Monday, November 30, 2009

December Named National Awareness Month

The Onion, November 17, 2009

Dews and don'ts

Sweet the rain's new fall
Sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass.
--Morning Has Broken

Christ is still suffering and blood is still flowing from his face and his hands in many parts of our world. One of our tasks as Christians, and simply as human beings, is to, metaphorically, notice that blood, gather it up, and properly honour it. The Christian task, always, is to stand at the foot of the cross and gather up its dew so that this preciousness is not lost. --Father Ron Rolheiser (via Milwaukee Catholic Herald)

Will the priest and people understand the words of Eucharistic Prayer II: “Make holy these gifts, we pray, by the dew of your Spirit?” --Bishop Donald Trautman

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reading Rat Harry Potter and the Unauthorized Sequel, by Bruce E. Boyden, Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog, August 19, 2009

Philosophy and Tyranny, by Damon Linker, First Things, January 2002, review of 'Heidegger's Children', by Richard Wolin, and 'The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics', by Mark Lilla, quotes Lilla on Walter Benjamin, "the modern incarnation of the type of thinker who cannot be understood apart from traditional theological distinctions."

Film Adaptation Of 'The Brothers Karamazov' Ends Where Most People Stop Reading Book, The Onion, August 17, 2009

No plain Jane, The Economist, November 19, 2009, review of 'A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen', edited by Susannah Carson

Too many people? No, too many Malthusians, by Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Review of Books, November 19, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Theory and Morality in the New Economy , by David Leonhardt, The New York Times, August 19, 2009

Pearls Before Swine, by Stephen Pastis, November 20, 2009 Pearls Before Swine

Freedom Beyond Our Choosing: Augustine on the Will and Its Objects, by D. C. Schindler, Communio, Winter 2002

What made the Greeks laugh?, by Mary Beard, The Times Literary Supplement, February 18, 2009, review of 'Greek Laughter', by Stephen Halliwell. "There may be little doubt that the Athenian audience laughed heartily at the plays of Aristophanes, as we can still. But very few modern readers have been able to find much to laugh at in the hugely successful comedies of the fourth-century dramatist Menander, formulaic and moralizing as they were. Are we missing the joke? Or were they simply not funny in that laugh-out-loud sense?"

Reading Rat: Recommended reading by these authors.

Also of interest: Catholic Bibliophagist: The adventures of a Catholic reader with a catholic library.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Lady of Grace Islamic community celebrates festival of sacrifice: Imam calls for standing up against extremism, by Mark Johnson, Milwuakee Journal Sentinel
"The imam signaled it was time for serious prayer and contemplation.
"'You do not pray when you are chewing gum,. he said. 'Please no chewing gum.'"


Milwaukee Synod to pick new bishop, Religion Briefing, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (A new bishop for ELCA Lutherans, too. It's an episcoalooza.)


Local efforts to aid deaf must increase, say deaf ministers, by Karen Mahoney, Special to your [sic] Milwaukee Catholic Herald


Welcome new archbishop and win Wave tickets!, Parenting staff, Milwaukee Catholic Herald (Like dessert if you eat your vegetables?)


Tim on Thanks, by Rocco Palmo, Whispers in the Loggia "Archbishop-elect Jerome Listecki's inaugural Mass will take place in St John's Cathedral on Monday, 4 January, at 2pm."


U.S. Bishops Voice Disappoint Over Abortion-Funding Provisions in Senate Health Bill, Archdiocese of Milwaukee (You know what they ment.)


Welcoming Anglicans not anti-ecumenical, by Catholic News Service (It's ante-ecumenical.)


Why do Catholics … celebrate four weeks of Advent? and The Advent Wreath is a familiar Catholic custom. What are its origins? What do the colors of the candles mean? at Living Our Faith (Note reference link to Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917)

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Snark launch, photo from 45th Range Squadron, 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base Nearly unbelievably, Pontiac’s "officially official" demise will be even more depressing: a Mexico-built G3 Wave (neé Aveo) to be sold to a lucky Canadian. --Edward Niedermeyer


Lucky that they weren't more "compassionate" and didn't try to starve and dehydrate him to death. --Flexo comment at Althouse post on Man trapped in 23-year 'coma' reveals horror of being unable to tell doctors he was conscious


As Palin thrives on the ire of the left, so she does from the disdain of Republican leaders who, with a condescension rivaling the sexism they decry in liberals, belittle her as a lightweight or instruct her to eat think-tank spinach. --Frank Rich


Lt. Col. Tim Donovan says the detainees at Camp Cropper [in Iraq] needle the guards [U.S. troops from Wisconsin] about Favre's success as a Viking. --Channel 3000 (via WisPolitics)


Few people fight as savagely as humanitarians. --Nicholas D. Kristof


How would you feel if you were a gay man and a uterus was following you on the Internet? --Dan Riehl (via Kent at Althouse)


At a time when wealthy Westerners buy Fairtrade chocolate and fruit because they love the thought of eating earthy stuff produced by back-broken Africans, at a time when buzzphrases like ‘sustainable development’ are used to justify hard labour over economic progress in the Third World, and at a time when we are frequently told by greens that our greedy habits of consumption are bringing about the fiery and flood-ridden end of the world, it seems pretty clear that the Mother Teresa-style celebration of poverty has not a patch on the contemporary secular elevation of the eco-life. --Brendan O’Neill (via Arts & Letters Daily)

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Milwaukee Catholics down 38,000 in 2009

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee statistics published annually in the (print-only) Directory supplement to the Milwaukee Catholic Herald show a Catholic population of 643,775 in the just-published 2010 edition, compared to 681,781 in the 2009 edition of a year ago. That's a decrease of 38,006 or 5.5%.

I have not seen an Archdiocesan explanation of these statistics. This might not reflect an actual year-to-year decrease, but rather that recent parish censuses finally showed previously unreported declines. But that is only a question of what the rate of decline has been, not what will be done to reverse it. If anything.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reading Rat Achebe revisits themes of Africa, by Henry C. Jackson, Associated Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 15, 2009, review of 'The Education of a British-Protected Child', by Chinua Achebe

Atwood does doom well once again, by Geeta Sharma Jensen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, posted: November 14, 2009, review of 'The Year of the Flood', by Margaret Atwood

Remembering Drucker: Four years after his death, Peter Drucker remains the king of the management gurus, Schumpeter column, The Economist, November 19, 2009

Children’s Books, Lost and Found, by Joseph Bottum, First Things, December 2008. "When William Golding won the Nobel Prize in 1983, it was mostly for the power of his 1954 novel 'Lord of the Flies'. And there’s a reason that he based the book on (and made a horror story out of) R.M. Ballantyne’s 1857 feel-good children’s classic, 'The Coral Island'.

Keynes, Friedman Give Way to the Master of Gloom, by Amity Shlaes, Bloomberg, November 10, 2009. "'Emergencies,' Hayek wrote, 'have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have eroded.'" (via Ten Reasons)

The Keynes comeback, The Economist, October 1, 2009, review of 'Keynes: The Twentieth Century’s Most Influential Economist, by Peter Clarke, 'Keynes: The Return of the Master, by Robert Skidelsky, and 'The Keynes Solution: The Path to Global Economic Prosperity, by Paul Davidson

The Credo of Paul VI. Who Wrote It, and Why, by Sandro Magister, translated by Matthew Sherry, Chiesa, June 6, 2008 "The Church had a 1968 upheaval of its own, expressed for example in the Dutch Catechism. The response of pope Montini was the 'Credo of the People of God.' It has now come to light that it was written by his friend, the philosopher Jacques Maritain."

Looking Backward and the Fallone-Boyden Debate, by J. Gordon Hylton, Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog, August 18, 2009

Why Do We Call Galileo Galilei by His First Name? We don't go around saying "Albert" discovered relativity, by Brian Palmer, Slate, August 19, 2009

Road Trip, by Harold Bloom, The New York Times, November 11, 2009, review of 'The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling', by Peter Ackroyd

Fake but Aristotelian? Actually, the great Greek philosopher probably didn't endorse ObamaCare, by James Taranto, Best of the Web Today, October 16, 2009, on a quote attributed to Aristotle, "If we believe men have any personal rights at all, then they must have an absolute moral right to such a measure of good health as society can provide."

Reading Rat: Recommended reading by these authors.

Also of interest: Trench Literature: Reading in World War I, by Richard Davies, Udo Goellmann, and Sara Melendre, ABEbooks

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our Lady of Grace Islamic Society suspends participation in Interfaith Conference, by Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "[Steven A.] Miller, the Episcopal bishop, said only that [Othman] Atta is "not in a position equal to those who go to the [separate religious leaders'] breakfast." (Equality with Bishop Miller is not something to be grasped.)


Show to interview Archbishop Listecki, Religion Briefing, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"'Living Our Faith,' the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee's weekly television show, returns for a third season Nov. 28 featuring an interview with newly appointed Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki.
"Listecki's predecessor, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, and Catholic writer and ethicist George Weigel will appear Dec. 6..."


Archbishop-designate makes 'positive' first impression, by Amy E. Rewolinski, Milwaukee Catholic Herald. "What does he like, what does he not like, in the celebration of the Eucharist?’” Daniels [Dean Daniels, coordinator of the Office for Liturgy for the Milwaukee Archdiocese] said his questions will be. “So that when we do celebrate publicly for the first time with the archbishop-designate, that we celebrate as the church wants, and as he wishes.” (So are those the same thing, or not?)


Lutheran group considers leaving ELCA over gay vote, by Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. ""It's too bad," said Olson [David Olson, interim bishop for the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod], who will serve until a new bishop is elected in December. "It divides our strength, and I don't think they'll fare any better than the ones (that have broken away) in the past." (For example, every Lutheran denomination?)


Reports say Pope John Paul closer to being declared venerable, by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


After taking wrong path, writer Wilkes finds new direction, by Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Along the way, [Paul] Wilkes wrote more than a dozen books, many on religion, and often Catholic life (including a biography of former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland)." (Mr. Wilkes once called Archbishop Weakland "as normal as the next guy when it came to having an attraction to the opposite sex.")

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Snark launch, photo from 45th Range Squadron, 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base Number of AP reporters assigned to story:
- ObamaCare bills: 2
- Palin book: 11
--James Taranto


"'I think it's safe to say there is no safer place for children today than in the Catholic Church,' said Bishop Blase Cupich of South Dakota, who presented the John Jay researchers to the other 230 bishops." --David Gibson
I think it's safe to say that there is so safer place to say "there is no safer place for children today than in the Catholic Church" than at a meeting of the USCCB. --Diogenes


GM "says it will begin to pay back U.S. loans." But of course it's paying back that debt to taxpayers with money from ... taxpayers. --Mickey Kaus


Meet Khalid Kelly, a former Dublin altar boy now undergoing weapons training in Pakistan, with the dream of killing British soldiers (ye can take the boy out of Ireland...). --Rod Dreher


If pro-lifers have a House majority, as Rep George Miller says, how come the press never got around to telling us? --Howard Kurtz (via Terry Mattingly at Get Religion)

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Getting what you paid for

Karen Terry was lead researcher for the $1.8 million New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice which just reported the results of their study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Some Catholic leaders have contended that because 80 percent of the abuse victims were male, the crisis must have been caused by gay priests acting out. But Dr. Terry said she found that abusers ... had no clear pattern of homosexual behavior.

Via Diogenes, See what you get for $1.8 million?


P.S. He previewed the study's findings in this June 24, 2005 post.


P.P.S. One thing you don't get for only $1.8 million is proof-reading. Section 4.2 Summary: Characteristics of the Incidents of Alleged Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests (page 68) says,
Unlike in the general population, more males than females were allegedly.

Either that or it still dare not speak its name. That same page of the summary also says, by the way, that "the abuse is less likely to occur if there are fewer opportunities for the abuse to happen."

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Health 'Reform' Gets a Failing Grade

Jeffrey S. Flier in The Wall Street Journal
Our health-care system suffers from problems of cost, access and quality, and needs major reform. Tax policy drives employment-based insurance; this begets overinsurance and drives costs upward while creating inequities for the unemployed and self-employed. A regulatory morass limits innovation. And deep flaws in Medicare and Medicaid drive spending without optimizing care.

Speeches and news reports can lead you to believe that proposed congressional legislation would tackle the problems of cost, access and quality. But that's not true. The various bills do deal with access by expanding Medicaid and mandating subsidized insurance at substantial cost—and thus addresses an important social goal. However, there are no provisions to substantively control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care.

(via Just One Minute)

The Eucharistic Prayer and the New Archbishop

At our Archdiocese's Prayer and Worship weblog,
Dean Daniels, Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Worship, provides the following information regarding how to refer to Archbishop-designate Jerome E. Listecki in the Eucharistic Prayer. Dean recommends the following:

(Sort of like the Ten Suggestions, now we have rubricommendations.)
For Jerome our Archbishop-Designate,
For William our Diocesan Administrator

That's shorter than the Academy Award acceptance speech form at so many parishes. For a distant example, Fr. Shawn O'Neal once said that,
For the record, I alter the Eucharistic Prayer. For example, in EP 2, go to "Lord, remember your Church..." after the consecration. I say: "...together with John Paul, our Pope, William, our bishop, all bishops, all priests, all deacons, all religious, and all people whom you, Lord, have called by name."

At my parish Bishop Sklba still gets added, but mention of Archbishop Weakland seemed to disappear sometime during the run-up to the Faith In Our Future capital campaign.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pray to Saint Prospectus before you invest

Our pastor addresses Sunday Mass attendance in his column in the November 8, 2009 bulletin (page 2).
A few weeks ago, we were required to take the semi-annual Mass attendance count and send the results to the Archdiocese. As I compare the results over the last ten years, they are remarkably stable. In all these years, there has been no more than a 10% variance from year to year for this fall count. Some years a few more, some years a few less in attendance. This year was one of the higher attendance figures.

In gross number or percentage of members? He doesn't exactly specify, but does say "our attendance is about 30 percent of our registered membership." The parish Status Animarum (1993-2006) includes these figures from the last ten years.
Year: Attendance/Membership (=) Percentage
2005 2,344/8,817 26.5%
2004 2,567/8,531 30%
2003 2,465/8,627 28.6%
2002 2,758/8,484 32.5%
2001 3,024/8,515 35.5%
2000 2,888/8,416 34.3%

Even without subsequent years, 30% is not "one of the higher attendance figures". The recent parish census total came in at just over 7,000 members, as I recall. That was a reduction from almost 9,000 members that had been shown on the books. Cutting the membership denominator would, in itself, increase the attendance. (See The 40% Solution applied) Thirty per cent of the updated figure would give an attendance number lower than every year shown above.

Over the past year I've been trying to obtain an update of the Status Animarum, putting off inserting a dollar amount on the annual pledge card in the meantime. The parish eventually wound up referring me to the Archdiocese, which recently wound up concluding I would have to get the pastor to request the report. At this point, I'd want to see the report and the parish plan to move the numbers in a positive direction. By that I mean more than our pastor's plan.
If you have the opportunity, please invite those whom you might know to be members but do not come to Mass to join you.

Compare that to the effort that goes into a capital campaign. If fund-raising got the same effort as evangelization does, it would be an appeal to donate any coins you found on the pavement.

Speaking of numbers, when I was on the Parish Council in the late 1990s, I suggested the parish publish an annual report on all its activities, not just financial reports. Maybe showing what's accomplished with the money would give more reason to participate, as well as more reason to give. Turns out much of the statistical information was and is available.

During that time on the council, we went through long range planning for the parish and the Archdiocese. We weren't provided these Archdiocesan statistics in connection with those processes. At dotCommonweal, "unagidon" posted on the pending federal health care legislation that "What I see here is that we have hardly left the brain storming sessions." That aptly describes a major problem with Archdiocesan and parish planning as well.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recall Notice

Msgr. Charles Pope at the Archdiocese of Washington:
The maker of all humans beings (GOD) is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. ...

(via New Advent)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Milwaukee's new archbishop

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gets plenty of reponses to the question "What do you think of the appointment of Jerome E. Listecki as the new Milwaukee Archbishop?"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Humbling' lacks much to be enthused about, by Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, posted: November 7, 2009, review of 'The Humbling', by Philip Roth

The Book of Harry: How the boy wizard won over religious critics -- and the deeper meaning theologians now see in his tale, by Michael Paulson, Boston Globe, August 16, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Second Serving of a "Moveable Feast" Sparks Debate, by Steve Paul, Review-a-Day, August 12, 2009, review of ' A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition, by Ernest Hemingway

The sovereign ghost of Wallace Stevens, by William Logan, The New Criterion, October 2009, review of 'Selected Poems', edited by John N. Serio

Arlo & Janis, by Jimmy Johnson, November 9, 2009
Arlo & Janis

Terrible man, celebrated writer, The Economist, November 5, 2009, review of 'Knut Hamsun: Dreamer and Dissenter', by Ingar Sletten Kolloen.

"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life...", by Doug Brown, Review-a-Day, August 15, 2009, review of 'Walden' and 'Civil Disobedience', by Henry David Thoreau

Recommended Reading for MPs 1: Paradise Lost, by David Womersley, Social Affairs Unit, August 12, 2009

Will Helen Mirren conquer Racine as Phedre? by Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, June 8, 2009 "Writing at the time of Louis XIV’s absolutism in an era of austerely reflective Catholicism, Racine proposes an all-or-nothing morality, in which there is no grey area of compromise and good and evil cannot be altered or evaded." (via The Huffington Post)


Desert can be arena of the divine, by Timothy M. Dolan, 'Herald of Hope' column, Milwaukee Catholic Herald, March 5, 2009

"we make an act of faith that God is as much with us in the desert as He is in the Oasis.

"As Thomas a Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ, observed, 'The Lord visits his elect in two ways: in consolation, and in desolation.'

"There it is again: the desert and the oasis."


Reading Rat: Recommended reading by these authors.


Also of interest: Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries, Curious Expeditions, September 6, 2007 (via Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor)

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Our Lady of Grace ...Pope Lifts High La Crosse, "Pope Benedict has named: Bishop Jerome Listecki of LaCrosse ... as archbishop of Milwaukee." by Rocco Palmo, Whispers in the Loggia, November 14, 2009

CUF Newsletter October-November 2009, Catholics United for the Faith, Milwaukee: "Jerry Schmutte will discuss, 'Mary and the Muslims,' Nov. 15"

Testimony in Support of SB 362 - Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity, November 10, 2009, Wisconsin Catholic Conference

On Litmus Tests for Christian Discipleship, by Ron Rolheiser, OMI, November 1, 2009. Paradox: "Can a single issue become a litmus test? ... In a sense, yes, though this must be carefully nuanced." (via Milwaukee Catholic Herald)

Eye on the Capitol - Making Serious Choices About Sex Education in Public Schools, by Barbara Sella, Associate Director, Respect Life and Social Concerns, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, November 6, 2009

Capitol Update, November 6, 2009, Wisconsin Catholic Conference;
Contents Include:
1. Advocacy on Health Care Reform Still Timely
2. Bill to Revamp Sex Education Slowed Until 2010
3. WCC Backs Parity for Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
4. No Action on Window Legislation This Year
5. Legislature in Recess Until January
6. Upcoming Hearings of Interest
7. New Bills of Interest
8. Websites of Interest

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Depends on what the meaning of "secret" is...today

Annysa Johnson reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Archbishop Weakland's testimony on our Archdiocese's secret archives. He
dismissed the notion as "antique" and "Old Testament" in a deposition last year.

"I've heard about it, but I've never seen those files, and I don't know if the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has such things," Weakland said in response to a question about "sub secreto or confidential files."

That appears to contradict earlier testimony by Weakland in a 1993 deposition in which he acknowledged the existence of such files and newly released archdiocesan documents - including one addressed to Weakland - that reference the archives.

The second commenter to this earlier post says,
The Vatican has 'secret archives' which are not secret at all (with an online link no less). About the meaning of secret in this context: http://asv.vatican.va/en/arch/secret.htm

The commenter indicates that "secret" in this context is a misnomer when applied to something known to exist. That's the first point of the Journal Sentinel article, that Archbishop Weakland appears to have given contradictory, or equivocal, testimony about the existence of such files.

The commenter's linked explanation concludes its historical review,
It is in this sense that the Vatican Secret Archives has to be interpreted even today, because it is the private archive of the Pontiff, over which only he himself exercises the supreme jurisdiction.

That's the second point of the Journal Sentinel article, the issue of just how secret in the sense of confidential these files are. "He [Archdiocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski] said the archdiocese has opened the files to civil authorities in the past." If he means voluntarily as a matter of policy, that's one thing. If he means in response to the threat of a subpoena, in response to a subpoena, or in response to a court order after an unsuccessful attempt to quash a subpoena, that's another.
The Rev. Phillip J. Brown, who teaches canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., said he prefers "confidential" to "secret," and he questioned whether the church can be compelled to turn over documents contained there in court.

It's probably easier to convince a judge to compel this after a former Archbishop has, under oath, both admitted and later denied the existence of such documents.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tithe is on my side

Finally the neglect or suppression of institutional memory at my parish cuts the other way. The stated standard for "how much to give" had been 10%, half to the parish, and half to other Church institutions or causes. If there was a parish building campaign (or subsequent debt reduction campaign), the suggested additional gift was an amount equal to the regular parish gift spread over three years, or 1 2/3%. Total 11 2/3%.

Now the current and what would have been the next three year parish debt reduction campaigns have been folded into the parish's cut of the Archdiocesan Faith In Our Future capital campaign. The November 1, 2009 parish bulletin (page 3) article on that campaign includes this.
How much should I/we give? ... As a guide, it is suggested each family ought to be able to work one hour a week for God. We offer this as a guide for your combined gifts to the Annual Parish Appeal and the Faith in Our Future campaign.

One hour's pay, assuming a forty hour work week, is 2.5% of income. It's a deal.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Purgatory: 'Hallway' to heaven, not 'holding tank' on way to hell!

Bishop Richard J. Sklba in this "Herald of Hope" column in last week's Milaukee Catholic Herald tells of last month's meeting of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue. The meeting's "neuralgic" topic was Purgatory.
A closer analogy to our Catholic teaching is that of quasi process, namely a cleansing or purification needed by absolutely everyone except the Blessed Virgin Mary, before entering the presence of God forever.

No plenary indulgence is indicated for participation in the Dialogue.


P.S. The headline's "'holding tank' on way to hell" leaves the impression the Herald is edited by an analogy to a quasi-process.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When the party's over

From The Economist's archived issue of November 18, 1989
November 1989: A new period has begun in Europe. Our first report comes from Berlin—from our Bonn correspondent, who saw the Wall go up 28 years ago

From the same issue: Beyond the Wall

The back of the envelope

Remember to Pray For... is a new parish bulletin feature proposed by one of our deacon's in the November 1, 2009 bulletin (page 4).
It has been my experience during my years of diaconal ministry that I have come upon many situations where someone has had surgery or a recent diagnosis, and they came up to me and said, “Didn’t you know that I was ill?” I felt very uncomfortable, and I know that person felt forgotten.

The only regular communication with the parish is the weekly envelope. Don't keep up with those and you won't feel forgetten.
I would like to create a bulletin column entitled, REMEMBER TO PRAY FOR. With this column, you would have the opportunity to have your name only listed for a two-week period, which would be an initial request for prayer. If continued prayer is needed after the two weeks, we ask that you contact one of our prayer networks that are listed in the bulletin for that ongoing prayer.

How would you get on the list?
Prayer authorization forms will be available on a table in the Gathering area, from the parish office, or on the forms section of the St. Alphonsus Parish website.

Sounds good. Hope it works.

My idea has been to include prayer requests on the back of the weekly envelope; right now this is only done on the envelope for All Souls Day. I would have also included a space to put suggestions, comments, and questions for parish leadership. That would get the weekly envelope away from being a symbol of a one-sided relationship with the parish.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Eschatonic water

"John da Fiesole" at Disputations opines that "any fool can claim they're 'working for social justice,' and many of them do."

Some promise more than merely "working for social justice", like JustFaith Ministries.
Simply put, we are helping to fill the world with humble, faith-filled people who act with courageous justice and love with profound tenderness.

"John da Fiesole" went on to note a Prayer Vigil for Disarmament that "reads more like a fundraising letter for a pacifist political action committee... ."

That's still a step up from the Pax Christi Litany of Denunciation.

Archdiocese responds to allegations against priest

The Milwaukee Catholic Herald staff reported October 15, 2009
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee responded Wednesday to media reports suggesting that an archdiocesan priest, Fr. James Connell, vice chancellor of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, covered-up sexual abuse by Fr. Lawrence Murphy.

This being our Archdiocese, this did not involve a press conference, but rather
a written response issued by Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff of the former Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, now working for administrator Bishop William P. Callahan, addressed to priests, parish directors, deacons and distributed via e-mail...

Picture them in a bunker, with a map of southeastern Wisconsin on the wall; one pushpin has a photo of Peter Isely of SNAP on it.
An article in the Oct. 13 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wants the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to remove Fr. James Connell ... from the abuse review board because of his investigation of sexual abuse by the late [Father Lawrence] Murphy.

SNAP's beef:
While the Journal Sentinel article stated that the archdiocese said Fr. Connell documented Murphy’s offenses sometime after 1994 in an effort to remove Murphy from the priesthood, victim advocates said “(Fr.) Connell and the archdiocese failed to warn members of the deaf community of Murphy’s history, even as Murphy continued to violate church restrictions on interacting with them. And victims questioned whether (Fr.) Connell, given his failure to act, belonged on a panel intended to bring transparency to the system of vetting clergy sex abuse cases.”

The article includes our Archdiocese's response. In their isolation, the Chancery staff appears to have lost touch with reality. At one point, this is offered as a defense.
Murphy’s actions were public knowledge and reported to civil authorities as early as 1973; in newspaper articles as early as 1974; and through civil court proceedings as early as 1975.

So part of the defense now is that it was common knowledge by the early 1970s that Fr. Murphy was molesting children? This March 2006 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report says that in a 1975 civil lawsuit, Archbishop "Cousins testified he found nothing in his investigation to substantiate any of the complaints about Murphy."

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leading French Intellectual Shaped Modern Anthropology; Claude Levi-Strauss: 1908-2009, by Stephen Miller, The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2009

One for the Good Guys, by Dave Eggers, The New York Times, October 29, 2009, review of 'Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction, by Kurt Vonnegut

In the Long Run, by Justin Fox, The New York Times, October 30, 2009, review of 'Keynes: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century’s Most Influential Economist', by Peter Clarke, and 'Keynes: The Return of the Master', by Robert Skidelsky

An Old Master, Back in Fashion, by Devin Leonard, The New York Times, October 31, 2009, review of 'Keynes: The Rise, Fall, and Return of the 20th Century’s Most Influential Economist', by Peter Clarke, 'The Keynes Solution: The Path to Global Economic Prosperity', by Paul Davidson, and 'Keynes: The Return of the Master', by Robert Skidelsky. On the last, "The author says that Keynes would have been troubled by the United States’ longstanding policy of running deficits even in prosperous times and that he opposed tax rates higher than 25 percent. The book adds that Keynes shared the [Milton] Friedman view that governments could stabilize prices by limiting the money supply."

An artist making art, The Economist, October 29, 2009, review of 'Vincent van Gogh: The Letters', edited by Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten and Nienke Bakker

John Henry Newman and Music, by Susan Treacy, Adoremus Bulletin, November 2009

Edgar Allan Poe finally getting proper funeral, by Ben Nuckols, Associated Press, ABC News, October 6, 2009

The Critic’s Critic, by Harold Bloom, The New York Times, November 5, 2009, review of 'Samuel Johnson: A Life', by David Nokes

Cherry Tree? Let's Negotiate: The Father of Our Country as a Sammy Glickish 'man on the make', by Aram Bakshian, Jr., The Wall Street Journal, posted August 20, 2009 8:45 P.M. ET, review of 'The Ascent of George Washington', by John Ferling (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Reading Rat: Recommended reading by these authors.

Also of interest: Forgotten Bookmarks. "I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people every day. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books."

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Sunday morning talking heads

Sparky Donatello illustrates at Crackskull Bobpants

(via Althouse)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Our Lady of Grace WCC to Planned Parenthood: Respecting Parents, Local Leaders is No Danger to Children, November 5, 2009 press release, Wisconsin Catholic Conference

The Joy of the Groove, by Ron Rolheiser, OMI, October 25, 2009. Literary reference: James Hillman, 'The Force of Character'; paradox: appeal of repetition. (via Milwaukee Catholic Herald November 5, 2009)

Human Growth and Development Instruction Should Respect Parents, Local Educators, October 30, 2009 press release, Wisconsin Catholic Conference

Why Eucharistic Adoration Disturbs Some Liturgists, by James Hitchcock, Adoremus Bulletin, October 2009

CPJ newsletter, September 2009, Catholics for Peace and Justice, Milwaukee. "It is a fact that we Americans often gather our “facts” [the Cliff Notes version] from pundits, email and the media rather than reading the documents ourselves." (page 5); "The [Four Corners Fair Trade Education] Committee has also purchased a number of videos on these subjects which are available for use by teachers and families." (page 7)

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Faith in our fund-drive

It wasn't that long ago that parishioners were being berated in the Sunday bulletin for taking too many donuts at after-Mass hospitality. Now parishioners, or at least some of us, have been invited for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at our pastor's home, and also to a reception at a country club.

What's changed? The parish recently launched a $1.5 million capital campaign.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Perish the thought, parish the memory

Gene Horn took a Stroll Down Memory Lane in the October 16, 2009 Milwaukee Catholic Herald.
Currently, the 10-county Archdiocese of Milwaukee is comprised of 210 parishes, compared to 277 in 1998, indicating a loss of 67 due to mergers.

That's six per year, a pace that would take us to zero in 2044.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stamping it out

Catholic News Service reports,
The U.S. Catholic bishops have told the pastors of all the Catholic churches in America to insert a flyer in their church bulletin and read a statement at every Mass, informing their congregations that the health care bills now before Congress allow abortion-funding and must be opposed unless amended to specifically prohibit such funding.

Even if it was preached and in bulletins, it wouldn't reach most Catholics. Now, if it was about a fund drive, the information would be mailed to every parishioner's home.

(via Dad29)

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Obama's War on Fox News Becomes a Quagmire

Special report from war correspondent Red Square in The Current Truth column at The People's Cube

Update: So much Obama damage control that David Axelrod even talks to Fox News, by Andrew Malcolm, Top of the Ticket column, The Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2009, 2:26 am
Here's how desperate Obama administration spokesmen were Wednesday to fill the info void they'd created by hiding away during the previous night's bad news election returns:

David Axelrod, an ex-newspaper reporter but one of the lead Obama attackers against the Fox News Channel in recent weeks, actually granted an interview to the Fox News Channel.
NPR's Nina Totenberg has characterized Mr. Axelrod as "Mr. Obama's political amanuensis."

Seal off Confession

Our Associate Pastor blogged that
One of the things I have noticed while doing the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is how unaware most people are of what exactly their sins are.

Perhaps that's because it gets no attention after First Confession. For example, in almost 20 years at St. Al's, I do not recall hearing anything about confession in a homily. Our previous pastor pushed for General Absolution. Penitential Rite A ("Confiteor") is a rarity.

This might help explain why so few parishioners go to confession. A fairly recent census found our parish has over 7,000 members. Back when I would go to confession here, there were as few as one other person. From what our pastor said in his October 25, 2009 bulletin column, attendance is down since then.
Please remember that the priest will be in the reconciliation room at 3:00 p.m. If no one is there, he may well leave in a few minutes.

Our Associate Pastor's post raised a concern about an excess of guilt. I haven't noticed that being a problem in the Church for a long time. It certainly doesn't look like it's a problem at our parish.

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