Monday, September 23, 2002

"Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert..." (Matt 4:1)

It has become necessary to be away from publishing for forty days. But I shall return. Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 19, 2002

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I genuflected at Mass last week..."

There's a story about this Italian priest in the late 19th century. Seems he was called into the office of his bishop, and told to stop preaching on a very controversial subject. The priest agreed to do so, and asked for the order in writing. The bishop, for whatever reason (probably because he was a big wienie, like a few others we've known of lately) did not wish to put the order in writing. Very well, the young priest replied, I will continue to preach on this subject.

What happened to this young miscreant? Well, his name was Guiseppe Sarto. Most people know him better as Pope (Saint) Pius X. Not a bad career track, eh?

I'm bringing this up for the benefit of my dear Miss Emily, who seems to be concerned about all hell breaking loose in Steubenville over a bit of liturgical minutiae.

It is a reality of the natural law, as well as canon law. One who gives an order takes responsibility for the consequences of that order. It is also true in the military. Otherwise, people would be "pulling rank" all over the damn place, and orders would never get carried out.

This "order" about people having to receive communion standing (as the normative posture) was issued by the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy. One of the general norms of canon law (I forget which one) is that a lower authority cannot restrict that which is already permitted by a higher authority. For that reason alone, I'm not even sure the "order" is even binding. Neither is at least one canonist (and you know who you are) of my acquaintance.

Until a bunch of bureaucrats manage to get their priorities in order (and in this case, we've got a long wait) a little perspective may be in order. Kneeling to receive Communion in the Roman rite is obviously preferable. That having been said, standing for the same purpose is hardly a crime. The Byzantines have been doing it since time immemorial, and none of their roofs have caved in, at least not for that reason. One must give some prerequisite gesture of reverence in preparation, of course. The normative gesture in the Roman rite has, up until now, been genuflection. And while attempts by some bodies of bishops have been made to change that to a bow or a sign of the cross or a nod and a wink or whatever, genuflection is still sufficient. So you don't have to get down and kneel in front of a line of people standing, just to prove a point. The only point you may prove is that you like calling attention to yourself -- which sorta defeats the purpose of kneeling, don't it, now?

Simply genuflect while the guy in front of you is receiving, then receive on the tongue and call it a day. I follow this procedure everywhere I go, even in places like the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, where certain people seem to think all kinds of devious shenanigans are going on. (They're probably right.)

What would I do if a priest refused me communion for genuflecting first? I dunno, he hasn't yet. I'd probably have to throttle the poor guy after Mass for the benefit of his own salvation. He wouldn't want that. And if you're reading this, Father Whoever-You-Are-In-Steubenville, neither do you.

Remember, Nicholas of Myra punched Arius in the nose at the Council of Nicea. That's right. Jolly old Saint Nick decked a heretic. I've got the proud heritage of Holy Mother Church on my side.

Soooo... if ever I'm in Steubenville (and I've half a mind to come up there this Sunday and defend Miss Emily's honor!), don't @#$% with me!!! (Grrrrr!!!)
I don't ask for money!

Some of my colleagues solicit for donations for their cause. They may have good reason, especially if they write for a living, and must supplement their income. In my case, I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would read what it is I have to say. Not that I don't know the reason, mind you. But when you have yet to establish a reputation elsewhere, you share the blogosphere with so many others. The point is, I seem to be able to do this without cost, thus eliminating the need to be paid for it.

I'd rather be a song and dance man, anyway.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

From the MWBH Mailbag

We got several responses yesterday. I try to answer all my letters, some of them here. (My profuse apologies to any I ever miss. It can happen.)

Most letters concern my remarks on the married couple who were recently canonized. While I am well aware that celibacy is a higher state of perfection as a matter of Catholic dogma (inasmuch as a GOOD thing is sacrificed for a higher purpose), I am not aware that the celibate life is prerequisite to entering the Kingdom.

That wasn't enough to stop E.H., who writes in part:

"Just remember, it was the last 26 years of their married life. Not the first 26."

True, but how much you wanna bet which half got them on the fast track to sainthood?

J.C.K. writes:

"'Two of their sons became priests and a daughter became a nun.' Did you kinda forget to mention the above when commenting below??? (Oh, our macho blogsters!!)"

Leaving aside what my sense of manhood has to do with the matter at hand, I didn't kinda forget to mention anything. I kinda assumed that if everyone's children became priests or nuns (and thus chose the celibate life), none of us would be here.

Face it, kids. Sooner or later, somebody's gotta do the Deed. Thankfully, it is one of the bona, or goods, of the married state -- a point generally lost amidst a neo-Jansenist mentality.

Perhaps the most thoughtful comment on the subject came from S.M.:

"Married saints who never consummated the union or vowed continence at an early age were held up as the ultimate ideal in the Late Antique and medieval Church up to about 1400. Dyan Elliott has an excellent book on the subject, SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE."

Actually, it was "held up" in the Gospel by Christ himself. Anyone know the Scriptural reference? The mail box is still open...

On to weightier matters, this one came from J.H.:

"If you where a dog, what kind of dog would you want to be? I'd be a black lab - I think that they're cool!"

Personally, I'm torn between a golden Lab, an Irish setter, and a Cavelier King Charles Spaniel. (arf! arf!)

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

"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.