Monday, January 31, 2005

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Iraq could really use prayers

and here are some places to visit to remind why (some very different perspectives from CNN or FoxNews!)

Baghdad Burning, by River

Raed in the Middle, by Raed

Tell Me a Secret, by Khalid

Monday, January 24, 2005

A new "New Tract for the Times"

just in time for Lent! This is the next-to-last draft; I'll take corrections, comments, and bright ideas (like alternative graphics, maybe?) here for a few days, then finalize it and put it in the other website. Please feel free to comment either in the comment box or by email --- be sure to put an appropriate subject line on so it doesn't get weeded with the spam! With no further ado, I present for your kind consideration ----

Stations of the Cross: a New Tract for the Times

the only crown, the only sceptre.....

I. Jesus, true and total Innocent, you were condemned and sentenced to death, though You had committed no crime, by a cynical politician who simultaneously denied all responsibility for the decision. Oh, how often do I do what is expedient instead of what is best or most just? How often do I go along to get along?

II. Your cross, Your instrument of execution, is brought to You. You are not bound to it struggling and unwilling, but You take it up of Your own will. Lord, I know that for every one of us, not having a cross is not one of the options, yet how consistently I set out to avoid bearing it. I could bear it with You and offer it as gift, but so often I fight and struggle and am bound and dragged, crushed and broken by it.

III. Yet, You are very weak. Up all night, marched all over town then scourged until nearly dead, the cross is heavier than Your body can carry, and You fall down. Yet You got back up, picked up the fallen cross, and went on. How often do I fall down and just give up and stay there?

IV. You meet Your mother along the road. She shares one of God the Father's attributes --- You are her only-begotten Son. She loves You, and witnesses Your suffering, and can hardly help but suffer with You; yet she consents to this, and continues to follow You, all the way to the end and beyond.

V. Even the guards can see Your bodily weakness, and they want to get You to the execution grounds still alive so You can be crucified. So they grab a guy off of the street and force him to carry Your cross, so You only have to carry Yourself. The evangelist identifies this guy, Simon the Cyrenean, as "Alexander's and Rufus' father," a sign that the people the evangelist were writing for knew Alex and Rufus as fellow believers. Was this where Alex and Rufus first encountered Christ, coming in from the fields with their dad?

VI. A lady in the street, bold in her mercy, performs an alms-deed for You. Seeing You nearly blinded by sweat and blood, she of her own volition wiped Your face with one of her veils. Am I ever bold in mercy, or am I chickenhearted, only being merciful to the respectable and deserving, when it's easy and without risk?

VII. Even with help from Alex's and Rufus' dad, this journey is more than Your bodily strength can endure, and You fall down again. You do not stay down though, and the guards do not force You up by Your bindings; You get up Yourself, and continue on. How often am I not persistent in going towards the good, and I give up and wallow in my woes?

VIII. A group of women were touched by Your suffering and Your sentence, and they mourn for You. And You, who so loved all humankind, pitied them, and gave them a prophetic warning of the days to come for them. Not good tidings. But a true warning.

IX. Nearly there, the grade changes --- execution sites are up on hills to better make an example of what happens to those who breach the Pax Romana --- and You fall yet again. And You still do not give up, but rise and continue. No matter how many times I fail and falter and fall, I must continue to get up and go on. Do I?

X. You have finally arrived at the execution grounds. Your last few possessions are now taken from You, including Your clothes. The guards are none too gentle, and the forming clots and scabs from Your scourging come off with Your undertunic, opening all those wounds again. You are totally dispossessed, without even the dignity of being allowed to cover Your nakedness, absolutely exposed. When the day comes when I am Called, I must go to God empty in order to be filled totally with Himself; yet do I cling tightly to physical or psychic "stuff": money, houses, toys, honor, respectability, dignity? You were entirely disdignified; why would I be more deserving of dignity than You?

XI. And then You were crucified. You stretched out Your arms and the guards nailed then securely to the crossbeam. They took Your feet and nailed them also, and they raised You up from the earth. Not far, not nearly to the skies, let alone the heavens. They posted your name and crime above Your head: King of the Jews. And they left You there to die. You are all-good and deserving of all my love, and yet I have given You this.

...if I be lifted up, I will draw all people to Myself

XII. After between three and six hours of humiliating and shameful exposure and slow suffocation on the cross, having fulfilled all Your Father's will and having seen to the future care of Your mother, You handed over Your spirit to Your Father and died. Because it was the afternoon before Sabbath, there were orders to break the legs of the condemned so they would suffocate fast and not be left hanging there on Sabbath. Because You had already died, though, they did not break Your legs, only assured themselves of Your death by driving a spear through Your heart. Water and blood flowed out, the spring of salvation that I so often take for granted and fail to appreciate and give thanks for.

XIII. A wealthy and well-placed follower, Joseph of Arimathea, asked for and received permission to take down Your body and give it burial. Your mother, and John, and the other Marys, were already there at the cross, had been there the whole while. Joseph and Nicodemus came, and took Your body down from the cross, and laid it, for the last time, in the arms of Your mother, and she clung to it; but it was very near to sundown and Sabbath, so Joseph and Nicodemus had to take the body from her. Am I always as loath to let go of You?

Pieta by John Carroll Collier

XIV. Joseph and Nicodemus hurriedly wrapped Your body in linens and put it in Joseph's own tomb, not yet used for any burials, since it was not far away and Sabbath was very near. After Sabbath they would return and finish the rites and practices of burial, for there was no more time now, Sabbath was upon them.

And so we entered the one day in all of history when it can be said with any truth at all that God is dead.......

Light in All Darkness icon.  One of the special treasures of Cathedral Parish, Milwaukee.

To all human appearances this day, hope has been crushed, the light extinguished, darkness is triumphant. But, this is only an appearance.

There is one who has guarded the light with her whole life, who knows that even this cannot be the end, and continues to guard and cherish the light in her heart as she always has. She waits, and gathers in the crushed and hopeless disciples and encourages them to wait with her and not despair; and so they wait.

Mother of God, Light in all darkness,
intercede for us.
Be a companion to us,
and bring to our confusion and darkness
the Light you bore,
the Light you guard and cherish.
Although we do not yet see light,
do not let us fall into the abyss,
and assure us that there is still light
until such time as the Light shall return.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Another Quiz

with pretty unlikely results, considering my medical alert bracelet is fully engraved _on_both_sides_!

I am going to die at 76. When are you? Click here to find out!


We become what we receive

and then we are sent. Here's a wondrous reflection on the assembly and its importance. We've always called our Eucharist the "Mass", the Sending --- from its last words, "Go, you are sent." In the Latin, "Ite, missa est." It's not to be underestimated.

Totally expected results

Just a little quiz ---- what other results could there be?

I am nerdier than 62% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Just click on the box to take the test yourself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Update on Father Eleazar Perez

Keep on praying! He seems to be "in pretty good shape for the shape that he's in." The doctors did amputate one leg last week, and he had a followup surgery yesterday, but he recorded a video for his parish and broadcast this morning --- sitting up in bed, in clergy shirt not hospital gown, good voice and colour. He didn't say anything about getting out, but that'll take a while in any case since he'd have to heal up, and then be fitted and learn to walk with a prosthesis, and so on. The folk at St. Adalbert's seem to be very eager to get him back!

Friday, January 14, 2005

St. Nina, Equal to the Apostles

Today is the memorial of St. Nina, who brought the Faith to Georgia ---Europe's Geogia, not America's. Here's her story, as told in Rufinus's Ecclesiastical History [1.10]:

At that time (about 330 AD) also the Iberian nation (Georgia), who live in the clime of Pontus, accepted the laws of God's word and faith in the kingdom of heaven. This so excellent deed was brought about by a certain captive woman (Nina, age 14) who had fallen among them, and who led a life of faith and complete sobriety and virtue, and throughout the days and nights unceasingly offered up prayers to God. The very novelty of this thing began to amaze the barbarians, and they diligently inquired what it meant. She told them simply the truth of the matter, namely that she was wont thus to worship Christ her God. The strangeness of this name seemed to the barbarians the most astonishing feature of the whole business. As often happens, however, her very persistence aroused among the womenfolk a certain curiosity to see whether such devotion might not win some reward.

It is said to be a custom among them that if a child falls ill, it is carried round by its mother to each individual household, so that if anyone knows of some trustworthy remedy, he may administer it to the sufferer. Accordingly, when a certain woman had carried her ailing child to everyone, as the custom was, but without finding any cure inall the homes she had visited, she came at last to the captive woman so that she too might declare anything she knew of. The captive woman affirmed that she knew of no human remedy, but assured the mother that her God Christ, whom she worshipped, could grant the child that deliverance of which men had lost hope. Placing the infant on her hair cloak and furthermore offering up a prayer to the Lord, the captive woman then gave back the child cured to its mother.

The report of this spread to many, and the renown of the marvelous deed reached the ears of the queen (Nana) who, being afflicted by some very grave bodily complaint, was in the greatest desperation. She asked for the captive woman to be brought to her. The latter, however, declined to go, lest she should seem to diverge from the retiring way of life befitting to her sex. Then the queen commanded them to carry her to the captive's cell. After laying her likewise on her hair cloak and calling on Christ's name, the captive woman raised her up immediately after the prayer in good health and spirits. She taught the queen that Christ, the Son of God Almighty, was the Deity who had bestowed this cure on her, and that she should invoke Him, whom she ought to acknowledge as the source of her life and health. For it is He who distributes kingdoms to kings, and life to mortal men. And the queen, returning joyfully homewards, in answer to her husband's enquiry revealed the source of her sudden restoration to health. But when in his joy at his wife's recovery, he ordered presents to be sent to the woman, the queen said, "O King, the captive woman prizes none of these things. She rejects gold, despises silver and nourishes herself by fasting as if by food. The only way in which we can reward her is by worshipping that God, Christ, who cured me according to her prayer."

At that time, the king (Mirian) paid no attention to this and put the matter off, although his wife often recalled it to his mind. At length one day while he was hunting in the forest with his retainers, the light of day was clouded over with dense murk and disappeared in the horror of pitch-black night, making it impossible to proceed. His companions dispersed in various directions and lost their way, and he remained alone enveloped in impenetrable gloom, without knowing what to do or where to turn. Suddenly his spirit, tormented by despair of being rescued, was lit up by a thought: "If indeed that Christ whom the captive had preached to his wife was God, then let Him now deliver him from this darkness, that he too might forsake all other gods to worship Him." And forthwith, as soon as he had made this vow in thought alone, and before he had time to express it in words, the light of day was restored to the world, and led the king unharmed to the city.

Revealing immediately to the queen what had occurred, he summons the captive woman, bidding her instruct him in the ritual of worship, and affirming that he would from now on venerate no other god but Christ. The captive woman appears, and preaches Christ the Lord, expounding the rites of prayer and the form of worship, in so far as these could properly he known to a woman. In addition, she tells them to build a church, and describes its shape.

The king accordingly summoned together all the folk of his nation, and related the events which had happened to him and the queen from the very beginning. He instructed them in the faith and, albeit himself not yet initiated into the sacraments, became the apostle of his own nation. The men believed thanks to the king, the women thanks to the queen, and with a single mind they set to work to build a church. The surrounding walls were quickly erected, and the time came to set up the columns. When the first and second pillars had been raised, and they proceeded to lift the third, they employed all forms of machinery and the strength of oxen and men, but when it had been elevated to a slanting angle, it proved impossible by any manner of effort to raise it the rest of the way. The redoubled and often repeated efforts of all the men failed to move it from its position, and everyone was reduced to exhaustion. The whole people was seized with astonishment, and the king's resolution began to fail him. Nobody knew what was to be done.

But when at nightfall everyone went away, and both the toilers and their toil fell into repose, the captive woman remained alone on the spot and passed the whole night in prayer. And behold, when the king and all his people arrived full of anxiety in the morning, he saw the column, which so many machines and so many men could not shift, standing upright and freely suspended above its pedestal --- not set upon it but hanging in the air about a foot above. As soon as the whole people witnessed this, they glorified God and began to declare this to he a proof of the truth of the king's faith and the religion of the captive woman. And behold, while they were all paralyzed with amazement, thepillar slowly descended on to its base before their eyes without anyone touching it, and settled in perfect balance. After this, the rest of the columns were erected with such ease that the remainder were all set in
place that same day.

After the church had been built with due magnificence, the people were zealously yearning for God's faith. So an embassy is sent on behalf of the entire nation to the Emperor Constantine, in accordance with the captive woman's advice. The foregoing events are related to him, and a petition submitted, requesting that priests be sent to complete the work which God had begun. Sending them on their way amidst rejoicing and ceremony, the Emperor was far more glad at this news than if he had annexed to the Roman Empire peoples and realms unknown.

These happenings were related to us by Bacurius, a most trustworthy man, himself prince of that very nation, and commander of the Guards in our court --- who was most scrupulous about religion and truth --- at the time when he resided with us at Jerusalem on cordial terms, being then in command of the frontiers of Palestine.


Preparing to go to Mass again.....

[or anywhere else, for that matter]

I'm out of hospital, the wound is closed so I don't have to wait at home for the nurse, my blood sugars are mostly under control, so it's time for the next step --- going out to Sunday Mass and etcetera again. The paratransit ride is scheduled, what else?

Are there two sets of $3.25 in exact change for the paratransit fare?
Enough oxygen E-tanks for the weekend? A brand-new one in the carrier?
Find the Legion of Mary book! Place in chair bag.
Ditto the rosaries for the receptionist; ditto rosaries for Open Door patrons.

Design a four-carb-unit portable breakfast (two granola bar packets and a can of sugarfree lemonade?) Pack and stash in icebox. Also pack an apple and a packet of Buddig meat, to hold the fort in case I can't eat what the Open Door is serving for lunch and have to wait till I get home.

Find out if insulin sryinge and vial will fit in the meter cover. If not, find another safe way to carry them. And, what obscure corner will be used for blood test/possible injection after Mass before Legion meeting?

Remember to grab meds, meter, insulin stuff and the food before leaving!

[And, don't forget normal preparation for Communion]

This new diabetic life style is making things a little complicated. (but I'm doing good; no blood sugar readings above 130 all week, and I'm geting the hang of the diet......

Monday, January 10, 2005

Prayer warrior call!

Father Eleazar Perez, the administrator at St. Adalbert's parish, not far from the little anchor hold, was badly hurt in a hit-and-run accident last night. He was unlaoding groceries in front of his house when a car rammed into him, leaving him trapped between the vehicles. Police are looking for the driver and two passengers ---- two teenagers and a pre-teen --- who left their wreck behind and ran away.

The parish is gathering for prayer tonight at 6. Father's leg bones are smashed, and there is a possibility that amputation may be necessary.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A bishop in doo-doo with the Curial Powers

St. John Neumann (pronounced "noy-man") was the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. He got in a bit of trouble in the Curial rumor mill --- over his willingness to have his overgrown diocese divided --- and today's Office of Readings gives us his response, as he wrote it to Cardinal Barnabo.......

Indeed, I have apparently delayed too long in writing to the Holy See the letter promised by the Archbishop of Baltimore in the name of the council. However, this delay was not without reason. For the council was scarcely finished and I was discussing the division of the Diocese of Philadelphia and my translation to a new see with one of the Fathers of the council, when the Father intimated to me [that he did not know] whether that could more probably be hoped for, since the Holy See thought that I would resign from the episcopate, or wished to resign. In the same way when the Archbishop of Baltimore informed me of the designation of a coadjutor, he added that in the event that I should persevere in the desire to resign, the Holy See would permit me to give the title of the ecclesiastical property to the same coadjutor.

I was no little disturbed by the fear that I had done something that so displeased the Holy Father that my resignation would appear desirable to him. If this be the case, I am prepared without any hesitation to leave the episcopacy. I have taken this burden out of obedience, and I have laboured with all my powers to fulfil the duties of my office, and with God’s help, as I hope, not without fruit.

When the care of temporal things weighed upon my mind and it seemed to me that my character was little suited for the very cultural world of Philadelphia, I made known to my fellow bishops during the Baltimore council of 1858 that it seemed opportune to me to request my translation to one or the other see that was to be erected (namely in the City of Pottsville or in Wilmington, North Carolina). But to give up the episcopal career never entered my mind, although I was conscious of my unworthiness and ineptitude; for things had not come to such a pass that I had one or the other reason out of the six for which a bishop could safely ask the Holy Father permission to resign. For a long time I have doubted what should be done....

Although my coadjutor has proposed to me that he would take the new see if it is erected, I have thought it much more opportune and I have asked the Fathers that he be appointed to the See of Philadelphia, since he is much more highly endowed with facility and alacrity concerning the administration of temporal things. Indeed, I am much more accustomed to the country, and will be able to care for the people and faithful living in the mountains, in the coal mines and on the farms, since I would be among them.

If, however, it should be displeasing to His Holiness to divide the diocese, I am, indeed, prepared either to remain in the same condition in which I am at present, or if God so inspires His Holiness to give the whole administration of the diocese to the Most Reverend James Wood, I am equally prepared to resign from the episcopate and to go where I may more securely prepare myself for death and for the account which must be rendered to the Divine Justice.

I desire nothing but to fulfil the wish of the Holy Father whatever it may be.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

St. Elizabeth Ann and the importance of perseverance

From today's Office of Readings, part of a conference that St. Elizabeth Ann gave to the sisters of her struggling new religious community:

I will tell you what is my own great help. I once read or heard that an interior life means but the continuation of our Saviour’s life in us; that the great object of all his mysteries is to merit for us the grace of his interior life and communicate it to us, it being the end of his mission to lead us into the sweet land of promise, a life of constant union with himself. And what was the first rule of our dear Saviour’s life? You know it was to do his Father’s will. Well, then, the first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will.

I know what his will is by those who direct me; whatever they bid me do, if it is ever so small in itself, is the will of God for me. Then do it in the manner he wills it, not sewing an old thing as if it were new, or a new thing as if it were old; not fretting because the oven is too hot, or in a fuss because it is too cold.

You understand --- not flying and driving because you are hurried, not creeping like a snail because no one pushes you. Our dear Saviour was never in extremes. The third object is to do his will because God wills it, that is, to be ready to quit at any moment and to do anything else to which you may be called....

You think it very hard to lead a life of such restraint unless you keep your eye of faith always open. Perseverance is a great grace. To go on gaining and advancing every day, we must be resolute, and bear and suffer as our blessed forerunners did. Which of them gained heaven without a struggle?....

What are our real trials? By what name shall we call them? One cuts herself out a cross of pride; another, one of causeless discontent; another, one of restless impatience or peevish fretfulness. But is the whole any better than children’s play if looked at with the common eye of faith? Yet we know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life, that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.

But we lack courage to keep a continual watch over nature, and therefore, year after year, with our thousand graces, multiplied resolutions, and fair promises, we run around in a circle of misery and imperfections. After a long time in the service of God, we come nearly to the point from whence we set out, and perhaps with even less ardour for penance and mortification than when we began our consecration to him.

You are now in your first setout. Be above the vain fears of nature and efforts of your enemy. You are children of eternity. Your immortal crown awaits you, and the best of Fathers waits there to reward your duty and love. You may indeed sow here in tears, but you may be sure there to reap in joy.


Saturday, January 01, 2005


Nothing huge that I'll set myself up to fail with ---- no "my blood sugar will never rise above 180" or "I will be 50 lbs lighter by my birthday" ---- just a few little ones I'm pretty sure I can keep, and not be repenting their failure by Lent.

I will do my physical therapy exercises every day without fail.

Every caloric thing I eat will be written in the diabetes diary promptly. It is possible to fool the doctor and the dietitian, but not the blood sugar monitor! I will continue to learn the controlled carbohydrate meal plan and the rest of the arts and sciences of diabetic living, and to do them.

I will not tough it out when I get sick, but will call the doctor and present myself in the emergency room or outpatient clinic without delay.

I think these are plenty for this year!

He said he'd rest when he got to heaven

Father Mac (Monsignor Ignatius McDermott), the pastor of Chicago's Skid Row, has died. Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Visual proof of my large-family prejudice,

which I come by naturally.

The whole clan except me made it back to Akron for Christmas at Dad's new home.

Here are the sibs:

back: Sue, Vicki, Lorelei, Chris; front:  Jimbo, Mike, Tom

and here's Dad with all the grandchildren:

Dad with Lorelei's Connor, Landon, and Shelba; Sue's Rebecca and Cora; Vicki's Elise and Chad; and Chris's Chet

Afterwards Tom came to Milwaukee for a day and two nights to be with me (we did some serious shopping) and he took a picture of me for the assorted kidfolk, so they don't forget what I look like. Here it is:

the end of a long day at Costco

Enjoy, all!