Saturday, May 31, 2014

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!


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.”


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 ...

(To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

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!


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.”


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 ...

(To see the novena as completed to the present, click here.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Novena: Prelude

Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who is to be taken up from you into heaven had to re-schedule his departure to the following Sunday in order to accomodate the busy schedules of the faithful. Now, get back to work.

(Acts 1:11, dynamic equivalent translation)

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Ascension, when Christ ascended into Heaven forty days after He rose from the dead.

Then again ...

In most provinces of the USA, and in entire countries throughout the world, the Feast has been moved to the following Sunday. We could just leave well enough alone, and transfer the obligation itself to the Sunday within the octave of the Feast, but the Western church got rid of many of its octaves in the mid-1950s, and a few more since then. You'd have to explain to people what an octave is, and that is such a pain. So unless you attend the Traditional Mass or an Eastern Rite Divine Liturgy today, in which case the aforementioned silliness does not apply, today will be remembered as just another Easter weekday.

If only they put the right spin on it, in which case it would go something like this:

“Most biblical scholars agree that Jesus ascended into Heaven forty-three days after He rose from the dead, not forty days as previously believed. The number of forty was arrived at by the end of the third century, to make it easier for Christians to count the days after Easter on their fingers and toes and double the total. But we’re so much more sophisticated now, and we can use calculators to count that high, or have our smartphones remind us.”

Whether or not we would fall for that, moving a Feast Day to a Sunday because we're all too damned lazy to go to Mass on a weekday (or a weeknight) makes about as much sense.

+    +    +

But suppose that sacred time actually mattered, in which case it would go something like this:

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, a group which, according to tradition, numbered about 120, remained sequestered in the Upper Room for nine days, awaiting the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

They returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:12-14)

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 our exclusive adaptation of the mother of all novenas, that which is devoted to the Holy Spirit, beginning this evening, and over the next nine evenings. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This Is Ponderous

You've all been wanting to ask, I just know it:

“Yo, Mister Black-Hatted One, how come you haven't added to the cacophony of commentary of Catholic stuff lately; you know, heretics running loose, Pope Francis saying something he regrets by the end of the day, the next pretty face on the celebrity convert circuit -- we've been tired of having to choose between Mark Shea's massive cult following and Michael Voris' massive head of hair. What gives?”

Well, you asked for it, and I'm gonna tell ya.

It happens every year, the two events which, one on top of the other, account for April and May being the busiest time of the year for me. There has been little opportunity to write, until the holiday weekend which had just passed.

Holy Week

There is, of course, the week or so preceding Easter, which is by far and away the busiest time of year at any Catholic parish. When I began at St John the Beloved nearly seven years ago, I was Master of Ceremonies for all parish-wide events pertaining to Holy Week. Since then, as the parish's celebration of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) uses the "Novus Ordo Missae" in Latin and English, rather than the traditional form, the role of MC has been handed over to the older gentlemen in the server corps. My official title for those days (as if I really needed one) is now "Privy Chaplain to the Pastor Emeritus," which means I sit "in choir" with him and the other ordained guys, and fetch the good Father something if he needs it. I suspect it's more of an honorarium than anything else.

Washington Folk Festival

The other event takes place on the weekend following Memorial Day. I've been involved with the Festival since 1992, when I lived in Georgetown, and ran into a former partner from the Contra Dancing days. She told me they needed a designer and editor for their program guide. I've been at it ever since, and the first three weekends in May are pretty much taken up compiling the material and putting it altogether. The staff people are really a great bunch, and it amounts to what is probably the most angst-free volunteer endeavor I have done in my life, with very little in the way of politics and palace intrigue. In return, they get a product about whose delivery they never have to worry. Granted, it is one of the less important aspects of the Festival production -- unless it isn't there.

Some years I work the Festival. Some years I don't go at all. My son Paul used to do stage work, and was running a sound board by the time he was twelve. I've never actually performed for it, though, not even as a sideman. Washington isn't like Cincinnati, where I would have been in a working band a long time ago. I can't really explain it.

Well, anyway, Holy Week and the Festival are the two annual "big ticket" items. This year, there is more …


My house needs attention this year. My townhouse neighborhood has a number of laundry rooms throughout the complex, but more and more people are putting in their own units. I had mine put in last year, but there is more to be done. Sal acquired some antique furniture when one of her home health care patients couldn't take it with them, so it has found a place here. She keeps things in the drawers for the off-season, to facilitate sharing a small apartment with her BFF, so she gets storage at room temperature, and I get a place that looks … well, more domesticated than I am (plus it breaks up the monotony of bookshelves). The acquisition also included a china cabinet, so now I can finally display my mother's Depression glass collection. In addition, I am building my new combination stereo cabinet and fireplace, over which will be mounted my (very first) big-@$$ flat screen television. I'm probably the last one in my family (or for that matter, my neighborhood) to use an old-style cathode-ray tube set. And so an era of technology draws to a close. But first …

I need to repaint the interior. Being a designer, I have to approach this using a disciplined method (which drives Sal crazy, and that's part of the fun), in the form of The Home Color Selector by David Willis. I was supposed to schedule the painters this week, but was delayed by one thing or another, so it will have to take place some time during the summer. I'm also thinking about what to do with the kitchen, which has not had anything done since these units were last renovated en masse in 1982 (which is how old my dishwasher is). I'm getting estimates anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on how much of a production I want to make of this.

Capping that all off, of course, is the need to refinance. I bought the house in September of 2005, about a year before the housing bubble burst. And even though my neighborhood is next to the most up-and-coming neighborhood in northern Virginia, my real estate assessment is only now beginning to rise, after years of steadily going down. That matters when it comes to how much you pay in real estate taxes, but as to refinancing, no matter what your credit rating or income (and I'm good on both counts), it all comes down to this: no financial institution will touch a mortgage with a balance higher than 95 percent of what the home is presently worth.

Things could be worse. I could be out in Fairfax or Loudoun County, living in a big-@$$ McMansion that really took a serious bath when the bottom fell out. But still, if I'm going to have more than a modest retirement, something's gotta happen in the next six to twelve months. But you know, I'm still in this ball game, and it ain't over until it's over.

Nine to Five

And, of course, there is still the day job. After more than thirty years as a graphic designer (a "visual information specialist" in government parlance), I have been a photographer and video producer for the last three or four years, and a year ago next month, was reclassified as an "audiovisual production specialist." My director asked me to complete a self-assessment for my midyear review. I put on it: “I am the least of your worries.” I didn't get an argument, not from him, and not from the deputy communications director, to whom he reports. I find myself becoming increasingly relied upon for certain events, and unlike my previous position, I deal directly with top officials, without being hovered over by a bunch of empty-suited nervous Nellies, as I often was in the past. So, even though I haven't gotten a promotion in a gazillion years, my influence is being felt, and I'm working with the grownups again. I haven't had the chance for this much access since the early Reagan years.

And so, even though I'm no closer to being a mega-pundit of Catholic new media than I was a year ago, it's only because there are not enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done. So if you're looking to keep up on all the bitching and moaning going on, keep watching for our regular Thursday feature, because that's where we give you the highlights and the low blows.

And speaking of time, I turn sixty years old this year, which is another subject for another day. “I think you see what I mean.”

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Loose Lips in the Loggia (My Kid Brother’s Birthday Edition)

This edition of our usual Thursday feature appears on the same day as my kid brother's birthday. That's all of us on Easter Sunday back in 1963, with Steve on the right. (It was during his bow-tie phase.) Closer to the present, he also wears a black hat, but since he wouldn't dare settle for being a cheap imitation of the real thing, he has his own style -- not an "outback" hat, but a "bowler."

Meanwhile, here's what's bouncing around the bandwidth of believers lately:

If we're going to name a pope "the Great" if he gets enough media exposure, it might be helpful to know just how short the list is, and why. [Catholic Answers]

Filed under "We Should Have Seen This Coming," a joint arrangement between a Catholic and an Episcopal parish -- "blended" is what it's called, or something -- [The Deacon's Bench]

Hey, how's that gay marriage thing working out with the "United" Methodists? [Reason.TV]

If just about every development in Western civilization was invented by either the Church or one of Her people, it should come as no surprise that a priest invented ... [Crisis]

A girl wears a tuxedo with a bow-tie for her Catholic high school yearbook photo instead of a dress as required. The school pulls the photo. Everybody who pays an awful lot of money to attend a school that teaches what they don't believe has a fit. Go figure. [The Deacon's Bench]

Finally, a bunch of idiots in Cincinnati pay for a billboard that asks if Pope Francis would sign the new Catholic school teacher contract. He already has a job. Besides, who are they to judge? [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Well, that's our story and we're stickin' to it. Remember to attend Holy Mass this Sunday. Until the next weekly chattel of church chat, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Monday, May 19, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (St Peter Celestine Edition)

Apparently if you have a lot of money, you're a corporate lackey mooching off corporate welfare and corrupting the political process at the expense of working families, unless you give to "the good guys," in which case you're just the kind of lackey we need to "fundamentally transform America." Or something.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

If you're looking for a second home in the hills of eastern Europe, the perfect hideaway is waiting for you, and you get to keep its famous telephone number: TRansylvania 6-5000. [Gizmodo]

One of the drawbacks to the zombie apocalypse (or an electromagnetic pulse bomb set off over the United States by North Korea) is being able to turn the lights back on again, in which case you'll want this resource handy. You'll want to get it in hardcover, as opposed to the Kindle edition. [Scientific American]

In 1967, a British astronomer was left stunned by mysterious pulsing signals she detected coming from outside the solar system. Then everybody sort of forgot about it when the New York Mets won the World Series. That was a long time ago, of course, and now those pesky voices are back. [The Daily Mail]

Rubik's Cube is forty years old this week, and guess who has to get in on the act. [Gizmodo]

A school lunch lady in Sweden has been told that her board of fare is too good for the students, and that she has to cut back on her culinary prowess. A spokesman for Michelle Obama could not be reached for comment, but did confirm that a trip to Sweden by the First Lady is being planned. [Huffington Post]

A group of graduating high school seniors is attempting to pull off the ultimate prank by putting their high school on the market. They say you can get anything on Craigslist these days. Or maybe it's eBay ... [KOAM-TV]

Finally, if you're one of the lucky few who paid Virgin Atlantic a gazillion dollars for one flight in low Earth orbit, and just when you thought money could buy anything, there's some paperwork to fill out. [Gizmodo]

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Saints Nereus, Achilleus, Domitilla V, and Pancras Edition)

There is one thing, and one thing only, that allows for the propaganda machine posing as a cable news channel known as MSNBC, any claim to being a credible source of reporting on current events. That would more often than not be former Congressman Joe Scarborough, who hosts “Morning Joe” every weekday, uh, morning. He excoriates the women who defended President Clinton, even as he took advantage of other women while Governor, and especially while President. (Mind you, Ms Lewinsky should have known better, even at the age of 22, but that's another story.) It sure is fun watching him go off.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Each month, a woman in South Carolina continues to receive a benefits check from the government for her father's service to his country, which is unusual in at least one respect. [The Wall Street Journal]

Speaking of getting things in the mail, some guy may or may not have ordered this, but some other part of the government will be contacting him soon. Go figure. [Gizmodo]

This ad for a band to play a wedding had to be pulled from Craigslist. One can understand why, but a lot of musicians who play the local circuit can identify with its rather mature content. Just ask one. [Tickld]

Something else with which to identify, is a study that concludes what millions of harried husbands have known all along. They just needed the data, and the veneer of credibility. Ladies, the next time he accuses you of this, he can back it up. [Time]

Someone finally made the ultimate portable toolkit that its inventor claims can pass through airport security. [Indefinitely Wild]

Finally, graphics standards manuals were the ultimate solution to yours truly while studying graphic design in college. You can see for yourself how life would be so much more orderly and serene (not to mention never get lost on the subway again), if only people would listen to the real professionals more often. [Gizmodo]

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

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Loose Lips in the Loggia (Apparition of Saint Michael the Archangel Edition)

Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report found this at Gloria.TV as an instance of "grotesque liturgical abuse." I have no idea what the hell's going on here, but it would appear to be taking place in Germany, which has seen a lot of this sort of thing lately, probably the result of a generation overcompensating for their grandparents being Nazis. I'm not sure this will help.

Meanwhile, here's what's bouncing around the bandwidth of Believers lately:

For those who love happy endings, veteran pro-life activist Joe Scheidler has won his case in court against his pro-death enemies, who are now to pay his court costs. [Seasons of Grace]

The Bishop of Lancaster, England, maintains that he has not ordered the shutting down of a deacon's blog entitled "Protect the Pope." No, he simply ordered an open-ended period of "prayer and reflection" (which is chancery-speak for "taken to the woodshed") and then told his wife to stop posting for him. That's not the same thing … is it? After all, we cannot have disunity among our ranks. People might think we have a problem with dissenters against the Faith running loose and … uh, wait a minute. [The Deacon's Bench]

More on the spot of unpleasantness in Lancaster. [Eccles is saved]

In an unrelated story of getting the wrong kind of attention, the priest who sang for a couple's wedding while presiding over it has a possible recording contract in the works. Isn't that great? [Restore DC Catholicism]

Is there an overabundance of hero worship of popes in recent generations? Did it start with the present one? [The Week]

We've seen new converts suddenly thrust into the limelight over their well-published and well-publicized conversion stories. Do they have a shelf life? Are they like seeds that fall among the thorns? [Catholic Exchange]

Finally, we've heard a lot about the scheduled "Black Mass" at Harvard. Maybe they're using a pre-consecrated host, maybe not. But everybody's weighed in with an opinion, most of them useless. At Patheos, of all places, former celebrity-chaser Dawn Eden (Goldstein) talks about something other than herself to engage in some actual investigative journalism. ("You'd better sit down, kids …") [Feast of Eden]

Well, that's our story and we're stickin' to it. Remember to attend Holy Mass this Sunday. Until the next weekly chattel of church chat, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Monday, May 05, 2014

“I read the news today, oh boy ...” (Cinco de Mayo Edition)

Former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor was talking about Benghazi on Fox News, when he says to Bret Baier: “Dude, this was like, two years ago.” My son calls me "dude" and I slap him silly. Bret should have done the same to this empty suit.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on planet Earth:

Speaking of things going wrong, have you ever wondered where Murphy's Law actually came from? [Gizmodo]

I never understood the big deal about "high fructose corn syrup." It's sugar, and it comes from corn. It's not like it's artificial, right? Maybe all natural products should come with a list of ingredients. That oughta scare the bejeezus out of those tree-hugging trust fund hippie-dippie types. (Hey, I've got an idea …) [io9]

Have you been looking for a book of rude hand gestures from around the world, and are tired of waiting for the Pope to come out with one? (You get the idea.) Well, wait no longer. [Amazon]

Finally, the inventor of the Shangri-La Diet collapsed while hiking near his home in Berkeley, and died at the age of sixty, or thereabouts. Condolences go out to the family, of course, but one cannot help but note the irony. (Hey, I'm almost sixty. There but for the grace of God …) [Business Insider]

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

Sunday, May 04, 2014

On Being “Pastoral”

The gospel account of Christ as the "good shepherd" is proclaimed in the Traditional Roman Mass on the Second Sunday After Easter, which occurs today this year. Most Catholics of the Roman Rite who celebrate the "ordinary form" of the Mass will hear it next Sunday, where it occurs on the Fourth Sunday of (or Third Sunday After) Easter. Don't ask me why.

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father." (John 10:11-18)

We use the term “pastor” for our parish priest. The term itself is derived from the Latin word for "shepherd." Most Catholics use the term "pastoral" to describe the priest's degree of accommodation. To give an example: “Father Billy Bob takes a pastoral approach with couples wanting to marry, which is why they can live together before exchanging vows, and let their conscience (unguided, we are led to believe) determine whether to use birth control.”

But does that reflect what the word means?

The French writer Fran├žois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire, himself no friend of Mother Church, nonetheless attached some significance to an objective idea of Truth: “If you would converse with me, you must first define your terms.” Radical progressives do not understand this, and so use words to mean whatever they want. For example, if there being only two genders does not satisfy one's requirements (that would be "male" and "female"), then one is compelled to appease the socially enlightened, by dismissing the limitations of biology and adding more "genders" to the list, which is confusing in a society where not everybody is sufficiently acclimated to progressive lines of thought. If we are to explain ourselves to one another, short of drawing a picture for someone, words are all we have, and their meaning must stand on its own. If we understand the word "pastor" by its original, objective meaning, to be "pastoral" is to act in the manner of a shepherd. What does a good shepherd do that a bad one does not?

Let's see that quotation again, the part given emphasis above.

“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.”

So then, a good shepherd risks his life to save his sheep from harm, while a bad shepherd leaves them to fend for themselves in the face of harm.

What kind of harm do we mean? Obviously, spiritual harm. An engaged couple is not being done any favor, if Father Billy Bob winks at their living arrangement. Marriage is what we call a "sacrament of the living," which means it must be entered into while in a state of grace, or we defile it. If all Father wants is to be a nice guy, he will be like the mercenary and leave Dick and Jane to their own devices. But if his goal is to keep them from spiritual harm, he will beg to differ.

To be honest, some priests can be real jerks about this. Many of them know this, and are afraid to be perceived that way. Why do they have to be? A recent article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review discusses how to help couples who cohabitate before marriage. While the author has good intentions, he doesn't go far enough, and actually falls short of a genuine remedy, which makes it harder for the parish priest not to come off as a jerk.

In a city like Washington, where many couples do not have the support of family within their locality, one party or the other would be hard pressed to break a lease on a rented apartment, just to satisfy what could be dismissed as a procedural requirement. This is one of the casualties of our uprootedness, where we lack any sense of a familial home, and a parish is less a spiritual home than it is the setting for a personality cult (a problem made worse by the wave of closings and mergers of otherwise viable parishes to replenish the bishop's legal slush fund, to say nothing of "Mass facing the people" -- but that's another story). If we were who we pretended to be, none of the more vulnerable among us would be left to the wolves. Can one party or the other in an impending marriage rent a room for a few lousy months from an "empty nester," a couple whose children are gone, but who are known by the pastor to be of good character, and can even serve as mentors?

It is at times like this, where all the yakkity-yak about "ministering" to people is put to the test, and is one of many reasons why we fail.

Our conclusion, then, is that to be "pastoral" has less to do with appeasement and keeping the peace, and more to do with protecting others from danger, to the point of giving one's life. And yet, it also means that no man charged with knowing his sheep can really stand alone.

After all, even a good shepherd needs a well-bred pair of Border Collies to help keep the flock together, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Friday, May 02, 2014

FAMW: Billy Hamilton, the Fastest Man in Baseball!

BIlly Hamilton plays center field for the Cincinnati Reds. While he is not to be confused with the Hall of Famer of the same name who also played the outfield in the late 19th century, that difference might one day be a taller order. Someone referred to the latter-day Billy as "the fastest man in baseball," and this brief animation is a case in point, for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Loose Lips in the Loggia (Saint Joseph the Worker Edition)

Hey, kids, check out the reworked Vatican website, with outdated code dating to the 90s. Jeff Miller and William Newton give the lowdown on antiquated code and morally sinful usability. Oh well, they kept the parchment background.

Here's what's bouncing around the bandwidth of Believers lately:

Now that Patheos has effectively become the McDonalds of Catholic new media, we can rest assured in knowing that one of its pundits cares enough to tell us, that she supposedly does not care about something the Pope supposedly did or did not do. [Public Catholic]

Lawrencinium Tiberius Rochenhoffenstauffengreensteinberg-Jones (the kind of nom de plume you adopt after too many years of living in your parents' basement), can't figure out how the Pope can give a supposedly adulterous woman a pass on one occasion, and uphold the sanctity of marriage the next. After all, when I want the straight skinny on what's happening in the Church today ... oh yeah, I'm gonna read the New York Times. [A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics]

With all that has been said (or maybe should not have been said) about the recent canonizations of two popes of recent memory, if you had only two minutes to find out whether the decrees enjoyed the authority given by Christ to His Church "to bind and to loose" under heaven and earth, click here and call it a day. [The Hermeneutic of Continuity]

What do you do after you've parlayed the story of your conversion to the Faith, into a best-selling book and a reality television show? Rewrite the former and call it a "memoir." After all, Baby needs a new pair of shoes. [Catholic World Report]

Now that the Pope has opened this (yet another) can of worms, are we going to have married priests? Can we afford them? Let's ask one. [Standing On My Head]

A deacon has been told by his bishop to shut down his blog dedicated to the defense of the papacy. His wife has more recently been directed to stop posting on her husband's behalf. What could possibly go wrong? [Protect The Pope]

Anyone who thinks that a declaration of nullity for a marriage is "automatic" is an idiot, if only because nothing that takes twelve to eighteen months could be described in that way. But there's much more to it than that, and someone finally lifts the veil on that which is much more than it appears. [Aleteia]

Finally, the thing that is missing in public discourse is the same thing missing in most discussions in Catholic social media. Learn the secret of how yours truly wins all his arguments on Facebook. [Crisis]

Well, that's our story and we're stickin' to it. Remember to attend Holy Mass this Sunday. Until the next weekly chattel of church chat, stay tuned, and stay in touch.