lowering the age.

The article reviews the history of age changes and pros and cons of the proposed change. The story ends with quotes from the "open mike" comment period, all supporters of the status quo.

Seems to me that step one would be checking the effect of raising the age against the claims made when that change was being advocated. If it hasn't worked out as projected, we should change back and see how that goes.

The final decision, sure to be controversial either way, is Archbishop Dolan's. That's why we pay him that $49,420 a year.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Bad Habits

Subtitled "Can we correct liturgical abuse in religious communities?" a matter of concern to the author, the Rev. Vincent Capuano, S.J., in Adoremus. Some of these, believe it or not, are sometimes seen in our parishes.
a) healthy persons celebrating the entire Mass seated even during the parts when it is prescribed to stand or kneel

As I've said before, at our parish we don't kneel, they have us sit for any lengthy gospel reading, and the parish leadership wonders why they can't get the parishioners off their duffs otherwise.
b) healthy priests celebrating or concelebrating the Mass seated

Does healthy include that buffet muscle? There's a lot of priests whose knees look like one of the Stations of the Cross.
d) priests not vesting with a chasuble when they are the principal celebrants (and there are chasubles available)

So it's come to this, Jesuits who won't wear chasubles while Lutheran ministers [pdf] will.
f) priests making intentional changes in the prescribed prayers

I once heard one get so tangled in his ad libs that he asked Jesus to intercede with Himself.
k) the use of glass or pottery chalice and paten

Our new pastor has a gold chalice inherited from an uncle who was killed while serving as a chaplain in Burma in the Second World War. The E.M.E.s use glass stemware.
l) the use of strange bread-like substances

At least we finally abandoned the Euchroutons and are back to hosts, the traditional strange bread-like substance.
m) the use of grape juice in place of wine

I don't believe that. Isn't the Jesuit fifth vow to only order call brands?

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Papa Ratzi

Daniel Johnson in The New Criterion reviews George Weigel's God's Choice: Pope Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church.
His much-noted homily on the eve of the conclave, in which he denounced the "dictatorship of relativism," pulled no punches. The secularization of the West had mutated into a new totalitarianism that threatened the very existence of Christian civilization, just as Communism had once threatened to extinguish that civilization in the East. This was a manifesto calculated to deter the faint-hearted.

Broken immigration system needs reform

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in the January 26, 2006 Catholic Herald says
Yes, I know we must protect our borders, especially at a time of legitimate threats to our security; yes, I realize that there must be laws to monitor the flow of immigrants to our country; yes, I admit there are some among the immigrants -- very few though they may be -- who are less than responsible neighbors; yes, I acknowledge we need immigration reform, and pray for our elected officials who must craft it.

When he says "monitor" does that include "limit"? Not that I can tell.
I am glad that our political leaders want to repair a broken immigration system, but we need reform, not just more drastic law enforcement. Promising reform -- such as earned legalization, temporary worker programs, and reduction in family visa backlogs -- would all be so beneficial.

Crawford v. Taylor

Justice Alito votes against vacating [pdf] a stay of execution which the Court had previously granted.

Ellen Ratner on "The Long & the Short of It" segment of the Fox & Friends Weekend show says Alito's vote doesn't surprise her

Because I think he is going to vote sort of a Catholic ticket.

Domenico Bettinelli characterizes this as a clueless or biased liberal religious slur.

Meanwhile Mark Shea says that the same decision means

Alito may be more Catholic than conservatives bargained for.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Parish (New) Life Committee Update

Last week's parish bulletin [pdf 1mb, p. 4] included the above item on the agenda for the February 6th parish council meeting. The "(New)" might be an attempt to clear up the ambiguity I had pointed out.

Our pastor gave a preview of the update at Mass last week. He said forty people met for ninety minutes. What "surfaced" was that our parish doesn't communicate well with its people.

So sixty hours of parishioners' time, and all the planning, and all the upcoming reporting, and all to say the same thing I said at a parish council meeting a year ago. And, reviewing my old parish council minutes file, I didn't say anything last year that hadn't been said in the 1999 attempt to create a Communication committee.

So if you attend tomorrow's meeting, feel free to update me on how much deeper the rut is after another year of spinning the wheels.

Who's sheltered?

Tom Heinen reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on what happened at an Episcopal Church last November.
Father William Myrick got more than he bargained for one Sunday when he disguised himself as a homeless man and begged for coins at his own church in a small Wisconsin community where middle-class morality rarely bumps into haunting specters of poverty.

Alfred Doolittle gives one explanation of "middle-class morality" in My Fair Lady. Might Mr. Heinen likewise use the term to elicit nods of knowing superiority from his audience? As for what happened at the church,
Most walked silently past. Some detoured to a side entrance.

A few contributed to his nearly $23 take for two Sunday services, including a woman who gave $10. Half a dozen invited him in from the cold. No one asked if he was ill.

About what I'd expect, but not Fr. Myrick.
That out-of-vestment experience on a chilly, misty November morning unsettled Myrick so much that he rallied religious leaders to create an ecumenical emergency shelter system in Walworth County that rotates among eight area churches on a weekly basis.

No mention if he also sought to learn why his years of preaching the Gospel did not get the same point across.
Myrick, 58, began his deception innocently.

A few parishioners dress up as their favorite saints as a teaching tool for the church's celebration of All Saints Day on the Sunday after the Nov. 1 feast day. Myrick figured that he'd go as Lazarus, the poor man in Christ's parable who longed for scraps of food at the gate of a feasting rich man.

What, though, of the beggars I run into, from Wisconsin Avenue to Guatemala, who say they're hungry but turn down food; they will accept only cash.

Whose truth?

Mark Freeman in New Internationalist on Truth Commissions.
Until the last few years TCs had a number of detractors, including in the human rights movement itself.

Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch argued that TCs often served as "substitutes for justice". That view assumed that there would be criminal trials instead. But in states emerging from massive trauma that's usually a practical impossibility. This may be due to lack of political will as in El Salvador, weak or corrupt systems of justice as in Haiti, or legal obstacles such as amnesty laws as in Ghana. The result is that truth commissions may be the closest approximation of justice possible at that moment.

There are other important ways that they can serve the public interest. They almost always make detailed recommendations for victim reparation and legal reform. Even when not promptly or fully implemented such recommendations can help focus the advocacy efforts of human rights and victims' organizations.

Giovanni Jacopo Casanova de Seingalt

Time and its ruining passage color all the book. His sense of his own imminent death lurks in the dark background of every brilliantly lit lusty and bawdy tableau. After all, Casanova’s memoirs are not a diary but an aged man’s memories of his youth. --Kenneth Rexroth, Casanova, History of My Life, Classics Revisited (1968)

Recommended reading:
by Casanova at Reading Rat

Reference: Casanova Research Page, by Ted Emery, Dickinson College

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Love Him Or Leave Him by Eric Ormsby, The New York Sun, February 14, 2007

Old flames, review by Frances Wilson of Casanova's Women by Judith Summers, Times Literary Supplement, November 29, 2006
(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Quiet hour with Jesus

In a comment to an earlier post, I mentioned the difference between how the new chapel at our parish looks, and how it was portrayed in the plans we were shown for the building fund drive. The first and last photographs accompanying this article by Joan King in the January 26, 2006 Catholic Herald give you some idea what one would have expected from the plans.

Father Donald Cozzens: How to Build Better Church

Mary Jo Dangel in St. Anthony Messenger,
In Faith That Dares to Speak (2004), Father Cozzens further expands on the rights of lay people to demand accountability. Lest anyone think he's trying to throw out the baby with the bathwater, he writes, "I have a healthy, historically grounded respect for the way things are, as well as a vision of the way things might be, ought to be, a vision rooted in the gospel and the Second Vatican Council."

If he does say so himself.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Dignity of human life a non-negotiable

While the title sounds like the Catholic Answers Voter's Guide, it's Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in the "Herald of Hope" column in the January 19, 2006 Catholic Herald. He talks about a revert he knows.
She reasons that what brought her back, after a quarter century of searching, doubt, skepticism, study, prayer, and membership in other churches, is that, for the Catholic Church, certain matters are non-negotiable. In matters of faith, she figures the Creed we pray at every Sunday Mass rather tidily sums up the non-negotiables in what we believe; in morals, how we behave, she has concluded that the non-negotiable is the innate, inherent, inviolable value and dignity of every single human life, from womb-to-tomb.

There seem to be a fair number of priests in our Archdiocese who would prefer to omit the Creed. Maybe they're concerned it might draw in these pro-lifers.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Religion and "the Void"

On February 2, 1981, The Milwaukee Journal ran this perceptive editorial.

So began Archbishop Weakland in one of his weekly Catholic Herald columns, reprinted in his book All God's People: Catholic Identity After the Second Vatican Council (New York: Paulist Press, 1985) pp. 68-70. The editorial commented on Weakland's expression of concern over rising "neofundamentalism" and what the editors called "a shift to the religious right." The editors concluded
Yet, whatever may be the dangers from a shift to the religious right, the trend poses a significant societal question. That question, which should challenge leaders and thinkers in both the religious and secular spheres, is this: What void is there in modern life that is not filled by the political philosophies and religious teachings that were once so dominant?

Weakland begins by saying the void is insecurity in a fast-changing and increasingly complex world. In such times, people
look for and grasp at institutions which will be for them anchors and stable points of referral--the unchanging--to which they can hang on.

Churches, he goes on, can respond in one of three ways.
The first is to create the new Church of the future, nebulous and without roots.

He says this is rare, which makes perfect sense if he has correctly discerned the void in modern life. If it is insecurity, vagueness won't do. He does not consider whether some people find the security of certainty in a belief in Progress, and a church which claims to be in its vanguard.
The second possibility is to change nothing and thus to cater to the demands of those looking for an unchanging institution to hang on to.

He cites Archbishop Lefebvre's followers. They might fit his description. It doesn't explain why Catholics turn in vastly larger numbers to evangelical churches, which are far from unchanging in institutional form.

This brings us to his third way.

The center of the road position is the one that most mainline Churches seek to adopt.

He explains this middle position, and then starts his conclusion.
What happens, then, to the need for security which was the void spoken of? What does mainline religion have to say to that need?

Wasn't the question why people increasingly find inadequate what mainline religion has to say?
Here I believe that the mainline Churches are true to the Bible--truer than the fundamentalists--since they place that security in God's loving providence, in his care and promise of inner guidance. That is what faith is all about.

He may believe this about mainline Churches, but the question was why increasing numbers of people do not.
Coupled with that faith (or better, resulting from it) is hope--not a hope based on immobility, negation of change, or isolationism from historical reality, but one that finds its anchor in that God who, in so many marvelous ways, has looked after his people in the past and who remains with the Church today. He alone must fill that void.

Twenty-five years later, the question remains why so many Catholics conclude they must look elsewhere for that anchor.

Hostile Takeover: Theocracy in America

Michael Lerner in Tikkun
During the same period when Democrats should have been extending their base, the Left avoided any form of intellectual clarity. Stung by the failure of Marxism in the first half of the twentieth century, the Left turned away from ideology to a mushy "everything goes" relativism. Remember the classic speech by Jesse Jackson in 1988 at the Democratic National Convention when he called for a new "quilt" that would incorporate everyone together into the Democrats, but without any ideological coherence? How could a crazy quilt welcoming both doves and hawks attract people?

Perhaps instead of a quilt, he should have called it a seamy garment.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The Present Divide in the Church

This column by Father Richard McBrien ran in the January 19, 2006 Catholic Herald.
As the years pass, the gap between Catholics who lived through the Second Vatican Council and those too young to remember it or born afterwards continues to widen.

A column about this divide might be quite interesting. For example, one of my posts drew a comment from Mike that my parish's liturgy is "stuck in the 70s." Meanwhile, my tenth grade Christian Formation students wonder why our parish church looks like an auditorium and why there must be so many hymns that go on so long.

But it turns out Father McBrien is talking about the divide within the Vatican II generation. To him that means the divide between what he regards as the true "Vatican II generation" and the rest of us who also remember the Church before the Council.

The Vatican II generation includes some bishops, even a few cardinals, and many priests and religious, as well as laity. They were restive under the prolonged pontificate of John Paul II. ...

But the Vatican II generation was also deeply troubled by the efforts to re-centralize authority in the Vatican and particularly in the person of the pope, the Vatican’s seeming intolerance for theological opinions and pastoral practices different from its own sense of doctrinal orthodoxy and liturgical propriety, and the types of priests appointed to the hierarchy and subsequently promoted within it.

For the Vatican II generation no leading church figure was more disliked or feared than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the long-time head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. ...

Father McBrien began his column noting the Vatican II generation, as he defines it, is a dying breed, yet he and its other members never seem to find this a cause for introspection.

The State of Our Values

From Sojourners
Think of the media story: "People of faith react to the State of the Union: news at 11." What will the president have to say about overcoming poverty and creating peace, and how will people of faith react? It's time to raise our prophetic voices together!

The trend line of self-proclaimed prophetic voices is up, up, up.