Monday, March 29, 2010

For Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins

You can plant one right on my...well, I'll let the nice little fellow guide your chops in the right direction.

+ Read Dawkin's comments posted by Damien Thompson.(Thanks to Standing on My Head blog).

This week at the Sistine Chapel

Does anyone know of a documentary in which cameras were allowed to film the performance of "Miserere me deus" inside the Sistine Chapel?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

"Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing 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 death, even death on a cross." ~Philippians 2: 6-8

The above scripture reference reminds me of what St.Augustine once said:
"If you understood, what you understood was not God."

Those are good words to ponder next time you feel like you're in the eye of the storm, and are perplexed by the path God is leading you though.

A blessed Palm Sunday to all of you and your families.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's in Lent: Agnus Dei

This Agnus Dei comes from Karl Jenkin's The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. It sounds quite different than what I'm accustomed to posting, but it does have its meritorious qualities to consider.

On a side note, NEVER did I dream I would witness in my lifetime a contaminated plume of profanation and putridity sweep through the Catholic Church.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fr. Hans Küng

The Catholicism Project (Coming soon)

"The Catholic story is being told, but being told by the wrong people in the wrong way."

Friday, March 19, 2010


I can't tell you how upset I am with the new accusations that have recently surfaced about child molesters in the Church. In a CNN report the headline reads, "Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal goes global." It's as if there is an infestation of pedophiles and deviants crawling inside the Catholic Church. This humiliation is undoubtedly being used by people who are ardently anti-Catholic to either validate their own religious beliefs (which is to say they are right and we as Catholics are wrong), or by the irreligious who don't like anything dealing with religion, especially if it's as big and bulky as the Catholic Church.

It also disturbs me how a group of degenerates - namely the offenders - can callously bring shame upon themselves and upon this Church without any consideration of the impact it can have both on the laity and on the victims. Good priests (the VAST majority) are held with an air of suspicion and as eventual child molesters or as the object of ridicule in inappropriate jokes.

There seems to be no end to the reports of sexual abuse. They surface faster than Church authorities can address them. Keep in my that the Catholic Church operates in terms of centuries, which means that the disgrace of these scandals are not going to go away anytime soon, nor the calumnies that are leveled by phony storytellers and cynics.

And finally, how many people are we losing because of this mess? Yes, they can always come back or we can characterize their departure as "their" loss. But the Church diminishes in numbers at least at a faster rate as the result of this mayhem. I don't want to even try to put numbers together.

Faithful Servant St. Joseph

He was a compassionate, caring man. He is a model husband that men in today's society should aspire to imitate. He was a humble and faithful servant, concerned not about himself, but for the family God gave him to look after. It's believed that by the time Jesus entered his public ministry that Joseph might have already been deceased. He is the Patron Saint of the Universal Church.

From the video:

"Joseph is helping to create the instrument most needed for the salvation of the world."

Beautiful words that are referencing St. Joseph's paternal love in the raising of his son, Jesus. Even more beautiful when you consider that as a carpenter, he has a natural disposition to create things.

If you have time, check out this short video on St. Joseph.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

God Bless the Irish (Watch out for Armando!)

It's St. Patty's Day, ma lads! Are you wearing green? If not, pinch yourself in chastisement!

On a serious note, on this greenish day we celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. Many question his actual contribution to Irish history, and some even question whether he even existed. Folks, St. Patrick DID exist and as far as I'm concerned STILL exists, perhaps more so now than he did while on earth.

Perhaps if we pray to him earnestly, he can vanish the snakes in DC.

On a Related Note...

I'm sure that all of you have heard several stories of Christmas elves gone bad (the most famous one being that of Starky the Elf who later changed his name to Dirty Durell), but here's a story of a leprechaun who is bad to the core. His name: Armando. Armando is a leprechaun with a reputation for silently breaking into the homes of unsuspecting urbanites, drinking all their liquor and scrawling graffiti all over their walls. He hits mostly on St. Patrick's day, and has been known to invade dozens of households within this twenty-four hour period.

Last St. Patty's Day, inside the home of a Mr. and Mrs. Bixby of Spokane, Washington, Armando broke in through an unsecured doggie door, and after drinking an entire bottle of Glenlivet, plus a one liter bottle of Beringer Zinfandel, proceeded to draw a picture of Mrs. Bixby's late Boston Terrier on the living room wall with his middle finger extended. You can imagine the horror on Mr. and Mrs. Bixby's face when they got home that night and found all their liquor gone (ha!).

So folks, please be careful this St. Patty's Day. Armando is evil and he's out there somewhere waiting to get drunk and scribble all kinds of offensive images all over your walls. As a matter of fact, he may have already snuck inside your home and is watching you read this post, seeing his plans gradually come to fruition as he sees you shake your head in disbelief. "Oh he doesn't exist," you might declare. But the Bixby's from Spokane can tell you otherwise. The ink used to draw Mrs. Bixby's Boston Terrier was impossible to remove. No amount of alcohol, paint thinner, or napalm could erase the ghastly image of the offensive bowwow. Eventually the entire wall was taken down.

More reports of Armando to follow.


In another case that is being investigated by federal authorities, the barely discernible image of a small man was captured on video making his way inside a Manhattan apartment building with what appeared to be a box of crayola crayons and several cans of spray paint. With phenomenal speed and agility, he was seen taking the stairs all the way to the 23rd floor of the high rise, where he broke inside the apartment of a Mr. Robert Palowski. Law enforcement officials report that after helping himself to a box of Lucky Charms, the intruder raided Mr. Palowski's home bar and helped himself to at least six bottles of miscellaneous cordials, 2 bottles of Vermouth's, and a five gallon bib of margarita mix. The assailant then broke out his graffiti paraphernalia and drew a picture of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in an amorous pose on one of the living room walls. He was then seen exiting the building through the same method he entered.

Mr. Palowski, who at the time of the incident was away on business, was unavailable for comment.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One Film and One Actor

I know I'm behind the times here, but I just got done watching the film Gran Tarino, starring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski, a retired autoworker who recently lost his wife, and sees the neighborhood he has lived in for so long dramatically change in racial demographics. The film was phenomenal, concluding with a rather heartbreaking finale that was accompanied by an equally poignant score. Have any of you seen it? If you have you'll be happy to acknowledge that the Catholic priest in the film was portrayed positively and, I believe, as a benevolent presence in the life of Walt Kowalski. It's worth the CD purchase, but not, I repeat, NOT suitable for younger audiences.

Did you know about the Murray's?

Actor Bill Murray has a sister who is a Dominican nun and stars in her own one-woman play about St. Catherine of Siena. I didn't know! (To quote Terry).

From Sister Nancy Murray's website:

Nancy Murray, OP, is making her mark on audiences across the country and throughout the world, bringing to life the Dominican saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church. With simple props and a fertile imagination, Sister Nancy portrays Catherine as the colorful, strong, passionate and enthusiastic personality that she was. Thanks to Sister Nancy's gift of transforming herself into this 14th century saint and patroness of the Dominican Order, numerous churches, schools and organizations have become acquainted with Catherine's fierce devotion to and love for God.

The ironic thing about this discovery is that Sister Murray is part of the Adrian Dominican Sisters based in Michigan who founded a Catholic hospital here in my neck of the woods, which also happens to be the Catholic Hospital I volunteer at every week. Maybe I should start asking the nurses if they know the Murray's.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's Getting Closer

This part of the country doesn't really get a spring season. Instead, we have what one might call transitional weeks, in which winter retreats and gives way to the searing heat only a scorching Nevada summer can inflict you with. I shouldn't complain, however. Some of you poor folks are still getting belted by winter storms so close to the official start-day of spring. Today, the weather here is a balmy 65 degrees.

It's almost here, summer that is. It will arrive. May as well usher it in with a summer tune.

Checkout this YouTube video. It contains photography by some very famous artists/ photographers that may make someone who lived during these times a bit nostalgic. I LOVE the picture taken by Roy DeCarava that comes into view at 7:34 in the video. Does that look like Chicago or New York to you? Either way, for me it's the quintessential 1940's/ 1950's Gotham imagery. Also, I must confess beforehand to not being well versed in the lives of any of the photographers whose work is featured in this video.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday's in Lent: Medieval Sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes

Usually performed on Easter Sunday. It's a chant that is attributed to Wipo of Burgundy, among others.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oscar Controversy

Why was Michael Jackson - who made I believe just two films - included in the "In Memoriam" section of the Oscars and Farah Fawcett omitted? Many of the people featured in the 2010 phase of the program I hadn't even heard of before. Nevertheless, God rest their souls- regardless of who they were. But it's a shame they left Fawcett out.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why call it a Vatican sex scandal??

It's been reported by various media sources that a member of the Italian government was involved in some kind of financial corruption, and that he also used a Vatican choir singer to arrange gay liaisons for him. Angelo Balducci, who is described as a "Gentleman of His Holiness", allegedly employed the services of Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a Vatican chorister, to arrange meetings with men of his choosing.

What I find especially vexatious about the media dynamics surrounding this story, is that it's been reported as a VATICAN SEX SCANDAL. In other words, it's the entire Vatican, perhaps the ENTIRE Catholic Church, involved in sustaining and perpatuating this debauchery. You'd almost think the Pope was involved in the sorted affair of selecting men for his own people or for corrupt Italian government officials . The media (as always) takes those eye-catching buzzwords (Vatican, Pope, sex scandal, etc.) and run with it in the hopes of attracting more viewership. Don't these sleazy, neurotic, filthy smut merchants have better things to write about? Or at the very least, report the story (whatever the story might be) with accuracy and professionalism.

The title "Gentleman of His Holiness" is nothing more than a papal usher, which, if I'm not mistaken, is a non-paid position that is bestowed on the laity. Yes, I realize that the misconduct did occur and there is no defending it. But what some of my Catholic and non-Catholic friends need to realize is that this is NOT the behavior that the Catholic Church condones, not is it the conduct that the vast majority of Catholic laity and clergy engage in.

I'm so tired of this crap. Not just of the sex scandals that stigmatize the Church in the eyes of a few, but also of the media treatment of the Catholic Church. For you Church bashing Catholics- yes you who supposedly love the Catholic tradition but have to be shamefully reminded that the actions of this Italian official and member of a choir are not representative of the Church - shame on you! You talk like an outsider who has never seen the daily operations of this Church, or have never heard during mass the many admonitions and reminders of what God (NOT the Church) expects of you. Your vitriol is especially venomous and fifth-columnist, and I pray that you have the courage to find your spiritual home outside the Catholic faith.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fridays in Lent: Thomas Tallis' Spem in Alium

I'm willing to wager that most of you have not heard of the sixteenth century English composer Thomas Tallis. During his life, he composed a number of works for the Church, but his crowning piece is the beautiful Spem in alium. In this composition, Tallis' work exhibits an interesting dichotomy. The volume of the piece does not diminish, instead it increases but still manages to remain profoundly contemplative.

I hope this analogy doesn't sound too silly, but you can think of Spem in alium as a massive fire, not so much in size as in intensity, which musically evokes a state of consummate contemplation. It's another jewel from my favorite musical period.

Latin Text:

Spem in alium nunquam habui praeter in te
Deus Israel
qui irasceris
et propitius eris
et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis
Domine Deus
Creator coeli et terrae
respice humilitatem nostram

English Translation:

I have never put my hope in any other but in you,
O God of Israel
who can show both
and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
Lord God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth
be mindful of our lowliness

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gun Control

I realize that some of you are very passionate about the right to bear firearms. Many of you insist and argue that there is a constitutional right to keep personal handguns in your homes, and that this accord is guaranteed to all Americans by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. I respect your opinion. Currently, the justices of the Supreme Court are evaluating arguments that may impact, in some way, gun laws in this country.

For me personally, I find it difficult to construct arguments against gun control laws. Even more amazing to me are the individuals who become apologists for easing some of the current firearms restrictions that some states have on the books. The people I've watched vigorously make those arguments seem to possess a pathological obsession with keeping a weapon on their person, and are convinced that the federal government is a far greater threat to them and their family than Al-Qaeda or the former Soviet Union (not an exaggeration). Most of the reasoning in favor of unhampered access to firearms seem to involve the conviction that more guns are needed to defend ourselves from pre-existing guns. In other words, now that there are so many weapons in the wrong hands, we need more weapons to defend ourselves from the weapons that are in the wrong hands. This type of mentality creates a vicious circle that only exacerbates gun proliferation in this country, and the senseless violence that subsequently arises from it. I have heard no argument from handgun aficionados that work at reversing the number of guns circulating in this country, nor have I heard them introduce an effective strategy that will remove firearms that have fallen into the wrong hands.

And yes, you can hit me with all types of data and statistics and demographics and whatever to prove that restricting access to firearms does absolutely nothing to diminish the number of violent acts involving a handgun. Here is my response to those arguments: I simply don't believe them.

Bowling for Columbine?

The deleterious Michael Moore showed faint signs of intelligence when he made the film Bowling for Columbine back in 2002. Whether you like of hate the man, try and look at the film devoid of his insane political views ( I know it's difficult). You'll be surprised what you'll find as the reason for so many firearms purchases in the United States.

Very disturbing.
(To avoid cacophony pause music player)

I know that NOT every gun enthusiast is a fanatic or an unbalanced megalomaniac with a trigger-happy finger. That, however, does little to assuage my distress over the amount of gun violence that takes place in our society every day.