Monday, March 31, 2008

Which famous author/poet are you?

Which famous author/poet are you?
created with
You scored as William Shakespeare

You are most like William Shakespeare, considered to be the greatest writer in English. Mystery surrounds his life, but scholars know he had a wife and family, who was not around much because he was in London writing and directing plays at the famous Globe Theater, where he produced plays that everyone of any background could enjoy. His sonnets show his mastery of style. His plays show his insight into human nature, as he has created some of the greatest characters in all of literature. His works are too many to list, but some include "Hamlet," "MacBeth" and "Twelfth Night."

William Shakespeare


Walt Whitman


James Joyce


Ernest Hemingway


Edgar Allen Poe


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Election Year Jumble (Catholic Style)

The voting trends and political affiliation of American voter demographics have always left me somewhat perplexed. Catholics and Protestants, minorities, women and men, middle-class and business owners have a tendency to affiliate themselves with a political party/ candidate that’s in line with their social and economic views. Among the most baffling of these coteries are Catholics. The "elusive Catholic vote" - as once described in a newspaper article - doesn't solely commit to candidates that reflect Catholic social teaching on many of the political-hot-potato issues that dominate much of the debates during an election year runoff. Some Catholic voters - not to mention aspiring Catholic White House handshakers such as John Kerry and other political enthusiasts - haven’t the slightest objectionable twitch against running a campaign that contradicts virtually every social teaching of the tradition they were raised in. Same can be said of the Kennedy’s of Massachusetts and other politicking Catholics not mentioned here.

As Catholics, we are diverse. We are not Bible thumping, uneducated, fire and brimstone fundamentalists who vote according to their truncated, literalist convictions. Having said that, why do we go against the teachings of the Church when it comes to the imperative issues of life? Are the standards so unreasonable? I think not. But if you are a candidate and want the office seat and know which way the political tides are turning, it seems to be standard practice to prostitute your conscience and further the issues of the masses without a second thought to your own Catholic morals. Furthermore, if you are a Catholic disenchanted with the status quo, there is a willingness to vote for a candidate that offers a hint of change but promises to execute social policies contrary to Catholic social teaching.

This year's bid for the White House will be between John McCain and Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama. With the pestilential war in Iraq the standards have been lowered to such an extent that individuals who normally don't stand a chance at the White House (because of ridiculous and obvious esurient political enrichment), find favorable conditions for such a venture.

With his pro-life views John McCain is the most conservative presidential candidate than any of the other wannabes running for the White House. His critics assert that he wants to further the Bush economic plan (status quo), and supports a considerably prolonged American presence in Iraq. Hilary Clinton - in my humble opinion - wants the White House soooo bad that she was and is willing to stay married to a man like Bill Clinton in order to avoid the scandalous brouhaha of a divorce. Barack Obama exhibits ties to questionable groups, and, like Hilary, supports a liberalized abortion program. Both claim a desire to remove American troops from Iraq, but their methodologies, so say their critics, would weaken United States credibility, as well as initiate the complete collapse of the Iraqi government which would ultimately lead to civil war.

Which way will the Catholic vote go in 2008? How will you vote this upcoming presidential election? Is it better to not vote at all than to vote in favor of the “lesser evil?”

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Requiem: Pie Jesu

A couple of months ago I posted the "In Paradisum" excerpt of Gabriel Urbain Fauré's Requiem Mass. Today I bring you the melancholy "Pie Jesu" portion of this beautiful choral work. Performed magnificently by the Choir of New College, this piece evokes in me a sense of tranquility and contemplation not unlike the type you might find inside a monastery or some other sacred environment. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Muslim Convert

Magdi Allam, an Egytian-born journalist who resides in Italy, was baptized into the Catholic faith by Pope Benedict during this past Easter Vigil service. Allam, who is deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, was considered one of Italy's most controversial Muslim commentators for denouncing Muslim extremism, and for his castigation of multiculturalism.

Under Islamic law, converting from Islam is considered apostasy and is punishable by death, something that did not deter the new convert.

I'm quite surprised that more vociferous consternation hasn't been heard from Muslims around the world as a reaction to Magdi Allam's conversion. The late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who was a Jewish convert and the archbishop of Paris from 1981 until 2005, was accused of betraying his Jewish ancestral faith by converting to Christianity some sixty seven years before his death. This type of criticism, some have suggested, undermined Lustiger’s chances for the papacy after the passing of Pope John Paul II.

Although I’m digressing from the original subject matter of this post, I have decided to include Cardinal Lustiger's epitah, which he wrote himself before succumbing to bone and lung cancer on August 5, 2007. I think it's quite beautiful.

I was born Jewish.
I received the name
Of my paternal grandfather, Aaron
Having become Christian
By faith and by Baptism,
I have remained Jewish
As did the Apostles.
I have as my patron saints
Aaron the High Priest,
Saint John the Apostle,
Holy Mary full of grace.
Named 139th archbishop of Paris
by His Holiness Pope John-Paul II,
I was enthroned in this Cathedral
on 27 February 1981,
And here I exercised my entire ministry.
Passers-by, pray for me.

† Aaron Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger
Archbishop of Paris

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ

"Come, ye saints, look here and wonder,
See the place where Jesus lay;
He has burst His bands asunder;
He has borne our sins away;
Joyful tidings, Yes, the Lord has risen to-day!"

Easter Prayer for my Blogger Friends:

God our Father, creator of all, today is the day of Easter joy. This is the day on which the Lord appeared to those who had begun to lose hope and opened their eyes to what the scriptures foretold: that first he must die, and then he would rise and ascend into his Father's glorious presence. May the risen Lord breathe on our minds and open our eyes that we may know him in the breaking of bread, and follow him in his risen life. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen ~~ From New Cloud Abbey

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Critter is on watch detail

...while I focus on Holy Week. I must WARN all of you not to get too close to your computer monitors. He is easily angered and unmanageable when he gets like that. Click here for a brief backgroung on the Little Critter.

If any of you receive a smart Alec comment on any of your post ending with "Sincerely, woof!" I apologize. When I give him free reign over the computer he thinks he can do whatever he wants. I will keep an eye on him to make sure he behaves.

God Bless all my blogger friends, their families, and their four-legged, house-roaming critters!

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all."

Palm Sunday

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Phillipians 2:6-11

I LOVE today's reading. St. Paul said it beautifully when he wrote that God never inteded to be comprehended by man. Perhaps athiests missed that point or were never intoduced to it.

Truly, His ways are not ours.

For an amazing painting of the Crucifiction, go visit Rita. She also has an explanation accompanying the image.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Obvious Commandments When Mass Starts

1) Thou Shall Turn Off Thy Cell Phones. Do you know how irritating it is to be in the middle of a prayer or reading when some lousy jingle (Who Let the Dogs Out Woff! Woff!) interrupts the silence? Not to mention how stupid you look when the celebrant has to stop the Mass and make an announcement reminding everyone to turn their phones off because of you.

2) Thou Shall Get to Mass On Time... PLEASE. It's usually just a one hour service. Getting there for communion and leaving immediately after is sneaky, slothful, and distracting to those immersed in the service.

3) Thou Shall Have Music Befitting for the Mass. I have heard just about every type of music performed during a Catholic service. About ten years ago, in my local perish, the youngsters during the teen Mass performed grunge music not unlike what you might hear from the group Nirvana. It was a murky mixture of depression and cacophonous clamor. I'm glad the Catholic Church is also catholic, but, please, limit your musical scope to songs that venerate the celebration of the eucharist.

4) Thou Shall Not Wear Skimpy Attire. Okay, I'm a guy and like any other man I have an unswerving appreciation for the female form. But this is Mass, not the beach or a night club. I don't think it's appropriate to wear revealing attire in an environment where I don't go for the glorification of your assets. Not to mention the fact that there are children present and strutin' your stuff in their presence, like you just came off a nightly rendezvouz with some public official, is just plain sick.

5) Thou Shall Not Hold Hands During the Our Father. Exactly where, when, and with whom did this start? It feels like some quasi-form of liturgical dance.

6) Thou Shall Remain Quiet (Especially) After Communion. Okay, you just had communion, do you know what comes next? How about you bottle up for a little bit and REFLECT on what just happened! You just took the body of Our Lord, Mr. Chit-chat. Save all the mumbo-jumbo until Mass is through.

7) Thou Shall Not Leave Until After the Final Blessing. You’ve been here (hopefully) since Mass began. Will it kill you to wait and leave after the final blessing? I know you’re trying to beat the wolves to their cars and avoid the traffic entanglement that clusters right after Mass, but you might find a more peaceful and complete exit if you wait for all those people to go before you as apposed to cheating yourself out of the final blessing.

8) Babies. Babies. Babies. Some people have a big problem when an infant starts to cry during some part of the mass. I can understand their frustration. But what is a child supposed to do? Some moms and dads take their children to the vestibule so they can attend to their crying while avoiding a disruption during the service. I find that keeps everybody happy. But I certainly do not want to ostracize parent and infant from the Mass simply because the baby is doing what babies do all the time....cry. Let’s have some patience with these folks.

These “commandments” are obvious to me and to most Catholics attending mass. But for whatever reason it escapes the consciousness of a few individuals who fail to consider themselves, the meaning of the mass, as well as the consideration of their Catholic brethren who want to submerge him or herself in the fullness of the liturgy.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jesuit Wins 2008 Templeton Prize...

But shouldn't he have worn the Roman collar as apposed to the suit and tie?

Polish-born Jesuit Michael Heller has been announced the 2008 winner of the Templeton Prize. This prestigious recognition is awarded to those individuals who apply "various ways for discoveries and breakthroughs to expand human perceptions of divinity and to help in the acceleration of divine creativity." As the winner of this years Templeton Prize, Father Heller will received a cash prize of 1.6 million dollars handed out by the John Templeton Foundation. John Templeton, the creator of the Templeton Prize, made sure that the monetary accolade bestowed on the prizewinner superceded that of the Nobel Peace Price. In 1973 Mother Theresa became the first recipient of the Templeton Prize award.

I know that a priest doesn't wear, or should not be required to wear, his uniform everywhere he goes. But if the occasion you are attending directly involves your vocation, or is at least tied to your vocational activities, should you not represent your Church in proper and pertinent attire?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


There is a popular misconception about the Catholic Church among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The assertion that any Catholic who is in communion with the Bishop of Rome is automatically a Roman Catholic is as ludicrous as calling the former Soviet Union Russia, or calling the United States Alaska. Those of us who have sunk our teeth a little deeper into Catholicism know better.

The Churches recognizing Pontifical authority do not always exercise the same liturgy and praxis that the western or Roman Rite implements. The Eastern Churches follow their own traditions, liturgies, phraseology, veneration, and even have their own patriarchs who govern over their respective Churches with Pontifical approbation under the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, while simultaneously recognizing the full and immediate authority of the Bishop of Rome.

I love the Eastern rite of the Catholic Church. It’s so much more mystical and intricate than the less absorbing (when compared to Eastern Catholics) Roman Rite. I feel the Mystery that Catholic worship is centered on much more palpable in Byzantine liturgical habitude, as well as a greater affinity with all things holy and Devine. Why can’t we Roman Catholics be more like our Eastern Catholic brethren?

Covering the historicity, commonalities, and differences between the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Catholic Church can be a daunting task even the most au courant scholar would find formidable to negotiate. I will spread this subject matter over a series of posts that will (hopefully) help Catholic and non-Catholic know and understand more fully the fascinating dynamics energizing the Catholic Church from within.

Let me conclude this post with a Prayer To The Holy Spirit by St. Antiochus:

O Holy Spirit, most merciful Comforter: You proceed from the
Father in a manner beyond our understanding. Come, I
beseech You, and take up you abode in my heart. Purify
and cleanse me from all sin, and sanctify my soul.
Cleanse it from every impurity, water its dryness, melt
its coldness, and save it from sinful ways. Make me
truly humble and resigned, that I may be pleasing to
You, and that You abide with me forever. Most blessed
Light, most amiable Light, enlighten me. O rapturous
Joy of Paradise, Fount of purest delight, my God, give
yourself to me, and kindle in my innermost soul the
fire of your love. My Lord, instruct, direct, and
defend me in all things. Give me strength against all
immoderate fears and against despondency. Bestow upon
me a true faith, a firm hope, and a sincere and perfect
love. Grant that I always do your most gracious will.

Monday, March 10, 2008

This is bad...

...but I can't help laughing. I think Father Erik would laugh, too.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Funeral Ikos

One of the greatest songsmiths of sacred music is English-born composer John Tavener. John Tavener - who is a direct descendant of 16th century composer John Tavener (yes, there are two John Taveners) - is responsible for some of the most beautiful sacred works of the twentieth century, second only to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. His composition, A Song for Athene (see music on side bar), was performed quite poignantly at Princess Diana's funeral, and his other famous work, The Lamb, has been received around the world with enthusiastic approbation. Featured in this post is one of Tavener’s finest musical operation, Funeral Ikos. Be forewarned - those of you in a rush to get nowhere - it's a little long but well worth the listen. I have included the lyrics so you may follow along. They are magnificent.

Why these bitter words of the dying, O brethren,
which they utter as they go hence?
I am parted from my brethren.
All my friends do I abandon, and go hence.
But whither I go, that understand I not,
neither what shall become of me yonder;
only God who hath summoned me knoweth.
But make commemoration of me with the song:

But whither now go the souls?
How dwell they now together there?
This mystery have I desired to learn,
but none can impart aright.
Do they call to mind their own people, as we do them?
Or have they forgotten all those who mourn them
and make the song:

We go forth on the path eternal,
and as condemned, with downcast faces,
present ourselves before the only God eternal.
Where then is comeliness? Where then is wealth?
Where then is the glory of this world?
There shall none of these things aid us,
but only to say oft the psalm:

If thou hast shown mercy unto man, O man,
that same mercy shall be shown thee there;
and if on an orphan thou hast shown compassion,
the same shall there deliver thee from want,
If in this life the naked thou hast clothed,
the same shall give thee shelter there,
and sing the psalm:

Youth and the beauty of the body
fade at the hour of death,
and the tongue then burneth fiercely,
and the parched throat is inflamed.
The beauty of the eyes is quenched then,
the comeliness of the face all altered,
the shapeliness of the neck destroyed;
and the other parts have become numb,
nor often say:

With ecstacy are we inflamed if we but hear
that there is light eternal yonder;
that there is Paradise,
wherein every soul of Righteous Ones rejoiceth.
Let us all, also, Enter into Christ,
that all we may cry aloud thus unto God:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Melissa needs our prayers again!

Please say a prayer for Melissa. Just 24 years old!

Prayer for Healing
Lord, look upon Melissa with eyes of mercy, may your healing hand rest upon her, may your life giving powers flow into every cell of her body and into the depths of her soul, cleansing, purifying, restoring her to wholeness and strength for service in your Kingdom. Amen.

Prayer to St. Anthony for Healing
Compassionate St. Anthony, you are called the "Miracle Worker" by those who have been blessed by your special friendship. I ask you to look with favor on Melissa who is weak and failing.

Great St. Anthony, come to the assistance of Melissa. Obtain for her health in mind and body, and the strength to accept all suffering in union with Christ, our Savior.

Loving St. Anthony, console all those who are afflicted, and guide them to the heart of the Divine Physician, where they will obtain compassion, mercy and hope. Amen.

Parables Meme

My pal Tracy at Tracy's Simple Life has tagged me with a parables meme.

Here's the low-down:
1. You name your five favorite parables
2. You tag one blogger per parable.
3. It would be nice if you linked back to this post .

So here are my favorite parables:

1) The Good Samaritan
2) The Prodigal Son
3) The Mustard Seed
4) The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Parable of the Unforgiving Official)
5) Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Builders

I tag:
Jennifer at Catholic Path
Jaimie at Season of Singing
Thom at Ad Dominun

And anyone one else who wants to play:)

Thank you, Tracy!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

So Much for McCain

While I am not politically affiliated with any of the major parties, I did have some hope with MCcain. With his acceptance of the endorsement of the fundamentalist bigot John Hagee, he loses my support. John Hagee is as anti-Catholic and fundamentalist as they come, and he adheres to and preaches a type of still-born Christianity that is as anachronistic as it is pernicious to Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

By the way, I did not know that these dogmatic, brimstone and fire fundamentalists still spoke with that self-stigmatizing southern accent.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Angelus

Does anyone outside a monastery pray The Angelus anymore? When I was part of the noon choir at Prince of Peace here in Las Vegas, we began reciting the prayer immediately after the mid-day bell rang. Each member of the choir took turns leading the prayer, while the rest of the choir - along with the congregation - recited the Hail Mary. I have not heard anyone in recent times recite this wonderful prayer. What a shame if the practice of reciting this prayer morning, noon, and evening gradually faded from practice due to apathy or ignorance.

The Angelus

V: The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
R: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.

V: Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
R: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.

Hail Mary . . .

V: And the Word was made Flesh:
R: And dwelt among us.

Hail Mary . . .

V: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.


The painting The Angelus

The image above is of the painting The Angelus by French painter Jean Francois Millet. The image shows a man and his wife stopping to recite the prayer after hearing the distant Church bells.