Jun 212015
 

When we are away from home and need to find a place to go to Mass, MassTimes.org by phone is my normal method. Often this is because we are on a day trip around Orlando and just want to find the closest parish to wherever we happen to be. I named this “Mass Roulette” since you just have no idea what parish you might wind up with.

Yesterday Mass Roulette provided another interesting example that was even mostly positive.

This one like so many parishes built since the 70’s is the auditorium style clamshell. Certainly not my favorite style as it to me shouts secular and not sacred. The art is typical of seventies abstract trends, but there was also a very large wooden crucifix in the sanctuary. Unfortunately I had to play Where’s Waldo with the Tabernacle and I did not win. I now suspect it was possibly in the windowed-off chapel area. Still this is the first parish of this style that I’ve encountered that actually had a pipe organ and that the pipe organ was used. Mostly I was also pretty happy with the hymn selection. I was especially joyful with the selection of the recessional hymn which was appropriately – Faith of our Fathers. A hymn that I have heard only one other time during Mass in the last 15 years. Kind of a slam dunk for Father’s Day, but political correctness has probably censored it from most parishes or the lyrics have been modified (hich I have heard anectoctal evidence of). Not that I think any hymn is particullarly mandated for feast days or nods to the secular calendar such as Father’s Day. Contrary to popular understanding Ashes is not mandatory for Ash Wednesday, and for me not even welcomed in the slightest. Regardless I was thrilled and even a little choked up to be singing this hymn.

One trend I have noticed in the limited amount of Orlando area parishes I have been to is the use of projectors onto screens on either side of the sanctuary. A practice I have not been thrilled about generally and in one parish during Mass the screen fell back to the Powerpoint program. What surprised me is that I found that this parish incorporated this in a way that to me seemed more organic. Usually when I see this it is an afterthought with projections onto blank walls ending up looking rather tacky. Here there were two screens on either side suspended from the walls. The effect was rather clever visually. What also was done differently is that the screens were used throughout the Mass, while at time defaulting to a more generic view of landscape.

During the readings a graphic depicting the book of the Bible was used, plus of course the various texts were displayed of the Gloria, Nicene Creed, etc. The part in the Nicene Creed where you are suppose to bow was even annotated for that liturgical posture. Their use of these screens were rather thoughtful and the information presented rather tastefully. This does not mean that I believe this practice in general should be adopted. There are so many ways this can go wrong and I have seen some of them. For one you really need someone with solid design sense to make the slides. Imagine slides during Mass using Comic Sans? (Yeah I know the Vatican used that font for the ebook commemoration of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). Can you imagine what horrific Powerpoint animations someone might think appropriate via the consecration? Still I found that this parish did manage to find a balance that was that had me not reacting negatively as I have in the past.

Still I find it interesting that they had done all this work visually, yet did not ring the bells during the consecration.

There was one aspect of using screens that really threw me. The clamshell architecture had included a windowed off section separate from the main church. Probably meant for dual use as a chapel and cry room. Because of the placement of the pews in this chapel it would be difficult to view the sanctuary. So they had a video screen playing back the video of the sanctuary. This was really strange to be at Mass and to look over and see people with their attention on the screen in another area instead of towards the altar. Like it was a Mass Multiplex. Kind of like being at a professional sports game and watching the game on your phone instead. I can imagine opening up this chapel to increase seating, but the church was about half-full.

One thing I really loved was the way the Mass was said by the priest. So often you get the feeling as if this is just another recital of Mass. That the Mass had just been set on automatic. The way this priest said Mass really moved me and helped me to concentrate on the realities of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Deacons’s homily similarly moved me with its aspect of personal witness and love of Christ. I also got the feeling by the words he used that he had read Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples.

I already mentioned that the church was about half-full, so of course they had 20 Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC). Yes I counted them since it was rather easy since they were in a double row of people. I could jest that it almost took longer for the EMHCs to receive Communion as it was for them to distribute it. Still it did remind me of a parody I did on the subject.

Something else I found interesting is that they passed out a survey to be completed by the men. It is apparent they are also looking to better reach out to men as one of their outreaches. They even have an online version.

Jun 162015
 

Via Jimmy Akin:

With just days to go before the release of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on the environment, a draft copy has suddenly appeared on the Internet.

Here are 12 things to know and share

The document was leaked by well-known Italian journalist Sandro Magister on the web page of his newspaper, L’Espresso. Subsequently he has had press credentials for the Vatican lifted.

I have seen multiple reports of somebody in the Vatican calling this a “heinous act”, although have not seen a actual source for this. If accurate this is pure hyperbole. Yes reprisal against Magister is appropriate for violating the embargo, “heinous act”? — not really. As if this Encyclical needed more drama involved.

Contrary to some reports the name of the Encyclical “Laudato Si” is not Latin for “People heads blow up.” I’ve been taking a rather novel approach to the whole thing. That is actually waiting to read it before forming an opinion in any way.

I would recommend Larry D’s 10 Things That Won’t Be In Pope Francis’ Encyclical ‘Laudato Sii’ for both the humorous list and the sage advice.

Still it will be an interesting upside down week when progressive Catholics tell us how we must obey the Pope’s teachings and conservative Catholics tell us how we don’t have to. Sure, broad generalization with lots of caveats — but hey this is a blog after all.

memejoker_encylical

Jun 162015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 4 June 2015 to 13 June 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Regina Caeli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

Jun 112015
 

Matthew Coffin at Big C Catholics interviews Julie Davis of Happy Catholic for his June’s Blog of Note. Been a fan of all of Julie’s endeavors and so am always happy to see interviews such as this.

With the great Christopher Lee’s passing last Sunday I point to Thomas L. McDonald’s post Christopher Lee’s Best Movie. He echoes my own feelings as another kid raised on monster movies and related fandom.

Steven D. Greydanus IKEA Church and “The Godfather” is well-worth reading. His take is especially interesting as someone who does not identify as a liturgical traditionalist.

Jun 092015
 

pope-francis2-300x187This version of The Weekly Francis covers material released in the last week from 28 May 2015 to 9 June 2015.

The Weekly Francis is a compilation of the Holy Father’s writings, speeches, etc which I also post at Jimmy Akin’s The Weekly Francis. Jimmy Akin came up with this idea when he started “The Weekly Benedict” and I have taken over curation of it.

Daily Homilies (fervorinos)

General Audiences

Homilies

Messages

Regina Caeli

Speeches

Papal Tweets

  • “We need to build up society in the light of the Beatitudes, walking towards the Kingdom with the least among us.” @Pontifex 4 June 2015
  • “In the Sacrament of the Eucharist we find God who gives himself.” @Pontifex 9 June 2015
Jun 082015
 

The crucifix on the top of the Pope’s crozier broke after a small accident during morning events at Sarajevo. Since there was another crozier available it was taped up with white tape and used during events of the day.

Not surprisingly many sites are having fun with this from secular to Catholic blogs. Also not surprisingly those who are not fans of the Paul VI style crucifix are also piling on. Aesthetically I am not a fan of the style as to me it looks like a crucifix left out in the sun to long.

Perhaps the crozier had a staff infection making it weaker.

Pope Francis arrives to lead the mass at the stadium in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 6, 2015.    REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis arrives to lead the mass at the stadium in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 6, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Still I can somewhat sympathize with this accident in a very tangental way.

In high school we had a variety show called Nostalgia made up of homages to the past. I played the character of W.C. Fields of whom I had mimicked from an early age. I used a pool cue as a prop in this act and during one performance it broke in two. As luck would have it I quickly improvised and said in the W.C. Fields voice “Cheap foreign goods” which got a sustained laugh. For the rest of the short run that became part of the act.

Jun 052015
 

The Anchoress noticed that Tod Worner — following the recent Pew report on diminishing Catholic numbers, and the glee that inspired in some corners — decided to write a post on why he will not be leaving the Catholic church. Organically this grew by with additional posts from other Catholic bloggers and Elizabeth Scailia started posting links to these here. Her own entry here.

I’ve been tempted to add to the plethora of posts on why you are staying in the Church. My problem is that I am tempted toward pride in regard to this. For example saying “Because it is true”, while accurate for me is also an intellectual pride. “I am intelligent enough to follow the truth!” Totally bypassing the role of grace. That I believe because God gave me the sufficient grace despite all my shortcomings. Certainly their is cooperation in grace, but God moved me first.

Years ago I wrote a post about “Conversion and Mr. Magoo.” Mr. Magoo always ended up at the correct destination, but despite his own endeavors in reaching the end. He was clumsy and totally without an innate understanding of the world around him. He confused things for what they are with something else. Still he ended up at the right place. If that isn’t a metaphor for my conversion I don’t know what is.

Once I was foolish enough to think “I read myself into the Church.” That it was intellectual arguments alone that lead me to the truth. Sure it was the overwhelming truth of the faith I found everywhere I looked, but I was led to this with “sheer grace” as St. John of the Cross would say. Still I also appreciate the both/and aspects of the faith. God gave me the grace of faith and also the intellect to be able to see the truths of the faith (eventually). Other bloggers have written convincingly on these truths and the orchestral nature of these truths.

One quote from St. Joan of Arc during her trial concerned “Are you in a state of grace”? Her reply was “If I am not, may God place me there; if I am, may God so keep me”. A truth of humility I strive for and know I miss the mark. Yet am also thankful that I am self-aware enough through grace that I miss the mark.

So why would I not ever leave the faith? Mr. Magoo arrived at the right destination and he could not credit himself for this. I hope to equally stumble towards heaven. That despite my continuous blunders I arrive at the only destination that matters. Plus despite the Mr. Magoo reference it is not blind faith. With St. Peter I say “Where would I go Lord, you have the word of everlasting life.”

Funny how I intended to write a sentence as to my own pride and why I am staying in the Church and ended up writing a post on the subject anyway. I just hope that I did not point to myself, but to the persons of the Holy Spirit and the grace I have received.

Further reading:

Jun 042015
 

Since becoming Catholic I have become delighted in seeing how many Catholics in history were involved in science, especially priests. Wikipedia’s List of Catholic scientists is a good start.

Still I was surprised when on saw this article on the Mac website Cult of Mac.

Casimir Zeglen was truly a man of the cloth. He was a Catholic priest — with an obsession for silk underwear — but the pleasure he got from silk touching skin was because it stopped bullets.

Okay the opening to the story is clumsy.

The Chicago priest is credited with inventing the first bulletproof vest, a calling he answered in 1893 after the city’s mayor was gunned down.

Zeglen is an unlikely figure in the history of preventing such violent deaths. Born a peasant in the Ukraine, he entered a monastery there at 18. Fearing he would be forced to serve in the Austrian army, he asked to be sent away to serve a church. He eventually landed at a Polish church in Chicago in 1890.

By Zeglen’s own account, the assassination of Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison made him realize he wanted to “create a product of great usefulness to the world.” He began experimenting with a cloth made from moss, hair and steel shavings.

He turned to silk when he read an 1887 article by a physician who described a man who was shot but saved by a silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. The doctor, George Goodfellow, conducted his own experiments with silk that was as thick as 18 to 30 layers.

At the source of this article you can see pictures of Fr. Casimir Zeglen wearing the vest while being shot at by Chicago policeman. There is even a video of this.

Wikipedia has more details.

A 1⁄8 in (3.175 mm) thick, four ply bulletproof vest produced there was able to protect the wearer from the lower velocity pistol bullets of that era. Zeglen himself submitted to a test in Chicago. He put on a vest of the material and an expert revolver shot fired at the vest at eight paces and not one of the bullets disturbed Zeglen. The weight of the fabric was 1⁄2 lb (0.23 kg) per sq ft (0.093 m²).

Jun 042015
 

Thinking more about the Vanity Fair’s Bruce Jenner cover I am thinking about the wider pattern and not the particulars of this story. After all there have been celebrities before with gender identity disorder, just not the same cultural reaction.

Lost in yesterday’s celebration of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut as a cultural touchstone for the transgender community was the fact that, at 65, she’s the oldest woman to ever grace the magazine’s cover, making her a gender revolutionary on an entirely different level. (Source)

Apparently gender identity disorder is not confined to individuals who suffer with this, but the culture at large. Words have become unstuck from their meanings. Language drift will always be with us as words come to have more meanings or even come to mean the opposite of what they once were defined. So I am not going to rail about “gender” in that it’s meaning is grammatical in reference to words and not a replacement for the words “sex”. It is easy to see why gender has taken the place of the sexes. The more accurate term was a “throwback” to the binary nature of he sexes as male and female. Gender as expressed now is much more fluid and can now mean anything (which of course means it means nothing).

Still this is a sidetrack to my observation in that the culture at large has become enablers for a range of problems. People are actually being praised for having mental illnesses or being morally deficient in some area. That for admitting some disordered behavior they are actually “brave” and likely to get a phone call or tweet from the President congratulating them.

On the one hand I see the good when people are not stigmatized and mocked for whatever failing they have. That we should always see the dignity of the human person and love them as our neighbor. That seeing our own major failings that we can become more empathetic towards others on their own journeys.

On the other hand I do not see how it helps someone to pretend that they do not have some problem. The culture of enablers is a culture in love with the Emperor’s new clothes and waiting for next season’s lineup. A culture that can’t make a distinction between sinfully judging others and making judgments. That it is better to normalize mental illnesses than to have empathy and to pray for those who suffer from them. That a problem goes away by saying there is not problem in the first place.

No doubt moral relativity has laid the groundwork for all of this. It is easy to see why everything is so confused when everybody is so confused. For the most part moral relativity as practiced comes down to this.

Morality is relative, but you’re wrong!

This is especially true when it comes to sex. Everything regarding it has to be undefined where each individual defines their own terms. The radical autonomy of the individual means each define their own morality, gender, etc. Just as long as you don’t define them by terms accessible by the natural law. Thus we have an excuse for everything. Teenage sex and fornication — they are going to do it anyway. No fault divorce – they fell out of love. Subsequent remarriage – of course. Psychological disorders regarding sexual identity – born that way. Adultery – everybody does it. You don’t have to live up to any moral standards if there aren’t any. As a consequence of original sin is is not a surprise when we do fall from a standard, but to deny standards does not eliminate the fall.

So much easier not to pass any kind of judgment – really you just go “pass judgement” and move straight to enabling. Who want to do a spiritual act of mercy like “rebuking sinners”, since it is too easy to be a jerk about doing it. Much better to not do it at all. When somebody writes a book displaying their extreme selfishness, where the destruction of the family is a necessary consequence, they are not condemned — instead a movie is made about this staring Julia Roberts.

This enabling is not something just confined to the culture, but to the Church as well.

How do you tell the difference between being pastoral and not doing nothing at all? Usually I can’t tell in the modern way pastoral is used. Although this is to be expected as prayer for a person is also pastoral. Still so much is passed over with vary a word. What George Weigel describes as the Truce of 1968 seems be to a treaty with an automatic annual renewal. It is sad that when a bishop moves against dissent or towards teaching the faith of the Church it makes headlines. This does not mean that most bishops are heterodox, just that many don’t want to makes waves.

So just go with the cultural flow.

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

– G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man

Or not.

Suggested reading:

  1. Trent Horn’s Five Questions for Supporters of Gender Transitioning.
  2. Mark Shea’s excellent essay Trangender Newspeak.
Jun 022015
 

Last Sunday HBO’s show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” had a discussion regarding the Pope and his not watching TV and relating him to Walter White in Breaking Bad. This was partly in response to the Vatican’s Secretary of State common that this was “defeat for humanity” regarding Ireland’s vote that legalized same-sex-so-called marriage.

He of course goes down the checklist of opening remarks regarding the Church.

  • Priestly abuse scandal ☑
  • Crusades ☑
  • Forced adoptions ☑
  • Pope wears a silly hat ☑

Now as a fan of Breaking Bad I was wondering just how this comparison was made. Although as I expected the comparison wasn’t even comically insightful regarding the show or the Pope.

Here is the transcript from the section in response to the recent story about Pope Francis not watching TV for 25 years.

OLIVER: (audience laughs) Oh, I’m sorry, Pope – this isn’t for you? (audience laughs) This isn’t – actually, that’s a good instinct. This show is definitely not for you. (audience laughs) It’s why, in the little warning card at the top of every episode, it says ‘UP’ – ‘unsuitable for popes.’ (audience laughs)

But – but it is a shame, because it might have helped if the Pope had been watching TV over the last 25 years. TV shows have done a lot to acclimate people to same-sex relationships. There was Will and Grace; there was Ellen; Queer as Folk; SpongeBob SquarePants (audience laughs) Oh – oh, please! They hang out in a pineapple under the sea. Read between the lines. (audience laughs) I’m just saying, Pope – if you’d watched TV, not only would you have learned a lot, but there are shows that you might have really liked. If nothing else, I think you’d have loved Breaking Bad. (audience laughs) That’s a show you could really relate to. It’s a story about a man gradually losing touch with reality; overseeing a vast criminal enterprise; and yet, so powerful that no one’s brave enough to tell he’s wearing a very silly hat.

Transcript via NewsBusters

This part is actually insightful commentary. This is an acknowledgment about just how effective the propaganda put out by Hollywood has been in pushing same-sex-so-called marriage.

No it was not enough for the pope to have studied Natural Law and Revelation. That what he knows and has learned about the anthropology of the human person is not meaningful. No what he should have done is to watch TV where shows made a concerted effort to introduce sympathetic characters with same-sex attraction. This campaign of “acclimation” has been widely successful.

No intellectual argument is appealed to, but instead fictionalized characters. No treatise by St. Thomas Aquinas on will and grace matters, it is the TV show “Will and Grace” that trumps it all.

Objection 1: Same Sex acts are intrinsically disordered.

On the contrary: Ellen is very funny.

During WWII Hollywood were also successful in selling War Bonds with celebrities pushing them along with reels before movies also pushing them. Now we have that same concerted effort where most shows now must have to have sympathetic character with same-sex attraction. Is is any wonder Americans have come to believe that a large section of the population is made up of those with same-sex attraction? (Americans Have No Idea How Few Gay People There Are)

The wonderful thing about being Catholic is that we don’t leave our intellects at the door. That we can come to have a deeper understanding of the human person and love of our neighbor – all without even watching a sitcom!

CCC 2358: The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.