Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Please pray for my Aunt Frances

As I've just learned that she died. I'll be at the wake tomorrow. Mass is on Friday.

Happy All Saint's Eve

Solemnity celebrated on the first of November. It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year.

Monday, October 30, 2006

From: The Imitation of Mary

My Child, why do you complain about your state and situation? You say that in them you cannot serve the Lord as you ought? But heaven is filled with saints who became saints in circumstances like yours.
I found God in Egypt, to which I had to move, just as I had found Him in Judea, and I managed to serve Him as before.
If we can preserve the grace and friendship of God in a situation, then we ought to be content with it.
I found it very hard to leave Israel, as did my husband Joseph, but we felt no regret.
Again, when we were summoned back to our home, the only pleasure we felt was at doing the Lord's will, for that was at all times our only law.
My child, if you seek to do the heavenly Father's will and not your own and are content with the state in which He has placed you, you will desire nothing else.
God has blessed the way each person must travel toward sanctity, and you would err if you thought you could find holiness by chosing some other way.
No one can be holy without the help of grace. Now, God grants His grace to each person according as it is needed for th4e kind of life to which He calls him and the duties for which He destines him.
One who has withdrawn into solitude should not be saddened at having left the world behind, and one whose duty places him in the world should not say he cannot be saved there. The safest state for each is the one in which God has placed him.
Whatever the situation in which we find ourselves, our salvation depends on fidelity to grace.
John the Baptist found holiness in the banks of the Jordan, where God wanted him to stay. He did not seek to go elsewhere.
The kinf of life led by the Apostles who accompanied Jesus and received His teaching did not seem to them any less suitable than John's for reaching holiness.
No, your state is not of itself a barrier for holiness. For it is not the place nor the occupation that sanctifies a man; it is the man who must sanctify the place and the occupation.
We often turn our thoughts to some state other than the one in which we are. The reason, however, is not love of goodness, but our restlessness.
What gain would you have in changing? Would you be a better person? No: in changing your situation or condition you might change your mood, but not your character.
Wherever we go, our defects follow us. My child, what you must change is not your state or your duties but yourself.
Sanctify what you do in your present state by referring it all to God, and you will not have cause to complain that your duties are a source of distraction.
The many tasks required by the administration of a great kingdom did not prevent David from praying and from singing the Lord's praises seven times each day.
Numerous occupations did not prevent the saints from becoming saints; instead, they sanctified their occupations.
Holiness does not consist in serving God where and as you would like, but where and as He wishes.
You will glorify God more on a bed of pain if it be His will that you lie there, than if you were to wear yourself out with hard work in an effort to win souls to Him.

Worth quoting at length isn't it? I couldn't have stumbled upon this passage at a more appropriate hour. I am grateful for this guidance.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, 6 so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?

Luke 16: 9-12

To anyone who says Christians are obsessed with otherworldly concerns, I point them to this passage. We must be trustworthy in small matters if we hope to be trustworthy in big matters. The affairs of this world are indeed small matters, but that doesn't change our commitment to them in the least.

Or that's my interpretation of the passage. I suppose I can't speak for all Christians. But if I could, that's what I would say.

Coolest halloween pumpkins ever

Shea on String Theory

Problem: the Universe is so fantastically fine-tuned and such an obvious work of odds-defying art that common sense kicks in for the non-dogmatic and they naturally infer the existence of God.

Solution: Invent the multi-verse!: An infinite number of universes of which ours happens to be the lucky one that works. Prop up with String Theory. Hope people buy it. Pretend this is not faith-based science.

I went to Columbia, as some of you know, home to Brian Greene, the world's sexiest proponent of string theory. Some of the other professors in the department were fond of pointing out that, since he admitted his theories were essentially unverifiable, and unfalsafiable, he wasn't really doing science, just a strange sort of philosophy or metaphysics.

My take? SOOOOO true!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Because Silence and Solitude Ain't What I Got

The above link is to the official site of the Carthusian Order. I've been reading their statutes and thinking with perhaps some envy about what life must be like for those in this contemplative order. It's not that I'm considering the vocation. Anyone who knows the way I live life would laugh out loud at the notion that I could spend all my hours in quiet work and silent prayer. But I think that it is precisely because my life has been so chaotic and busy that I've been envying the peaceful existence of the Carthusians. I think it is a sign that I need to take a retreat. My spiritual advisor/confessor suggested that I spend half an hour every day in contemplative prayer. I admit I've struggled to find that half an hour. If I don't get up early and do it first thing, I never find the time. Unfortunately with my long hours and late nights, I often have trouble getting up early. But then I look at the schedule of the Carthusians and other religious orders and realize I get plenty of sleep. So I have no excuse except for my own lack in will. Maybe I should do less blogging and more meditating...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

So I was at work until 7:45 today

Yes, that's PM, giving me an effective workday of a little over 11 hours. Some would say that I do this because I'm crazy. I, however, ascribe it to a different motivation. I think that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Which means getting something right makes it worthwhile to stay late every now and again until you hit the nail on the head.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Yeah J-Bu

Clearly the coolest minister at Columbia, in this Bwog article. Hat tip to Hector.


Appealing to youth culture seems to be a long-term strategy. Rabbi Gavin Frank, who will take over as Aish Rabbi next semester, is not very different from Bregman. His students tell the twenty-five-year-old Frank—who reads up on the break-ups of Jessica Simpson and other pop culture icons while walking past newsstands on the subway—that he's "pretty cool."

versus two

Father Jacek Buda, priest of the Columbia Catholic Ministry, has no interest in being a "celebrity pop star priest." That doesn't mean he's a diehard reactionary. He'll accompany singing on his guitar, but only when he has to, during retreats ("because otherwise," he said, "the polyphony would fall apart"). He also shares a sense of humor with many of his students.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Into Great Silence

A review from the New York Times:

A German documentary about Roman Catholic monks who barely utter a word, "Into Great Silence" runs 162 minutes — 162 engrossing, entrancing, enlivening minutes. Operating the camera himself, the director, Philip Gröning, brings us inside a world as mysterious and often as silent as the dark side of the moon, a charterhouse of Carthusian monks in the French Alps. Founded in the 12th century, the Carthusians are among the most rigorous of all Catholic orders, since the monks (and separately accommodated nuns) mostly live alone in their individual cells. In an overwhelmingly noisy world, the Carthusians seek God in solitude; all things considered, including the enviable tranquillity and focus of their lives, you soon understand why. Because solitude is the essential vocation of the Carthusians, "Into Great Silence" is purposely low volume, with no voice-over and little exegesis. Framed by the seasons, the film opens in a wintry hush with the introduction of two initiates. In the days and seasons that follow, the filmmaker takes us in and around the charterhouse and cells, following the initiates and monks as they eat, pray, work — planting, cooking, sewing — and sometimes play. Through unrushed rhythms and a harmonious mise-en-scène, Mr. Gröning finds beauty in a mote of dust, a patch of newly tilled earth and the long white eyebrows that hang over an aged blind monk's eyes like a curtain. Grace, it seems, makes little noise.

I'm very intrigued. Does anyone know though where I could get a copy of this hard-to-find film?

Monday, October 23, 2006

A revolution, you say?

Well, this website is big on talk of revolution (and bumper stickers). However, they seem unable to spell "Exeter". Which doens't inspire much confidence, in my book.

Thank you New York

Mark Shea finds this lovely story about how Catholic Charities must provide contraceptives to employees.

Kelli Conlin, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, said the ruling "shows that no one is above the law, including the Catholic bishops."

The New York court said the fact the organizations hire employees outside their faith was a critical factor, adding that those employees deserve the rights provided under the law.

I say, discontinue the whole thing. Make NARAL foot the bill if they're so hot to trot on telling Catholics what to do with their charitable contributions.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


So yesterday I attended the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. I kid you not. There were more farm animals there than I've ever seen, not to mention more 4-H Club members than I knew existed. So why did I trek up to Dutchess County (that's far, for your out of towners) to see these sheep? A few reasons.

1)I spend way too much time in an office, in a city, and it's good to meet the meat on your plate once in a while, so you don't forget the true value of it.

2)Since I started knitting recently, I've wanted to see the whole process that turned sheep haircuts into scarves, and see if the process could be applied to my haircuts (sadly, no).

3)Sheepdog trials. Awesome.

Next year I'll go with anyone who's willing.

Sam and Max return

Hat tip to Abe for this find. I'm in like there was no tomorrow.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A rather interesting document

The document, addressed to all the faithful, points out that Catholics may not receive communion if they are do not accept Church teaching on matters such as abortion and homosexuality. Catholics should refrain from Holy Communion, says the document, "when they lack adherence to what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals."

The document is designed to help Catholics properly prepare to receive Holy Communion. It is organized as a series of questions and answers, and explores topics such as what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist, who may receive Holy Communion, and how Catholics can prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily

It doesn't say anything new. But somehow I don't think that people will be too happy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


"Public duty demands and requires that what is right should not only be made known, but made prevalend; that what is evil should not only be detected, but defeated." - Edmund Burke

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Well that doesn't look so good for Cdl. Mahony

From CWNews:

In Deliver Us from Evil, O'Grady speaks candidly about his years as a priest and his repeated assaults on children. He reports that his bishop in Stockton-- now the head of the Los Angeles archdiocese, Cardinal Roger Mahony-- was aware of his activities but continued to assign him to parish work. Early screenings of the film have fueled new outrage over the sex-abuse scandal, and new criticism of Cardinal Mahony's leadership.

Well, I wouldn't want to be the good Cardinal at this point in time.

And I hate to nitpick, but that should be Roger Cardinal Mahony. I fail to understand why no one can get that right.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How to tell the Times is out of touch with the people

When their standards editor writes this sentence.

Surely, though, you are asking about The New York Times. I think The Times is a much better newspaper than it was 40 years ago, but I'm sure you'd expect me to say that anyway. The Times is enormously more entertaining, more complete, more catholic in its approach to news than it was 40 years ago, and much more analytical.

The first use of the word "catholic" as a generic adjective that I've seen in any book written after 1910. Perhaps I've been reading the wrong stuff, but I'm still impressed.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Some aid with Scripture

I've been looking at these two bits of Exodus 33:

11 - The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another. Moses would then return to the camp, but his young assistant, Joshua, son of Nun, would not move out of the tent.


18 - Then Moses said, "Do let me see your glory!" He answered, "I will make all my beauty pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce my name, 'LORD'; I who show favors to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will. But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives.

Does Moses see the Face, or not so much? Rather confusing, it seems. Looking at

I found a number of texts by the Church Fathers commenting on the glory of God and these sorts of things, but nothing taking the two passages together. The Navarre Bible seems to be silent on the subject as well in terms of useful comments, making some references to one being by P and the other being by J or E or D or some such, which really doesn't do it for me. I'd imagine that one could do a much more in depth study of what it means to see God's face as a man sees another, versus Moses' request to see God's face in all His glory. However, as I've sold out to the man, I don't have the time for such an exploration, so if anyone can suggest some sources, or perhaps tell me something I don't know about the Hebrew (hint hint) it would be much appreciated.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Looking for that perfect holiday gift for your honey?

Look no further than The Waffling Anglican's webstore, where you can buy Free Constantinople gear in abundance!

At the time, I said I’d had about all the Islamic rage I can put up with. It’s time for the rehellenization of the Middle East. Constantinople, that great city named for the Emperor and Saint himself, fell in 1453. That was 553 years ago, and it is plenty long enough. It’s time for the reappearance of the glory that was Byzantium.

Cato the Elder had to pound on the issue for years before the Romans were willing to take care of Carthage and protect their civilization from a hostile and expansionist culture. Carthago delenda est - Carthage must be destroyed. We don't have orators like Cato these days - instead, I'm opening up my web store for bumper stickers.

Though if I remember correctly, didn't Rome crush Carthage before the fameous words "Cartago delenda est" were said?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A disturbing phrase

We're installing a new version of something at my office (I hope I didn't violate any NDAs by saying that) and the settings from the old version don't copy over. Anywho, it takes about a minuite or two to set up the settings the way you like it. However, since he doesn't have the time, we're going to do it.

I have to say, I'm not sure I could have very much job satisfaction if I couldn't swing two minuites during the day to improve my productivity. But then again, there seems to be a lot of that going on, people so busy that they can't stop and see that if they slowed down, they could get everything done and not be so busy. Ah the joys of finance.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Vatican, Oct. 13 (CWNews.com) - Islamic computer hackers tried to disrupt the Vatican web site earlier this week, but failed, according to a report in the ANSA news service.

In an online forum for militant Muslims, a group announced plans for an assault on the Vatican computer network, which was said to be a form of retribution for Pope Benedict's criticism of Islam in his Regensburg speech. Police later confirmed that there had been a concerted effort by hackers to penetrate the Vatican site, but computer-security experts were able to detect and repel the attack.

Come on guys, what is this? The third grade? I hadn't realized there were so many Muslim script kiddies running about causing chaos.

On a more serious note, I've received a lot of suggestions as of late that I should somehow offer my skills to the Church as a programmer. I'm not quite sure what they have to program, but I'd suspect in terms of fulfilling careers it's probably somewhat better than what I'm doing now. Unfortunately, if they're looking for people, they're not advertising it on Monster, so I'm out of luck. If anyone has suggestions, please offer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An interesting new blog

I won't tell you who the author is, but I will tell you that it's called "Emunah Shlemah", which I think should give it away. Though I must admit the author does sound dangerously Augustinian in his first post :-).

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wonderful Essay on Discernment by Shannon Berry

In the Old Testament, fire was a purifying element. The sacrifices were burnt because the Jews believed that their sins were transferred to the animal on the altar, and the burning devoured these sins and sent the aroma of repentance to the God above. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul takes this idea a step further, adapts it to fit Christianity and says that we should offer our bodies as living sacrifices, making our very lives offerings to God, making our lives blazing, constant, purifying fires. Fires that burn, spark, and glow. Fires within. This same fire urged Teresa of Avila to reform her religious order, which had fallen into laziness and wealth. It drove her to sit for hours praying whether she felt anything or not. It's a fire that isn't extinguished unless we kill it, heaping buckets of lukewarm water on the blaze.

I believe the expression is "Oh snap"

Vatican, Oct. 11 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) is preparing to release a motu proprio extending permission for priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, Vatican sources have confirmed.

The new papal document-- for which a publication date has not yet been set-- would give all priests permission to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V. This permission, a "universal indult," would replace the existing indult that dates back to 1988, when Ecclesia Dei authorized use of the Tridentine rite under more restricted conditions, requiring the permission of the local bishop.

Seems to me as if this will resolve a lot of tension and defuse a lot of the strange SSPX, more Catholic than the Pope, type of stuff, though of course there will still be those who still think the Pope is a heretic. Which would, I think, make me a radical leftist, liturgically speaking.

Now all I have to do is brush up on my Latin, a project that's been on my agenda for two years. But hey, third year's the charm.

Oh, and once more for the record. I have not been and am not a "fan", if that word could be applied to the Divine Liturgy, of the "Tridentine rite". When I advocate for Latin Mass, it is a Mass prayed in Latin, but according to the "Novus Ordo" (note the scare quotes), possibly with a little sacerdotal orientalism, if you catch my drift. This may surprise some. But it does not surprise me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This is exactly why we're not supposed to do double negatives

Oct. 10 (CWNews.com) - Ms. magazine, which recently publicized a listing of women who announced that they had procured an abortion, has been scolded by a group of women who say the magazine refused to acknowledge their regrets about abortion.

However, if I recall correctly, Ms. was scolding Silent No More with their ad. Which means that this latest announcement is just the original thing, again. I guess the news needs to run something.

I wish they could just put together a story about the bizarre version of "La Isla Bonita" I found in German. There's something I could use some more info about. In particular, the home address of the executive who signed off on such a monstrosity. Almost as bad as Madonna's. I prefer the Spanish version. But that's something else entirely.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The woes of organic food

Apparently what works well for an audience the size of Vermont doesn't work so well when the whole country wants a piece.

As food companies scramble to find enough organically grown ingredients, they are inevitably forsaking the pastoral ethos that has defined the organic lifestyle. For some companies, it means keeping thousands of organic cows on industrial-scale feedlots. For others, the scarcity of organic ingredients means looking as far afield as China, Sierra Leone, and Brazil -- places where standards may be hard to enforce, workers' wages and living conditions are a worry, and, say critics, increased farmland sometimes comes at a cost to the environment.

Me thinks it's still better for you. But we'll see.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Why Judaism rejected the Incarnation

An . . . interesting meditation, I think is the best way to put it, and appropriate reading for a Sunday evening, I think.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Churches in Iraq being bombed

What can you do? If you're good with a sniper rifle, by all means. For the rest of us, I'd check out the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, which seems to be doing a lot of good work in the area. They hae a big project in Jordan and Lebanon underway right now I think, but everyone takes a piece.

Either that or join the NRA. And really which is a better expression of Catholic values, I think we all know the answer.

Though I can think of one Irishman from NYU who might disagree.

Sorry for the lack of posting lately

Our rabbit died.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Just some thoughts

I find that every time I'm having problems in my life, it's really because I'm keeping too much to myself, and not giving myself to God fully. In particular, worrying about work, friends, money, friends, reading, my class, friends, etc are probably not the best use of my time, given that every day we pray to be freed from anxiety.

So remember, next time something's going wrong in your life, it's probably just you not trusting in God enough. Yeah, things suck, but your internal response can be very different depending . . .

Please note - don't go around saying this is what the Catholic Church says. It isn't, just my observation of myself, and may not be applicable to anyone else in the universe, human or angelic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Calling God by the pronoun He gives us is apparently evil enough to warrant a tsk tsk from the Church of England.

The Christian understanding of God as Father and Lord, held by all Christians until the beginning of the incursions of feminist thought, the report called “misguided" and said it is a distorted version of Christian belief. This distortion, the report said, specifically includes the understanding of God as it is derived from the Bible.

The report, titled “Responding to Domestic Abuse, Guidelines for Pastoral Responsibility,” condemned the Christian spirituality of self-denial, calling it a factor in discouraging victims of spousal abuse from seeking help. It signatories included the titular head of the Church of England and the Worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed in 2002 by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

. . .

The Daily Mail quotes Graham James, the Anglican Bishop of Norwich, who said that abuse victims “can be locked into a belief that they deserve the punishment that they receive and they link that with the theology that they hear in church where Christ is victim.”

“Maybe even that they think their suffering has redemptive quality to it which justifies it in some way,” James said.

No, suffering never has a redemptive quality. Absurd.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rally - good. Trust in God - better.

At the recent large rally near the United Nations, it was encouraging to see the breadth of support for Israel and outrage at Iran's current leadership. Not only were Jews of very different stripes present — from the bare-headed to the black-hatted — but there was quite a representation of non-Jews as well, white and black, American, European and even Middle-Eastern.

. . .

The void was most starkly evident during the speech of famed lawyer and author Alan Dershowitz. After reading a lengthy indictment of the Iranian president and his policies, Mr. Dershowitz invoked a verse from the book of Isaiah that speaks of the ultimate futility of the plottings of the Jewish people's enemies.

"Utzu eitzah v'tufar; dabru davar v'lo yakum," the former yeshiva bochur (religious studies student) eloquently intoned. "Plan a conspiracy, and it will be foiled; speak your piece and it will not stand."

Very inspiring, except that Mr. Dershowitz left out the final words of the verse, "ki imanu [K]el" — "for G-d is with us."

Whether he did so intentionally or not, the truncation seemed to symbolize an attitude that is sadly prevalent today.

My New Home

I have found my new home in Oakland. I have finally come to entrust myself to a church here. They have lauds and Latin mass everyday. They have classes in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Everyone has been welcoming and sincere. Going to mass here is my sustenance in this strange new land.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bizarre BBC

Don't you love it when people are weird?

The focus of the BBC presentation was Crimen Sollicitationis, a Vatican document that was promulgated in 1962. The Panorama program described that document as "secret," and claims credit for exposing it, although the full text of Crimen Sollicitationis was published in 2001 and covered extensively by Catholic publications in 2002.

I'm always amazed when someone "discovers" something that's in plain sight. But hey, maybe it was a slow news day.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Yom Kippur, of course, starts this evening

I am myself looking forward to the sacrifice of the two goats. However, I'd imagine that most others are more concerned with reflection and such matters. I guess it's something like Good Friday, insofar as it's the only time of year when the amount of time that Catholics spend in church approaches the Jewish commitment, but I really wouldn't know.

A reading

Rejoice, O young man, while you are young
and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart,
the vision of your eyes;
Yet understand that as regards all this
God will bring you to judgment.
Ward off grief from your heart
and put away trouble from your presence,
though the dawn of youth is fleeting.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
I have no pleasure in them;
Before the sun is darkened,
and the light, and the moon, and the stars,
while the clouds return after the rain;
When the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
and they who look through the windows grow blind;
When the doors to the street are shut,
and the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
but all the daughters of song are suppressed;
And one fears heights,
and perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
and the locust grows sluggish
and the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
and mourners go about the streets;
Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
all things are vanity!

Eccl 11:9—12:8

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