Sunday, February 28, 2010


The traditional form of the Roman Mass, celebrated in Latin, has historically made limited provision for congregational singing of hymns in the language of the people. Many of us still remember the "four-hymn sandwich" of Processional, Offertory, Communion, and Recessional hymns. But strictly speaking, only the Processional and Recessional hymns can be sung in the vernacular, as they are not part of the Mass proper. When I sang for a choir in Georgetown in the early- and mid-1980s, I had the privilege of learning and singing the great polyphonic motets -- those both in Latin, and in "the King's English." I don't get to hear the latter at the Traditional Mass, and while I defer to the will of Mother Church, there are times that I wish things were otherwise.

Today is one of those occasions, the Second Sunday of Lent, where the Introit (entrance antiphon/psalm) is taken from Psalm 24/25 (referring to the Vulgate/Hebrew numerology, respectively).

    Call to remembrance,
miserationum tuarum, Domine
    thy tender compassion and mercy, O Lord,
et misericordiae tuae,
    and thy loving kindnesses towards us,
quae a saeculo sunt:
    which have been ever of old,
ne umquam dominentur
    neither suffer the triumph
nobis inimici nostri:
    of our enemies against us:
libera nos, Deus Israel,
    deliver us, O God of Israel,
ex omnibus angustiis nostris.
    out of all our misery and trouble.
Ad te Domine,
    Unto thee, O Lord,
levavi animam meam, Deus meus,
    do I lift up my soul: my God,
in te confido, non erubescam.
    in thee have I trusted, let me not be confounded.

Richard Farrant (1530-1580) was a composer of English church music. While prolific in his day, few of his works survive, among them Call To Remembrance:

Call to remembrance, O Lord,
Thy tender mercies
and Thy loving kindness,
which hath been ever of old,
O remember not the sins
    and offences of my youth:
but according to Thy mercy
think Thou on me, O Lord,
for Thy goodness.

Thankfully, we have a performance by the Cathedral Choir of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from one of my old stomping grounds.

I didn't even know Methodists had cathedrals.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Dark Path

“For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light.” - 2 Cor 11:13-14

Some people claim certain gifts which they ascribe to the Holy Spirit. If they are wise, they respect what Mother Church says about those claims, how we cannot attest to them with the certainty that comes with the theological virtue of Faith, that the most we can claim is a strong opinion. That said ...

I may very well possess the ability to identify a diabolical presence, in the form of another person. There are three such incidences of which I am reasonably certain:

The first was the subject of an August 2002 piece entitled "My Charismatic Moment", of an incident at a high school retreat in 1972.

The second happened while driving across western Ohio, with a man who claimed to be receiving messages from God to build a agrarian commune.

The third incident was in 2000, involving a diocesan priest. Because it was a local incident, I cannot go into the particulars.

I'm not sure how to describe it. In some cases one is overcome by fear for one's safety, even though the subject may appear physically to be harmless. One thing I remember in the third case, is a depraved indifference to what they are doing at the expense of others. The subject was well aware of the suffering he was causing; he simply did not believe it mattered. Often when confronted by such people, there is no wish to challenge or engage them. One is aware of the true nature of forces at work, and the need to seek a way out.

That sensation came to mind as I read the transcript of a letter written by a priest, defending errors against the Faith, and which is part of a series of articles by Thomas Peters at American Papist:

Thank you for your opinion. Clearly, you are a sincere and Church-loving person with very definite views about homosexuality. I have to respectfully wonder, however, if you really know any homosexuals and have listened patiently and compassionately to their life experiences. While some do, still others do not see or understand their orientation quite as clearly as you so believe and judge that they should according to your selective and limited understanding of Church teaching ...

We will leave aside the priest's defense of unnatural sexual behavior, which can only result in the destruction of those whom he purports to serve. The first thing to notice, is his projection of the problem onto the other party, by ascribing ill motives or ignorance for which he has no evidence. This establishes for him the illusion of moral superiority over his correspondent. The conversation is no longer about having to defend one's actions, but instead becomes a projection of his dysfunction on to his adversary.

While no one can ascribe crimes of pederasty to the cleric, the methods to which he resorts to deflect suspicion are very similar to priests who do engage in such behavior. Those ultimately found guilty of sexual crimes are generally powerful, charismatic figures, who command popularity, respect, even awe among those whom they serve and with whom they work. It is also evidence of a pattern of passive-aggression, a behavior typical of church professionals, who must at least appear to be "nice" in the course of their work, even when they are not being very "nice" at all.

We dealt with a similar pattern of behavior in November 2008, in a piece entitled "The Warning":

Peck maintains that, while being fully cognizant of the evil within themselves, the subjects choose to avoid the necessary introspection to own up to that evil. They respond by putting themselves in a position of moral superiority, and projecting the responsibility onto others. The result is an extreme form of what he describes in The Road Less Traveled as a "character disorder." Whatever the diagnosis, Peck considers evil to be the result of free will, where a man eschews the path to God, for the path away from God.

The priest who wrote this letter is placing souls in grave danger, but if we are to ascribe the contents of the letter to him, the greatest threat may be to himself. Given the perverse nature of his response, he may be already be lost.

In this "Year of the Priest" it is one good reason to storm Heaven with prayers for them -- in some cases, while there is still time.

A Prayer From The Living World

John "Doctor Zero" Hayward is a blogger from Florida who writes for the "Green Room" at Hot Air. Yesterday he wrote a heartfelt piece that I wish I could have read eight years ago.

You may find yourself wishing you could give the unwanted years of your future to the clients of those hospitals and hospices. I did, years ago, when I stood where you are standing now. I was on my knees at the time, offering that trade with all my heart. It doesn’t work that way ...

Had I read this back then, it might have saved me a lot of trouble. But no matter. Read the whole thing.

“Greece is the word ...”

When I was growing up in the 1960s, Hubert H Humphrey of Minnesota was Vice-President under President Lyndon Johnson. I remember being told in school, how he claimed that the government could continue deficit spending indefinitely, so long as the USA had the ability to continue to borrow, and others were willing to lend.

I don't know much, but I don't think it's like that anymore.

Pat Buchanan writes: "Federal revenues are running at 16 percent of gross domestic product, spending at 27 percent. Wednesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned that a Greece-like situation, where creditors refuse to buy U.S. debt unless we raise interest rates to cover the rising risks of a U.S. default, cannot be ruled out." In the meantime, we can have a little fun watching him make a futile attempt to explain monetary policy to Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

(H/T to Hot Air.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

FAMW: Black Eyed Peas

We couldn't find a “flash mob” scene in time for Mardi Gras weekend, but if we had, it would probably have looked a lot like this.

Since we wrote about the appearance of the Dominican Sisters of Mary on The Oprah Show on the 9th and 11th of February, we've heard from people who said they didn't approve of the Sisters' decision, and that while Our Lord did break bread with publicans and others of ill repute, he used those occasions to admonish them to reform their lives. I wasn't there personally, but from what I recall to have been written, he didn't seem to wear that on his sleeve. Neither did the Sisters. Even Daniel came out of the lions' den unscathed. So we're won't let the month go out without a reluctant tribute to Oprah for doing the right thing once in a while. This is what a pop recording ensemble known as The Black Eyed Peas did to open her show for its twenty-fourth season last September.

You can tell who's about to start joining in. It's the ones who are a little too stiff before they let loose. She does seem genuinely surprised, though. I'm not sure they told her in advance.

That's the idea behind a flash mob, and how we leave you with this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Mazel tov.

Life at the Main Drag

We were chatting "around the water cooler" this morning, so to speak, about how high the winds were blowing outside. My Scion XB would be a bit too high to stay upright on the road if things got bad enough. The conversation drifted to model car collections, then to custom modifications. Finally, the name of Ed Roth was dropped, and I remembered some of the guys I grew up with back in Ohio.

There were some guys in my Scout Troop who were totally into cars. How they ever got their hands on them by the age of fourteen, I couldn't tell you. Whatever you hear about Boy Scouts, these guys were definitely not sissies.

What is it about small towns and car enthusiasts? I suppose there is an inherent need for a sense of high culture in all of us, and when we are not raised to appreciate what some call "the finer things" in life, we look elsewhere to fill that void. There is a sense of adventure for the individual, and of camaraderie for the group.

That's when I found out more about those stickers I used to see on cars driving down US 50 past the shopping center. Funny how things like that flash back in your head sometimes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


From Ananova via Romanian Giuliano Stroe - who has been trained by his gymnast dad Iulian since he could walk - stunned TV viewers in his homeland by almost doubling the current world record of 12. The body-building youngster pulled off 20 of the special press ups - where the legs never touch the floor - before stopping.

“If you don’t give him shelter, he’ll have no place to hide.”

There are a few songs that have remained in my head over the years. One of the great things about the internet, is that in some cases, I am able to resolve their origins, or the words that I forgot. “The Devil” is one of those songs. I first heard it in the late 1970s on WEBN-FM, sung a capella by a man whose identity I never learned. It was back in the days when FM radio was more hip than AM radio, because FM stations didn't interrupt the songs with a lot of inane chatter. So you had to listen to five or six songs before they went through the list and told you.

Hoyt Axton was a folksinger's folksinger, which is to say that he was better known for contributing to others' songlists than to his own. This is one of the songs he wrote but didn't keep to himself. The video clip is from his November 1978 performance on the PBS series Austin City Limits. It's not the same as the one I first heard, but the words are all there.

Axton died of a heart attack in 1999, at the age of 61. I wish I could ask him what he was trying to say.

Guitar Workshop: Pentatonic Scale

For this Thursday midday installment of “Guitar Workshop” we present a lesson I wish I'd had seven years ago.

Early in the decade I spent a lot of time on the road between DC, Baltimore, and Philly, hanging out with the zydeco music scene. The guys who came up from Louisiana found out I was pretty good with a guitar, at least as a rhythm player. I sat in for several bands over a period of about a year, and I got pretty good at it. But if there's anything to the so-called “Peter Principle” of the corporate culture, I learned the hard way at a house party outside of Baltimore.

As with any zydeco band, the accordionist/vocalist was the "front man," with a washboard player for flourish, and rhythm guitar, bass, and drums to round it out. We started doing this tune in the key of E flat. Not D or E, mind you, but E FLAT! I didn't even know they made button accordions to play in E flat. It was okay for the first two verses. Suddenly, right after the chorus, the Guy Up Front suddenly turns and says: "Yeah! Take it, Dave!"

I can't talk about what happened next. It's just too painful. To this day I keep telling myself, "It was only a house party."

It also would have been relatively easy to "fake it till you make it" had I only a scant knowledge of what's known as the pentatonic scale. This is is a musical scale with five pitches per octave, ending on the first pitch one octave higher. In the major scale, this is built on a "circle of fifths" (that's C, G, D, A, and E) which ends up being C, D, E, G, A, and again at C. (Think of "My Girl" by the Temptations. Got that? Yeah, you got it. Now then ...) The blues scale steps down to the relative minor for the first note -- in our tutorial, A, C, D, E, G, and again at A.

Here we have Danny Grady giving us the basics of the scale, and a preview of him using it to build up blues progressions that are sure to build your chops as a lead guitarist. This lesson is designed for the advanced beginner or intermediate player, someone who is ready to start playing up the neck, but doesn't know where to go once he gets there. Each segment shown here ends with identical advertisements for, featuring Elvis Presley's own Chief of Chops from the old Sun Record days, Mr Scotty Moore. You get a little taste of how he gave that southern-fried twang to that early hit, "Hound Dog."

Some of our intermediate players might make do with these samplers. For free downloads of the full, uncut, high quality videos, go to

Berlin Revisited

Last week, we reported on the collapse of a roof of a New Jersey parish rectory, in a piece entitled “Ich bin ein Berliner!” We wanted to show you some pictures of the damage. You can click on the images here for a better look. The claims adjuster visited the parish on Monday, so things were very hectic there, or we would have had this report for you sooner. We ask for prayers to Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, that those responsible for assessing the damage for insurance purposes conduct themselves in a just and fair manner.

Meanwhile, the response from outside the parish boundaries has been overwhelming. An early estimation puts the amount at roughly fifteen hundred dollars, as of last night. This is based on one-time submissions from outside the parish, and thus may be attributed to our appeal, and that of others in the Catholic blogosphere who have passed our message along. Father Pasley is reported to be deeply moved by the kindness of those whom he has never met. We here at mwbh will continue to provide updated information.

Speaking of things being hectic, the weather took a surprising turn, and there is a sudden snowstorm in New Jersey. School is being let out early, and the parish staff is taking the necessary precautions, so our information remains sketchy. Meanwhile, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday this week are the "Ember Days" of this season. Father has entertained seminarians from all over the country who come to see him. He has asked for prayers for an abundance of vocations.

If you are moved to assist, or to continue earlier assistance, please send your checks to: Mater Ecclesiae Roman Catholic Church, 261 Cross Keys Road, Berlin NJ 08009-9431. Or you can go to the parish Paypal account:

Should you decide to send a check, be sure to write in the lower left hand corner (or, with Paypal, in the comments box), the words “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chef Hymie Grande

... is the first and only bottled BBQ sauce to carry the seal of the American Diabetes Association on the label. It has no high fructose corn syrup, no processed sugar, it is all natural and vegan friendly. It is produced by Jamie Failtelson, aka Chef Hymie Grande of Carlstadt, New Jersey. Five percent of proceeds go to the American Diabetes Association.

Check it out, and tell him mwbh sent you.

Five Second Theatre: Spiderman

Hey, who couldn't forget Peter Parker, the kid who never quite gets the girl despite everything? Maybe it's because he's always broke, or because he lives with his auntie. Does anybody ever think of that? No, because that would ruin the mystique of “Spiderman” who is probably the world's best known super-anti-hero.

Did that make sense?

Fifty Fun Facts From Fifty States

This was sent to me by "S.L." of Seattle, Washington, and I thought I'd include it here. Maybe you can check it out in between doing crossword puzzles. Maybe you didn't know something about your own state. So here goes:

Was the first place to have 9-1-1, started in 1968.

One out of every 64 people has a pilot's license.

Is the only state in the continental United States that doesn't follow Daylight Savings Time.

Has the only active diamond mine in the USA.

Its economy is so large that if it were a country, it would rank seventh in the entire world.

In 1976 it became the only state to turn down the Olympics.

The Frisbee was invented here at Yale University.

Has more scientists and engineers than any other state.

At 759 square miles, Jacksonville is the USA's largest city.

It was here, in 1886, that pharmacist John Pemberton made the first vat of Coca-Cola. [Hey, do you know what was in the formula originally that was eventually removed? No, not sugar in favor of high fructose corn syrup.]

Hawaiians live, on average, five years longer than residents in any other state.

TV was invented in Rigby, Idaho, in 1922.

The Chicago River is dyed green every Saint Patrick's Day

Home to Santa Claus, Indiana, which get a half million letters to Santa every year.

Winnebagos get their name from Winnebago County. Also, it is the only state that begins with two vowels.

Liberal, Kansas, has an exact replica of the house in The Wizard of Oz.

Has more than $6 billion in gold underneath Fort Knox.

Has parishes instead of counties because they were originally Spanish church units.

It's so big, it covers as many square miles as the other five New England states combined.

The Ouija board was created in Baltimore in 1892.

The Fig Newton is named after Newton, Massachusetts.

Fremont, home to Gerber, is the baby food capital of the world.

Bloomington's Mall of America is so big, if you spent 10 minutes in each store, you'd be there nearly four days.

President Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear here. That's how the teddy bear got its name.

Is the birthplace of the ice cream cone.

A sapphire from Montana is in the Crown Jewels of England.

More triplets are born here than in any other state.

Birthplace of Tupperware, invented in 1938 by Earl Tupper.

Has the most shopping malls in one area in the world.

Smokey the Bear was rescued from a 1950 forest fire here.

Is home to the nation's oldest cattle ranch, started in 1747 in Montauk.

Home of the first Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Rigby, North Dakota, is the exact geographic center of North America.

The hot dog was invented here in 1900. OH!

The grounds of the state capital are covered by operating oil wells.

Has the most ghost towns in the country.

The smiley, :) was first used in 1980 by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University.

The nation's oldest bar, the White Horse Tavern, opened here in 1673

Sumter County is home to the world's largest gingko farm.

Is the only state that's never had an earthquake.

Nashville's Grand Ole Opry is the longest running live radio show in the world.

Dr Pepper was invented in Waco back in 1885.

The first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant opened here in 1952.

Montpelier is the only state capital without a McDonald's.

Home of the world's largest office building -- the Pentagon.

Seattle has twice as many college graduates as any other state.

Had the world's first brick paved street, Summers Street, laid in Charleston in 1870.

The ice cream sundae was invented here in 1881 to get around Blue Laws prohibiting ice cream from being sold on Sundays.

Was the first state to allow women to vote.

That covers the fifty states. Now, for the bonus fun fact from a non-state ...

Was the first planned capital in the world.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Media: The Next Big Thing

When this piece came out this morning, I couldn't resist. And speaking of things that are ruining Twitter, it seems I'm not alone. Sean Percival of Lalawag has list of the “Top 5 Things Ruining Twitter.” And, if only on a bit of a tangent, Joe Brockmeier of ZDNet has a list of “Five things Twitter could do when it grows up.” And you thought I was the only one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Twitter, thy name is Legion!

It sounds like a great idea at first, especially if it makes its inventor wealthy.

Twitter is a social networking and "microblogging" service, founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, which allows its users to send and receive messages of up to 140 characters known by the ridiculous name of "tweets." Account holders create a username, have their own page for receiving messages they follow, and from this page (or a third-party platform like Tweetdeck) can follow others, or restrict who follows them.

Twitter has been instrumental in getting news to the world from within Iran, in the face of recent political upheavals. A number of charitable organizations associated with relief to Haiti have found it to be an effective fundraising tool. And such applications of new media were likely to have been a critical factor in the most recent Presidential election.

I started using Twitter about a year ago. It is used by mwbh mainly for two reasons; to alert followers about new stories, and to send occasional "twitcasts" while following special events on location. It also has an added benefit of allowing me to keep up with how my son Paul is doing. The kid still cracks me up.

And yet, there is a trade-off in following another account holder. As a wise editor/publisher once told me; some people have something to say, while others have to say something. You'd be surprised how many people appear to be the former until you follow them on Twitter, after which they become the latter. I have two examples.

One is a well-established blogger in Virginia, who is a fascinating writer, but especially if you follow her on Tweetdeck, she will spend Friday and Saturday nights inundating you with fifteen or twenty "tweets" about what she's doing at any given moment, or what she's watching on television, or listening to on the radio. Judging from her picture, and the fact that she is happily married, you'd think she has better things to do. Not really.

Then there's a guy in Maryland who's a very talented young man; a musician, songwriter, and multimedia developer. Sometimes, just when I'm about to wish I could be him, he will update his audience on exactly which restaurant he's visiting (and he seems to visit a lot of them), what he's eating, and where he's going next.

Imagine what the life of yours truly might be like:

here at starbucks, sipping latte, scratching my @$$. when they say free wifi, you get what you pay for.

leaving starbucks. in the mood for sushi. anyone know a good sushi place nearby? my latitude and longitude are ...

hey there's a place across the street. light's about to change. i can't wait that long.


Like I said, it's a trade-off.

It pains me to do it, but starting this week I have to cancel several people I'm currently following; not because I don't like them, but because -- I'm gonna be polite here -- I don't fit the profile of their target audience. In the meanwhile, I have some advice for the people who fit the above examples. First of all, STOP! Your own mother doesn't have the time to follow your every move, and you come across as a pathetically lonely person, and the people who really know you know better. Second, keep the "potty mouth" to a minimum. When you cuss like a sailor, in person and off the record, it's there, then it's gone. When you do it in print, it stays there, and the initial shock value has a bad aftertaste. Third, and finally, if you must tweet the universe every ten or fifteen minutes, have something to say of lasting substance; a link to a story, or a photograph, a video -- something that isn't just you shooting off your virtual mouth.

Because, while much of what is read in this medium saves paper, we're no better off if it still belongs in a landfill.

[POSTSCRIPT: If you think that so-called "new media" doesn't become "old media" rather quickly, think again. And again.]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Filipinos and Fables

It's late Monday morning in the Philippines as this is written. In following the readership stats for this site, and tracking visitors from all over the world, I've noticed that most of my Pinoy friends have a particular interest in “The Ant and the Grasshopper” which is a story published here last September. It would appear that they are steered in the direction of this piece after searching for an example of a fable.

Obviously my curiosity is piqued, as one can only surmise that many of you are taking the same correspondence course, one about either economics or fables. Or something. Perhaps one of you could enlighten me ... ano?

Thomas Jefferson Explains It All For You

[What follows are a series of quotations from the author of our Nation's Declaration of Independence, and her third President. They are contributed by our regular correspondent "D.W."]

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

[The last one dates from 1802, and may be the most ominous.]

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ode to Mother Teresa

Later this year, the United States Postal Service is supposed to release a postage stamp honoring Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who won the Nobel Prize after accomplishing something. Whoever said life was fair, huh?

In the last twenty years I've owned four cars. There is only one bumper sticker I ever put on them. It is black with gold lettering, a quotation from Mother Teresa: “It is a poverty to decide that A CHILD MUST DIE so that you may live as you wish.” No one among the politically-correct of my acquaintance has ever given me a hard time over it. Probably because I'd kick their ass.

That didn't stop whoever left his note on my car in the parking lot today.

True! But it is also BS that some people have child after child without thought as to if they can afford them. Their selfish choices are the true "poverty." My husband and I are 33 and can almost afford to have a child. We will once its certain we can afford it w/out burdening others.

For a couple like this even one child is perceived as a burden. Maybe they'd endorse the government running credit checks before having permission to get pregnant. Maybe that's in the proposed health care plan, you think? Does it occur to people that when they get old they might conceivably be a burden to their children, especially if they're raised with an attitude like this?

My generation may be the one to learn this lesson the hard way. Still, I'm not sure how I'd respond if somebody came up to me at the car and said this. Maybe I'd ask them if they would have been willing to be aborted if they were determined to be a burden to their mother.

Then again, I'd probably just kick their ass.

Friday, February 19, 2010

FAMW: Boy Meets Curl

Did anyone watch “The Simpsons” this past week? Nah, didn't think so. Hey, it's not nearly as tasteless as “Family Guy” or “American Dad,” so not to worry. But this episode hit at just the right time; not only because it was about the Winter Olympics, but because it caught the fever of the latest "cool" sport.

(Just ask the world's most powerful Catholic blogger. Hey, just sayin'...)

I'm talking about curling, people. Oh, yes, and it's not just Homer and Marge. ESPN has got a fevah, and the only thing that will cure it is more broomsticks! They're certainly not ashamed of it in Canada, as CBC reports on how this sport is going gangbusters with our neighbors (neighbours?) to the North. And you, too, can learn all about it, where else, at Wikipedia.

Oh yeah, the plot.

Marge and Homer discover that they have a common love for the sport, so they try out for the Olympic team. Simple enough? Of course not, but it's gotta happen within the 28-minute time frame, as they are somehow able to play in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. But there's a dark side to the story, as daughter Lisa is left to struggle with her addiction to ...

Now, you were expecting part four of this episode, weren't you? So was I, but they don't seem to have it. So we're going to have to settle for this quaint little placeholder, as well as the need to use a hand mirror to watch these clips, and hope that there is enough of the essential ingredient for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ich Bin Ein Berliner!

Frequent readers of mwbh may be aware that yours truly is a Master of Ceremonies for a regular Sunday Traditional Latin Mass in northern Virginia. Those of us who are dedicated to this work tend to know one another, and frequently correspond, exchange ideas, and offer each other moral support. One thing that all of us have in common, is a high esteem for one good Father in particular.

Nearly a decade ago, the Bishop of Camden, New Jersey, graciously permitted the first canonically established Church owned and operated by a Roman Catholic diocese, to be granted exclusive use of the 1962 Missale Romanum. Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church) is located about a half hour's drive from Camden, in the borough of Berlin. There lives a dedicated priest by the name of Father Robert Pasley. He presides over a growing and vibrant parish, with a variety of activities for all ages, a solid religious education program, and the offering of the Mass and Sacraments in the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite, for the preference of those in and around the Diocese of Camden.

Father Pasley is known to be a hard-working and dedicated priest, and a man of simple habits, who isn't above getting his hands dirty. But he has had his share of challenges of late, including throat surgery several weeks ago. While recovering, he is unable to use his vocal chords, so he cannot say Mass publicly, and has relied on a variety of substitute priests.

The recent snow storms that hit the middle Atlantic region have taken their toll on the little parish. There have been a series of mishaps, the worst of which was the buildup of snow on the roof of the rectory causing part of it to cave in. The power has also been out at one time or another, the sum total of which has simply made living there difficult. To add insult to injury, the cable television and high-speed internet went out for a brief period, making it nearly impossible for his distinguished guest to follow his favorite sport at the Winter Olympics. Oh, the humanity!

With the subsiding of the bad weather comes the spring. Anyone who has spent any time at a Catholic parish knows, that the time leading up to and including Holy Week is the busiest time of the year, and Mater Ecclesiae is no exception. On top of that, there is a roof to fix. The parishioners are sure to rally around the pride and joy that is their parish. For the last seven years, theirs has been one of the few parishes in the diocese to reach one hundred percent of its goal in the annual bishop's lenten appeal. But in a state experiencing its share of economic difficulties, the current situation presents an additional hardship, one that must be resolved forthwith.

So, we here at mwbh are calling upon all of you, dear readers, to help. We're launching a Lenten Appeal of our own:

For all who love the Holy Mass, and know it to be The Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven, let them come to Berlin.

For all those who love their Catholic tradition, and long for its restoration in the life of the Church, let them come to Berlin.

For all who have witnessed offenses against Christ in the Eucharist, and the attacks against His Bride who is the Church, all within Her own house, and who long for a sign of deliverance, let them come to Berlin.

Well, if only in spirit. Send your checks to ...

Mater Ecclesiae
    Roman Catholic Church
261 Cross Keys Road
Berlin NJ 08009-9431

... or go to the following site using the parish Paypal account:

Should you decide to send a check, be sure to write in the lower left hand corner (or, with Paypal, in the comments box), the words we can all say together to show our solidarity with these good people in need: Ich ... bin ... ein ... Berliner!
. .

CMR: The Baby Gianna Story (Postlude)

This week we have highlighted “The Baby Gianna Story” (Parts I, II, and III) by Creative Minority Report. Today's postscript highlights the challenge facing our Catholic health care system, which amounts to the ability to remain Catholic.

[T]he practice of de-facto euthanasia, as well as several other un-Catholic practices, are widespread in Catholic hospitals. In all too many cases, these practices are known and accepted ... Just this week, Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker revoked the "Catholic" title from St. Charles Medical Center over their continued performing of sterilizations. It was regrettable, but necessary.

They're not kidding about euthanasia in Catholic hospitals. Neither was Mary Therese Helmueller when she wrote a piece about this deplorable practice some years ago for Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where Buffalos Roam

It might be rather pathetic to make much out of it, but I'm not going to lie about it either. My childhood was, for the most part, not a very happy one. My years in Scouting didn't change that. But of all the experiences I had growing up, it was Scouting that gave me the venue to rise above the fray.

Obviously, it didn't happen overnight.

I actually joined the Scouting movement in the fall of 1963, with Pack 128, sponsored by the Milford United Methodist Church in Milford, Ohio. I was in Cubbing for two years. It wasn't much of an experience, really. Even my dad, who was active in the pack as a volunteer, wasn't impressed with Cubbing as a program. I don't remember why. Two years later, as I approached my eleventh birthday, we decided I wouldn't re-register.

But the following year, in February of 1966, I joined Troop 120, sponsored by Victor Stier American Legion Post 450, also in Milford, Ohio. There were some older boys whom I wanted to emulate, but they mysteriously left en masse after about a year, leaving us with a re-organization that eliminated the Eagle Patrol, of which I was about to be made Patrol Leader. I wouldn't get close to the "green bars" again for several years.

My dad became Scoutmaster after the mass exodus, in the spring of 1967. He had little in the way of outdoor experience, but was a consummate administrator. Our "patrol leaders training" classes were run like adult business seminars, and it was only later that I discovered that they were even supposed to be held outdoor. One night, a young man in his mid-twenties walked in, wearing cowboy boots. Hey, this guy is really cool, I thought. And with that, Phil Rumsey became our Assistant Scoutmaster, and Dad's other half.

One of the problems I've always had with how troop organization is handled in Scouting, is with the "staff" positions, those which are not in charge of people but of things. Jobs like Troop Quartermaster, Troop Scribe, and Troop Librarian. I had those three jobs in that order. Advancing from the rank of Tenderfoot to Life Scout (the one before Eagle) took me only three years. I would spend another three years as a Life Scout, and in the meaningless position of Troop Librarian.

It was a dead end. I knew it, and the idiot grown-ups on the Troop Committee knew it. No one had any ideas, but if Ritalin had been around back then, they probably would have begged my parents to have me put on it.

Finally, someone -- I don't remember who -- suggested I become a Den Chief. That's a Boy Scout who helps a Den Mother or Den Leader in managing a Cub Den, sort of like a support mentor. My pack never had such things, because our affiliate troop was rather insular. But this was with the other Cub Pack in town, the one that went with the program. And, it was a "Webelos" Den, which consisted of ten-year-old boys who would be eligible for Boy Scouting in a year. They were fun kids, if several years younger, and I got along with them well enough. But it was the Den Leader, one Mr Bailey, who first taught me the lessons of leadership.

When the ten-year-olds became eleven-year-olds, most of them actually joined Boy Scouting, my Troop in particular. As remarkable as this was -- there is a high attrition rate from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts -- no one wanted them, so they stuck them in a patrol that was about to be phased out. And, of course, being desperate as they were, they made me the patrol leader. I can tell you their expectations for these guys wasn't very high.

By this time, I had read everything I could get my hands on regarding patrol leadership; program ideas, team-building exercises, the works. We went on activities as a group by ourselves, without the rest of the troop, something you only read about in the Boy Scout magazines, but never saw in real life. We had a patrol flag, and actually had our own patrol meetings. We all got together and built our own sled, and kicked ass in the competition at the district's winter "Klondike Derby" campout. The weather was near zero that night, and I spent most of it awake, keeping the fire going, and my young charges from freezing to death by sleeping close by.

When I sat before the Eagle Board of Review, in December of that year, one of the panelists said that "Dave started out as being a problem, but he ended up being the solution." I tried to start an Explorer Post (which now would be called a Venturing Crew -- long story) specializing in canoeing and camping. I actually had a few of my friends interested, but couldn't get enough adult support, so the idea tanked. But I passed the Board of Review. I stayed with the troop for another year, passing on a unanimous vote to be made Senior Patrol Leader, opting instead to be a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, a position common to Eagle Scouts who remain. Sadly, the unit was already going downhill due to poor adult leadership (my Dad was already out of the picture, another long story), and lack of support from the American Legion post (essentially a group of aging drunks).

With graduation from high school, I left Scouting behind -- reluctantly, as with so many institutions of my childhood, they didn't seem to know what to do with someone no longer a boy, but not quite a man. I was getting a part-time job after school, and making plans for college. Barely a year after joining the ranks of eagles, it was all so far away.

My son never got to be in Scouting, mostly due to the lack of cooperation from his mother. I think a few years of it would have done him a world of good, but it's all academic now. With nearly six years back in uniform, I have yet to truly find my niche.

But for a brief episode, it was mine for the taking. The image you see there is of the Buffalo Patrol of Milford Troop 120, in January or February of 1971, as I will always remember them: from left to right, Seth Wallace (whose dad was an architect, and gave me the idea to be one too), Mark Bittner (my faithful, if quiet, assistant), Eric Strathman (who later went on to become "Senior Patrol Leader," the top youth position in a troop), myself, ???? Bollman (whose dad thought he was crazy for being in Scouting when he could be playing football), and Tim Ring (one of my guitar students).

I'm breaking with convention here, by listing names of non-relatives, in the hope that the result is a fitting tribute, to one of the few high points in my childhood, and the colleagues who made it possible. What I wouldn't give to know where they are today, and how they are doing.

CMR: The Baby Gianna Story (Part III)

Our story continues ...

We have all had a piece of this story, which on the outside, looks like a tragic, sad, devastating defeat. But this is not a story of defeat. This is a story of triumph- the triumph of Baptism.

... for the rest of the week.

Why I Am Not Giving Up Blogging For Lent

“Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.”

Today, any number of participants in the Catholic blogoshere will announce, with some measure of fanfare, that they are giving up blogging for Lent. We're supposed to admire them. You're welcome to if you'd like, but as for me, what follows is why I'm not giving up blogging for Lent. In addition, while not a complete treatise on the subject, this piece will serve to clear up some heretofore little-known aspects of the season.

The Christian calendar has traditionally had numerous periods of fasting in anticipation of great feasts. For example, in some parts of Europe, especially the east, the "Saint Martin's Fast" would begin on the 11th of November ("Martinmas"), and continue until Christmas. There were also Ember Days, three days of penance occurring on a quarterly basis. But it was the season of Lent which is known as "The Great Fast" of the year of grace. Other parts of Europe, especially in the west, did not begin their penitential season until the four Sundays before Christmas, the time of which is known as "Advent."

People assume that Lent is the only time for giving up anything, when it isn't. People also assume that giving up anything involves making a big to-do about it, when it shouldn't. Attending daily Mass is a popular exercise, and in most major cities where there are urban parishes near a business district, there will be an extra scheduled weekday Mass -- and extra time for confessions -- during the season. These things don't always call attention to themselves. They shouldn't.

And speaking of the season, it didn't always just start right away. The traditional Roman calendar preceded Lent with three Sundays collectively known as "Septuagesima" (or literally "seventy days"). They were termed "Septuagesima Sunday," "Sexagesima Sunday," and "Quinquagesima Sunday," respectively. The priest would wear violet vestments, the Gloria was not sung, and the Tract replaced the Alleluia before the Gospel. But the musical accompaniment was not restricted, and flowers and other suitable decor could be placed on the reredos behind the altar as normally done during the year. To this day, the Byzantine calendar of the Eastern churches has five special Sundays preceding Lent: "Zacchaeus Sunday" (if only in the Slavic tradition), "The Sunday of the Publican & Pharisee," "The Sunday of the Prodigal Son," "Meatfare Sunday" (or "The Sunday of the Last Judgment," when the faithful begin abstaining from meat), and "Cheesefare Sunday" (when they begin abstaining from dairy products, which for them would include eggs).

In addition, there was a time when weddings were not permitted during Advent or Lent, unless there was a serious reason. And if one was allowed, the altar and sanctuary could not be decorated as it could otherwise be for the occasion. (Try that today, and see a young lady get in touch with her inner Bridezilla, eh?)

So right now you're saying, “Wow, Mister Black Hat Guy, you are a veritable fountain of arcane and useless knowledge. But how does it explain why you're not giving up blogging for Lent?”

Well, my little minions, it doesn't. But I had to work in all that arcane and useless knowledge somehow. As to the point of all this ...

To the extent that mwbh identifies itself as "Catholic," its author is engaged in what could be considered a propagation of the Faith. And in case it isn't obvious by now, you don't give up an apostolate for Lent, you big dummy! So it's settled then. Now if you'll excuse me, my tailor is here, and I'm to be fitted for a new sackcloth. Hmmm, something in light brown ....

Rosary Beads USA

Every now and then a story comes across our desk here at mwbh, one that is a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit.

Mary is from a small town in central New Hampshire. Recovering from cancer-related surgery, and more or less tied to the house, she supplements her meager income through the production of hand-made rosaries and chaplets. Notice I didn't say "home-made," because her products have that quality of craftsmanship that enables years of use, whether for personal devotion, or as a special gift for First Communion or graduation. From plastic beads to semi-precious stones and everything in between, whether on chain links, corded, flex wire or wire wrapped, everything she sells is prayerfully assembled with careful and strong link locking construction, to assure you of a durable and lasting product with which you will be most pleased.

Mary's rosaries come standard with a traditional Crucifix and matching Marian center piece. If you would prefer Saint Benedict, or a specific Marian center, please email to inquire what is available. General stock includes: Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Grace, Saint Therese, Saint Patrick and several others.

Special orders can be arranged. Perhaps you would require something special, such as cloissoné, lampwork, foil, metal, or millefiori beads. Contact her by email and she will work with you to meet your needs. If it requires special construction, barring special orders, the turn-around time is generally within 24 to 48 hours, including shipping and handling.

Mary also makes very stunning jewelry, including bracelets and necklaces. I recently heard from a very satisfied customer, who gave her daughter a matching set for graduation, made with genuine Swarvoski Crystal, and the price was reasonable.

This dedicated craftswoman gives ten percent of her proceeds to the Seraphic Mass Association for the missions in Puerto Rico and Papua New Guinea, as well as other missionaries in developing countries. An additional ten percent goes to a very worthy parish here in the States, one with a story of its own, a story you'll be hearing about tomorrow. But for now, you can go to ...

... to see what Mary has to offer. Her banner will be featured at the top of the blue sidebar here at mwbh through the end of Holy Week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What A “Class Act” Looks Like


Announces a Moratorium on Campaign Media Efforts

(JOHNSTOWN, PA) – Responding to the sudden and unfortunate announcement of the death of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA-12th), GOP challenger William Russell has asked all citizens, Republicans, Democrats and Independents to come together and pray for Joyce and the Murtha family as they deal with the tragic loss of husband, father and grandfather. “While Mr. Murtha and I were political combatants in every sense, our family and campaign team asks you to keep the Murtha family in your thoughts and prayers,” said Russell. “Regardless of your political position, you always knew Jack had an immense love and loyalty to his family and the residents of the12th Congressional District.

The Russell campaign is immediately initiating a moratorium on all political media activity for the next five days in respect of the passing of John Murtha. The campaign will also remove all political references to Mr. Murtha on the website immediately.

It is the wish of the William Russell for Congress Committee, that the passing of Mr. Murtha be treated with the utmost respect and decency by all, especially in the media and weblogs.

The above appears at the website of a Republican challenger for Congress from Pennsylvania, one William Russell. As stated, the content of this page expects to be returned to normal after an appropriate interim. This wirter had the opportunity to speak with the gentleman at some length about a year ago, concerning the political scene in the Keystone State. At this time, and inasmuch as Pennsylvania is expected to lose congressional seats after the next census, a redistricting may or may not affect Russell's future plans. In the meantime, he is a class act in person as well.

Mardi Gras

Throughout much of the Western Hemisphere, especially that portion which was eventually settled by the Catholic nations of France, Portugal, and Spain, the days preceding Lent are referred to as the “Carnival” (possibly from the Latin carne vale, which means "farewell to meat"). In the state of Louisiana and thereabouts, the weekend preceding the beginning of Lent culminates in the celebration of today, which is variously known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday -- in French, “Mardi Gras” ...

Even the typical Mardi Gras phrase, “Throw me something mister,” is colored by the Saints recent Super Bowl win.

Instead crowds shouted “Who Dat,” the preferred rallying cry of Saint’s fans, as they threw their arms into the air to catch throws during parades today.

“I’m a Saints fan,” said Eric Aubry, 45, who shouted the phrase as a Zulu float passed his usual spot ...

When I was a teenager, a classmate of mine bragged to me of her adventures to New Orleans and getting arrested for this occasion. I remember thinking it sounded perfectly dreadful. Even today, I still don't think much of the idea. Of course, if you leave the "Big Easy", drive by Baton Rouge as though it didn't exist, and head west along Interstate 10 toward the southwestern part of the state, to cities like Lafayette and Lake Charles, or if you get off the main road and head up to smaller towns like Eunice and Opelousas, the celebration of Mardi Gras is more of a family affair.

Tonight, the parish where I work is having a Mardi Gras celebration. They'll serve jambalaya (or so I'm told) and burn the palm branches from last year to make the ashes for tomorrow. I'm going to attempt to introduce a new custom of “burning the alleluias” like they do in some parts of Europe. Yes, I could have gone dancing tonight, but my back isn't doing too well.

Besides, I'd rather dance to these guys. Stay tuned for early spring when we publish -- "the lost interview."

CMR: The Baby Gianna Story (Part II)

Our saga of a crisis pregnancy as told by Creative Minority Report continues.

Rebecca had been on the fence for months over whether to abort her child as her boyfriend wanted her to. But through Jessica Chominski’s efforts and prayers, along with volunteers at the crisis pregnancy center, Rebecca made the brave decision to keep her baby. Unfortunately, Rebecca’s boyfriend ...

We will continue to link to this extraordinary tale with each installment.

Monday, February 15, 2010

You’re (Probably) An Idiot

The majority of people in America who will surf the web in the next 24 hours are convinced, that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said that she could see Russia from her house. She didn't; a comedian named Tina Fey said it while doing a very convincing impersonation of her. It had to be very convincing, since so many of us are convinced.

Most people don't read anything of substance, and therefore will believe anything some well-dressed pompadour tells them on the evening news. We cringe when someone like Glenn Beck makes a very simple, very cogent presentation about the former lobbyists which the current President said he would never have in his administration. Is he playing on our fears? Well, sure he is, but is that what really bothers us? If our friends knew we watched Glenn Beck, if we had him on Tivo, would they still invite us to their parties, or to be their Facebook pals? Do we have the same reaction when Keith Olbermann goes on the warpath? (If you're under 25, do you have to think hard about those answers?)

People who do any serious reading would know that, to be the Governor of Alaska, makes you the commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. In addition, it would come as no surprise if this put you in charge of the only National Guard unit in the USA on permanent active duty status. You would also know that having this responsibility for any length of time, requires an extensive background check for security clearance, since you would be involved in border security issues in relation to a major superpower, who is presently a precarious ally at best. Now, one may not think Sarah Palin should be the next president*, but neither a lack of experience, nor a lack of intelligence, are good reasons.

Besides, if a lack of experience was such a big deal, we would not have elected a President whose political career consists of less than eight years in a state legislature -- an undistinguished tenure, by his own admission, while appearing with his wife in a televised interview -- followed by roughly two years as a US senator, before running for the Nation's highest office. The point is, if that's enough experience, we probably attach more significance to something else.

And we still wouldn't have "a lack of experience" as an excuse.

People will even make jokes about a speaker jotting down a few words on their hand, as if no one ever does that. By the time we learn that someone on the other side of the political fence has done the same thing, it won't matter. But those who made something of it to begin with are fully aware of our collective short attention span, or at least know how to exploit it. They already know we've moved on to something else.

The way we form our opinions on the issues of the day can make a difference. With only one year into this administration, people are shocked at developments so far. We are seeing enormous disillusionment by those who supported this very outcome, and massive "tea party" rallies. How could we let this happen?

If you have to ask, you're (probably) an idiot.

* For the record, I don't. While I admire her personally, I believe Ms Palin would be more effective after serving as Vice President for at least one term. Some people need seasoning, or a more gradual ascent to greater responsibility. I am convinced she falls in that category. Just so we understand each other.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Your Funny Valentine!

Gentlemen, it is that time of year, when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of making a total ass of himself. This occasion is known in polite company as “Valentine’s Day!”

Many at Saint Blog's Parish are familiar with the (in)famous Katrina Fernandez, who first made waves in 2006, by announcing her availability to the Catholic blogosphere for the purposes of courtship, including having her picture taken next to a bishop. You just can't get a better endorsement than that. The woman known as “The Crescat” is also the owner/operator (and frequent winner) of her own annual blog award ceremony, “The Caroline Cannonball Awards.” Her many pictures of fine imagery of the Catholic and Orthodox artistic heritage, and the occasional rapier witticisms, have brought nearly four hundred thousand visitors to her blog site in a measly four and a half years. (After seven and a half years, we estimate about two-thirds that number to mwbh. Heh!)

But alas, as much as she tries to hide the pain ...

reason's to hate valentine's day, part 1 ... because the only time in my entire life that I ever received flowers was when everyone thought I was dying.

... she is broken-hearted at the prospect of another Valentine's Day coming and going. No flowers, no evening of dinner and dancing, no weekend jaunt to the Cayman Islands awaits our heroine. It is such a shame, as she has all that a young man could possibly want; a gorgeous appearance, a brilliant intellect, a promising nursing career, and that slightly crazed look in most of her photos.

Well, are we going to stand for this???

It's time for all you fine upstanding Catholic gentlemen out there to stand up and be counted, and Send The Crescat A Valentine! That's right, fellas. If you can find her mailing address in Charlotte, North Carolina, a minimum of one dozen long stemmed red roses for a blue lady would be welcome. Or go to Blue Mountain or any other site you choose, and send this girl the best wishes for the occasion. You can even send her a tweet. What girl doesn't want that? (She also has a Paypal account. You could just send money to finance her trip to Malta to stalk the Pope. Whatever.)

Think of this as an opportunity to spread the love you have to share, and to bring some measure of happiness to my Close and Personal Friend, who is all good, and deserving of all your love.

Of course, if I did it, Sal would kill me.