Sep 082014
 

NEW YORK A surprise raid occurred in the early hours today as a failed attempt was made to retrieve the body of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen from a crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The conflict between Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York came into public view on September 3, when Bishop Jenky issued a statement that the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization had for the foreseeable future been suspended.

An agreement with the Cardinal Egan the previous Archbishop of New York seems to have been put aside. According to a news release by the Archdiocese of Peoria on September 5th.

On June 27, 2014, the Diocese of Peoria received the most recent communication from the Archdiocese of New York. This letter from its lawyer definitively stated that it would never allow the examination of the body, the securing of relics or the transfer of the body.

An anonymous source within the Archdiocese informed us that it was after the serious insult of this letter that plans were put into motion to retrieve the body of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen “one way or another.” It was then that the daring raid on the crypt under St. Patrick’s Cathedral was planned out and authorized. So far it is unknown if the Archbishop was aware of this plot or if it was the result of a loose canon lawyer or monsignor acting on their own.

Unfortunately unknown to the Archdiocese of Peoria was that Cardinal Dolan had previously worked out an agreement with the U.S. vicar of the Prelature of Opus Dei Monsignor Thomas G. Bohlin for the use of specially trained Opus Dei agents as guards of the crypt. While these personnel are not monks it alleged they are very pale, possibly being albinos. They disrupted the raid conducted by two priests and a group of Archbishop Sheen enthusiasts. When questioned by authorities they refused to answer any questions unless given a chalkboard. One policeman said that when he heard the confession of one of the perpetrators it was “like being stoned to death with popcorn.”

While inter-diocesan fighting is unlikely to breakout, collegiality seems to have taken a hit. So far no statement regarding this raid has been release from either diocese. When we reached out to both diocese we were told “no comment”.

See Dolan, Jenky To Settle Dispute Over Sheen Remains In Octagon for further developments.

Sep 042014
 

Many will have already seen the following news:

A news release from the Diocese of Peoria Sept. 3, 2014.

It is with immense sadness that the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria and President of the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation, announced today that the Cause for Sheen’s beatification and canonization has for the foreseeable future been suspended. The process to verify a possible miracle attributed to Sheen had been going extremely well, and only awaited a vote of the Cardinals and the approval of the Holy Father. There was every indication that a possible date for beatification in Peoria would have been scheduled for as early as the coming year. The Holy See expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken. Subsequently, the Archdiocese of New York denied Bishop Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria. After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen Cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.

Countless supporters especially from the local church in Central Illinois have given their time, treasure and talent for this good work with the clear understanding that the body of Venerable Sheen would return to the Diocese. Bishop Jenky was personally assured on several occasions by the Archdiocese of New York that the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time. New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the Cause had reached a significant stage.

Bishop Jenky is what is technically called the “actor” of the Sheen Cause. The Diocese of Peoria and the Sheen Foundation have prayed and labored for this good work for the last twelve years. The Bishop is heartbroken not only for his flock in Peoria but also for the many supporters of the Sheen Cause from throughout the world who have so generously supported Peoria’s efforts. It should be noted, however, that saints are always made by God not by man. Efforts for many causes have sometimes taken decades or even centuries. Bishop Jenky urges that those who support the Sheen Cause continue their prayers that God’s will be made manifest.

No further comment will be released at this time.

What? When I first saw this I thought surely there must be more to the story. What is the Archdiocese of New York’s side of it? Really this couldn’t just be this insane? If it is as it seems to be than this is a great moment in evangelization. The nightly talk show jokes pretty much write themselves. Well at least it isn’t as bad as the Cadaver Synod.

First off if the Archdiocese of New York thought it had primary claim of his body, then exactly why did they not start the cause in the first place. Oh hey let the Diocese of Peoria bear the costs and the investment of time and then have the body as an attraction to draw people.

Although certainly there is a much more charitable way to look at the situation instead of following the money. Then I was shocked when one of my readers sent me a copy of a letter reportedly from the late Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman. Cardinal Spellman was the Archbishop of New York when Archbishop Sheen was alive. I am providing you with the text of the letter and an image of the actual letter.

Dear Successor:

If in the off chance that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ever has a formal cause for sainthood, please sabotage it. That will fix him for not giving me the one million dollars raised for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and embarrassing me in front of the Pope.

When I said outside the Pope’s office “I will get even with you!” to Archbishop Sheen I wasn’t kidding. If you can please arrange this to happen just before any official Vatican action it would be greatly appreciated.

Wishing you a blessed year, I am

Very sincerely yours,

Archbishop of New York

Aug 262014
 

doctor performing surgery on kneeThe World Health Organization (WHO) has been tracking a disturbing trend in chronic inflammation of knee joints. Currently it is not known if this is a vector-borne disease or is spread in another manner. While currently not an epidemic world-wide, it has surprisingly confined itself to only Catholics and its effects can be easily observed. In a long-awaited report that will be debated by member states at a meeting in October in Moscow, the United Nations health agency also voiced concern about chronic inflammation of knee joints in various Catholic communities.

Dr. Peter Capaldi (WHO), has been voicing concerns about Genuflectitis since he first started noticing the effects in Catholic parishes as he traveled worldwide. “I started noticing the number of people not genuflecting when entering the vestibule. First I thought this was simple irreverence, then I noticed that many people instead of kneeling during the Consecration were leaning forward instead of kneeling. I felt the most charitable explanation was a serious knee inflammation preventing proper kneeling. This might also be connected to spinal cord injuries since I also noticed people unable to make a profound bow, but just a head-nod instead.” It has also been noted by many other orthopedic surgeons that this inflammation comes and goes. For example during Mass knee-bending is painful, but this usually does not effect motion when sprinting to their car as soon as the concluding rite is finished.

While the method of transmission of Genuflectitis is not currently known, it does seem to strike 100 percent of some populations. Dr. Capaldi informed us that choir members are especially prone since he almost never sees them kneeling during the Consecration. Even in people who are able to kneel this inflammation is still having an effect. With Genuflectitis kneeling can be so painful that the congregation eagerly waits for the priest to sit down after cleansing the sacred vessels. Immediately upon the priest sitting you can hear the effect as everybody also promptly sits down.

There has been controversy within the Catholic community as to how this is actually spread. Traditional Catholics point to the fact that Genuflectitis is virtually unknown at a Traditional Latin Mass. Even going so far as to suggest it is spread via the vigorous and extended hand-shaking that goes on during the Sign of Peace. Eastern Rite Catholics also seem to have immunity. Other Catholics counter that there are areas where the Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated with reverence that are also immune to this crippling disease.

While some doctors suggest exercise such as Deep Knee Bends, Standing Knee Lifts,or Hamstring Contractions, other have found the best rehabilitation is a deeper understanding of Eucharistic theology along with a prescription of John Chapter 6 and Philippians 2:10.

* Parody caveat: For those who actually suffer from knee ailments, this post is only aimed at those who are able to kneel and don’t.

Photo credit: Zdenko Zivkovic via photopin, Creative Commons

Aug 182014
 

I have sometimes heard the comment from various priests that they can not remember the confessions they hear and very quickly forget them. Now whether this is a genuine charism of the priesthood or something more akin to hearing the same things over and over and tuning it out I don’t know.

I do have personal experience with something related, but certainly not a charism. That is within minutes of hearing a homily I pretty much have forgotten it. If there was a pop quiz at the end of the Mass I would almost certainly fail it. It is really quite annoying to try to recall what was said and to experience liturgical amnesia. No doubt much of it is my fault as my mind wanders during Mass moving from distraction to distraction. Although I also suspect I seek distractions during homilies because what is being said is not thought-provoking, but distraction-provoking. Sometimes a homily will momentarily grab my attention such as like yesterday when the Gospel concerned the Canaanite woman. Unfortunately in cases such as this it is because of the numerous ways the preaching about this can go wrong and it seems all those ways are explored. There are riches in the Church Fathers regarding this passage, especially Augustine, but instead the explanation was rather confusing. Maybe it is a blessing that most homilies in my experience are easily forgotten.

I also hope they never have a pop quiz about all three readings for the Sunday Mass. I could probably get the Gospel correct as I have other sources such as podcast homilies, blog posts, and Church news to help reinforce what the Gospel was for that date in the Liturgical Year. But if called to reference the Old Testament reading I would be very hard-pressed to recall what it was. That also goes for the New Testament letters. This is really embarrassing as I really do want to be able to reflect on these passages and to discern the reason the Church picked out the three readings in some connected theme.

So I am not very happy with having liturgical amnesia regarding the readings and the homily. Now if only I could have liturgical amnesia regarding most of the hymns used.

Aug 042014
 

There seems to be some confusion about what certain emoji actually mean. Gawker brings us word that a TV station in Philadelphia described the emoji pictured above as being for a “high-five” of two hands slapping together, although it’s clearly supposed to be two hands held together in prayer.

How do we know this? Well, look at it: The angle at which the arms are bent suggests a medi tative position while the sun rays surrounding the hands suggest some sort of divine power at work and not a mere hand slap.

And most tellingly, Gawker points out that both of the thumbs on the hands are on the same side, which is usually not something you see with high fives where people slap hands using their dominant hand — in other words, if two right-handed people are likely to use their right hands to give one another a high five, then their thumbs will be on opposite sides when their hands come together.

We bring you this announcement because if you mention to a friend that your mother is sick in the hospital and they send you this emoji, you shouldn’t interpret it as a high five but as a prayer for her health. Knowing this might save a lot of friendships in the coming years, people.

source

These originally Japanese ideograms have been incorporated into the Unicode character set. The interesting thing is that they have descriptions, but no unified pictograph to go with them. Thus how they are rendered will vary.

The praying hands is called “Person with Folded Hands”

Leave it to Google to render it “Jabba the Hutt at Prayer” or whatever the heck that is.

Jul 082014
 

This looks pretty cool.

The Ignatius Pew Missal is an annual subscription-based worship aid intended for Roman Catholic parishes. Available to pre-order now for a special introductory price of $3.50 when you order 50+ missals!

Its purpose is simple: to provide worshipers with a liturgical resource that is consistent with the directives of the Church and accessible to the average parishioner, especially in regards to music.

This is done in two ways: by using simple plainsong melodies for the Entrance and Communion antiphons, so that a cantor, choir, and even a congregation can easily sing them, and by selecting hymns and songs which, combined, provide a repertoire of sacred songs that is fitting for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, yet accessible for the average parish.

Visit www.PewMissal.com to see samples and learn more about the Ignatius Pew Missal.


Still there is something wrong with the cover art. Don’t they know that for parish missal’s that the cover art is suppose to be abstract and barely recognizable as representing religious themes. They really need to take the Draw Me! course.

Jul 082014
 

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has issued a statement decrying a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court that could compel a local priest to testify in court about confessions he might have received. The alleged confessions, according to legal documents, were made to the priest by a minor girl regarding possible sexual abuse perpetrated by another church parishioner.

The statement, published Monday (July 7) on the diocese’s website, said forcing such testimony “attacks the seal of confession,” a sacrament that “cuts to the core of the Catholic faith.”

The statement refers to a lawsuit naming the Rev. Jeff Bayhi and the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge as defendants and compels Bayhi to testify whether or not there were confessions “and, if so, what the contents of any such confessions were.”

“A foundational doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church for thousands of years mandates that the seal of confession is absolute and inviolable,” the statement says. ”The position of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Fr. Bayhi is that the Supreme Court of Louisiana has run afoul of the constitutional rights of both the Church and the priest, more particularly, has violated the Establishment Clause and the separation of Church and State under the first amendment.”

The state high court’s decision, rendered in May of this year, demands that a hearing be held in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, where the suit originated, to determine whether or not a confession was made. It reverses an earlier decision by the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeals dismissing the original lawsuit filed against Bayhi and the diocese.

The case stems from a claim by parents of a minor that their daughter confessed to Bayhi during the sacrament of reconciliation that she engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with grown man who also attended their church. Court documents indicate the child was 12 years old at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.

A criminal investigation by East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office into the alleged sexual abuse was ongoing when the accused church member died suddenly in February 2009 of a heart attack.

The civil lawsuit in question, filed five months later in July 2009, names the late sexual abuse suspect, as well as Bayhi and the Baton Rouge diocese, as defendants. The suit seeks damages suffered as a result of the sexual abuse, noting that abuse continued following the alleged confessions.

Source: NOLA.com: 

Maybe the Louisiana Supreme Court thought the case involved Anglicans and not Catholics. From a story a week ago.

ANGLICAN ministers told during confession about serious crimes such as child sexual abuse shouldn’t be obliged to keep them secret, the church has declared.

THE ruling means ministers are only obliged to keep serious offences secret if “reasonably satisfied” they have already been reported to police.

Representatives of the Anglican Church of Australia approved the amendment on Wednesday at the church’s national parliament in Adelaide.

The legislation also covers other serious offences, including domestic violence.

Sydney barrister Garth Blake, who proposed the amendment, said it would ensure the church did not “act as a cloak” for offenders.

However, the legislation will only become active once adopted by individual dioceses.

Originally published as Confession not all confidential: Anglicans

Really we need to send copies of I Confess to members of their court.

Oh and yes I linked to this story primarly as an excuse to create the above graphic.

Apr 302014
 

In the First Book of Samuel, in the very famous scene between King Saul, the (dead) Prophet Samuel, and the Witch of Endor, the lesson to be learned is, poking about with things that are dead and buried is never a good idea. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this story in checking out the Vatican’s new web site today. If you thought it was a mess before – and oh, it was – you ain’t seen nothing yet. I don’t know why the tech department at The Holy See is trying to conjure up the spirits of web designers from 15 years ago, but they’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Funny and unfortunately dead-on commentary on the Vatican’s new site design.

William Newton of Blog of the Courtier goes on to describe just some of the unfortunate design decisions which you [should read][newton

Unfortunately things have not changed since I wrote the Lost in the Holy See parody post back in 2005.

Lovers of parchment wallpaper will be thrilled that they have kept this in their design. Those who enjoy scrolling marquees will also be thrilled with the Pope’s tweet’s been scrolled across the screen.

Those nostalgic for 90’s web design will find much to like. For example documents still use table elements instead of CSS for layout. The only thing missing is a footer saying “This site optimized for Internet Explorer and screen size of 1024 X 768.” and perhaps an animated gif (encyclicals going in-and-out of a mailbox).

Take a look at the icons they use all over the Vatican’s site for social sharing. First off they actually spaced the icons using an underscore character. Plus the icons used have very poor resolution and the Google Plus icon is really bad looking. The Catholic Church has been doing icons for more than a millennium, surely they could do a better job with the modern icon. There really is no excuse for the icons used across the site such as the video icon they use.

The up arrow appearing at the top of documents on the Vatican site is really amazing. When you click on it, it goes to the top of the page. The fact that this arrow appears at the top of the page makes it super useful!

If you had selected English and on a page in English, doing a search with no results gives you this helpful message.

Suggestions:

Assicurarsi che tutte le parole siano state digitate correttamente.

Provare con parole chiave diverse.

Provare con parole chiave piu generiche.

Hopefully this year on Pentecost I will get the gift of tongues!

As Billy noted:

Language: The default language setting for the site is “Italian”, and fair enough, since the people who maintain it are in Italy. However, virtually any site can be coded to detect the browser’s country of origin when a visitor lands there, and will adjust the language setting automatically. Why isn’t this possible here?

Why indeed?

Now if you were a normal person and saw a hyperlink that said (video) you just might think clicking it would display the video. What actually happens is that a video in wmv format will start to download to your computer. This is a format developed by Microsoft that will not play in any browser including Internet Explorer without downloading a plugin. I guess my only surprise is that their videos weren’t in RealPlayer format. Even if you were saddled by bad video format decisions in the past transcoding, even on a large scale, is just not that hard.

What is so exasperating is that there is really no good reason for this state of affairs. The Vatican run site news.va is fairly decent design-wise and their icons are much better. Sure a serious redesign of the Vatican site is certainly an intensive task. Yet even the minor refresh they did is simply amateurish. Unfortunately the state of many official Catholic sites from the Vatican on down to diocese and parishes shows the same amateurishness. Although I have seen great improvement of diocesan sites over the years.

Note: “This site optimized for Internet Explorer and screen size of 1024 X 768.” is still used on the web site for a parish close to me. Their web site is embarrassing.