Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The wrong side of history

"Speaking a few years ago to a group of priests, entirely outside of the current political debate, I was trying to express in overly dramatic fashion what the complete secularization of our society could bring. I was responding to a question and I never wrote down what I said, but the words were captured on somebody’s smart phone and have now gone viral on Wikipedia and elsewhere in the electronic communications world. I am (correctly) quoted as saying that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. What is omitted from the reports is a final phrase I added about the bishop who follows a possibly martyred bishop: “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” What I said is not “prophetic” but a way to force people to think outside of the usual categories that limit and sometimes poison both private and public discourse"
Francis Cardinal George

read the whole letter here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Public witness and Catholic citizenship

Archbishop Charles Chaput
Public witness on issues of public concern is natural for Catholics because we have a commitment to the common good and to the dignity of each human person. Those two pillars — the common good and the dignity of every human person — come right out of Scripture. They underpin all of Catholic social thought.
That includes politics. Politics is where the competing moral visions of a society meet and struggle. And since a large majority of American citizens are religious believers, it makes sense for people and communities of faith to bring their faith into the public square.
As a result, if we believe that a particular issue is gravely evil and damaging to society, then we have a duty, not just a religious duty but also a democratic duty, to hold accountable the candidates who want to allow that evil. Failing to do so is an abuse of responsibility on our part, because that’s where we exercise our power as citizens most directly — in the voting booth.
The “separation of Church and state” can never mean that religious believers should be silent about legislative issues, the appointment of judges or public policy. It’s not the job of the Church to sponsor political candidates. But it’s very much the job of the Church to guide Catholics to think and act in accord with their faith.

So since this is an election year, here are a few simple points to remember as we move toward November.
1. “Catholic” is a word that has real meaning. We don’t control or invent that meaning as individuals. We inherit it from the Gospel and the experience of the Church over the centuries. If we choose to call ourselves Catholic, then that word has consequences for what we believe and how we act.  We can’t truthfully call ourselves “Catholic” and then behave as if we’re not.
2. Being a Catholic is a bit like being married. We have a relationship with the Church and with Jesus Christ that’s similar to being a spouse. If a man says he loves his wife, his wife will want to see the evidence in his fidelity. The same applies to our relationship with God. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to show that by our love for the Church and our fidelity to what she teaches and believes. Otherwise we’re just fooling ourselves. God certainly won’t be fooled.
3. The Church is not a political organism. She has no interest in partisanship because getting power or running governments is not what she’s about, and the more closely she identifies herself with any single party, the fewer people she can effectively reach.
4. Scripture and Catholic teaching, however, do have public consequences because they guide us in how we should act in relation to one another. Again, Catholic social action, including political action, is a natural byproduct of the Church’s moral message. We can’t call ourselves Catholic, and then simply stand by while immigrants get mistreated, or the poor get robbed, or – even more fundamentally — unborn children get killed. If our faith is real, then it will bear fruit in our public decisions and behaviors, including our political choices.
5. Each of us needs to follow his or her own conscience. But conscience doesn’t emerge miraculously from a vacuum. The way we get a healthy conscience is by submitting it to God’s will; and the way we find God’s will is by listening to the counsel of the Church and trying honestly to live in accord with her guidance. If we find ourselves frequently disagreeing, as Catholics, with the teaching of our own Church on serious matters, then it’s probably not the Church that’s wrong. The problem is much more likely with us.
In the end, the heart of truly faithful citizenship is this: We’re better citizens when we’re more faithful Catholics. The more authentically Catholic we are in our lives, choices, actions and convictions, the more truly we will contribute to the moral and political life of our nation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Another sign the apocalypse is upon us.

I like food. Boom!, there I said it. I am willing to try new foods - as a matter of fact I was one of the first to try pizza on a stick. So this seemed right in my wheelhouse PBJ in a can cool...I was wrong.
Every generation, sandwich convenience takes a leap forward. Our grandparents saw the first drive-thru restaurant; our children will be the first to try McDonald's McRib I V Bag. For us, it's the Candwich: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a can.

"Kids Love It!" it says so right there on the can. This just proves my long-running theory: that kids are dumb.

Frat Boys chug the whole sandwich in one gulp.

The world's gone topsy-turvy. Somewhere, someone is drinking a Miller Lite out of a Ziploc bag.

The flavor is somewhere on the continuum between Play-Doh and Taxicab Air Freshener. But if traditional sandwich packaging never took up enough landfill space for your liking, this is the sandwich for you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Persian look is back

Yes, I know that we as bearded Catholics did not get that way in a moment of passion but it is the passion for facial hair that keeps us here.

But to groom or not to groom that is the question whether 'tis nobler to let it grow outrageous and free or to take up scissors to trim it  and by grabbing the ends twist them. To comb, to sweep, to droop no more; and by a clip clip here and a dab dab there say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks our mother's subject us to?

Any way if you manscape a new start-up, the BrooklynGrooming Company, specializes in pomades, beard oils, facial serums and mustache wax all aimed at the tragically hip. The Red Hook Whiskers beard oil, for instance features "mineral rich oils and up lifting herbs in a non-comedgenic, vegan friendly formula".

The good news? economists have adjusted forecasts upward in light of this new product line lessening unemployment, streangthing the GDP and showing the country that the American hipster is willing to spend $50.00 on artistanal beard oil.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Doctor Doctor

It is the Feast day of Teresa of Avila one of my favorite ladies

I am now at an age where this prayer makes big sense my favorite line is: “Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil”.

Thou knowest better than I myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking
I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to
straighten out everybody’s affairs.

Make me thoughtful but not moody;
helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom,
it seems a pity not to use it all;
but Thou knowest, Lord,
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;
give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips on my aches and pains;
they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person
is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places
and talents in unexpected people;
and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.

- – - prayer by St. Teresa of Avila

She embodies the Chesterton attitude: “He is a sane man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head.”

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fluke Clerihew

The last name of Sandra Fluke
rhymes with ... stuck,
which is what she wanted to happen to us with her bills
for birth control pills.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

why i have been away

For many weeks now I have been battling a low grade constant sadness. Unable to fully name it I have been snapping at my child followed by quick apologies. I could not tell if I was avoiding my wife or she was avoiding me I did not give it enough thought to repair the rift. She probably thought it was just another of my blue funks that would pass once I started pushing pigment again.

I knew this was different. I was blaming it on overly busy schedule and the way to many funerals I have had to attend of late. Each for an acquaintance that was younger than I. Then I thought it was that my wife's and my car broke down in the same week followed by a quick need for a plumbing repair. No that could not be it those are just the normal low notes of my life the deep harmony to balance the joy. 
It was not until this morning as I drove my wife to work in my daughter's rickety old but drivable van, and shortly after I popped a James McMurtry casset tape in I knew what it was. It was the corn. I said it aloud, "Honey it's the corn look the crop is just a mere shadow of itself".
"Yes. I know."

My little town is surrounded by fields of corn it colors all my comings and goings from spring to the first snow. Something was wrong this year. Normally in September the corn is 'as high as an elephant's eye' but now it was shorter than me and it droops in an uninspired shade of yellow ocher looking like it should have been put on a suicide watch.

The farmers may only harvest half of what they normally would, there will be no corn mazes for Halloween, or bundles of stately corn stalks anchored by pumpkins on my porch.  It was the edge of the Midwest drought that hit us. It was not completely devastating but seriously harmful that made the crop, the environment and my heart just plain miserable.

Soon what did grow will all be harvested and only the stalk stumps will remain and I will lose this feeling.
But now that I know why I am having this small sorrow I can offer it up.