Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Dateline Arlington: Further Adventures in Orthodoxy

Mark Shea gives us a link to a Washington Post article ("Another day, another priest betrays his vows"), as well as a response from a local resident.

I knew one of the priests in the Post article, from when I performed a considerable amount of volunteer work for the parish where he was pastor. I would have treated a dog better than that man treated me (in public!), and it wasn't even my parish. They say that whatever goes around, comes around. They might be on to something, eh, Padre?
Eat, drink, and see Mary...

More news from home.
"I now pronounce you man and wife -- not that there's anything wrong with that..."

I got wind of this from relapsedcatholic.com:

"Last year Pope John Paul beatified a husband and his wife, praised for leading an exemplary life. Luigi and Maria Crosini, Italians who died in 1951 and 1965 respectively, were the first couple beatified in at least five centuries.

"Inside the Vatican described them as model Catholics for every day life. According to the Catholic News Service, they were apparently always faithful and never argued. They slept in separate beds for the last 26 years of their marriage..."

Okay, here's a thought. If everyone followed this as the ideal of married life, would any of us be here? Comments are welcome. You know where to find me.

Monday, September 16, 2002

"Lawyers, Guns, and Money..."

No, this isn't about the recent news in USA Today, that singer-songwriter Warren Zevon has a terminal illness (and he's being a real good sport about it, from what I've read). This is about Mr Dreher's piece on NRO, concerning the Rose versus Johansen case.

In matters of controversy, I have taken great pains to steer clear of personalities, focusing instead on the issues at hand. So when I refer to someone as either a bozo, a doofus, a pinhead, or a yahoo... it means I can prove it.

You won't see this blogger being sued for "definition of character." Nosireeeee...!

(Note: You will notice that I have yet to comment on Rose's book. There's a reason.)
(More) Fast Times in Steubenville

"I was a model of Christian grace and forgiveness this past weekend. Despite Greg and Mark's base and ungentlemanly tratment of me, I was nothing but charming to both of them. I hope they have learned something from all this."

Well, for one thing, they've learned how much you enjoy the attention.
Fast Times in Steubenville

And to think I gave up going to the Catholic Writer's Conference for just another evening of zydeco dancing. I missed out on this:

"Look folks, the one thing that came out loud and clear at the party this weekend is that we need to find Emily a man..."

Maybe if you posted a few photos, Greg, I could see what I'm missing in life.

Or, more to the point, what Emily's missing. (Update: The link has since been deleted. The plot thickens...)

Friday, September 13, 2002

From HMS Blog, A Cry For Help!

We have several future cat ladies in the making. No wonder their male colleagues want to find them husbands! (Be afraid, Miss Emily. Be very afraid...)
This weekend...

...everybody who's anybody at St Blog's (well, most of you) will be at Steubenville for the Writer's Conference. I didn't even find out about it until two days ago. Nobody tells me anything around here. Come early Saturday morning, I'm taking my best friend to the airport, and I'll spend most of the weekend working and writing. There's also some zydeco action on Saturday night, and my triumphant return to lectoring at my parish church on Sunday morning.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I hear the highway callin'...
The Lake Isle Of Innisfree
by William Butler Yates

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Every year, on St Patrick's Day, I wear a button bearing the words of the first line of this poem. Thank you, "John," for sharing it with me, at such a time as this. May we all find peace within our hearts.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Random Thoughts on "The Day After"

I managed to ignore the media blitz yesterday -- the ceremonies, the testimonials, the usual beginning-to-end coverage of the day's events. Yesterday's papers paid tribute to the day of imfamy. Today's papers pay tribute to the tributes. (Don't you people ever get tired of it?)

Whatever I had to say about the matter in question, could not compare to the pondering of pundits with already-established audiences, even if they had absolutely nothing new to say.

But what do we do now?

Ask a former employee of an office at the World Trade Center what he wants: "I want my job back." Ask the grieving widow of a missing employee what she wants: "I want to provide for my children. They have no father. I want my husband back." Ask a disabled member of the FDNY what he or she wants: "I can't work anymore, because I can't see or breathe very well ever since a year ago. I want my life back." Ask one ten-year-old boy mentioned in the paper yesterday what he wants: "I want my Mom and Dad back."

I don't ask nearly as much.

I want to walk into the building where I have worked for over twenty years, without having to empty my pockets and go through a metal detector (one that could not possibly stop a jetliner from crashing into said building). I want to board a jetliner without having to remove my belt and hope my pants don't fall down in public. I want to stop sobbing at my desk for no reason. I want a teenaged son who returns my calls.

Does this sound pathetic and self-indulgent to you? Then explain why my employer gave me a number to call if I was having trouble dealing with "9/11."

Don't tell me about God's will. I've been inundated with sermons and sermonettes, from everybody else with nary an unpublished thought. Even His Son had His moments of despair, like on the night before He died. He got a lousy response. I don't expect much better.

Come Thanksgiving, perhaps I'll make the drive to Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Alone. I'll place flowers at a make-shift memorial. If there's a restaurant open anywhere nearby, I'll have Thanksgiving dinner there. If there is not, I'll pack something.

I do expect life to go on. An hour at a time. A day at a time. Things could be worse. I'm still alive. I'm uninjured. The Divine Will has been made known. My Lord rose from the dead. I too can start again.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

"By the waters of Babylon, we sat and wept..."

Today the nation will be focused on the tragic events that happened exactly one year ago today. As one who was an eyewitness to some of those events, I would first remember an occurrence of roughly one year before that terrible day...

I was driving home from a dance in Baltimore one Saturday night. I was headed westbound on the expressway across downtown Washington, approaching the 14th Street Bridge, over the Potomac and into Virginia. At the underpass before the bridge, I noticed the cars ahead of me weaving from one lane to another. Coming around the bend onto the bridge itself, I saw a lone vehicle stalled in the middle lane. Cars were weaving by, beeping their horns. A lone woman was standing outside the vehicle. I pulled my own car to a place several lengths in front of her, and stopped. With traffic speeding all around me, I got out, and went to see if she was all right. She was visibly shaken by her predicament. I got her to relax, and assisted her into the car. I got into the driver's seat, and attempted to start the engine. It must have flooded temporarily on an earlier attempt, because it started fine for me.

In a show of gratitude, she tried to give me money, but I wouldn't take it. I heard her ask me: "Do you get by?" I assured her that I did. I also instructed her to follow me to the nearest exit, as she was still quite unsettled by the experience.

The lights of the Pentagon could be seen to the right of us, as we took the ramp to Washington Boulevard. We pulled over, and I got out of my car. When I approached her window, she tried to give me a sandwich bag filled with what appeared to be... well, a tobacco substitute. "Didn't you tell me you get high?" she asked. I assured her of what I actually did say, adding, "Ma'am, I only get high on life and zydeco dancing." She was obviously feeling better about the whole thing, so we said our goodbyes and parted. I never saw her after that.

I told my son about the incident. He told his mother. I was to learn some time afterward, of how my story was the subject of some amusement at a cousin's wedding. It seems I freaked out because I was offered a bag of marijuana by a stranger.

I suppose it was a sign of my own lack of faith, as I began to question the value of such kindness. Perhaps virtue was a lost cause. Nearly a decade earlier, we elected a President who was a known and admitted philanderer. We watched him lie to our faces about his conduct. We applauded him just the same. And why not? The economy was going well, the trains were running on time, there was plenty of bread and circuses to entertain us. The complacency that affected Rome in days of antiquity, as well as Germany and Italy in the 1930s -- how different were they from what we were, right up until that fateful day...

It was about one year later, on September 11, 2001. I was at work at my office in Washington, located just two blocks west of the White House. While on the phone with an associate in New Jersey that morning, she suddenly gasped in disbelief. Go to your television, she said. It was already tuned to CNN. That was when I learned what happened to the World Trade Center in New York City.

From the top floor of my building, we could look out on the balcony and see the people evacuating from the White House and related buildings. Just then, I saw people at the south side of our building, looking out over the Potomac. There was smoke coming from the Pentagon, where most offices of the Defense Department are located. A jetliner had just crashed into that as well.

Events were unfolding quickly. There were rumors of car bombs, and of panic in the streets (although most of what I saw was mere pandemonium and gridlock). Our press office was awaiting a decision from a government-wide level. That didn't stop the nearby State Department from evacuating. Then a colleague came down the front office. It's official, he said, everybody go home. Before our press office could even find anyone to get a decision worth announcing, the building was being evacuated.

My apartment is just three miles from my office, across the Potomac into Arlington, Virginia. It would be an hour's walk. I could have taken the subway, but with the expected crowds, and some prior experience with just how Metro might respond in an emergency, I figured walking would get me home much sooner.

Hundreds of others had the same idea, even if only to catch the subway in Virginia. In the distance, and on television monitors and car radios, it was as a scene from a disaster movie. A plane crashing into a skyscraper. That same building collapsing. Smoke and flames bellowing from the nerve center of our nation's defense.

I made it to the Virginia side easily enough, certainly easier than most of the cars. I passed a high-rise apartment complex. A frantic woman was throwing furniture and belongings from seven or eight stories up. She was out of control. Someone said she was carrying a sign. I didn't see one. I did see a free-lance videographer trying to get footage, while shouting questions to her about her motives. Anything for a Pulitzer, I thought.

I finally got home, and called my mother in Ohio. My siblings, all of whom lived within a few miles of my parents, were checking in with her, to see if they had heard from me. I told them I was home safely; indeed, that I was never in any real danger. Meanwhile, my fifteen-year-old son called my house and left a message. I called the school to relay the same message to him. I learned later that his aunt, one of my former sisters-in-law, was stationed in the affected portion of the Pentagon. A doctor's appointment that day saved her life. My son had learned of this, and had taken it upon himself to alert other family members, including a frail maternal grandmother in Cleveland, that all was well, at least among their own...

I was once told of the words of a psalm, the one an outfit of the British Army would carry with them before going into war. I was told they never lost a man:

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
who abides in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust...'"
-- Psalm 90(91):1

I listened to the pundits on television, one after another. They were all quite sure of ourselves, and what must be done. They went on for weeks about it, as if to say: "We interrupt our normal programming for this special report..." and then never stopping. One of them, a former Secretary of State, reminded us that this will not be over in a couple of weeks; the American people should be prepared for a long haul.

The Proverbs tell us: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to the people." How righteous is this nation, this land that I love? Do we as a people see anything worth fighting for, worth dying for? Do I witness Rome before the fall, or Israel after she repents?

The answer may be found in the acts of bravery, accounts of which have been shared with us. Some can only be imagined, as in a fiery crash in a Pennsylvania countryside. Then there are the rescue workers who marched into hell in Manhattan. Many have yet to be adequately compensated for their efforts, even those who will be scarred for life.

On a grassy knoll not far from the Pentagon, there stands the memorial dedicated to the Marines who fought at Iwo Jima. At its base is an inscription that was echoed in the carnage nearby:

"Uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Inasmuch as this would apply to the events of September 11, then the truest sign of a hero is one whose virtue stands on its own, even if known only to God.

Such was the lesson of two years ago. Such was the lesson our nation learned one year later. Such is my only message for today.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Dateline Arlington: The Plot Thickens

"An unsealed court document reveals confiscated pornographic material, in the rectories of more than one church."

Analysis by David Morrison of Sed Contra. Film at eleven.
(Yet Another) Memo to James Post, President of VOTF:

Has it occured to you that your detractors have no need to fabricate anything in order to counter you? That is usually the result of your failure to think through your own line of reasoning. Witness the following from that "local call" I suggested you make. You may also wish to inform Mr Gilmore and Ms Novak, that reading the VOTF website and reviewing its endless stream of position statements does not make its detractors "uninformed." Quite the opposite, in fact. We are dismayed, occasionally amused, but hardly "afraid."

In the meantime, Mr Post, you might wish to consider that it is YOU who are uninformed. This is not difficult to imagine, when you insist on surrounding yourself with people who tell you what you want to hear, and on ignoring the ones who do not.

You know where to find us.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Excerpt from The Dance by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906 - 2001)

"A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back -- it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

"The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation, it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are intertwined. One cannot dance well unless one is completely in time with the music, not leaning back to the last step or pressing forward to the next one, but poised directly on the present step as it comes. Perfect poise on the beat is what gives good dancing its sense of ease, of timelessness, of the eternal..."

Friday, September 06, 2002

Memo (What? Again???) to James Post, President of VOTF:

You did an excellent job improving your website. Too bad it still won't fool anybody who knows better.

You are probably wondering what the fuss is about regarding Massimini's work. Remember that "local call" I was telling you about in an earlier communication? Well, here's what you would have been told.

If you don't face this issue soon, someone will do it for you -- for a much larger audience. This isn't just another extended Wellesley cocktail party, Mr Post. This is real.

You know where to find us.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Will the real VOTF please stand up?

Having recently seen the revised website of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), it would appear that the rather disingenuous "centrist" approach has not been dispensed with entirely. (Massimini's hallucinations are still "recommended reading.") But friends, take heart! I have only now stumbled upon another incarnation of VOTF, one behind which I am sure we can all rally!!!

I spent most of 1989 in counseling, in an attempt to save my marriage. Over the objections of my "wife," I had this notion that the Church founded by Christ might have a role to play in helping us. A local parish had a "pastoral counseling center," with a husband and wife team who were licensed therapists. We both began seeing the husband early that year.

Actually, I should say that I went to see him for the most part. You see, our marriage was founded on the proposition that I was this piece of raw material who, if I could only listen to a woman who had more sense than I ever could, I might redeem myself as a member of the human race. As ridiculous as it sounds today, back then I believed it. What is even more ridiculous, was that the therapist appeared to believe it as well. My "wife" managed to convince him that I was the problem, even though she was not above walking out of sessions when it was clear she would not get her way. I was virtually forced to apologize for being a man of many interests. ("David, why do you like reading so much about religion and stuff like that?")

I did manage to gain some useful information about myself and my past. Much of it is too personal to include here, but not all of it. My parents, whom I love dearly and will unto eternity, did not make the wisest choices in their behavior toward me. That my father was the son of an alcoholic was a factor in his temperment, and his treatment of me from time to time. To this day, my siblings' reaction to this claim of distinction is somewhat mixed. As the oldest of four, most of the few mistakes or miscalculations that were ever made, were made with me. My younger brother -- whose marriage stayed intact, with a devoted wife, three well-behaved sons, a nice house in the Cincinnati suburbs, and an overall charmed existence -- once said, "Whenever I saw Dave have a problem with Dad, I told myself, when I'm that age I'm not gonna do that."

Glad I could help, Steve.

By the fall of that year, my therapist called me to tell me he was giving up on us. It wasn't our differences that were coming between us, he said. It was that we were so much alike. But that wasn't the end of it. He confessed to being a party to "triangulation" -- that is, becoming involved in our dispute to the point of taking sides with my "wife" against me.

The following summer, we were legally separated. We divorced two years after that.

In the years since, I was told by a young priest who spent his diaconal year at that parish, of his observation that the "pastoral counseling center" appeared to him to be a way of the pastor avoiding having to deal with such problems. And I suppose there is some perverse sense of poetic justice, in the knowledge that the man who enabled the downfall of my marriage would eventually suffer from dementia.

Even with the benefit of a declaration of nullity, most suitable Catholic women of the middle years are themselves the product of a divorce. Even if they are not, it is easy to tell when those unmarried ladies of more "traditionalist" sensibilities look with disdain upon a gentleman whose freedom to do so is the result of having "beaten the rap," so to speak. One is loathe to resort to the lonely hearts clubs that are most "separated and divorced ministries."

I've seen the online "Catholic Single" dating services. I'll be impressed when those fresh-faced visions of Catholic orthodoxy can hold out after ten years, several children, and a fair share of disillusionment.

I tell everybody I prefer to meet women the old-fashioned way -- in pubs and dance halls.

Most of my friends are women. Those over fifty will generally confide in me, of how "there are no men out there." I have seen many relationships that are held together, for the most part, by either a lack of imagination, or mutually-compatible pathologies. I would wish to do better, or not do so at all.

Today, I would have been married twenty years. This too shall pass...

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

A Star is Born?

Bill Cork of Oak Leaves is "increasingly concerned by a growing cult of the Catholic celebrity." John DaFiesole of Disputations agrees with him (apparently).

So do I. There is a danger in putting people on pedestals. We see the tragic results in public life -- in politics, in the media. We convince a particular class of people that they can do no wrong. We need that in the Body of Christ like a hole in the head. It is to be expected that millions of people will gather to cheer the Holy Father. But the typical speaker at a conference in Steubenville, for example, does not need to be treated like a movie star. As Bill Cork's experience shows, it does not endear anyone to holiness, but only makes the object of false worship even more obnoxious.

As for yours truly, I am quite content with the small and humble following I have gained in the last nine weeks. To both of you, thanks for clicking on in!
Putting the old straw hat back into the mothball closet...

With the end of the Labor Day weekend, summer in America "officially" draws to a close. We don't wait for the autumnal equinox in this neck of the woods.

The Johnstown FolkFest was a pleasant diversion. The expected rain never came. Terrance Simien and his entourage, as well as a salsa band called Bio Ritmo, proved most enjoyable. Still, in this writer's opinion, the annual event has devolved over the years, into an over-commercialized showcase for local yokels playing warmed-over disco and Top 40. Thankfully, many of the people of this heavily ethnic enclave know better, and you can still hear the polka and see authentic folkdancers.

My friend and I spent part of Sunday in the little town of St Michael, located north of Johnstown, for their annual arts and crafts weekend, including a visit to the firehouse for a big breakfast. My friend is an avid collector of American folk art, and did some early Christmas shopping.

Overall, the people of Johnstown and its environs are the friendliest you could ever want to meet. The economically depressed state of the downtown area does not dampen their spirits in the least. From 1889 onward, they've been through worse.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world...

His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony (a man who will go to his grave never quite getting it) inaugurated his new Cathedral over the weekend. He began the celebration with the rich and famous, eliciting this comment from the Boston Globe: "On Tuesday, the cathedral will be open to members of the public for two Masses. The rest of the week includes invitation-only festivities, ranging from a civic prayer service on Wednesday to a black-tie gala on Saturday. Missing from the invitation list are most of the cathedral's low-income parishioners, who live down the street from the hilltop cathedral in one of the nation's poorest areas. Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said the cathedral will perform social outreach efforts later but the initial cathedral and parish events are primarily for civic and church leaders."

(I read once where Nero fiddled while Rome burned. I wonder how Rome will handle things this time around.)

On the up side, the dancing nuns who carried incense with braziers wore habits with veils, and the altar is graced with a suitable crucifix showing our Suffering Lord.

A Yahoo News slide show commemorating the event, shows what Yours Truly would be wearing in place of a biretta. (See highlighted photo, left of center.)

Finally, as Gerard Serafin notes at his weblog, today begins a novena in commemoration of the events of last September 11.

Friday, August 30, 2002

"And I can't help but wonder where I'm bound..."

Johnstown, a small city an hour's drive east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been known primarily for one thing, and that is the terrible "Johnstown Flood" of 1889. During the centennial year, they introduced an "Ethnic Heritage Festival" on Labor Day weekend, in the Cambria City neighborhood. The following year, it was combined with the "National Folk Festival." Sponsored by the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the annual National event is held in one location for three years, then moves on to another, leaving a local event in its wake. The result has been the Johnstown FolkFest, which I have usually attended since its inception. This year will be no exception. My friend and I are going to go see Terrance Simien and the Mallet Playboys, one of the first zydeco bands I ever encountered. In addition, there's also a big favorite of my son Paul, that band of non-electric mauraders from Austin, Texas, The Asylum Street Spankers. And while we're at it, we'll catch some of the local action, including blues, swing, gospel, and ethnic cooking.
In Search of Belloc

Mark Cameron sets the record straight on a poem attributed to the English writer Hillaire Belloc, one that has become popular among many traditional Catholics. It seems that he never wrote the following:

"Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
there's music, and laughter, and good red wine.
At least I've always found it so,
Benedicamus Domino"

He really should have, though.
Imprimatur by Martin Roth

Well, boys and girls, it's official. I'm now among the "blogs4God," having been included on Mr Roth's "Semi-Definitive" list. Find me under "journals."

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Memo to Father Thomas Doyle

In today's Boston Globe, you tell us a little of yourself, and the role you played in combatting clerical sexual abuse:

"I was ordained a priest in 1970. I became the canon lawyer at the Vatican Embassy in Washington in 1981. I believed in the good of the church in 1984, when two colleagues - a priest-psychiatrist and a civil attorney - collaborated with me on a 100-page document advising the bishops on steps to take to halt the damage caused by pedophile priests. Our report was ignored... Most of my early confidence in the hierarchical system has been shattered by my experiences with sexual abuse victims. Why, many ask, do you stay? Fundamental to my motivation is a belief that the church really is the body of Christ and not a string of fiefdoms belonging to bishops. I believe that in Christ's view, the most important people are the disenfranchised and rejected, not bishops and cardinals. I learned about faith, courage, and persistence from the victims-turned-survivors. The awareness spurred on by the survivors has awakened the laity. The most visible show of concern is an organization known as Voice of the Faithful."

You won't get an argument on the last sentence there, Father. They've certainly been visible. Let's keep reading, though...

"Voice of the Faithful's existence is solidly justified in the Code of Canon Law, Roman Catholic theology, and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. This notwithstanding, the lay group's simple agenda apparently is a threat to some bishops as well as to some self-described orthodox Catholics. However, the bishops and others who have been so critical and judgmental have betrayed true orthodoxy by failing to engage in dialogue or discussion with Voice of the Faithful. They simply decided that its agenda was against the interests of their own power."

Whoa, back up the truck, Padre!!!

First of all, if VOTF's existence is "solidly justified in the Code..." and whatever, so is that of any "self-described orthodox Catholics," especially if the latter are correct in pointing out how the former has misled people up to this time.

"Voice of the Faithful is a movement of lay people who are authentic, thinking members of the Catholic Church. They are disgusted by the abuse scandal and the bishops' failure to protect our youth. It took an avalanche of negative publicity caused by a couple of thousand lawsuits for these bishops and the self-styled guardians of orthodoxy to wake up and smell the spiritual stench. This mess started in 1984, but it was not until 2002 that the real awakening happened. That's a 17-year delayed reaction, spurred not by their own consciences but by the courts and the secular media."

Soooo... Your solution is to call on the advice of Debra Haffner, a former president of SEICUS and former Planned Parenthood official, as well as Anthony Massimini, who flat-out lies about the Church's teachings on human sexuality and the role of women in the Church. (Go ahead, make me prove it. I dare ya...) Maybe it's not YOUR solution, but it's the one upon which VOTF has relied so far.

You still wanna call that "authentic"?

"The arguments against Voice of the Faithful are a smokescreen. The real issue is power. Voice of the Faithful is a reaction to the horror of sexual abuse and the betrayal of trust that came with it. It has nothing to do with dissent on women's ordination, birth control, or letting priests marry."

Wanna look again? They could have stopped at their outrage over "bishops breaking the most basic rules of moral conduct time and time again." But they didn't, Father. VOTF has indeed been a platform for promoting "dissent on women's ordination, birth control, or letting priests marry." It is a matter of public record, to be found among the "recommended reading" on their own website.

Repeating this is not a "smokescreen." It is the Truth.

That is why some of those "self-described orthodox Catholics" to which you refer (and I suspect you would have labeled Catherine of Siena no differently), have been busy trying to reason with VOTF leaders. Why? Maybe it's because we too are reacting to "the horror of sexual abuse and the betrayal of trust that came with it." Maybe we too believe that "the church really is the body of Christ and not a string of fiefdoms belonging to bishops." (Is there an echo on the Internet?)

We've had conference calls. We've had e-mail exchanges. By the grace of God, and a sense of genuine humility among a few of them, they've been starting to listen.

"What's at stake is way beyond the mind games and wordy debates over authentic orthodoxy."

And what would that be?

"Orthodoxy" is from the Greek, meaning "right belief." Are you suggesting that "right belief" would not have prevented the grave sin of sodomizing young boys? Isn't that what YOU claimed to be about in your 1984 report?

You know where to find me.
Vas you effer in Zinzinnati???

Mark Sullivan takes pains to point out that, since Sam Adams is brewed in Cincinnati, there is no point to be gained against anti-Catholicism by boycotting the Boston Brewing Company.

Take heart, Mark. Cincinnati is, to this day, the motherland of German Catholicism, and the home of a number of fine breweries. My kid brother kept a stash of Schoenling's Little Kings Cream Ale throughout his college years. I should also mention that the "Queen City of the West" is home to my favorite hard cider, Hard Core, one of the few made without preservatives (although they stopped making the dark variety, but not before I started hoarding supplies).

By now, Mr Vere is fuming -- no doubt in preparation for extolling the natural superiority of Canadian brews. Go ahead, sonny boy. Do your worst!
Hands Across The Pew

Father Robert Johansen wants to know what we all make of this:

"In my parish, we have introduced, in the past couple of weeks, the practice of inviting the congregation to stand up and greet/introduce themselves to their neighbors in the pews before Mass begins... The way it works is this: the cantor stands up at the cantor's lectern and says something like: 'Welcome to St. Joseph Catholic Church. As we begin our celebration, let us rise and take a moment to greet Christ in one another.' After a minute or so of this, the cantor then announces the opening hymn and the processional begins... I should point out that this practice was not introduced at my behest. I'm just the associate here..."

Uh-huh. And I'm just the Pope. I can't get my bishops to listen. We all seem so powerless these days, don't we?

My territorial parish is like this (which is why I left for a REAL one). I could have my nose right in the missal, and the pastor would shove his hand right in my face. Oh yeah, now THERE'S a way to build bridges!

From what I've been reading so far, the following should come as a shocking bit of news to some of you at St Blog's:

This is not a matter of likes or dislikes. There is a centuries-long tradition of silent preparation before Mass, one that is reinforced in the newly-revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal. Our "community" is built around the Eucharist, not the back-slapping of boneheads who wouldn't cross their freshly-manicured lawns to do you a favor.

We have created an artificial suburban culture, producing the mentality that an artificial act of "fellowship" will somehow turn into something real. At the former parish I mentioned, it was all I could do for the pastor or the staff to return a damn phone call. I'm glad I never needed the Last Rites.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

"The (Olympic) torch has been passed..."

The Washington Post reports today that the Baltimore-Washington area has lost its bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

"Chairman Charles H. Moore said that his team today discussed substantively for the first time their concern that the IOC might harbor resentment toward Washington on political grounds, including talk of a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq and Congress's 1999 questioning of IOC then-president Juan Antonio Samaranch and other officials over the Salt Lake City Olympic bribery scandal."

Thank God!

Of course, DC Mayor Anthony Williams "could not conceal his disappointment."

Yo! Your Honor! Have you ever tried to get across this God-forsaken town of yours? Hell, you probably haven't had to open your own car door since you got that job! There's no direct route across town, mister. At some point you've gotta get off one interstate and get on another, after going through a couple of lights and maybe some unexpected dumb-ass roadblock. (Example: The easiest thing in the world to do would be to build a direct exit ramp from the Anacostia Freeway westbound to Pennsylvania Avenue westbound. But do we do that? Noooooooo!!!)

And you wanna bring the Olympics here? As it currently stands, they already couldn't pave enough of the mid-Atlantic to accommodate the traffic.

Then there's the price of housing! My God, man, we can't all inherit Marion Berry's old cash cow! Some of us have to decide whether to move to West Virginia and spend two hours on a train just to have a front lawn. You think it'll get any cheaper once the Big Games move in? And please don't tell me about job opportunities. There are already plenty of low-paying service jobs that citizens of African and Latin American descent have to shuffle to, one after the other, before they each go home to their over-priced slum-lord's dream that's gonna be torn down in the next two years for yet another set of "luxury apartment homes." (My goodness, where are all our maids going to live?)

You got bigger fish to fry, old man. First, get on the damn ballot. You may be the best mayor this city has had in years (which isn't saying a lot, but it's saying something).

Then fire all of Berry's distant relatives/old drinking buddies/drug contacts/horse-betting agents still languishing on the payroll. (Save some time; look into the Division of Motor Vehicles first.)

Then, after you get re-elected (and as one who's never voted Democratic, even I think you've got a shot), try and make the inner city livable for the average human being.

You'll get more than a Gold Medal, Your Honor. You'll make history.

It's not the end of the world. Just ask Tony Kornheiser.
Inquiring minds want to know...

John Augustine (aka Amphibious Goat) wants to know: "Can anyone explain to me why St. John tends to look like a girl in Western Catholic art?"

Well, any male youth with no facial hair might look a bit effeminate next to a bunch of old grizzly-bearded guys. Tradition holds that John was a very young man at the time of Christ -- which might occur to those who also know that John was the last surviving apostle.
Everyone else at St Blog's was doing it, so...

I was once told that my spirituality was Benedictine, and my theology was Dominican. One out of two ain't bad.

what's your order?

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

VOTF Watch: A Meeting of Minds

I was on a conference call last Sunday night. Victor Lams of et cetera has saved me the trouble of going into detail. My fifteen-minutes of fame continues to be stretched to the limit. Thanks to HMS Blog for posting this summary.
The Diocese of Arlington: Knee-Deep in Orthodoxy

This story was already common knowledge to many Catholics in Northern Virginia, due in part to not every Catholic in Manassas living in a constant state of denial, as well as a report by the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful. It was only a matter of time before the Washington Post would decide there was a story in all of this:

"The Rev. James A. Verrecchia, once regarded by his fellow priests as the 'golden boy' of the Arlington Diocese, no longer serves as the All Saints pastor. Nancy Lambert, a nurse and mother of four whose religious beliefs seemed to deepen as she entered her late thirties, can no longer be found in her regular pew. And her husband, Jim, a gourmet food salesman, isn't around anymore to help out at parish fund-raising suppers... When the trio abruptly stopped coming to All Saints in early 2000, parishioners were never told why. Verrecchia, church officials said, was taking an open-ended 'leave of absence.' Some who worked at the church or lived near the Lamberts suspected the reason. Others found out on the parish grapevine, and were angry and dispirited by what they heard: Their beloved priest had left his vocation after 17 years to marry Nancy Lambert, who was pregnant with their child... Not surprisingly, given the intimate nature of the scandal, diocesan officials have preferred to keep as many details about events at All Saints, including their own response to them, hidden in a shroud of secrecy..."

All for "the good of the Church," no doubt.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Coming Attractions

I'll be out tomorrow (Friday), and traveling for much of the weekend. I've been known to stop in at public libraries along the way, and check in on the blogosphere. But in real life, there is dancing to be done. We have zydeco on Friday, and salsa on Saturday. While I'm at it, I hope to pack a laptop along, and write about "What I Did On My Summer Vacation(s)." Till then, please check out the swimming pool full of nuns doing the Macarena.

Thought I was making it up, huh?
Things For Which We Never Have Enough Time...

...in the Nation's capital.
I Was A "Charity Case"

Karl Schudt thinks he has it bad.

Today he reminisces about the Adrian Dominicans who shaped him in his formative years. He laments what has become of them.

Like most of the Catholic schoolchildren in Archdiocese of Cincinnati, I was educated in grade school by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, founded 150 years ago this year, when seven sisters left Mother Seton's original Emmitsburg location for "the Queen City of the West." I have come across a few scenes from their recent sesquicentennial convention. I direct your attention to the scene in the lower right hand corner. I thought liturgical dance was bad enough; did we ever think it could come to THIS???
Steubenville, Ohio: Den of Iniquity

(Emily, why didn't you tell us?)
HMS Blog: The Soap Opera Continues

Victor Lams of et cetera gives a brief account of life at Heart Mind and Strength. Between playing Yente for Miss Stimpson, and making Miss Bonnaci just a little nervous, it is clear that these people have way too much time on their hands.

(Still keeping my day job, by the way.)
It's the other way around, Mark!

Mark Sullivan of Ad Orientem appears to endorse the judgement of Rod Dreher, in quoting from his piece in the Wall Street Journal:

"It is hard to judge John Paul, because we don't know what he's had to fight behind the scenes. Still, I find it impossible any longer to give him the benefit of every doubt, as is the custom of many papal loyalists. John Paul must bear partial responsibility for the catastrophe that has befallen us."

Mr Dreher should be advised (to say nothing of Mark), that there are only 99 Swiss Guards. Even if there were more, it is unlikely that they could go jackbooting all over the world, knocking down chancery doors, just to get every errant bishop to listen to the Holy Father. As it is, he has been overheard to say that they do not, despite his pleas. And it has long been conventional wisdom, among some within the halls of the Vatican, that the church in North America is at least partially in a state of schism.

Personally, I'd like to see about two-thirds of the USA bishops turn in their mitres, those who have either committed or enabled the recently disclosed scandals. Then again, what would I do next? Beats the hell outa me!

To look into Church history of the last century, is to learn of those who did not believe that even Pius X himself did enough to quiet the Modernist heresy.

Mr Dreher comes off as a good guy, so I think a total stranger like myself could at least reason with him.

The Church doesn't need a bunch of armchair pundits. The Church needs us.

Viva il Papa! JP2, you da man, you da man!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

What's that, you say? No "comments" section?

Oh yes, mon ami. I have such provisions here. It's in the blue box to the right. "You talkin' to me?"
Vic Meets Chick

...as the infamous anti-Catholic tracts are transformed to extol the merits of hot dogs and beer. Chesterton and Belloc would be most pleased. And amused.
(Another) Memo to James Post, President of VOTF:

You really should stop talking to the press for awhile.

At least until you figure out what position to take, without having to back away from it later. Witness this priceless gem from today's edition of the Boston Globe:

"The letter is intended to be a response to the smear campaign that has begun to take shape," Post said. "People in our organization felt it was important to make clear that we are not a dissident group."

First, let's take a stroll over to our friend Mister Dictionary, shall we?


Verb: To stain or attempt to destroy the reputation of; vilify: political enemies who smeared. Noun: Vilification or slander, a vilifying or slanderous remark.


Noun: Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation, a false and malicious statement or report about someone.

My colleague Pete Vere is mincing no words on some disturbing parallels here:

"I still maintain they're following the same procedure as the bishops in handling abuse, with the so-called apology being the equivalent to what happened in Dallas... They say they want conservatives to come back to the table, it was just a big misunderstanding, etc... Yeah right. I will believe it when I see concrete action."

I'll be a little kinder.

You see, Mr Post, we don't have to make anything up about you guys. All we have to do, is show what's already on the internet to the whole world, and start connecting a few dots. There's no slander involved in telling the truth. There's hardly any sport in it either. It's as easy as holding up a mirror to someone. Like you guys think you can do with the bishops, capeesh?

So stop calling a press conference every time you don't like what you see.

Call us first. You know where to find us.

(Update: Mr Post, I'll make this easy for you. Start with Domenico Bettinelli. It's a local call.)
Two Months Later

I began this site on June 21 of this year.

Since then, I've made some new friends, and probably a few enemies I don't know about yet.

I didn't expect to comment on as many things Catholic as I have, but it seems there's a lot in the news for it, and I've done a little too much reading on the subject over the years, so... what the hell!

My archiving is a mess, so I have to put the whole kit-and-kaboodle (sp?) on one page until I figure out how things work, but at least the new color scheme is more readable. I have been corrected by nihil obstat on two occasions (Thanks, Charlie, if that's your name.), but have yet to be acknowledged by the alleged "Semi-Definitive List of Christian Blogs" known as blogs4God. (Oh, yes, they know about me alright.)

I have it on good authority that I've become a focal point for observation of the Boston-based group known as Voice of the Faithful, which shows you how desparate some people are for information.

I have received letters, from a few of you who have appreciated my stories. It seems that my anecdotes have been of some consolation. When the time comes, I have even more to share.

I'm far from a definitive source of news and commentary -- just "a song and dance man who is keeping his day job."

Gotta go. They're watching me. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Memo to James Post, President of VOTF:

Regarding your statement of August 19 on being a "centrist" organization, be advised that nature abhors a vacuum. If the "center" is not more clearly defined, it will be defined for you. Recent decisions of your leadership, from which you have had to distance yourself (albeit not wholeheartedly), reflect an inability with regard to such definition.

It may be advisable at this point, to expand the range of expertise of which your leadership must avail itself.

You know where to find us.

(Update: An expansion on this matter is provided by Summa Contra Mundum.)