Friday, May 31, 2013

FAMW: Haste to the Wedding

Some of you -- okay, at least one of you -- may remember a story published here about three years ago, about a woman who was raising most of her eleven children on her own, with little or no support from the husband who abandoned them. Well, as with the rest of us, life goes on, children grow up, one thing leads to another, and then ... there's a wedding. This is what a wedding dance should look like, at least at some point in the proceedings, as one of the sons of our heroine starts a new life of his own. Perhaps he will fare better. We can always hope.

With the coming month being all about weddings (or so I'm told), this depiction appeared as suitable as any, for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lauda Sion Salvatorem

... is a sequence prescribed for the Mass of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Upon the institution of the feast for the whole of the Western church in 1264, Pope Urban IV commissioned Saint Thomas Aquinas to compose hymns for its Mass and Office, including Pange lingua, Sacris solemniis, and Verbum supernum. Our featured hymn tells of the institution of the Eucharist and clearly expresses the Catholic belief in the Real Presence.

While the feast is celebrated today, its celebration as an "external solemnity" on the following Sunday has long been tolerated, especially in countries where elaborate processions of the Blessed Sacrament would be better facilitated than on a weekday.

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Lauda Sion Salvatórem
Lauda ducem et pastórem
In hymnis et cánticis.


Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns
    thy shepherd true.

Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudáre súfficis.


All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.

Laudis thema speciális,
Panis vivus et vitális,
Hódie propónitur.


See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.

Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fratrum duodénæ
Datum non ambígitur.


The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv'n to His Apostles round.

Sit laus plena, sit sonóra,
Sit jucúnda, sit decóra
Mentis jubilátio.


Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.

Dies enim solémnis ágitur,
In qua mensæ prima recólitur
Hujus institútio.


On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis,
Phase vetus términat.


On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.

Vetustátem nóvitas,
Umbram fugat véritas,
Noctem lux elíminat.


Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead,
Here, instead of darkness, light.

Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciéndum hoc expréssit
In sui memóriam.


His own act, at supper seated
Christ ordain'd to be repeated
In His memory divine;

Docti sacris institútis,
Panem, vinum, in salútis
Consecrámus hóstiam.


Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine.

Dogma datur Christiánis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sánguinem.


Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.

Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animósa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.


Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood.

Sub divérsis speciébus,
Signis tantum, et non rebus,
Latent res exímiæ.


Here beneath
    these signs are hidden
Priceless things,
    to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see.

Caro cibus, sanguis potus:
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utráque spécie.


Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.

A suménte non concísus,
Non confráctus, non divísus:
Integer accípitur.


They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consúmitur.


Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inæquáli,
Vitæ vel intéritus.


Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!

Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptiónis
Quam sit dispar éxitus.


Here 'tis life: and there 'tis death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.

Fracto demum Sacraménto,
Ne vacílles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragménto,
Quantum toto tégitur.


Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break
    the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before.

Nulla rei fit scissúra:
Signi tantum fit fractúra:
Qua nec status nec statúra
Signáti minúitur.


Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.

Ecce panis Angelórum,
Factus cibus viatórum:
Vere panis fíliórum,
Non mittendus cánibus.


Lo! bread of the Angels broken,
For us pilgrims food, and token
Of the promise by Christ spoken,
Children’s meat, to dogs denied.

In figúris præsignátur,
Cum Isaac immolátur:
Agnus paschæ deputátur
Datur manna pátribus.


Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
In the manna's preparation:
In the Paschal immolation,
In old types pre-signified.

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserére:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuére:
Tu nos bona fac vidére
In terra vivéntium.


Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.

Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales:
Qui nos pascis hic mortales:
Tuos ibi commensáles,
Cohærédes et sodales,
Fac sanctórum cívium.


Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.

Amen. Allelúia.


PHOTOS: Celebrations of the Feast in Greenville, South Carolina, USA (First Annual Southeastern Eucharistic Congress), in Antigua, Guatemala (Infrogmation), in Poznań, Poland (Radomil), and in Vaduz, Liechtenstein (Joyce Chan).
 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: ISS (Is Somebody Singing?)

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

David Bowie wrote a song about being in space. Now from the collectives pens of Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, comes this number they wrote and perform together, only Robertson is on the ground, and Hadfield is "up there" somewhere at the International Space Station. They are joined by the Wexford Gleeks from Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts, who were all (except for Hadfield) at the CBC studios in Toronto.

Download the lyrics, and read the story "behind the music" here.
 

Monday, May 27, 2013

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Memorial Day Edition)

With the dawn of the 21st century, we have asked ourselves this question before in our humble corner of the blogosphere, and you have no doubt done the same: “Dude, where’s my flying car?” Well, for the second (or third, we don't remember) time, ask no more, as this video will explain.

Meanwhile, closer to the ground here on planet Earth:

When licking the spoon just is not enough, how about eating it? Here is an idea whose time has come, hopefully just in time for supper. (Dornob.com)

Speaking of wanting fries with that, Cleveland's latest favorite son is getting free burgers for life at least a dozen places in his home state. Maybe he will be satisfied with this, and not try to appear on a reality show. (NBC News)

Meanwhile, in another story of getting something for nothing, students at Cooper Union are in a tizzy over the fear of losing their tuition-free education. Feel their pain! (The New York Times)

Finally, you have probably seen those "memes" on social media portraying those ugly-@$$ cats. As if that were not enough for you, feast your eyes on the latest upgrade. (Cat-Beard.com)

And that's all the news that fits. As the holiday weekend heralds the start of summer, and the rest of the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity

Today the Roman Rite, and much of western Christianity, celebrates Trinity Sunday. What began as a local feast in some parts of the Western church in the Middle Ages, was added to the universal Roman calendar by Pope John XXII (1316–1334), and designated as the first Sunday after Pentecost.

The Reverend Doctor Daniel Meeter is pastor of Old First Reformed Church in Brooklyn, New York. He writes:

Unlike most Sundays in our calendar, we are not marking any specific Biblical event, but it makes sense to celebrate the Trinity on the Sunday after Pentecost. On Pentecost God exposed God’s self in the Holy Spirit --- God came among us in the third person of God. Fifty days before that, on Easter, God exposed God’s self the Lord Jesus --- God was among us in the second person of God. The Easter season celebrates the mighty acts of God for our salvation as these actions of two persons, so now that the Season is over, we can put God back together!

To be continued therein.
 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

“Say you want a resolution, well, you know ...”

Earlier today, some 1400 delegates to the annual National Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America voted to remove sexual orientation and/or preference as an impediment to youth membership, while retaining it for adult membership. (All in good time ...) The resolution passed by a vote of 63.7 to 31.3 percent.

Following the almost certain approval of the National Council, the policy will take effect on the first of January, 2014.

There will be more upon which to comment in the days to come. But for now ...

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The story is told of a little boy, who on his fourteenth birthday gets a horse. And everybody in the village says, "How wonderful, the boy got a horse."

And the Zen master says, "We'll see."

Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "How terrible."

And the Zen master says, "We'll see."

Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight, except the boy can't because his leg did not heal correctly, and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful."

And the Zen master says, "We'll see."

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And so it goes. Stay tuned ...
 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Scout’s Honor Reconsidered

For more than thirty years, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have deemed it necessary to state for the record, that those who openly declare themselves to be homosexual -- that is, inclined toward same-sex attraction -- are ineligible for membership. They have cited the basis for this as fidelity to the ideals enshrined in the Scout Oath ...

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country,
and to obey the Scout Law,
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

... and the Scout Law.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

In 1990, a Rutgers University student and Eagle Scout by the name of James Dale was relieved of his position as an Assistant Scoutmaster, and expelled from the membership, after an interview with him was published in which he admitted to being openly gay. His legal action against the BSA eventually found its way to the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale, which found in favor of the BSA.

We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts' teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong; public or judicial disapproval of a tenet of an organization's expression does not justify the State's effort to compel the organization to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization's expressive message. While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government.

In 2004, the BSA released a new policy statement in light of the High Court's decision.

Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting's values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.

In 2010, a study was commenced by the BSA to determine the feasibility of admitting members who were openly homosexual. After two years, the study was completed, and then-Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca announced that “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address the issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisors and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”

And yet, in the face of numerous corporations pulling funding from the BSA due to "non-discrimination policies" in philanthropic giving, and press conferences by celebrities like Madonna, the national leadership attempted to revise their membership policy early this year with a minimum of fanfare, and leave the decision to individual units. But word of their plans was leaked to the outside, which provoked a storm of protest by the general membership. The BSA then pulled back on their plans, agreeing to a three-and-a-half-month long "family discussion" in several phases. Last month, in the wake of an executive summary report on this discussion, and a more detailed report made public (as opposed to the two-year study, which was not), the BSA announced the resolution that would be brought before the 1400 voting delegates at their annual National Meeting which began today.

Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

Note that the resolution applies only to youth membership, and that the ban against "avowed homosexuals" in the adult membership would be maintained.

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How did things get this far? How did the largest youth organization in America, the second largest scouting association in the world, reach the point of questioning the very ideals for which it was established, and which has woven itself into the very fabric of American life? How did a policy which was supported by the overwhelming majority of the general membership come under such scrutiny by its own leadership within less than one year? How does this resolution even be considered, when even the most recent reports show that a majority of the current membership still favors the current policy?

Many have commented on this subject, including the various pundits in the Catholic blogosphere. Especially where it concerns the latter, very few if any have a long association with Scouting, much less have any expertise on the movement. On the other hand ...

I was in Cub Scouting for two years, and in Boy Scouting for seven years, before "aging out" at eighteen years. In August of 1969, I was inducted into the national honor society of the BSA, the prestigious Order of the Arrow. In December of 1971, under the authority granted them by the National Council, BSA, I passed the Board of Review convened by the Dan Beard Council, BSA, and was designated an Eagle Scout, an honor achieved by only four percent of those who ever join the program. In July of 2004, after more than thirty years, I once again put on the Scout uniform, and joined the Commissioner Service. I currently maintain a correspondence with Scout leaders all over the world. In 2010, I was one of a group of veteran Scout leaders in the United States, approached independently by leaders of the Uganda Scout Association, to advise and assist in reorganization after years of political unrest. That same year, I led a collection drive of used BSA training material to facilitate the re-establishment of Scouting in the Jalalabad province of Afghanistan.

I am presently an Assistant District Commissioner with the National Capital Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.

In addition to the aforementioned bonafides, I have over the last two months, with my research assistant working nearly full time, conducted a thorough study in subject areas related to the issue at hand, including the history of gay activism, pedophilia and other adverse behaviors, as well as medical risks, all as they relate to same-sex attraction, legal issues pertaining to both the current BSA policy and various proposed alternatives, as well as the moral issues among the various religious confessions who have played a part in Scouting. I have spoken to and corresponded with more than a dozen Scout leaders with access to the leadership of the BSA, all on the condition of anonymity, concerning what has transpired in the minds of the powers that be. I have engaged in lengthy and often impassioned debates with other veterans of Scouting. I have had brief audiences with regional Scout officials, often called upon with little notice, to state my case. (When that happens, you'd better know what you're talking about.) In March of this year, I submitted a one-page summary report on “Critical Issues Pertaining to Review of BSA Membership Policy” to the Executive Staff of the National Capital Area Council, which was forwarded to their Chief Executive as well as the President of the Executive Board. Finally, I have spoken to several Catholic priests on the issue, including one specialist in ministering to those struggling with same-sex attraction, and those who work with Scout units.

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"Norm" was at the Boy Scouts of America's national headquarters in Irving, Texas (between Dallas and Fort Worth) this past February, when this issue was being discussed.

I was personally present in the meeting where Wayne Perry, the National President who is a lifelong member of the LDS [Mormon] Church and a lifelong Scouter and the founder of a billion dollar company, was in tears about having to go to Salt Lake City and discuss with his Prophet why he believes that a change in the membership standards (gay policy) is essential to the health of the organization to protect, among other things, the right of the BSA to maintain the Duty to God standard. NEVER ONCE DID HE MENTION MONEY. He, and Tico Perez, the National Commissioner, and Wayne Brock, the Chief Scout Executive, did mention the personal values and beliefs of todays youth and today's parents and the persons that we serve. There also was mention of the personal heartache caused by communication from parents and Scout leaders of older youth who realize they are gay. Wayne Brock too appeared close to tears when he discussed a phone call from a Scout leader who said that one of his older Scouts had been a member of the group of boys since they were 8. The boys all love each other in the best, Scoutlike, familylike sense. That boy is now 16 and has realized he is gay and so informed the Scoutmaster. The Scout leader asks "Am I supposed to tear this group of youth apart by expelling this one boy? His friends know about and don't care about his sexual orientation. What will it say to each of these older boys if we expel their highly respected friend. Should we not expect to lose all of them to Scouting and to the Scout Oath and Scout Law?"

I heard a 78 year veteran Scouter who has received every honor the BSA has, in a public meeting, discuss the heartache caused when his Eagle Scout youngest son came to him and said he was gay. The heartache was not over the son's sexual orientation. Rather, when he asked his son "when did you know?" the son said, "I realized my feelings about this were different when I was about 10." Then when he asked his son "Why did you take so long to tell me?" and the son said "I know how important the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts are to you and I didn't want to cause trouble for you." There were a lot of us close to tears there. NEVER ONCE WAS MONEY MENTIONED.

I'm not saying money is not a factor; just that it appeared there are many, many other factors just as compelling if not more so ...

They cannot kid themselves, never mind the general membership. Money is a HUGE factor in this decision. The BSA was recently bequeathed an extensive property in the mountains of southern West Virginia. Even now, work continues apace to prepare the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve for this year's National Jamboree, as it will become not only the permanent site for the National Jamboree, but also that of the 2019 World Jamboree. In the interim, it will be the newest High Adventure Base of the BSA. Historically, such events are held on broad, flat land, facilitating travel from one point to another, and the throngs of family and friends who come to visit. This represents a complete rethinking of the very concept of a Jamboree, on a site that is a challenge just to access. To prepare the site, millions of dollars must be spent on infrastructure -- roads, administrative, service, and staff buildings, water, electrical power, wireless communication, health and safety, and so on -- in one of the poorest areas east of the Mississippi. With philanthropic and public sentiment mounting against "exclusionary" policies, the Boy Scouts are under tremendous pressure to maintain any viable program at all on a national scale.

And those who would change the face of Scouting to suit their own agenda know this.

"Brian" provided the following from an attorney by the name of Kelly Shackelford, who specializes in issues of religious freedom.

Making the proposed policy change would have profound implications regarding religious liberty and First Amendment rights. Your organization won at the Supreme Court regarding your current policy by a single vote. But the Supreme Court's majority opinion rested in part on the premise that BSA, as an organization, has a right to define its own mission and its views regarding morality and the values BSA seeks to instill in boys and young men. Delegating that decision to local subsidiaries necessarily means that BSA no longer has a national, organization-wide position on the morality of homosexuality. As such, those local affiliates would be beyond the limits of the Supreme Court's holding in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, and each would be subject to new lawsuits under antidiscrimination laws and policies in whatever city and state each troop and pack is situated in.

While it is possible many of those local units would prevail in their lawsuits, many others might not, and the costs of litigation in either event would be nothing short of crippling for BSA. The legal safe harbor you currently enjoy could only be restored by a second victory at the Supreme Court, if this matter reaches the justices a second time and if the Court again sides with you, during which process you will again incur very significant legal costs.

As "Bill" reports, the threat of long, sustained litigation is very much a factor in the decision, but there is more than one few weighing in, adding to the complexity of the issue.

Based upon multiple conversations I have had, face to face all over the country, on the telephone through this and other forums like it and via various back-channels that I have access to, it is clear to me that our national leadership strongly believes that if we do not change to a more inclusive policy, we will swiftly become embroiled in a battle in the courts on multiple fronts ... constitutionality of exclusion ... tax exempt allowance ... public property use ... and that we will lose in every case. My read of the courts is consistent with that view. We will lose. And we will waste a lot of our treasure and standing in the country defending ourselves. And we will be broadly perceived in a negative way across a wide spectrum of society. And our eagles will no longer confidently and proudly put “eagle scout” on their resume’s for fear that the politics of a particular potential decision maker will be anti-scouting. (this is actually already beginning to happen) Yet, we will have some troops and councils able to survive this and thrive once again in time, perhaps 20 years or so. But they will have gay members. Openly. If not, they will be a church group, but not allowed to claim to be “Boy Scouts of America”. And we will have been incredibly limited in the number of youth we can impact. But our lawyers will make a bunch of money via a transfer of BSA’s wealth to them.

Of course, without the protection now afforded by the BSA through the Supreme Court's 2000 decision, it is small wonder that they would be vulnerable. This makes the above (which really does reflect the opinion of many Scout leaders, and some legal experts who guide them) all the more perplexing. The highest court in the land has ruled in their favor, and they're prepared to give that up, roll the dice, and see what happens, all to placate the popular culture.

That said, we must face the realization that the "gay lifestyle" is slowly becoming acceptable as "mainstream" in American society, and the primary demographic to which recruiters of Scouting must appeal, is parents between the ages of 30 and 40. And in the extensive membership survey conducted this year, younger members, and even the boys themselves, are more sympathetic to the idea of gays being in Scouting. At this level of the conversation, it is not about the reality of what the Church refers to as an "objective disorder," the acting upon of which is strongly held to be an "objective moral evil." It all comes down to that kid down the street who is wired a bit differently than most others, but isn't such a bad guy after all.

But this isn't about that one guy. And it isn't about any one guy. It is about whether a particular conduct is consistent with the ideals of Scouting or not. But what if it is only about "orientation" or "preference"? It is not as if it will be acted upon ... right?

James Weaks of Hillsborough, North Carolina, answers that question with ... more questions.

What is a “sexual orientation?” What is a “sexual preference?” Sexual orientation has no real definition, but instead an ever changing clinical and legal argument. Sexual preference is an even broader term. This language brings into view an expanding range of behaviors that includes: homosexuality, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, bestiality, bisexuality, frotteurism, fetishism (of multiple sorts), gender identity disorder, klismaphilia, necrophilia, partialism, sexual sadism, sexual masochism, transgenderism, transsexuality ... and this is a limited list. There are more of these orientations than I have listed and more of them coming.

The paraphilias (abnormal sexual desires) as defined by the American Psychiatric Association have been shifting for years and continue to do so ...

Notice that the list includes “transgenderism” which one Scout executive told me was "not on our radar." Will they be recalibrating their radar anytime soon? Consider the following scenario, which has been the topic of discussion at an official BSA weblog known as "Bryan on Scouting."

A transgendered [male] scout leader at summer camp insists on being allowed to shower during time reserved for female adult leaders (and yes, there are camps that still have old-style, open shower houses).

... and the response of one renowned veteran Scouter, with experience at both local, regional, and national levels. You'd better be sitting down.

Depending on the camp, we allow her [sic] to do so. If she [sic] self-identifies to both camp staff and her [sic] unit as female, we let her [sic] shower with other females. This is only a big deal to people who cannot keep their heads out of the gutter. We do the same thing when we allow young children to go to the bathroom with their female or male adults. This isn’t sexuality — this is getting a shower and being clean.
Not complicated in the least. This is a LOCAL ISSUE. The other females know her [sic] as a “her” [sic]; and those who do not know her [sic] as a “her” [sic] would be counseled when the unit showed up for camp. Non-issue here. Just like if an adult showed up and required a shower every 12 hours for health reasons. Just like if an adult showed up and required the shower stall area be emptied because he (or she) has burn grafts which would be awful to “look at” in a more “opened” shower.

We use COMMON SCOUTER SENSE here ...

Oh, is THAT what they're calling it, as opposed to a subtle form of brainwashing? Whenever these subjects come up at Scout meetings lately, it feels like a bad remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," and the Pod People are starting to take over. (Just when you think you know a guy, never mind every other guy in the room ...)

You also have to wonder whether any of this was taken into account by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), when they announced their acceptance of the proposed resolution. Here is where we should take "the Mormon factor" into account. Early in the BSA's history, the Mormons in the United States decided to adopt Scouting as a component of their training of young men. Every Mormon boy between the ages of eleven and fifteen is a registered Boy Scout, and it remains an integral part of their formation in "the Aaronic priesthood." It is also why Mormon congregations are responsible for just over 16 percent of the total youth membership (although some put the number as high as 20 percent). Mormons dominate life in Scouting. In areas where there are a lot of Mormons, there are times when it seems as though there are two "tracks" in the Scouting programs -- Mormons, and the rest of us. But to be fair, they are largely congenial to a fault, and manage to contribute an overall sense of civility to the proceedings.

Even so, units sponsored by religious congregations account for SEVENTY PERCENT of the youth membership. And when you read a finding like this in the summary report ...

Many religious chartered organizations stated their concern is with homosexual adult leaders and not with youth. They estimate a membership policy change that includes both youth and adults could cause the BSA to incur membership losses in a range from 100,000 to 350,000. It is believed any gain in membership because of a change to the membership policy related to youth and adults would be in the range of 10,000 to 20,000 youth.

... you have yet one more reason to wonder how it got this far.

The truly sad thing is, that boys who struggle with issues of gender identity will be the biggest losers if the resolution passes. There will be no presumption of the need for guidance if the product of any amount of confusion in adolescent development is immediately dismissed as "normal," despite the bulk of civilized history speaking to the contrary. A seventeen-year-old candidate for Eagle Scout who believes he is gay can be handled one way, while the eleven-year-old girl who "self-identifies" as a boy and wants to join a Boy Scout troop can be handled another way. The point is, there is presently the potential for options. If the resolution passes, there is only one.

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But what has happened of late has been the most troubling. It wasn't enough to attempt to slide a policy change through the back door and get caught. The National President of the BSA has just made his own feelings known in an editorial in USA Today.

Today's proposed resolution reaffirms our core belief in doing one's "duty to God." It would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders. Further, the resolution reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and that any sexual conduct, heterosexual or homosexual, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. It also prohibits the use of the organization to promote or advance any social or political positions or agendas ...

Oh? With a change in the policy for youth membership, how in the name of heaven can a change for adult membership be that far behind? Do they honestly believe they are not simply voting, not just on a resolution, but to continue voting on resolutions? Are they in fact hoping that the subsequent and invariable litigation will fit into the plans they had made all along? Is the general membership really that gullible?

Mr Brock is entitled to his own opinion, but the general membership of the Boy Scouts of America have been entitled to a fair and balanced discussion, and with this tome, and those of others among the Powers That Be -- Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and a member of the Executive Board, has expressed similar sentiments in a recent issue of Business Week -- that prospect of a level playing field is brought into question, especially in light of how they have conducted themselves up to now. Was this really an open and honest "family discussion" over the last few months, or one with a carefully guided and pre-determined ending?

Which brings something else to mind, something that appeared in every Scout handbook, from the first edition in 1911, and for the next sixty years thereafter, in elaborating on the first point of the Scout Law.

A Scout's honor is to be trusted. If he were to violate his honor by telling a lie or by cheating or by not doing exactly a given task, when trusted on his honor, he may be directed to hand over his Scout Badge.

If the proposed resolution passes, it will be the end of Scouting in America as we know it, as the BSA slowly becomes indistinguishable from any other youth organization. If the resolution fails (and it may yet do so), the very notion of Honor itself demands the immediate resignations of Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock, National President Wayne Perry, and National Commissioner Tico Perez. It would also demand those of two members of the Executive Board most responsible for instigating this malfeasance; AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, and Ernst and Young CEO James Turley.

Shall we be forced to choose between our duty to God, or our loyalty to a corporation? Whatever the choice, we who are in Scouting are all on our honor, an obligation that does not go away after the meeting is over.
 

“Once a Scout, always ...”

Today was the day that Scouts and Scouters across the nation were called upon, to wear their Scout uniforms to work. This is as far as I got. I couldn't find my Eagle Scout lapel pin, so I went with my old First Class Scout pin.

Back in the day, they would pin this on you, and you would have the real thing sown on later. But the First Class rank was the original pinnacle of what Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, father of the Scouting movement, referred to in his original 1908 Handbook for Boys as representing the complete outdoorsman, or as he would say, “the all around perfect Scout.” To this day, we encourage boys who join Scouting to at least make First Class, ideally within a year. The number of boys in any unit that do, is considered a benchmark for that unit's effectiveness.

This call to witness was made at the behest of OnMyHonor.net, which is ...

... the nationwide coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting Donors, Eagle Scouts and other members of the Boy Scouts of America who are united in their support of Scouting’s current membership policies and their opposition to the proposed resolution which requires open homosexuality in the Boy Scouts.

We talked about this here and here, remember?

How effective have they been so far? Well, a few weeks ago, the empty suits, most of whom have never spent a night out under the stars in their lives, at the BSA headquarters sort of asked them to knock it off, and they sort of said, uh ... no. Hopefully, we'll have more on this later. We'd better, because the voting is at this time tomorrow, at the annual National Meeting. Stay tuned ...
 

Art-For-Art”s-Sake Theatre: The Key of Awesome “Start A Mumford Band!”

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

You probably saw our clip of Mumford & Sons last March and thought, “Hey, I wanna start a Mumford band too!” Well, it's Comedy Week on YouTube, and some bunch of yahoos who call themselves The Key of Awesome can show you how to get on board with the latest folk frenzy. Just follow the bouncing standup bass, invite half of your friends onstage to jump up and down, and ... well, see for yourself.
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Whit Monday Edition)

Got nothing better to do? Then watch this empty suit of a journalist on MSNBC ask for an autograph from Massachusetts Senator and Cherokee Wannabe Elizabeth "Cheekbones" Warren.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth:

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing when a female passenger refused to stop ... (ABC News)

You want fries printed with that? If they can make 3-D printers duplicate just about anything, maybe NASA will find out if they can use them to end world hunger. (Quartz)

In Madison, Wisconsin, among other cities, it is now possible to legally drink and drive. But there are a few details worth knowing. (USA Today)

In Citrus County, Florida, an expert marksman hits his target 80 percent of the time, which is pretty remarkable even when you don't consider that he's ... (Bay News 9)

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Next Day of the Rest of My Life

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

IMAGE: A map of Kings Island Amusement Park, as it appeared in 1973.

Mine was forty years ago last Sunday. We looked into that last week. The next one was forty years ago today.

The picnic grounds that later became known as an amusement park occupied a place east of the city. First known in 1867 as "Ohio Grove, the Coney Island of the West," it was later known as "Coney Island on the Ohio," and eventually just "Coney Island." Between periodic floods in the spring, and having extended the limits of its property, the Taft Broadcasting Company, which acquired the park by the late 1960s saw the need to expand the concept elsewhere. They found a plot 25 miles northeast of the city, near a little town known as Kings Mills. This explains the otherwise-inexplicable name of “Kings Island” for a theme park. Forty years ago today, I neared the end of one adventure, and began another, one that was to change my outlook on life, and on my self-image.

I had worked at the park briefly the previous autumn -- the "post-season" weekends, as they're called -- in the Rides department. I told them I had experience with canoeing, so they put me at a lake helping people get into and out of canoes. When the weather got too cold, they transferred me to the roller coaster. At the end of October, that was the end of that.

But I wanted more. They had a "Live Shows and Entertainment" department. The money was better, and one of my buds from high school, Chris "Seadog" Seipelt, was one of the animal characters. You know, those guys who walk around in the animal costumes and get their pictures taken with little kids and all that. "You should try out, Dave," he told me. "I'll even help you prepare the audition." He had this costume head which I wore as a prop, and with a 45rpm recording of Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes," I passed the audition with a presentation of "Bingo Learns to Dance." (Don't ask.)

And I was in.

The money was certainly better. And being in the Shows department had a certain caché that wasn't shared by, say, the ride operators or those who worked the food concession stands. Wearing jumpsuits for most of the day, the guys in our crew would go out for a half-hour or forty-five minutes in these costumes based on Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters -- Yogi Bear, the Flintstones, you know the type -- escorted by these girls known as "guardettes," who would do the talking (since we weren't allowed) and help arrange the kids for photographs. We also had a performance in "Hanna-Barbera Land" of "The Banana Splits Show," which was a fictional rock band composed of four animal characters, and a popular Saturday morning kids show at the time. We pantomimed to a pre-recording of the characters in action. Even as a rookie, I became renowned for my rendition of "Fleagle," the de facto leader of the pack. It was hot, it was grueling, it was two or three times a day, but it was worth it.

But the character for which I became best known, was "Templeton the Rat," from the Hanna-Barbera production of "Charlotte's Web." I actually learned how to make the character appear quite real. Once inside the costume, I would bend over slightly, with my head down, and bow my legs when I walked. That made the torso jiggle back and forth, and people actually could imagine seeing a live rodent trying to walk on his hind legs. I can still remember the uproarious laughter from the crowds as I walked away.

IMAGE: The Banana Splits, in an undated publicity photo.

I modeled for children's fashion magazines, and promotions for consumer products. But for all that, my greatest single achievement was being in a movie. After building Kings Island, Taft Broadcasting decided to build a sister park north of Richmond known as "Kings Dominion." They produced a fifteen-minute preview film to promote it in the Richmond area. Some footage was shot at Kings Island, after which the new park would be modeled, while other footage was shot at the construction site. The Banana Splits were the main cast, and I was "Snorky" the elephant, and the only rookie in the cast. We drove to Richmond to film some of it, and Dudley Taft (a descendant of President William Howard Taft) flew us home in his private jet.

Now, back to the ladies.

These girls who accompanied us came from the Guest Relations department, and were hired for their poise, composure, and -- oh yes, their bodaciousness. In fact, they were just about the hottest babes in the whole park. Not only that, but they were the nicest girls you could ever wanna take home to Mama. Most of the guys in the crew were working their way through college, and a few were pretty sure of themselves, especially when it came to the ladies, these ladies in particular. They struck out more often than not, at least at first, which surprised me at the time. After all, high school was nothing like this. I mean, there were rules, you see. You dated within your predestined social class, and never ventured outside of it. There was this one guy -- Tom, I think his name was -- and he told us that he could use every cliché he could think of and still win over the object of his affection. And it actually worked.

There were plenty of opportunities for Tom, of course, and anyone else so bold. We were young, it was summer, and after working hard, we would play hard. There were parties two or three nights a week, just the Characters and the Guardettes. Unlike them, I was not so bold. And one of the first things I learned, is that the girls liked me best for that reason, that I wasn't constantly on the make, which is why they named me "Character of the Year" in an informal poll. Even so, I dated quite a bit that summer, but I usually went for the younger ones, figuring that was all I could, uh, handle. The guys would get on my case for chasing "jailbait," a term someone actually had to explain more than once. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was far from losing my innocence that summer.

But it didn't matter. You see, I could still remember getting beat up by the kids in the neighborhood only ten years earlier. I was physically bullied all through high school. But that summer, for the first time in my nearly nineteen years of a so-called life, I knew what it was like to be ... popular.

IMAGE: George Clooney, yeah, that George Clooney. I knew his dad, sort of.

One week, "The Nick Clooney Show" was broadcast from the park. That was a local variety and talk show back in the 1970s. My buddy Terry and I actually met Nick after work. He was walking around in the park, and against my protestations, Terry called out, "Hey, Nick, over here!" And we talked shop for about five minutes. One day, he brought his family to the park, including a twelve-year-old boy named George. Nick has since gone on to hosting old movies on the American Movie Classics channel. His son has enjoyed a measure of success as well, or so I'm told.

I can still remember getting off work at 7:30 in the evening, and going out into the park with a buddy, or a girl I was trying to impress. I remember going on the Alpine Sky Ride as the sun was setting, watching the big band play at the head of the fountain under the fake Eiffel Tower, and being one of the "plants" in the audience for the girl singers. I remember watching the fireworks every evening at ten.

Most of all, I remember never wanting it to end. But it did. We all went off to college, or wherever we were going. Some of my pals went up to Miami University, located in a bucolic college town known as Oxford, northwest of the city. Sometimes when I was there on the weekend for a party, I'd call up my friend Mary Margaret. No, she couldn't join me that night, she was studying. She always liked to study on the weekends. I was disappointed, of course, but I shouldn't have been. I later found out she married a classmate of mine, just after graduating from college.

One of the popular kids. And so it goes ...

I managed to work at the park for one more summer, but it wasn't the same. I found my only-recently-former girlfriend suddenly "pre-engaged" to some creep who spent three months tormenting me, when he wasn't pretending to be my buddy. He knew how to be everybody else's buddy too, bringing porn films into the trailer where we took breaks. (I and one other guy usually left.) I spent the first half of the summer upset that things weren't the same. Why didn't time stand still while I was at college? Where was the magic? And who let all these ***holes in here? I stayed in touch with some of "the gang" for several years afterwords. I am still in touch with two of the guys; one a Catholic priest in Cincinnati, the other a real estate appraiser in California. I have not spoken to any of the girls since leaving Ohio more than thirty years ago.

It must be a very different experience now. Young women now join the young men behind the costumes, and the last time I checked, the characters were from the "Peanuts" comic strip ,which can't be nearly as much fun. But most of all, they probably don't get away with half the stuff we pulled off. We had this thing we did to initiate the new girls who escorted us, something called "the squeeze play" ...

I think Frank Sinatra said it best: “Life is like the seasons; after winter comes the spring.” In the summer of 1973, I learned that there was life after high school, a world without labels assigned to you, but ones you made for your self. It's hard to believe today, that such a thing would never have occurred to me. I also learned that nothing in this world lasts forever. You wait long enough, something changes. People move on, life goes on.

And so did I.
 

Veni Creator Spiritus

When the princes of Rome assemble to elect a new Pope, when bishops are consecrated, when priests are ordained, when churches are dedicated, when kings are crowned with the blessing of Mother Church -- at all such solemn occasions, there is the chanting of this “most famous of hymns.” Attributed to Rabanus Maurus in the ninth century, “Veni Creator Spiritus” implores the Holy Spirit to dwell among those who raise their voices in its melody and phrase.

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
Ignite them with celestial fire;
Spirit of God, you have the art
Your gifts, the sev'nfold to impart.

Your blest outpouring from above
Is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Illumine with perpetual light
The dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our much-soiled face
With the abundance of your grace.
Keep far our foes; give peace at home;
Where you guide us, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And you, of both, to be but one
That, as the ceaseless ages throng,
Your praise may be our endless song. Amen.


It is an especially appropriate hymn for the Feast of Pentecost, that which occurs fifty days after the Resurrection, and that which we celebrate today.

(Featured lyrics from a translation by John Cosin, 1594-1672. Chanted by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Maurice and Saint Maur, Clevaux.)
 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Novena: Postlude

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.
Amen. Alleluia.


Give them virtue's sure reward;
give them thy salvation, Lord;
give them joys that never end.
Amen. Alleluia.


Prayer

Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V: Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created,

R: And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Oh God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and to ever rejoice in His consolations, through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen.
 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Novena Day 9: The Fruits of the Holy Ghost

Da tuis fidelibus
in te confidentibus
sacrum septenarium.


On the faithful, who adore
and confess thee, evermore
in thy sevenfold gift descend.


Meditation

The gifts of the Holy Ghost perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Ghost, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Ghost. These fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Prayer

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration, may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Annette Funicello Theatre: Episode 4 “The Escort”

Tonight is the next installment of our series (having skipped a week for reasons that aren't really all that interesting) in honor of the late Annette Funicello, in our continuing saga about a country girl who moves to the big city, where she learns about love, friendship, and the excess self-indulgence of the thoroughly modern teenager in postwar America.

In this our fourth episode, we are introduced to an important feature of the popular culture, that of the elaborate social strata that is high school. We begin with the top of the food chain, in the form of Steve Abernathy (Tim Considine) and the object of his affection, in a car she obviously didn't pay for with baby-sitting jobs, Laura Rogan (Roberta Shore). From there we stoop to the lower end of the social order, who goes by the name of Olmstead "Steady" Ware (Rudy Lee), and proceeds to make a fool of himself.

This episode originally aired on The Mickey Mouse Club on February 14, 1958.

Next week: “The Party.”
 

Novena Day 8: The Gift of Wisdom

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.


Bend the stubborn heart and will;
melt the frozen, warm the chill;
guide the steps that go astray.


Meditation

Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written “all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Savior: “Take up thy cross and follow Me, for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.”

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power and beauty. Teach me to love them above and beyond all passing joys and satisfactions of the earth. Help me to attain them and possess them for ever. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: The Waffle Stompers “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Ukulele Version)

Time once again for our usual (if better late than never) midday Wednesday feature.

A few years ago, we showed you two guys playing the same guitar simultaneously. Now, imagine six guys playing an ukulele simultaneously, while singing, and you have this rendition from a post-Ska band (huh?) out of New Jersey known as The Waffle Stompers.

How do they do it? Simple. Pay attention.

The two guys on the viewer's far left use the body of the uke for percussion, the guy in the middle who holds the instrument plays an alternating-beat rhythm on the first two strings, the guy on his right plays a bass line on the third string, while the guy on his left plays a sort of descant (is that the right word?) on the fourth string. Finally, the guy on the viewer's far right does the first part of the singing (before the middle guy and the others join in), and occasionally plucks the strings on the business end of the headstock.

Just like that. Pay no attention to the first eight seconds.

(H/T to Digger Digwillow via my dear friend from the old neighborhood Diane Rumsey Feagans.)

UPDATE: And now, the Israeli bouzouki version ...
 

Novena Day 7: The Gift of Counsel

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.


Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
on our dryness pour thy dew;
wash the stains of guilt away.


Meditation

The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must be done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.”

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Thy holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil, and direct me by the straight path of Thy commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Novena Day 6: The Gift of Understanding

Sine tuo numine
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.


Where thou art not, man hath naught,
nothing good in deed or thought,
nothing free from taint of ill.


Meditation

Understanding, as a gift of the Holy Ghost, helps us to grasp the meaning of the truths of our holy religion. By faith we know them, but by Understanding we learn to appreciate and relish them. It enables us to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed truths and through them to be quickened to newness of life. Our faith ceases to be sterile and inactive, but inspires a mode of life that bears eloquent testimony to the faith that is in us; we begin to “walk worthy of God in all things pleasing, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Prayer

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Novena Day 5: The Gift of Knowledge

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.


O most blessed Light divine,
shine within these hearts of thine,
and our inmost being fill!


Meditation

The gift of Knowledge enables the soul to evaluate created things at their true worth -- in relation to God. Knowledge unmasks the pretense of creatures, reveals their emptiness, and points out their only true purpose as instruments in the service of God. It shows us the loving care of God even in adversity, and directs us to glorify Him in every circumstance of life. Guided by its light, we put first things first, and prize the friendship of God beyond all else. “Knowledge is a fountain of life to him that possesseth it.”

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for Thy glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to Thee, and Thy eternal rewards. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

IMAGE: Archbishop McNicholas High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, as it appeared back in the day.

You might remember that expression from when you graduated from high school. It signaled a rite of passage, of moving on in life, whether to college, a job, a marriage, or whatever fate decided to bestow upon you as an adult. Mine actually occurred in the weeks before graduation, in two parts.

The first was forty years ago this evening.

+    +    +

I spent my senior year of Catholic high school in the advanced placement "Humanities Seminar," which combined the mandatory subjects of English, Religion, and Social Studies, into a unique interdisciplinary symbiosis. It was quite the challenge compared to conventional high school classwork, but one that cultivated a scholarly atmosphere worthy of college. The experience saved me from the boredom of "senioritis," not to mention the occasional degeneracy of whatever upper-class suburban white trash managed to slip through the cracks of the Admissions office four years earlier.

Mary Margaret -- her real first and middle names; I will spare her the disclosure of the rest -- was the quintessential "nice Catholic girl." She was very pretty without being overly glamorous, and had no pretensions about herself. We spent much of the latter part of the school year sitting next to one another. Even then, the way to my heart was for a gal to laugh at all my jokes. I won't say that a romance blossomed, although part of me at the time wished it had. While she was very much down to earth, something about her was inaccessible, untouchable, rendering me almost unworthy. This did not prevent a deep and apparently abiding friendship from developing. I had no steady girlfriend, and would not have known what to do with one anyway (having learned the hard way earlier in the senior year -- twice). So when the equivalent of the senior prom arrived -- we called it the "Spring Formal," don't ask me why -- I called her on the phone and asked her to accompany me, and she accepted. Fortunately for me, she was equally inaccessible to everyone else. She made no attempt to be. Mary wasn't one of those girls who hiked her uniform skirt six inches above the knee when she was a safe distance from the house. Nor was she interested much in "dating," so far as I knew.

I will save the perspective on that for later. Meanwhile, back to our misadventure ...

IMAGE: Some guy named Bill with his prom date. Used without permission or shame.

When that magic evening came, it was without a tuxedo. My mother could not fathom my going to the expense of spending twenty dollars (one hundred and five dollars in today's currency, oh yes!) to rent a suit that I would only wear once. This was actually a mixed blessing. That meager price would have afforded me a garden-variety black tuxedo, with a plain white shirt and black bow tie, as opposed to the more expensive, and eminently more "stylish" brightly-colored polyester regalia with a ruffled shirt that was popular back then, and the subject of retrospective shame in the present day. So I wore my favorite brick-red Norfolk jacket with grey slacks, and my favorite tie.

Mary's mother was very nice, and took our picture by the fireplace before we left. She seemed to know my parents, my father in particular, but I don't remember how. I also don't remember who the other couple was that we went with that night. But he drove, and Mary and I sat in the back seat, holding hands, her head gently perched on my shoulder, wearing the orchid I bought for her. We had a very grand time, dancing the night away in the suitably decorated school cafeteria, as this was before renting an overpriced hotel ballroom was de rigueur. When it was over, and I finally took her home, that goodnight kiss that every teenaged boy meets with anticipation and dread, never came. Girls like Mary didn't take kissing lightly, if at all.

I was driven back to Milford, and stumbled into the house at about three in the morning. My father was waiting. Now, in my younger days, there was rarely a euphoric occasion that the old man could not find a way somehow to ruin, at the breach of any infraction. The good news was, it wasn't in front of a crowd, not that that ever stopped him. The bad news was, I was up for an eternity (which was probably closer to an hour), admonished in no uncertain terms, for keeping a young innocent girl out so late at night, and bringing shame and dishonor to our entire household. Immersed in his own Euripides play that he was, I was ordered as a matter of obedience, to apologize to the poor lass at school on Monday morning, for being such a thoughtless rogue.

Needless to say, she was sufficiently amused by the whole thing.

Before I left high school, I gave her a final token of my affection; a pair of Snoopy earrings I bought at a greeting card store. (It was the early seventies, after all.) She put them on immediately. After I left, we managed to stay in touch during the summer, but not as much as I might otherwise would have wished.

There were other events on the horizon, and the matter for our sequel, one week from today. Stay tuned ...
 

Novena Day 4: The Gift of Fortitude

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solacium.


In our labor, rest most sweet;
grateful coolness in the heat;
solace in the midst of woe.


Meditation

By the gift of Fortitude, the soul is strengthened against natural fear, and supported to the end in the performance of duty. Fortitude imparts to the will an impulse and energy which move it to undertake without hesitancy the most arduous tasks, to face dangers, to trample under foot human respect, and to endure without complaint the slow martyrdom of even lifelong tribulation. “He that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.”

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in times of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from Thee, my God and greatest Good. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Novena Day 3: The Gift of Piety

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.


Thou, of comforters the best;
thou, the soul's most welcome guest;
sweet refreshment here below.


Meditation

The gift of Piety begets in our hearts a filial affection for God as our most loving Father. It inspires us to love and respect for His sake persons and things consecrated to Him, as well as those who are vested with His authority, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, the Church and its visible Head, our parents and superiors, our country and its rulers. He who is filled with the gift of Piety finds the practice of his religion, not a burdensome duty, but a delightful service. Where there is love, there is no labor.

Prayer

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Day by Day

Chris Muir and I have at least one thing in common. We are both alumnae of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, and Art, with him beginning his tenure as I was finishing mine. Shortly after premiering his political webcomic, Day by Day, in November of 2002, we had a brief correspondence about our days at DAA (now known as "DAAP," for Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning), which is to this day one of the top twenty design schools in the known universe. So we have a kinship of sorts, and I have found his comic strip to be most amusing. For nearly its entire run, it has been featured at or near the bottom of the page here at man with black hat.

As you can see from these examples; from 2002, 2008, and 2013, his cartooning skills have evolved, with the scenes possessing a higher degree of finish as time has gone on. His view of the American political scene, and the ability to laugh in the face of the danger, that of what we stand to lose as a nation, has become an inspiration for many, and he has benefited from an annual pledge drive, to which his devoted fans give generously, so as to keep his work going.

Where has the work gone lately?

There is an element of political conservatism that is a haven for the socially libertine, its adherents usually confusing that quality with libertarianism. Earlier this month, the cartoonist decided to introduce nudity with one of the couples, in particular, that of the upper frontal variety with one of the females. As much as I enjoy Chris's commentary, his latest push of the envelope was brought to my attention by an avid reader. The comic strip remains among “The Usual Suspects” in the blogroll for the time being. I love the guy's work, but the target audience of this venue is mainly that of practicing Catholics. I cannot take the chance that he will get the itch, to draw them without a stitch. And so, the strip itself will no longer be embedded here.

I regret the decision, for which I bear him no ill will. But not the reason.
 

FAMW: “Put them all together, they spell ...”

Laina seems like the perfect girl for any young man who wants to settle down and propagate the species. She is determined to convince you of this, very determined. We may be seeing more of her in this venue, but for now, consider this message for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
 

Novena Day 2: The Gift of Fear

Veni pater pauperum,
veni dator munerum,
veni lumen cordium.


Come, thou Father of the poor!
Come, thou Source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!


Meditation

The gift of Fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread nothing so much as to offend Him by Sin. It is a fear that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our heavenly Father. It is the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, detaching us from worldly pleasures that could in any way separate us from God. “They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and in His sight will sanctify their souls.”

Prayer

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God world without end. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Novena Day 1: The Holy Ghost

Veni Sancte Spiritus
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.


Come, thou Holy Spirit, come,
and from thy celestial home
shed a ray of light divine!


Meditation

Only one thing is important -- eternal salvation. Only one thing, therefore, is to be feared -- sin. Sin is the result of ignorance, weakness, and indifference. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Light, of Strength, and of Love. With His sevenfold gifts, He enlightens the mind, strengthens the will, and inflames the heart with love of God. To ensure our salvation, we ought to invoke the Divine Spirit daily, for “The Spirit helpeth our infirmity. We know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit Himself asketh for us.”

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given us forgiveness of all our sins, vouchsafe to send forth from heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

Our Father ... Hail Mary ... Glory Be ...
 

Novena: Prelude

The Church was born on the Jewish feast of the Pentecost, a birth which was preceded by a novena. After the ascension of Christ into heaven, Mother Mary and the Apostles (and according to tradition, a group totalling about 120) remained sequestered in the Upper Room for nine days, awaiting the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:14)

From the Latin word "novem," meaning "nine," a novena is a prayer that is repeated for nine days, after which, according to pious belief, special graces are obtained. Fisheaters elaborates on the devotion, and gives a complete listing of popular novenas for any and all occasions.

The novena to Saint Jude may be the most popular, as he is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Many a Catholic has found a holy card or slip of paper in the pew with the prayer written on it, left by a pious soul whose intention was granted. One of them was the late entertainer Danny Thomas, whose devotion to the saint moved him to establish the children's hospital that bears the saint's name.

We here at man with black hat will present a form of the original novena, that which is devoted to the Holy Spirit, beginning this evening, and over the next nine evenings. Stay tuned...
 

Monday, May 06, 2013

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Rogation Days Edition)

You have to wonder how people this stupid manage to find jobs in a good job market, never mind a bad one. This blonde-haired bubble-head doesn't recognize a reference to the flag of the former Soviet Union, and she still gets to tell you the news. No wonder certain people get re-elected, no matter what they do. Or don't do.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Accidents will happen, but when it causes a single mom to win 14 million dollars in the lottery, she finds a way to cope. What a gal! (ABC News)

Speaking of good timing, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was on hand to save a class of schoolchildren from a creepy crawly spider. PETA is not amused. (AP)

Meanwhile, a town in Pennsylvania may have to go back to its original name of “Mauch Chunk” if they ever lose the guy for whom the town has been named for the last sixty years. (Reuters)

Finally, “Old Mister Johnson had troubles of his own, he had a yellow cat which wouldn’t leave its home; he tried and he tried to give the cat away, he gave it to a man goin' far, far away. But the cat came back the very next day ...” (KNTV-TV)

And that's all the news that fits. As the week goes on (and the drum keeps poundin' rhythm to the brain), stay tuned, and stay in touch.