Apr 152015
 

My mind is so random that odd things strike me during the Mass. Concentration on what is important is not my strong point. So during Mass while kneeling to receive Communion on the tongue instead of concentrating about the full meaning of receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord in the Eucharist, I started thinking about some more mechanical aspects of this.

Mostly I started thinking about how few Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) know how to deliver the Eucharist for those who receive on the tongue. Maybe part of it is that they don’t get much practice, at least from my own anecdotal databank of personal observations. For the most part the Ordinary Minister’s of Communion are better at this.

Often the experience is rather awkward. Really thinking back I can describe some of the different forms this takes.

  • Alligator delivery: The Eucharist is given as if they were expecting some kind of trap. That they thought my jaws would clamp down on their fingers. The hand dashes in and quickly withdraws.
  • Swish delivery: In basketball to make a shot where the ball falls through the rim without touching it is called a swish. Some EMHC’s must pride themselves on sailing the host into my mouth in a similar manner.
  • Cooties delivery: They properly place the host on my tongue, but they look as if they wish they were wearing a Hazmat suit when doing so.
  • Dumbfounded delivery: A couple of times I had EMHC’s totally at loss about what to do. In one case they still tried to put it into my hands even though they were held together in prayer. I have some sympathy for the dumbfounded EMHC. If someone who looked like me was kneeling down with their tongue sticking out I too might be dumbfounded.

So certainly in my experience EMHCs could use some training in doing this correctly.

During RCIA I was hoping we were going to get some instruction in receiving Communion. We didn’t and so I was kind of unsure exactly what the mechanics were for receiving on the tongue. Just how wide should you open your mouth and how far should you stick out your tongue? I soon found out that I did not have these mechanics figured out. During a daily Mass the priest instructed me to stick my tongue out farther. There was about a second where I felt totally embarrassed (well maybe more than a second). That is until I realized that this was exactly the feedback I was looking for.

Mar 242015
 

Did you ever have one of those transitory freak-out moments at Mass where you are praying and then something brings you out of it?

Well I had one of those incidents last Sunday at Mass. I was knelling prior to Communion and for a change during the middle of a distraction I might have actually been praying. Then all of a sudden I had a face full of hair. The women in front of me stopped kneeling and sat up in the pew. So for a second there was this experience of having a face full of hair, wondering what just happened, finally realizing what happened, and then rapidly returning to sit down.

Now usually I am prepared for such a contingency when the line to Communion is getting close enough that it would be time for my row to form up. What surprised me was that there was still some time until this was going to happen. Still no big deal and this is was not my first occurrence of this hair-esy.

Still there should be a much more developed form of pew etiquette. Perhaps a Miss Manners style booklet of what is expected. If I was to write such a booklet it would include:

  • Putting your kneeler in the upright position when going to Communion. Most people are pretty good about doing this. Others I guess expect that you have feet as the result of Chinese foot binding. Although not that big of deal since sliding it up for them is easy enough. Strangely one of the skills not taught at RCIA is the skill of toe-lifting a kneeler up with minimal noise.
  • Then there is the fascinating way people populate pews. Often you have a distribution with one or more people sitting on each side of a continual length of pews with much of the middle abandoned. So of course this results in the awkward sideways shuffle if you need to occupy the neutral zone of pew space.
  • You just have to love the chatterers who whisper what is no doubt liturgical catechesis to each other all through Mass. The close species of this are the love-birds who show signs of affection to each other all through Mass. I take comfort in knowing that eventually there dreams will be crushed and they will act like other couples at Mass instead. Okay that last was rather tongue-in-cheek (well appropriate regarding the affectionate couple).
  • My personal favorite is the hair adjuster. The person who keeps adjusting their hair all through Mass flipping it from side to side along with other movements. Still I am a bit more lenient about this than St. Paul “For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off.”
  • The gum-chewer during Mass is rather rare in my experience. I was rather dumbfounded noticing this once and so of course the rest of the Mass I didn’t think about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but “Is that person really going to chew gum all through Mass?” The answer to this was yes and at subsequents Masses also. Although people who have to clean pews might find that the gum chewer is less rare than I have visually experienced based on the amount of gum stuck under a pew.
  • Then of course there is the etiquette regarding leaving Mass. Sometimes I think I would be safer in a movie theater after someone yelled “fire.” Apparently “The last will be first” does not apply to the parking lot.
  • Getting back to my original point there should be some etiquette regarding sitting down if you know someone is kneeling behind you. Accidents will happen in this regard, but some people don’t seem to concern themselves at all regarding this and expect you to just get out of the way.

Still regarding Mass etiquette there is one thing that does not annoy me at all. The crying baby is just fine with me. I say down with cry rooms and let’s have the joyful noise of the crying baby, plus maybe it might just drown out the guitars and drum kit.

Now I am not going to be the one to write such a style booklet as I have certainly transgressed Mass etiquette causing disturbances during Mass or afterwards. Especially regarding sitting on one of the ends.

Once during Mass the Rosary I was just holding in my hand decided to come apart and so many beads came off and started rolling noisily on the floor. To my mind the sound of it was as if I had released bowling balls to roll down to the sanctuary.

Once after Mass I was kneeling in front of the Tabernacle at the Communion Rail (yes amazingly it hadn’t been removed). After some time apparently my legs had fallen asleep and when I got up to keep from falling over I grabbed the Communion rail. The top of it came off and I was on the ground with about 50 pounds of marble Communion rail on me. Talk about embarrassment as people came to help me.

Mar 242015
 

Via Rev. Daren J. Zehnle, K.H.S. at Servant and Steward.

Every now and again, though, a headline or two does capture my attention, like this one: Bishops say Marian emails and texts circulated in Ivory Coast may disturb public order. Alright, when did the Blessed Virgin Mary start sending text messages? That’s a headline that leads to a story I’ll read.

As should probably be expected, the Bishops of the Ivory Coast are cautioning the faithful about the claims of some who say the Mother of God is sending them messages through the new media:

In a letter sent earlier this month, the bishops said the authenticity of the messages “has neither been proven nor approved by the Church.” In fact, they said, most of the messages are “contrary to the teachings of the Church.”

“People, claiming to be from the Catholic Church, have given themselves the mission to disseminate messages that, according to their authors, are from the Virgin Mary,” said the bishops.

After reviewing their content, the letter said, “the conclusion is that the content of most of these messages is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ … for some messages may even disturb public order and create psychosis and fear among the people.

Consider me rather credulous. After all everyone knows Mary communicates via toast.

Still it does make me wonder what Mary’s email address would be? She has so many titles that she probably wouldn’t have any trouble finding a domain that is not taken up yet.

Still what two digit country code would she use? Heaven abbreviated HN is already taken up by Honduras. Blessed Virgin as BV is used by Bouvet Island. Maybe VI since the Virgin Islands is somewhat close. Pehaps DO as in “Do whatever he tells you” which is used by the Dominican Republic. Hail Mary as HM also fits even if used by Heard Island and McDonald Islands.

Still if I got an email from Mary@destroyerofhere.sy I would open that even if it is a Syrian country code. Perhaps Mary@mysticalro.se which uses Sweden’s country code. Better yet Mary@ArkOfTheCovena.nt which uses the country code for Neutral Zone which is no longer used since it was for the Saudi-Iraqi neutral zone.

Mar 102015
 

I must say I was excited when I saw Archbishop in Philly for Pope Visit Planning, Special Milkshake Unveiling and that they were going to pick one official milkshake out of three created by Potbelly Sandwich Shops. The suspense was really getting to me.

Well the wait is over.

The Vatican has given its blessing to a shortbread milkshake.

Part of the proceeds from sales of the vanilla ice cream and shortbread cookie “#PopeinPhilly” milkshake will benefit two major events this fall in Philadelphia: a world gathering of Catholic families and a visit by the pope.

Fifty cents from every shake sold at three locations in Philadelphia will benefit the events.

Well I guess we can be glad it wasn’t Kasper Karamel or Remarriage Raspberry.

Feb 102015
 

VATICAN CITY – Last Wednesday during the Pope Francis’ weekly General Audience he touched on the issue of corporal punishment within a family when he said:

A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: he is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself. Once I heard a father at a meeting on marriage say: “Sometimes I have to strike the children lightly… but never in the face so as not to humiliate them”. How beautiful! He has a sense of dignity. He must punish, but he does it in a just way, and moves on.

The resultant outcry has covered the gamut from groups advocating for the protection of children to even members of the Vatican sex abuse commission.

The Vatican commission, comprised of 17-members, affirmed that it would make recommendations to the papacy about protecting children from corporal punishment.

Dr. Krysten Winter-Green, another commission member from New Zealand, urged parents to use different methods when disciplining children:

“There has to be positive parenting, in a different way,” she said.

There have been leaked reports that Pope Francis in his continued catechesis on the family will again bring up this topic. This time in regards to how children should be obedient in the face of such punishment done withing the context their dignity. One translation of the leaked text says:

Children you should always honor your mother and father as the commandment says. When you have transgressed against them and deserve punishment receive that light spank in a spirit of humility and contrition and even as Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” (cf. Luke 6:39)

Feb 052015
 

Another thing I love about the Church is the humor of the faithful. You just have to look at any list of patron saints and find the ironic funny bone of the Body of Christ.

I find this information regarding the reason for the naming of a Catholic parish hilarious.

Though Nevada was the last of the continental 48 states to establish its own diocese, between 85% and 95% of the state’s Catholics live in the Diocese of Las Vegas. The city’s Catholic roots extend as far back as 1908, when its oldest Church, St. Joan of Arc, was built for a town of just 700 people — only 70 of whom were Catholic.

“When it was founded, Las Vegas was a railroad town,” explained Father Timothy Wehn, a 47-year resident of Las Vegas and pastor of the diocese’s Guardian Angel Cathedral, “and one of the Catholics living there had purchased a plot of land specifically for a church.”

Though Joan of Arc hadn’t yet been canonized in 1908, Bishop Lawrence Scanlan of Salt Lake City — the diocese overseeing Las Vegas at the time — insisted the church be named for her. Among the bishop’s reasons for the name was Las Vegas’ blistering summer temperatures.

The rest of the article Sin City’s Secret: Catholicism Is Booming by Chris Kudialis is also interesting.“ ”

Well “Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”. (Romans 5:20)

Still it must be difficult for Catholic parishes to raise funds in Las Vegas, I mean can Bingo really compete?

There is one aspect of Las Vegas that mirrors a sacrament. That is the Sacrament of Confession in that “What happens in confession, stays in confession.”

Feb 032015
 

I knew I was in for some trouble when I heard the opening lines of a homily on Sunday. It was one of those using the Super Bowl as an extended metaphor and framework for the homily. So yes bad metaphor alert. It was just as cheesy as you might imagine. The two teams rivaling each other were the “Holy Ones” and “Satan’s Team” (which apparently was not a reference to the Patriots).

The eternal battle between these two teams lead by the Quarterback Jesus. Yes that was the words actually used. It was quite awkward as intentional laughter was threatening to break out over the unintentional humor of the bad metaphors. Maybe the worst part is that a fairly decent homily could have been salvaged without the football comparisons. He didn’t even go for the cheap laugh over the “Hail Mary” reference. Really it was delivered very deadpan which made the delivery deeply serious. This extended football metaphor might just possible had been pulled off to good effort if delivered with some humor.

So I thought I had it bad until I saw this the following day.

Source.

Parish: St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Marysville, WA.

Deacon Greg Kandra said “Out of bounds? Yeah. I’d say so.”

Or to extend the joke, the priest should be sacked over this. Well at least the colors were Ordinary Timish. Still if you watch the video it gets worse.

While not his diocese, Cardinal Dolan could not be reached for comment.

Dec 132014
 

When I first started seeing headlines about Pope Francis saying animals go to Heaven I pretty much ignored the headlines and their supposed content. I doesn’t take much intelligence to know that this would be either total fabrication or something close to that. The headlines have had staying power and have continued throughout the week in various forms of media.

Thus I figured it wouldn’t be long until Jimmy Akin had a post refuting the whole thing. Today he published Did Pope Francis say animals go to heaven? in which he summarizes at the start “But the thing is … the whole story is false.”

Now Pope Francis speeches are not known for their exactness and are prone to generalities over precision. So in the back of my mind I thought there was a possibility that this tendency lead to this story in the typical distorted amplification of his words. Wow not only did they invent Pope Francis’s words for the story but came up with some new ones for St. Paul. Must have been from the lost Gospel of Fido.

Now even if all animals went to Heaven I would have serious questions about the salvation of journalists and editors and members of news agencies. This is just another case in a long line of cases where journalists have no love for the truth or any concern regarding the truth. Maybe Pontius Pilate is the patron of journalists. This case being even more egregious than normal. No fact checking just passed along from one news agency to another. The false quote of St. Paul should have been a major tipoff. It is so obvious that zero attempt was made to acquire even the most basic facts or even spending 5 minutes on Google.

So how does such a story get passed on? No doubt there are multiple reasons. When it comes to reporting on the Church any stick will do to beat the Church including one used to play fetch with their pet dog. Page views and driving traffic for advertising dollars is probably another aspect. Sensationalism in journalism is nothing new, but click-bait headlines and stories low or totally barren of facts bring this to a new level and a declining one at that. Sure such stories are gist for the mill of headline writers.

I found CNN’s Did Pope Francis open a doggy door to heaven? to be the funniest of the lot. The story itself tried to update itself but failed even at that.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story, citing a newspaper, attributed a quote to Pope Francis. The quote actually comes from Pope Paul VI.

The problem with that is we have no evidence that Pope Paul VI said it either. As Jimmy Akin points out:

7) Did Pope Paul VI say to a bereaved boy what is attributed to him?

Who knows?

If you search the Vatican web site for the relevant quote, you get nothing.

At this point, I don’t see why anyone should trust anything attributed to a pope about animals going to heaven—not without a solid reference to a checkable, primary source document.

I have heard several attempts to try to side step this understanding especially when talking with children. A lot of people really want the idea of their pets going to Heaven. So it seems strange to me that if Blessed Paul VI ever said this that the quote would be in use in a larger circulation. C.S. Lewis also speculated on this in his book “The Problem of Pain.” Still it seems to me there is often more an emotional appeal to a theological appeal.

The CNN article goes on.

While Catholic teachings don’t reject the notion that animals have souls, traditional dogma has long held that animals don’t go to heaven.

Well Catholic teaching has long held distinctions between, plant souls, sensitive souls (such as animals), and the rational soul such as we have. All living things have souls as the soul is the form of the body. St. Thomas Aquinas detailed the thrust of the distinctions as we currently understand them. Still as far as I know there is no magisterial teaching on this as to the classes of souls. Much less a dogmatic (hey that’s pretty funny in context) teaching that animals don’t go to heaven. The CNN articles tries to be somewhat skeptical of the story, but still totally blunders in its corrections. As Mark Shea says about reporting on the Church is that you can take off 50 IQ points.

Another aspect of the ridiculous coverage of the Church that I have notice growing in the last year is how often so-called traditionalists fall for them. Most serious Catholics are highly skeptical of Church reporting for good reason. Yet I keep seeing more and more stories on “traditionalist” sites that take these stories as Gospel. Instead of any stick to beat the Church it is any stick that can beat Pope Francis. There not skeptical of the stories because they are skeptical of Pope Francis and see even bad reporting via confirmation bias. This annoys me since I have common cause with many of the liturgical complaints of “traditionalists”, but this hatred or loathing of Pope Francis makes them as agenda driven as most secular journalists.

On the lighter side the brilliant “Eye of the Tiber” presents Pope Francis confirms casts still going to Hell. I have a couple of cats, but that is still pretty funny. Surely the Cat-echism say otherwise.

Dec 042014
 

Leave it to LarryD of Acts of the Apostasy to come up with a hilarious post titled Star Wars Characters in the Confessional. Quite fun.

Although he left me some low-hanging fruit to add on in reaction to his post.

Ja Ja Binks

Ja Ja: “Father forgive missa for my sinn.”

Priest: “Sorry you can not be forgiven as a character and considering your horrible accent I am quite sure you have commited the sin against the Holy Spirit or at least against all Star Wars fans.”

R2-D2

R2: “twerp beep crang blurp dwing.”

Priest: What?

R2: “twerp beep crang blurp dwing.”

Priest: “One more time please.”

R2: “twerp beep crang blurp dwing.”

Priest: “Hmm, well if you are repentant of your sins beep out a series of binary coded Hail Marys and next time bring C–3PO with you to translate.”