Thursday, December 17, 2009

Remember Me?

This is a nice post over at the register's site about Jimmy Stewart and psalm 91 and how It's a Wonderful Life has meaning for everyone, even today.

There has been a lot I've wanted to post lately, but I've been so occupied with other real life stuff that I haven't made time to post any thoughts or reflections. I'm also feeling a bit more distanced right now Church wise. I suppose the politics will always creep in, huh?

Still, the last few days of Advent linger and then it will be Christmas. This year, I'm grateful for finding love. Somehow I knew last year that it would be my last year alone (I'm never really alone as I have friends and family) and somehow I'd be with the one I'd spend my life with. It was a strange flash but I truly felt that. I also feel that God has orchestrated bringing this wonderful, loving man into my life. We've known each other all our lives and have crossed paths periodically but the time for us was never right. We have been waiting until this moment. It feels right, it feels comfortable and I'm falling more and more in love every day. One day I'll post more about our rediscovery.

I have a lot to write about. And deep down I know that God has always been there. It's really a blessing to know that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just Wanted to Say Hey

At some point, I plan to come back to blogging. With Advent, I almost feel remiss for not blogging. This is one of my favorite seasons of the Church year, how can I not blog. Anyway, I'm falling in love and focusing on my new blossoming romance. We bought a Christmas tree the other day. I've not had a real tree in 20 years or so... the house smells wonderful.

We put up our Christmas Tree the other night. We got about half the ornaments up tonight, (There are 21 days left to get the tree completely done so there is no hurry.) and will finish on Friday.

Me trying to hide under the tree.

Me, David and Iggy.

The redheads on one side and the brunettes on the other. ;)

David, Me and Estrella.

Betcha, he's not what you expected. ;P We're telling everyone we made a pact in kindergarten that one day we'd get together and fall in love. Granted, I don't think we remember each other from kindergarten, but our paths crossed a lot in high school and college, only we never were aware of it. It's actually really pretty neat how our lives were always a hop, skip and a jump away from each other, but we didn't find each other until now, when we were supposed to.

I really am in love. It's sickening huh? ;)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Procession Slide Show

Posting this for someone. Yes... I am still alive. Just happily in love. He went to Mass with me Yesterday. It was lovely. Maybe I'll talk about it later.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Storybook Story...

Wow... three weeks since I've last posted. Well, I have a good excuse. Three weeks ago today, I reconnected with a classmate of mine from high school and we're really busy now falling into something more than "really Like".

Will keep you posted. Wish I could go to the All Souls Mass at my parish tonight, but I have to teach my class. Meanwhile, it's Kinda a Wonderful Life around here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Seen On Another Blog

Ah, man... I always did want to live under THIS administration. I miss the West Wing.

h/t to Crystal, at Perspective. She found the link at an Andrew Sullivan blog post, whom I read too. Go read her post because she has links to other articles and the transcript of the West Wing scene.

I really do think this is a policy that needs to be changed, like NOW! It's shameful that truly capable, patriotic and qualified Americans are discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Weeky Iggy Antics

In lieu of any content... I continue with the Iggy updates.

He discovered Ice Cream.

Nothing but the best.

Hmm, the purple poodle toy or the Haagen Dazs?

Look guys, I'm growing.

I've got discriminating taste in my ice cream.

Yum. Rich and Creamy...

The best cardboard I ever tasted.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

God and Dog

One of my blogger friends posted this video to her parish blog and I thought I'd share this here, because it seems like we all love our animal companions, most especially our dogs. It touched me because this is exactly how I felt about Barkley. I always thought he was the perfect companion. I knew that God was also good and loving because he gave us such special creatures to share our lives with, to love them and have them love us. I will miss that dog every day of the rest of my life. I feel a little big guilty for already loving Ignatius as much as I do. He's a charming little puppy (all except for his puppy farts) and I know he's going to be a great, loving dog. He won't be Barkley but he'll be special.

Anyway, watch the video, and if your parish is blessing the animals this weekend, try to take them. I'm going to try to take mine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What if he were a priest...

Today on the blogosphere and from blogger friends as well, I've been reading about, Roman Polanski and the outrage his arrest has gone around the world and back. Father James Martin penned this blog post at America asking the question, what if he'd been a priest, how would he be treated then? I thought it was interesting question to ponder. I also admit last night I asked the same question in my head too, "what if he was wearing a collar?"

I wish I had the energy to extrapolate a bit more with my own thoughts, but I thought I'd share. I haven't kept up with my online subscription of the magazine, looks like I've missed some good stuff.

Still, all I can say is that there is no excuse for sexual abuse of children. I find it totally outrageous and immoral. On Saturday I have to give the students a presentation on abuse, both sexual and physical. I suppose it's good that we are educating our children but it makes me sad that we have to do this as well.

The Pope In the Czech Republic Continued.

All right, I'm going to try to compile links of Pope Benedict's visit to the Czech Republic. They won't be in any particular order and quite possibly of only interest to myself, but I'm going to do it anyway and will be updated throughout the next day or so.

Over at Whispers in the Loggia, Rocco posts the pope's impromptu speech to the youth of the Czech Republic and neighboring lands.

Benedict's Reality Czech.
A bit with video at National Catholic Register.

John Allen
of the National Catholic Reporter has been providing great coverage of this trip as well. He already put a list together at his blog, so I don't have to. Heh.

And for fun, this piece about a Spider Crawling on the pope, is quite amusing.

St. Wenceslaus

Continuing with the Czech theme, it is the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, which is also celebrated in the Czech Republic as a Czech Statehood Day. I wonder if the real meaning of the day has some significance? Probably in old religious circles.

This is what Catholic Online has posted about him:

St. Wenceslaus
Feastday: September 28

St. Wenceslaus (903-29), also known by Vaclav, was born near Prague, and was the son of Duke Wratislaw. He was taught Christianity by his grandmother, St. Ludmila. The Magyars, along with Drahomira, an anti-Christian faction murdered the Duke and St. Lumila, and took over the government. Wenceslaus was declared the new ruler after a coup in 922. He encouraged Christianity. Boleslaus, his brother, no longer successor to the throne, after Wenceslaus' son was born, joined a group of noble Czech dissenters. They invited Wenceslaus to a religious festival, trapped and killed him on the way to Mass. He is the patron saint of Bohemia and his feast day is Sept. 28.

(photo credit. Picture from here. )

A Future Nun, Runs

Here's a bit from a news story at the CNS blog about a very determined young woman trying to raise money to pay off her student loan debt so she can enter a convent. She started The Nun Run to help her do so.

Chicago woman runs in order to raise funds to enter religious life

By Joyce Duriga
Catholic News Service

CHICAGO (CNS) -- When Alicia Torres laced up her running shoes and tackled the 13.1 miles of the Chicago Half Marathon Sept. 13, her goal was to become a nun.

Torres is not a runner and had never run a distance race. But she ran the race as part of an appeal to friends and strangers to help pay off more than $90,000 in student loans so she can enter religious life.

When Torres felt God calling her to this vocation, she realized there was one major obstacle in her path -- $94,000 in student loans that must be paid off to enter the Franciscan community she's chosen. Most of her loans are held by private lenders so they can't be consolidated or the interest rates negotiated.

It is a contemporary issue. Men and women graduate from college with student loan bills and feel God calling them to join communities that take vows of poverty. But they must enter debt-free since the communities do not typically have resources to pay off the loans.

read the rest at the site. Check out her website to read more about her and her progress.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Czech believers find islands of hope in a secular sea | National Catholic Reporter

I am following the Pope's visit to the Czech Republic for a myriad of reasons. This article actually helps me with my fiction. :)

Czech believers find islands of hope in a secular sea | National Catholic Reporter

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I have a soft spot for all things Czech. Anyway, John Allen at the National Catholic Reporter profiled the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Vlk, here and it's really interesting. At least to me. I am a Czechphile after all. ;)

I posted it here, but it's here, at the NCR website.

The German shepherd bids farewell to a 'wolf in winter'

Sep. 25, 2009
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk (CNS)

Pope Benedict XVI, the first German pontiff since the 16th century (or the 11th, depending on whether you count Adrian VI, born in Utrecht while it was still part of the Holy Roman Empire), has sometimes playfully been dubbed "the German shepherd." To extend that zoological pun, this weekend in the Czech Republic, the German shepherd will share his stage with a wolf -- albeit a wolf by now in winter.

At 77, and struggling with spotty health, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of Prague (whose last name in Czech means "wolf") has announced that this will be his last major public event, and that he expects to be replaced by the end of the year. In effect, Benedict's visit is also Vlk's swan song.

One of the most remarkable Catholic prelates of the 20th century, Vlk is that rare figure whose biography seems to perfectly crystallize the larger dramas of his time. He's also perhaps the closest thing to an alter ego of the late Pope John Paul II on the European scene, so a look at Vlk's story may also offer some insight about the state of the church, and John Paul's legacy, in the early 21st century.

A circuitous path

Like John Paul, Vlk's path to ecclesiastical prominence was circuitous, shaped by the vicissitudes of life behind the Iron Curtain. Born in South Bohemia in 1932, Vlk's original dream was not of the priesthood. Unlike the young Karol Wojtyla, however, who aspired to the theatre, Vlk's fantasy was to be an airplane pilot. By the time he got to middle school, a sense of vocation to the priesthood had begun to flower instead.

Following the 1948 Communist takeover of what was then Czechoslovakia, entering the seminary wasn't an option. Vlk therefore worked in a car factory and completed his military service, before earning a Ph.D. in library science and becoming a professional archivist. It wasn't until 1964 that he could begin studies for the priesthood, leading to ordination in 1968 during the short-lived "Prague Spring".

After that brief window of hope was slammed shut by a flotilla of Soviet tanks, Vlk was marked as a potential enemy of the regime. In 1971, he was exiled to a string of remote mountain parishes; by 1978, he was denied permission to act as a priest altogether.

For the next decade, "Citizen Vlk" ministered in an underground catacombs church, while working during the day as a window-washer in downtown Prague. He later said that he was sustained during this period by the spirituality of the Focolare movement, founded by Italian laywoman Chiara Lubich and emphasizing unity across political and religious divisions. Vlk would later become one of Focolare's best friends, chairing its annual meeting of bishops.

His taste of repression inclined Vlk to be skeptical of the Vatican policy of Ostpolitik, or outreach to the Soviets, under Pope Paul VI and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli. Papal biographer George Weigel, however, said that Vlk's critique was always "more thoughtful than you'd get from a true wild man of the resistance church." If nuanced, Vlk's anti-Communism was no less steadfast; as recently as 2006, he suggested that Communist parties perhaps ought to be banned in the same way that being a Nazi is against Czech law.

While he wasn't a protagonist of the 1989 "Velvet Revolution," which swept the Communists from power, Vlk was sympathetic to its aims. He would later carve out a warm relationship with dissident intellectual Vaclav Havel, an avowed agnostic who became the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. (Despite his agnosticism, Havel also has some common ground with Pope Benedict XVI. The pope's motto is "co-workers of the truth," while Havel described his political philosophy, shaped in the context of an Orwellian regime, as "living in truth.")

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Vlk's upward movement was swift. John Paul II named him the Bishop of Ceské Budĕjovice in Budweis in 1990 (so yes, Vlk was briefly a "Budweiser"), and then in 1991 tapped him as the archbishop of Prague. Vlk became a cardinal in 1994, by which time he was already a heavyweight in the global church. Elected president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences in 1993, he would hold that post for almost eight years, succeeding the legendary Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan.

For the next decade, Vlk was widely tipped as a possible successor to John Paul II. In the end, however, his role in the conclave of April 2005 that elected Pope Benedict XVI was mostly as a footnote: he was the lone cardinal-elector whose last name didn't contain a single vowel.

Two streams of criticism

In another parallel to John Paul II, Vlk rocketed to international influence and celebrity status while never being quite able to shake two persistent streams of criticism: Catholic traditionalists, who see him as a liberal modernizer, in his case literally a wolf in shepherd's clothing; and liberals of both the Catholic and secular variety, at least some of whom who regard Vlk as a conservative stick-in-the-mud.

Perhaps fueled by his formation with Focolare, unity has been a central passion of Vlk's career. His episcopal motto is Jesus' prayer from the Gospel of John, "That they may all be one."

Vlk took a lead role in promoting reconciliation between Czechs and Germans, no small challenge given that, in some ways, Czech nationalism has been defined over the centuries in terms of resistance to perceived German (and Austrian) aggression. Czechs and Germans still fall into cycles of mutual recrimination for the German occupation of Czechoslovakia during World War II and the post-war expulsion of more than two million ethnic Germans from the Sudetenland. An estimated 300,000 Germans died in what is today regarded as a classic instance of "ethnic cleansing."

Vlk pioneered an exchange of letters between the Czech and German bishops in the early 1990s, apologizing for past wrongs and offering forgiveness. Vlk styled that exchange as a model for civil society. For his efforts, Vlk was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit by then-German President Roman Herzog in 1999.

In a recent interview, Vlk acknowledged that Czech-German tensions are, despite his best efforts, still very much alive, reflected in speculation in some Czech media that Benedict XVI is coming to their country as "the voice of Sudeten Germans." (To this day, the Germans who were expelled, and their descendants, seek compensation from the Czech government.) In what is arguably a sign of sensitivity, organizers have announced that Benedict XVI will not speak German while in the Czech Republic, but rather English and Italian. (For the record, Vlk says that's because English is more familiar to young Czechs, and Italian is "closer to the liturgy.")

Vlk has also been an ardent champion of Christian unity. His breakthrough success on that front came in 1999, when Vlk was instrumental in crafting an apology by John Paul II for the "cruel death" of the famed medieval Czech reformer Jan Hus. Burned at the stake as a heretic in 1415 during the Council of Constance, Hus is considered a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation as well as a father of the Czech nation. In his 1999 speech, John Paul expressed "deep sorrow" for Hus' death and praised his "moral courage."

That act, which built upon consistent statements and gestures from Vlk, was widely praised for ushering in a new ecumenical climate, not just in the Czech Republic but across Eastern and Central Europe.

Vlk's interest in unity also naturally led him to broad support for European unification and for the Czech Republic's entry into the European Union, a position which at times put him at odds with conservative leaders. (For some European Catholics, anti-EU activism is a signature issue, analogous to the anti-abortion struggle for Catholics in the United States. In those circles, the EU is seen as a vehicle for imposing secularism. Vlk is not unsympathetic; in a recent interview, he said that the rejection of an EU treaty by Irish voters came because the EU has "dropped its Christian roots." He also warned that the religious tone in Europe will increasingly be set by Muslims unless Christian values are restored.)

Shock therapy

A defining feature of Catholicism in Vlk's part of the world is that the tensions which shaped the church elsewhere after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), between reformers and traditionalists, were largely frozen in place during the Communist era. As long as Catholics were struggling to keep the church alive vis-à-vis a hostile regime, they simply didn't have time to fight amongst themselves.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the church thus experienced its own form of "shock therapy," as developments and fissures that evolved over several decades in the West erupted all at once in the 1990s -- which meant, in practice, that they all happened on Vlk's watch.

In many ways, Vlk came down on the side of the reformers. One small example: Communion in the hand wasn't widely introduced in the Czech Republic until the mid-1990s, and even then a coalition of traditional priests tried to discourage it. Vlk shot them down, saying it had become normal practice elsewhere, and there was no reason why the Czech Republic should stand apart.

Vlk has been a champion of lay activism, again informed by his experience of the Focolare. He's also been an outspoken proponent of the need for the church to come to terms with its own failures. In 2007, when a scandal erupted in Poland based on revelations that some clergy had collaborated with the secret Communist-era police, Vlk condemned the popular conservative radio outlet Radio Maryja for trying to "sweep the whole thing under the carpet." For his part, he's called for the Czech church to be a "house of glass," including cooperating with government inquiries about the role its clergy played under the Soviets.

Vlk has been sharply critical of the rise of far-right and xenophobic sentiment in Central Europe, joining Jewish protests in 2007 when right-wingers planned a march through Prague's Jewish quarter on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. In 2006, Vlk criticized a group of Lefebvrite Catholics who staged a conference in Prague, accusing them of sympathies for "anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism." Local organizers fired back that Vlk showed "ill will to socially ostracize Catholics who point to the negative consequences of liberalization processes in the church."

Vlk's reputation as a "man of the council" was cemented by his role in changing the theological climate at Prague's Charles University. During the 1990s the Catholic theological faculty under Fr. Vaclav Wolf was seen as a bastion of traditionalism. According to local sources, Wolf had discouraged the admission of laity to theology programs, and had insisted upon a largely pre-conciliar curriculum -- a situation which not only produced intra-Catholic division, but also led to threats in 2001 of a loss of accreditation from the state's Education Ministry.

In 2002, Vlk withdrew Wolf's canonical license as a theologian. That led to the appointment of a new Jesuit dean who, as Vlk put it, would preside over "an open faculty which will cooperate with church and civil authorities in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council." (Wolf appealed to Rome, but Vlk's action was upheld.)

Inevitably, however, Vlk didn't move far or fast enough for everyone's taste. In 1999, one of the Czech Republic's best-known progressive priests, Dominican Fr. Odilo Stampach, announced that he was abandoning Roman Catholicism to affiliate with the Old Catholic Church in protest over what he described as harassment about his orthodoxy. (Stampach taught at Charles University, where he repeatedly clashed with Wolf. Stampach has also been perhaps the most flamboyant voice calling upon the church to come clean about its role during the Soviet era, including the alleged collaboration of priests with the secret police.)

Early success, later frustration

Again to some extent like John Paul II, many of Vlk's defining successes came early, while his later years have been more ambivalent, marked as much by frustration as triumph.

Most notably, Vlk has fought a decade-long, and still unsuccessful, battle to work out a new legal framework for the Catholic church in the Czech Republic, which would include resolution of some $6 billion in church property confiscated under the Communists and never returned. That includes almost a million acres of forest which formed the church's traditional economic base. In 2004, Vlk agreed to waive restitution of much of that property in exchange for financial compensation, and at one stage a deal seemed within reach that would have paid the church roughly $4.8 billion over sixty years (with interest, the final total would have been close to $15 billion).

That plan fell apart in parliament due to opposition from leftist forces -- including, naturally, the Communists. It was merely the latest setback for Vlk, who seemed initially optimistic about a new climate for the church post-1989, but who has since grown increasingly bitter.

More than once, Vlk has suggested that Czech politicians actually prefer the status quo, since in the absence of compensation or restitution of its property, the church remains financially dependent upon the state. Priests' salaries in the Czech Republic, for example, are paid by the government. A serious compensation package, Vlk has hinted, would give the church an independence which some politicians fear.

(By the way, that suspicion is not simply paranoia. When the Communists began paying priests' salaries in 1949, it was with the explicit aim of making them more compliant. One consequence of the proposed compensation deal is that salary subsidies would be gradually phased out.)

To date, the Czech parliament has also not ratified a new concordat, or basic treaty, with the Vatican, making it the lone Central European state to fail to do so. Things became so testy that in 2005, when John Paul II died, Vlk spurned suggestions that he call for a national day of mourning. "If this government wants to make a gesture," he snapped, "let it approve the Czech-Vatican treaty."

In 2006, the Czech government claimed the power to approve, or to reject, the opening of church facilities such as parishes and charities, a move Vlk strenuously opposed. One year later, Vlk publicly defined church-state relations in the Czech Republic as the worst of all Central European post-communist societies.

At a deeper level, Vlk shared John Paul's dream that the newly liberated nations of the Soviet sphere, where Catholics paid in blood to keep the faith alive, would awaken the West from its spiritual torpor, and he has also shared John Paul's disappointment that this dream has gone largely unrealized.

"We discovered that God was near when the rest of the world had forgotten us," Vlk said a decade ago. "Today, people are searching for religion the world over … not just religious theories, but the true living God. That's where our experiences may prove helpful in a Western context."

Instead, both John Paul and Vlk watched as the missionary tide in Europe flowed mostly in the opposite direction: the East assimilated Western values, lifestyles and patterns of consumption, without shipping much spiritual energy in the other direction (except, perhaps, for the growing number of Polish priests serving abroad.)

Truth to be told, the Czech Republic probably wasn't ever destined to become a spiritual exporter. According to Austrian sociologist Fr. Paul Zulehner, the Czech Republic and the former East Germany are the only two zones of the erstwhile Soviet sphere where state-sponsored atheism was an unqualified success. Today, some 60 percent of Czechs say they have no religious affiliation, and while a third of the population is nominally Catholic, levels of Mass attendance and other indicators of religious vitality are notoriously low. For the last several years, more priests have died in Prague each year than were ordained.

Meanwhile, Czech society is rapidly embracing a Dutch-style ethos of tolerance. A domestic partnership law for gay couples was adopted in 2006, legal abortion is inexpensive and widely accepted, and polls show growing support for the legalization of euthanasia. Echoing John Paul once more, Vlk has warned Czechs about divorcing freedom from truth -- becoming intoxicated with liberty, but failing to ask what ultimate ends that liberty ought to serve.

"All kinds of things have been transformed," Vlk rued not long ago, "but no one bothered about the transformation of hearts."

Faced with these disappointments, local observers say that Vlk has become a bit more withdrawn, especially in the face of health difficulties. (Vlk took an extended convalescence in 2008 due to heart problems, which he said were compounded by exhaustion.)

At least in terms of Vlk's public image, the populist prelate who once merrily revealed that as a young man, "various girls swirled around me, and one fell in love with me," has to some extent receded. Czech journalist Petr Tresnak lamented in 2007 that Vlk has become a "crashing bore," and that in Vlk's twilight, the Czech church "shows zero internal life, movement or creativity."

Not quite done

As the clock winds down on Vlk's tenure, speculation inevitably has turned to who might come next as Archbishop of Prague. Local media have pointed to three names: Bishop Dominik Duka of Hradec Králové, a Dominican who spent time in Czech jails with Vaclav Havel during the Communist era; Archbishop Jan Graubner of Olomouc, widely seen as the leader of the local church's conservative wing; and Norbertine Abbot Michael Josef Pojezdný of Prague's Strahov Monastery.

While there's certainly something to be said for each, most observers concede that none is likely to capture the same international spotlight as Vlk.

That's not to suggest, however, that the "wolf in winter" is quite done yet. Vlk seems eager to use this weekend's visit of a German pope to deepen healing between Czechs and Germans. With typical candor, Vlk recently said that neither society has done enough to promote reconciliation, because nationalist resentments remain too valuable a "trump card" for politicians.

Vlk is also hardly sitting out the current political crisis in the Czech Republic, which has seen a deal to allow new elections to replace an unpopular interim government fall apart at the last minute. This week, Vlk published a column urging Czech voters to scrutinize the moral character of political candidates, looking past their "often nonsensical and naive promises for which there is no ground."

The current crisis, Vlk opined, is a logical consequence of the entire course of post-1989 development, which prioritized economic development over moral renewal.

Whatever balance sheet historians eventually draw, Vlk will inevitably loom as one of the great Catholic personalities of his time. If his batting average of success and failure isn't quite as high as that of his mentor, John Paul II, it's worth recalling that John Paul got to take his swings all over the world, while Vlk was fated to play in what is, by Catholic standards, definitely not a hitter's park -- the thoroughly secularized Czech Republic, where atheism, for all intents and purposes, is the state church.

One suspects that most Czechs, whatever their theological or ideological inclinations, will be cheering for Vlk's informal exit this weekend to go well. Certainly few figures in recent Catholic memory have done more to earn a rousing sendoff.

[Editor's Note: Pope Benedict XVI is visiting the Czech Republic Sept. 26-28, traveling to Prague, Brno, and Stará Boleslav. It's the pope's first visit to the country and his second to a former Soviet satellite state, after Poland in 2006. NCR senior correspondent John Allen will be in the Czech Republic covering the trip. Watch the NCR Today group blog pages through the weekend for more of Allen's reports.]

John L. Allen Jr. is NCR senior correspondent. His e-mail is

Friday, September 25, 2009


Queen of Procrastination Am I.
I wonder if procrastination is a sin? Hee. I'm supposed to be getting ready for my first Catechism class, which starts tomorrow. I've been a bit lazy and have been getting caught up on chores around the house. I have a few things to do for my dad and then plan to spend the day getting my materials together for my class.

I've had some thoughts about how I'd like to be more Christlike in the world and how I'd like to be able to share that with the students. Also, I want to write down those thoughts, but often find myself unable to find the words. One of my spiritual goals is to make an effort to try to write down my spiritual thoughts and reflections. I carry a journal with me, but I don't see why I can't post those thoughts in here as well. However, I've never been able to put those kind of things into words and so I struggle. I also struggle with my prayer life most days. It really amazes me to read other blogs and journals where so many people can pour out their hearts and souls into words. Surely, they have moments of dryness.

Maybe I will never be able to do that, but hopefully one day, I might just be able to. I don't think any less of myself for not being able to write up my thoughts and feelings, but I think it would help me be more Christlike in the world if I could.Wow... this was a rambling post almost about nothing. :) Anyway, alas my first day of teaching for the new year. One of my goals and intentions is to find a way to become an elementary school teacher next year, ideally at a private school, but if you notice the first sentence of this post, I always seem to fall victim to procrastination. All right... off to work now. BBL.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Believe In One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;

Fun little web page with interesting information. My friend and I call churches that splintered off from the Catholic church (I suppose with the exception of the Orthodox) Man-Made Churches. Reading this list, you'll see why.

Who Started Your Church?

Beyond it's overall message, the site has useful information about the Catholic Church as well.

Herein I Really Rant

You know...I'm really getting tired of hate, the polarization of this country, the religious right equating Obama to Hitler and Stalin. I was going to write up another complaint about the Catholic blogosphere but what's the point? There will bloggers who exist to spew out complaints about fellow Catholics ad nausem, so why waste the energy complaining about them? Yes, some of the blogs I enjoy will always be bombarded by those who can define who is and who isn't a Real Catholic and will spew out a nasty, mean spirited and uncharitable comments. These are not the people who sit beside me in the pews on any given Sunday. Still, it disheartens me as a Catholic to see Catholics stand in judgment of fellow Catholics. Only God can judge the hearts and minds of men, not other men (or women). So, when I see that anywhere I will always get angry.

I spent Saturday in a Workshop for Catechists and when I left the workshop, I felt so good about my faith, so energized and so confident that I was going to be able to be Christlike and be able to set up an example of Christ in the World to the children I teach. Guh... here I am bitching and complaining, spewing out rather judgmental comments myself.

It's a sin to judge others, isn't it?

Still, while I find some members of my own church can be frustrating and terribly judgmental, I've never heard any bullshit to come out of a (present day) Catholic priest's mouth, not even a bishop has said anything like this like this guy . This is serious batshit crazy stuff and if I ever heard it preached from the pulpit in any Catholic church I ever attended I'd walk out immediately. I posted a comment at this blog , and now I'm curious to see if I'll get any traffic back or a return comment.

I need to find something to temper my mood. Maybe I'll find a nice reflection or a pleasant Biblical reading to post following this. Grr!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Carry On My Wayward Daughter...

Lately, my world has been a big ball of anxiety and stress. I haven't felt like posting much and what I do post is nothing but happy, puppy stuff. I do have a few things I want to work out but I'm afraid that it will all sound like big post of nothing but complaints.

So, I shall endeavor to make an effort to start posting again in here. Till then... enjoy the puppy pictures.

Estrella and Ignatius...

Yikes! Look what I found?

The cutest toy in the basket. He finally got a name. His name is Ignatius. Yes. For real and yes, for. St. Ignatius of Loyola. He's Iggy or now Igs for short.

We have achieved Peace at Casa De Maria. Estrella has finally accepted the puppy on her bed. She's still not crazy about him, but she's better.

He's fitting into the family nice. If only he'd get potty trained. Soon. I hope. Soon.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Burn Him, Burn Him

Last night was the burning of Zozobra, the start of the annual Fiesta here in Santa Fe.

Since the video seems to want to start automatically playing in the blog, it's embeded down below or you can follow the the link here to watch it at the hosting site instead.

But as I have posted before about Zozobra, most recently here, how the Fundamentalists say were doomed and going to fall into the center of the Earth with our evil and wicked ways. Then here from a couple of years ago with links to his history.

So, now you can get a taste of the fun and frivolity around here in the fall. Man, it feels like Fall. It's a bit chilly out there this morning.

Zozobra burned last night and all the gloom is gone. ;D

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monsieur Noir

He's part Lab and part Poodle. A Labradoodle.

I just got him today and am very happy.

Despite nearly having a nervous breakdown chasing after my parents Poodle Doodle for escaping. But all was well.

He's Smart too. He figured out how to reach Estrella's food bowl right away.

His eyes aren't blue. Neat camera trick.

Matches the new fridge.

Ah... he's home and comfy.
But still needs a name.
Well, it's Ignatius.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

More Church Bell Kerfluffles

Only this time in Arizona. It seems three churches are suing the city of Phoenix to be able to ring their church bells.

h/t to Father Z's blog for the link.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Priest Who Also Cooks

Father Z better watch out, this priest, Father Leo, can really cook. He even has a Throwdown with Bobby Flay, plus he has his own online cooking show. This is a great interview on PBS Religion and Ethics News Weekly. Go read the text at the website but do watch this video, he's really enjoyable. I liked what he said at the end about the Meal and the Eucharist. We were talking about that yesterday in my Class for Catechists.

Here's his site.
I might have to check it out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From the Catholic Services News Blog.

‘Guitars and Adobes’ gives a glimpse at church life in New Mexico in the ’30s
Posted on August 25, 2009 by Mark Pattison

Seventy-seven years after Fray Angelico Chavez’s serialized novel, “Guitars and Adobes,” appeared in the pages of St. Anthony Messenger magazine, it is now out in book form.

It has been described as a kind of Hispanic answer to Willa Cather’s “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” her classic novel based on the real French archbishop charged by the pope with leading the church’s fledgling vicariate in the Southwest.

Fray Angelico, a Franciscan priest, was still in the seminary when he wrote his novel – in five distinct parts. St. Anthony Messenger couldn’t devote that much space in five issues to the novel, so it serialized it in monthly installments in 1931 and ‘32.

The only Hispanic among a group of Midwestern lads studying for the priesthood in Cincinnati, young Manuel Chavez strove to reinforce his Hispanic identity both before and after his ordination to the priesthood in 1937. He ultimately served as the archivist for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and gained a reputation for being one of New Mexico’s foremost writers and intellectuals — a reputation that has endured in the 13 years since his passing.

As archdiocesan archivist, he undertook the cataloging and translating of Spanish archives that allowed for a re-evaluation of the history of New Mexico and the region. Fray Angelico was also a member of the Santa Fe Writers Group that included such figures as D.H. Lawrence, Thornton Wilder, Alice Corbin, Witter Bynner and the aforementioned Cather.

“Guitars and Adobes” also contains 20 unpublished short stories by Fray Angelico. The book, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, retails for $24.95 and can be ordered through online booksellers.

The Kennedy I Knew (sorta)

CNN reports his death.

(CNN) -- Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, the patriarch of the first family of Democratic politics, died Wednesday at his home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, known as the "Lion of the Senate," died Wednesday at 77.

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, known as the "Lion of the Senate," died Wednesday at 77.

"We've lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever," a family statement said. "We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice."

Kennedy, nicknamed "Ted," was the younger brother of slain President John F. Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was gunned down while seeking the White House in 1968. However, his own presidential aspirations were hobbled by the controversy around a 1969 auto accident that left a young woman dead, and a 1980 primary challenge to then-President Jimmy Carter that ended in defeat.

But while the White House eluded his grasp, the longtime Massachusetts senator was considered one of the most effective legislators of the past few decades. Kennedy, who became known as the "Lion of the Senate," played major roles in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, and was an outspoken liberal standard-bearer during a conservative-dominated era from the 1980s to the early 2000s.

"Senator Ted Kennedy's legacy in the United States Senate is comparable and consistent with the legacy of his entire family for generations," Kennedy's biographer, Ted Sorensen, said.

Kennedy recently urged Massachusetts officials to change a law to allow for an immediate temporary replacement should a vacancy occur for one of his state's two Senate seats. Video Watch why Kennedy sought change in state law »

Under a 2004 Massachusetts law, a special election must be held 145 to 160 days after a Senate seat becomes vacant. The winner of the election would serve the remainder of a senator's unexpired term.

Kennedy asked Gov. Deval Patrick and state leaders to "amend the law through the normal legislative process to provide for a temporary gubernatorial appointment until the special election occurs," according to the letter, dated July 2. Read Kennedy's letter

Kennedy suffered a seizure in May 2008 at his home on Cape Cod. Shortly after, doctors diagnosed a brain tumor -- a malignant glioma in his left parietal lobe.

Surgeons at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, removed as much of the tumor as possible the following month. Doctors considered the procedure a success, and Kennedy underwent follow-up radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

A few weeks later, he participated in a key vote in the Senate. He also insisted on making a brief but dramatic appearance at the 2008 Democratic convention, a poignant moment that brought the crowd to its feet and tears to many eyes.

"I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States," Kennedy told fellow Democrats in a strong voice.

Kennedy's early support for Obama was considered a boon for the candidate, then a first-term senator from Illinois locked in a tough primary battle against former first lady Hillary Clinton. Kennedy predicted Obama's victory and pledged to be in Washington in January when Obama assumed office -- and he was, though he was hospitalized briefly after suffering a seizure during a post-inaugural luncheon.

Kennedy was one of only six senators in U.S. history to serve more than 40 years. He was elected to eight full terms to become the second most-senior senator after West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd.

He launched his political career in 1962, when he was elected to finish the unexpired Senate term of his brother, who became president in 1960. He won his first full term in 1964.

He seemed to have a bright political future, and many Democratic eyes turned to him after the killings of his brothers. But a July 18, 1969, car wreck on Chappaquiddick Island virtually ended his ambitions.

After a party for women who had worked on his brother Robert's presidential campaign, Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick, off Cape Cod and across a narrow channel from Martha's Vineyard. While Kennedy managed to escape, his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned.

In a coroner's inquest, he denied having been drunk, and said he made "seven or eight" attempts to save Kopechne before exhaustion forced him to shore. Although he sought help from friends at the party, Kennedy did not report the accident to police until the following morning.

Kennedy eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. In a televised address to residents of his home state, Kennedy called his conduct in the hours following the accident "inexplicable" and called his failure to report the wreck immediately "indefensible."

Despite the dent in his reputation and career, Kennedy remained in American politics and went on to win seven more terms in the Senate. Kennedy championed social causes and was the author of "In Critical Condition: The Crisis in America's Health Care." He served as chairman of the Judiciary and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committees and was the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary and Armed Services committees during periods when Republicans controlled the chamber.

Obama named Kennedy as one of 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. A White House statement explained that the 2009 honorees "were chosen for their work as agents of change."

"Senator Kennedy has dedicated his career to fighting for equal opportunity, fairness and justice for all Americans. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that every American has access to quality and affordable health care, and has succeeded in doing so for countless children, seniors, and Americans with disabilities. He has called health care reform the "cause of his life."

Born in Boston on February 22, 1932, Edward Moore Kennedy was the last of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, a prominent businessman and Democrat, and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Joseph Kennedy served as ambassador to Britain before World War II and pushed his sons to strive for the presidency, a burden "Teddy" bore for much of his life as the only surviving Kennedy son.

His oldest brother, Joe Jr., died in a plane crash during World War II when Kennedy was 12. John was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, in 1963, and Robert was killed the night of the California primary in 1968.

Ted Kennedy delivered Robert's eulogy, urging mourners to remember him as "a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it; who saw suffering and tried to heal it; who saw war and tried to stop it."

The family was plagued with other tragedies as well. One sister, Kathleen, was killed in a plane crash in 1948. Another sister, Rosemary, was born mildly retarded, but was institutionalized after a botched lobotomy in 1941. She died in 1986 after more than 50 years in mental hospitals.

Joseph Kennedy was incapacitated by a stroke in 1961 and died in November 1969, leaving the youngest son as head of the family. He was 37.

"I can't let go," Kennedy once told an aide. "If I let go, Ethel (Robert's widow) will let go, and my mother will let go, and all my sisters."

Kennedy himself survived a 1964 plane crash that killed an aide, suffering a broken back in the accident. But he recovered to lead the seemingly ill-starred clan through a series of other tragedies: Robert Kennedy's son David died of a drug overdose in a Florida hotel in 1984; another of Robert's sons, Michael, was killed in a skiing accident in Colorado in 1997; and John's son John Jr., his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette died in a 1999 plane crash off Martha's Vineyard.

In addition, his son Edward Jr. lost a leg to cancer in the 1970s, and daughter Kara survived a bout with the disease in the early 2000s.

Kennedy was forced to testify about a bar-hopping weekend that led to sexual battery charges against his nephew, William Kennedy Smith. Smith was acquitted in 1991 of charges that he raped a woman he met while at a Florida nightclub with the senator and his son Patrick, now a Rhode Island congressman.


Like brothers John and Robert, Edward Kennedy attended Harvard. He studied in the Netherlands before earning a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School, and worked in the district attorney's office in Boston before entering politics.

Kennedy is survived by his second wife, Victoria Ann Reggie Kennedy, whom he married in 1992; his first wife, Joan Bennett; and five children -- Patrick, Kara and Edward Jr. from his first marriage, and Curran and Caroline Raclin from his second.

I have some campaign photos from the 90's here at my photo site.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Laughing with the Saints: Part One

Father Martin talked about humor and religious life on NPR yesterday. (Ignore the comments.) And today he posted a bit more, just about the time of the release of My Life With the Saints in paperback.

As I was reading the America Magazine blog, I saw he posted a clip of this video and it was funny so I had to share.

Part Two is posted here

And lastly Part Three is here.

There Will Be Change..

Wow. The Mass Changes are posted at the USCCB website. And some of them make sense and some of them... hmmm?

Rocco explains it all at Whispers in the Loggia.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Solving the Riddle of Time

This is a story about how Augustinians used a time dial to figure out time back in the "old days."

Gakked from the BBC

Ancient dial solves time riddle

Inchcolm dial. Pic by Historic Scotland
The dials were carved into the walls of some churches and monastic buildings

A new discovery at an island abbey in the Firth of Forth has revealed the Augustinian canons who once lived there measured time using a mass dial.

Conservationists working at Inchcolm Island found the remnants of a special sundial which they believe may have been carved into a wall.

Until now mystery has surrounded the method used by the order to tell time.

While well-known in England, the British Sundial Society said there were relatively few dials in Scotland.

Historians believe the Augustinian canons lived according to a strict routine, which made it essential everyone in the community did the right thing at the right time.

The dial at Inchcolm, which has been broken in two, was discovered by Historic Scotland collections registrar Hugh Morrison and medieval stones expert Mary Markus.

They were carrying out preparatory work for a project to examine and catalogue a collection of about 50 pieces of carved medieval stone being kept at the abbey but which were never studied.

'Accurate measurement'

Mr Morrison said: "While sorting through the stones I found a fragment with distinctive radial markings carved on it that reminded me of mass dials that I had seen on churches in Gloucestershire.

"In a separate location I turned over another stone and was really pleased to discover that it fitted together with the other half of the mass dial.

"Better still, it still has the corroded stub of the iron gnomon which would have once cast its shadow along the radial markings of the dial."

Mr Morrison said he was hopeful his team would be able to discover the original location of the dial on the south side of the abbey.

He added: "Medieval timekeeping was very different from our present day dependency on the accurate measurement of time for catching trains, getting to work or viewing TV programs.

"Changing seasons and weather meant that mass dials could not always be used but when the sun shone they provided a relative means of coordinating community activities."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Doom and Gloom

Continuing with the lack of any real content in here. A local newspaper article posted about the Burning of Zozobra talks about a Christian group that predicts Doom and Gloom for the city of Santa Fe on the night of the event. I can't wait to see the City swallowed up whole by the All Living God because of this pagan celebration. Oy vey.

The Fiestas here are a mix of secular and religious events commemorating the reconquest of New Mexico after the Pueblo Revolt. In the last 80 years, the first big event (secular) event has become the burning of Zozobra. A 50 foot marionette that is burned to purge the community of all its gloom so we can have a joyful and happy Fiesta. Thing is, through out the summer, there are many events that lead up to the Fiestas and you could say the Novena to La Conquistadora is really the first major event, but it is a religious celebration and not everyone one the community participates.

Anyway, through the years, so many Christian groups have protested the Burning of Zozobra. Mostly the local Potter's House Christians have passed out leaflets and tracts about how we're all doomed. I haven't been in years to Zozobra but I do remember all the hysteria from year's past.

The local weekly paper ran this story about how the Earth is going to be swallowed up on the night of of Zozobra this year. So, here I am doing my usual eyeroll at the nuttiness of Christianity sometimes.

Doom and Gloom | Santa Fe Reporter

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Image courtesy
of found on a google image search.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

U2 - Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of

First thing I heard this morning on the radio was "Stuck in A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" by U2. Lyrics here. It probably means something but I'll figure it all out later. I can't live without music in my life. It was on the All That You Can't Leave Behind Album, which I have. I pretty much own everything U2 has done with the exception of this last album, which I think really sucks. I think Zooropa was kinda of the sucketh but there were a few songs there that I liked. Anyway, so here is the video. I'll come back after and finish my thoughts from this morning.

I managed to pray this morning's Hours. I'm trying... I mean trying to find my way back to prayer. It's always the same battle with me. If I pray daily, it amazes me how much better things seem. Same with exercise. Good things that I can't seem to do enough.

Today, is also the 30-day anniversary of my cousin, Lindsey's death, so I'm going to try to go to the Mass at my parish. Her mom paid for a Mass for today. So I'll leave the office early to go.

Better go now.

Edited to correct album title. I had Zooropa in the car and realized this song isn't on it. I forgot about the All That You Can't Leave Behind album. I have that too. I might go pull it out and see what else is on it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Buffy Vs. Edward

This is a bit of a stretch from the usual content of this blog, but my priest did mention "Twilight" in his homily. He didn't condemn it or pan it. He had a pretty good analogy going about eternal life and used vampires to get his point across. However, I wanted t share this with a friend of mine who reads this blog from time to time.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Do You Need?

So my day really started off crappy. Without going into details, my dad and I had another blow out. He always complains when either Mom or I talk about "family business" to someone outside the family and today he went and blabbed the family business to one of his nieces, who was going to call me with unsolicited advice. Needless to say that didn't go well either.

This morning I had wanted to go to Mass for the Assumption but after I hung up with Dad, I rolled over in bed and tried to sleep for a while and then he showed up at the door, where we continued to air out our differences. We came to peace and I made a good breakfast. All was well, till my cousin called.

Anyway, the good of it all, is that I hope this time things with Dad are ok. Most times, I've never hated having older parents. I never really noticed that I had older parents when I was growing up. Even now, my parents don't look their age. Dad's poor health of late has aged him, but he still looks a good 10 years younger than he is. My mom is healthy and strong. However, I've taken on a lot of the day to day stuff for them, paying bills, watching the money, dealing with the rental property and the tenant who is struggling to pay rent. (It's a commercial property, where he has an art gallery.)It's a bad economy and people don't buy art when they have to put food on the table and put their kids through school. This is essentially what we fight about every month when rent is due and the tenant is late.

Anyway, lately, I've been feeling like a worse-than-usual- Bad Catholic than I normally am. I don't think I'll even claim to be a Good Catholic because I am not. I sin. I make bad judgments and sometimes I think I avoid God. Right now, I should be seeking Him through prayer or through the sacraments but the last thing I've wanted to do lately is pray, go to Mass and do those things.

Everyday, I am aware that He exists, but in the midst of everything else going on in my life, I just want to run and hide.

Friday, August 14, 2009

In This Year of the Priest

Father James Martin, SJ , writes a wonderful piece, The Priesthood Today, We're All in This Together for Catholic Update. He shares his reflections of his own priesthood, he explains what the image of the Good Shepherd means and how he thinks it's truly a positive image and that we are not sheep. He talks about decline in vocations, the future and the priesthood today.

h/t to America.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Now that makes me smile! My puppies! I still miss Barkley like crazy but it's nice to see him when he was happy and healthy.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I wonder if Blogspot is having some issues. If you look at my main page of the blog everything is a bit askew, the fonts are off and you have to scroll down quite away to get to the side bar of information and everything in it is centered and the wrong font and size. But when you click a specific entry, it's the way it's supposed to be.

I messed with some layout stuff but I don't think I could have screwed it up this badly. I'm also wondering if I should join one of the Catholic web rings to drive up traffic to the blog. Do I want more traffic to the blog? I really don't want to be a big name "blogger" so I guess I'll leave things be.

Edit: One of the two recent posts, the Map of Faith in the US or the article about the Bells, had some screwy HTML and messed up the formatting of the whole blog. I have gotten so far behind on technology these days, that I can't tell the difference between CSS, HTML or RSS.

Ok, I'm not that bad, but it took a while to figure out what I did wrong. ;)
I'll recode those other posts later.

When They Ring The Golden Bells

I love this story posted at Clerical Whispers. It is a testament to the faith of the people in a community. It is totally the opposite of a story here in New Mexico at my own parish.

In the Fall of 2007 there was a complaint to the local paper about the bells ringing at my parish church from a County Commissioner who hated being disturbed by the chime of the church bells and wanted them to stop. A newspaper article resulted, then there was a letter to the editor from the pastor of my church in defense of the bells, and actually people rallied from the parish and the community to support the bells. Church bells have always rung in this town and I can't imagine a day when they don't ring. Tourists flock to this city and I think they love hearing the bells.

Anyway, here is the story, which I enjoyed.

Locals force priest to ring bells
A village priest who stopped ringing the church bells to appease a jittery tourist began chiming them again on Wednesday when residents came out in the streets to bang their pots and pans in protest.

Father Alfredo De Simoni had caved in to the request of the town's single tourist, who in need of a good night's rest, had asked him a few days ago to still the bells from 10 pm till at least 8 am.

But the 85 residents of the Ligurian hilltop town of Mezzema were accustomed to waking up with the sound of the bells at 7 am.

They balked at the move and decided to take action, plastering the town with protest banners and leaflets.

On Sunday they all boycotted Mass.

Still, De Simoni could not be swayed.

But when the locals rose up in unison to clank their kitchen ware, he finally got the message.

When the bells rang on Wednesday, everyone came out to celebrate.

Leave to the locals to get things done. Here everyone came out to hear the new Cathedral bells ring for the first time. I bet even a few tourists were thrilled to hear them.

I'll see if I can find any links or articles about the Bell Controversy here and post them later.

Mapping the Faith of the Nation

I thought this was interesting. Today ran article about the geographical make up of the people in this country in it's Articles of Faith section mapping the nation by religion. It's based on a recent Gallup poll and probably has a few surprises.

Posted by Michael Paulson August 7, 2009 01:13 PM

For those of us who love maps, Gallup today has put out a nifty set illustrating the differential religious makeup of the American states. The maps are based on new data -- survey research conducted earlier this year -- but there's no big news here: the Northeast is the most Catholic region, the South the most Protestant, Utah the most Mormon and New York the most Jewish. And the Pacific Northwest and northern New England have the biggest percentages of non-religious folks. Here is Gallup's analysis of what it calls a "remarkable pattern of religious dispersion in the U.S.,'' with an interesting unanswered question about Vermont:

"A good deal of the religious dispersion across the states is explainable by historical immigration patterns -- particularly the impact of the large waves of European Catholics and Jews who came through ports of entry in the Middle Atlantic states in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The geographic concentration of Mormons in and around Utah reflects the cross-country migration of that group in the mid-1800s from Illinois and other Eastern states to their new home. The fact that certain states like Oregon and Vermont consist disproportionately of residents with no religious identity is more difficult to explain, with hypotheses focusing on the particular and idiosyncratic cultures of those states and/or the migration of certain types of Americans to those states over the decades."

Here's the map about Catholicism:


And Protestantism:






And, finally, a map showing states by percentage of non-religious people:


After reading articles and seeing maps like this, I always like to point out that Catholicism has thrived in NM for over 400 years. ;)

Friday, August 7, 2009

We All Scream for Ice Cream

In Pictures from the BBC caught this great image. The caption says "Two nuns enjoy ice cream at the Aga Kahn Challenge Cup in Ireland's capital. There are more from the rest of the world here at the link.

Article at CNA About Our Lady of Guadulupe and the Tilma

Our Lady of Guadalupe ‘completely beyond' scientific explanation, says researcher

.- Researcher and physicist Dr. Aldofo Orozco told participants at the International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe that there is no scientific explanation for the 478 years of high quality-preservation of the Tilma or for the miracles that have occurred to ensure its preservation.

Dr. Orozco began his talk by confirming that the conservation of the Tilma, the cloak of St. Juan Diego on which Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared 478 years ago, “is completely beyond any scientific explanation.”

“All the cloths similar to the Tilma that have been placed in the salty and humid environment around the Basilica have lasted no more than ten years,” he explained. One painting of the miraculous image, created in 1789, was on display in a church near the basilica where the Tilma was placed. “This painting was made with the best techniques of its time, the copy was beautiful and made with a fabric very similar to that of the Tilma. Also, the image was protected with a glass since it was first placed there.”

However, eight years later, the copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was thrown away because the colors were fading and threads were breaking. In contrast, Orozco said, “the original Tilma was exposed for approximately 116 years without any kind of protection, receiving all the infrared and ultraviolet radiation from the tens of thousands of candles near it and exposed to the humid and salty air around the temple.”

Dr. Orozco then discussed the Tilma’s fabric. He noted that “one of the most bizarre characteristics of the cloth is that the back side is rough and coarse, but the front side is ‘as soft as the most pure silk, as noted by painters and scientists in 1666, and confirmed one century later in 1751 by the Mexican painter, Miguel Cabrera.”

Following an analysis of some of the fibers in 1946, it was concluded that the fibers came from the Agave plant, however, noted Dr. Orozco, the researchers couldn’t figure out which of the 175 Agave species the Tilma was made from. Years later, in 1975, “the famous Mexican researcher Ernesto Sodi Pallares said that the species of the agave was Agave popotule Zacc,” Orozco explained, “but we don’t know how he reached this conclusion.”

Before concluding his presentation, Dr. Orozco made mention of two miracles associated with the Tilma.

The first occurred in 1785 when a worker accidentally spilled a 50 percent nitric acid solvent on the right side of the cloth. “Besides any natural explanation, the acid has not destroyed the fabric of the cloth, indeed it has not even destroyed the colored parts of the image,” Orozco said.

The second miracle was the explosion of a bomb near the Tilma in 1921. Dr. Orozco recalled that the explosion broke the marble floor and widows 150 meters from the explosion, but “unexpectedly, neither the Tilma nor the normal glass that protected the Tilma was damaged or broken.” The only damage near it was a brass crucifix that was twisted by the blast.

He continued, “There are no explanations why the shockwave that broke windows 150 meters afar did not destroy the normal glass that protected the image. Some people said that the Son by means of the brass crucifix protected the image of His Mother. The real fact is that we don’t have a natural explanation for this event.”

Dr. Orozco thanked the audience for listening to his presentation and closed by reassuring them that “Our Lady visited Mexico 478 years ago, but she remains there to give Her Love, Her Mercy and Her Care to anyone who needs it, and to bring Her Son, Jesus Christ to everyone who receives Him.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe ‘completely beyond' scientific explanation, says researcher
Dr. Adolfo Orozco at the International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe in Glendale, Arizona.

On the Blogosphere

The Shrine of the Holy Whapping has a couple of funny posts of late: see clerical vestments that sound like pasta and what to do when you don't have your mantilla handy.

If I wasn't feeling sick, I might like to have some pasta right now. I woke up with both a nauseous tummy and an achy one. I want a do-over of this day, damnit.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

In The News From New Mexico...

Local News stories.

NM Sisters are Ambivalent about the upcoming Apostolic Visits to the US. This was a companion piece to a more indepth, national piece by the AP which I didn't see on the New Mexican website. It is interesting to see all the comments and discussion about the visit on a national level. I contributed a comment on the New Mexican comment site.

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh of media office for the USCCB talks about the visit here. H/T to Fr. Martin at America for the link.

And this bit of news I thought was interesting. Monks Ale will now be brewed at the Christ in the Desert Monastery near Abiuqui, for those of you unfamiliar with Northern New Mexico, that's where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted a lot of her New Mexican landscapes and flowers. Here's a post about the news at Brew Like A Monk Blog.

If I find anything else, I might post.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Give Peace A Chance

Herein Maria goes to a Peace Vigil over the weekend and talks about it.

A few weeks back my friend handed me a flier about an upcoming Pax Christi event with two Nobel Prize winning women who were going to speak about Nuclear disarmament. As you all know, I live New Mexico, a state full of rich history and culture, we are also a state with notoriety that isn’t too rich or blessed. The first atomic bomb was made and tested here at the Trinity Site on the White Sands Proving Ground. Growing up my parents remember all the secrecy at Los Alamos. I honestly haven’t been to Los Alamos much in my life time. In elementary school we took the requisite field trip to the museums, I don’t believe we were given a tour of the labs but we were taught how great things happen there. I took my SATs there, I’ve sold real estate there and that really is my only connection with Los Alamos. As you come into the town, there is a flagstone sign welcoming visitors and says, “Los Alamos, where great discoveries are made.” What a truism.

Now I know that the scientists and engineers do more at the labs than make nuclear weapons. I know some of the world’s foremost AIDS research has come out of the labs, that there is a constant state of new technologies being developed that has nothing to do with nuclear weapons as well. I know many, many people who work in Los Alamos and I think the majority of them have nothing to do with making nuclear weapons. But they still make them there. I am not an expert by any means on the nation’s defense, but I do agree with the speakers, that these weapons are a means of destruction and not a method of defense. I also agree it’s time that we get rid of them.

On top of having created the atomic bomb, we had to create a depository to store all our nuclear waste. There are many of these in the country. It boggles my mind that we need to find a place to store all this waste because it is dangerous, radioactive and can make people sick. Shouldn’t that alone, be a good reason to stop making these weapons? A wonderful bypass was created so the waste wouldn’t be transported through Santa Fe on it’s way to WIPP down by Carlsbad. Obviously, we have not become the stewards of the land that God has wanted us to be if we’re putting nuclear waste in the ground, to sit there for thousands of years to finally be safe to touch? This is only one example of how we haven’t taken care of the Earth, but I won’t digress.

Friday, my friend who gave me the flyer and I went to Mass at my parish to kick off the Pax Christi event. Witness for Peace, the flier of the events, is here linked from the New Mexico Pax Christi website. First there was a Mass, then the two speakers and on Saturday there was a prayerful, peace protest where people went up to Los Alamos, started at Ashley Pond (Apparently the lab where the bomb was created was located there, then when it was dismantled they put in the pond. I’d never heard the story of the pond.) The group walked for 30 minutes, quietly and prayerfully and stopped at a designated time, sat down and prayed for about a half hour.

Fr. John Dear, SJ who helped organize this event, said in the local paper:

We're taking up the story from the book of Jonah where the people of Ninevah sat in sackcloth and ashes to repent of their violence,” said Dear, explaining that those who attend the event will walk through the streets of Los Alamos and also sit for a half hour in silent prayer.” Quote from Abq. Journal North Story, Friday July 31, 2009. original article here.

After a half hour of peaceful prayer, they returned back to the pond. My friend and I did take a ride up to Los Alamos on Saturday but didn’t participate in the peaceful protest. One of the priests at our parish is actively involved in working for peace and we went to the events to support him as well. He presided at the Mass on Friday, then Fr. Dear spoke after Mass and explained the schedule of events for the weekend.

Now, anytime I’ve gone to anything sponsored by our local Pax Christi group, I’ve observed I am the youngest one there. Same thing with this, though at the lecture and the protest event there were people my age and younger. The other thing I noticed is that the people attending the Mass were from everywhere else—some as far away as Massachusetts and other eastern states. A handful from my parish were there but people came from everywhere to be here on Saturday.

After Mass we had time to go eat. I was thinking of bailing on hearing the speakers, but I told my friend I’d get a bite to eat with her. I ended up going to listen to Mairead Maguire, a Nobel peace prize winner from Belfast, Northern Ireland who witnessed violence firsthand in the 70s, when a British soldier shot and fired at a suspected IRA terrorist, who while driving, plowed into her nieces and nephews who were innocently walking down the street. Subsequently, she rallied up women and children who peacefully protested against all the violence in her country and has ever since then worked on the behalf of peace.

She is a small, almost delicate looking woman, but the words she spoke were powerful. Her experiences are amazing and it was a privilege to hear her speak. She feels that all faiths and people need to come together to make it possible to abolish nuclear weapons. She said they are weapons of destruction and will not save anyone. How can we disagree with this?

The other woman to speak, was Jody Williams, an American Nobel winner, who worked to ban land mines, which, I believe after five years of tireless work, was achieved. She said her progression to the fight for ending nuclear weapons was natural. She grew up during the cold war and remembered her fears of the bomb as a child. She knew where the fallout shelters were in her hometown and worried that her own family didn’t have one. She saw how ludicrous the drills were in school and knew that huddling under her desk or against the wall in the gym wouldn’t save her from the bomb. Her memories and fears were familiar to most of the crowd.

She was a great speaker, powerful, witty and her words totally resonated with me. She would definitely be someone I’d love to take a class from or just sit and talk to over a long cup of coffee. I believe she teaches at the University of Houston. She challenged everyone in the room to work for peace—even if it’s just an hour a month—the rewards would be great.

Now, I believe there are nine nations with nuclear weapons or capability. Just imagine if one of the leaders of those nations suffers from some hysteria or delusion and allows a nuclear weapon to be detonated somewhere in the world? I shudder to think of the consequences. Just look at what the US did to Japan? This is
the cloud over Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. I don’t have the words to even explain it. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki The Trinity Test Site explosion pales in comparison.

Honestly, I don’t know if any of this post made any sense, or if I even conveyed a sense of anything I was feeling this weekend. I just know that the lives of these peace activists touched me and I probably have more that I can say. I took some pictures of the peaceful rally and may post them somewhere. They’re shots of faces in the crowd mostly.

posted at the lj earlier today.