Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A lopsided smile in chaotic times

from the CathWorker listserv this morning, credited from New Orleans Voices for Peace [warning: satire ahead]:


The Government has just announced raids on Catholic Worker communities around the country. Allies in the Coalition of the Damned carried out simultaneous raids on Catholic Worker houses in other countries.

Troops searching for Weapons of Mass Compassion have thus far been unable to find convincing evidence. Altho they alleged that vast quantities of warm blankets, sweaters, woolen socks and heavy coats were being stockpiled, they have not been found. Captured Catholic Workers claimed that they were all given to the poor, asserting that "Winter is starting". However, interrogators also elicited claims about so-called Global Warming from some of the Catholic Workers, which flatly contradicts assertions about the so-called onset of Winter.

Chemical weapons investigators have found significant quantities of powdered milk in most of the Catholic Worker "soup kitchens". Scientific reports indicate that powdered milk can be used to ruin coffee.

The search continues for the elusive and secretive Leader of the Catholic Worker movement. After the death of Founder Peter Maurin in 1949, a woman fronted as the leader of the group until her death in 1980. Investigators assume that Maurin's successor was some shadowy Jesuit agent -- or, at this point, 56 years later, some number of Secret Leaders, but have not been able to identify any of them. Government spokesmen explained that such a close-knit, coordinated organization obviously has a strong central leadership structure, and they will "root him out!"

Pass it on! :-)

Stephen J Spiro


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Thanks to an email tipster,

the gal with all the bishops in her blogroll (currently 5, used to be 6) now has an abbot, too.

Seriously, go pay Word Incarnate a welcome wagon call, it's not just blessed by office, but it's thoughtful, well-written, and frequent also. I'm thinking Abbot Joseph will fit in quite nicely here in the Bloggsville Metro area.

Sometimes celebrations get buried,

so while remembering the worthy St. Thomas Aquinas, don't forget James the Almsgiver.

Born in Lombardy in the 1200's, the young James was made to study law, but upon coming of age he entered the priesthood. He reopened a long-disused hospital, where he tended the sick without charge and also dispensed free legal advice. When he discovered that the former income of the hospital had been wrongly taken by the bishop, he petitioned the bishop for restitution, and was refused. James appealed and won his case in both ecclesiastic and civil court, and the bishop had to repay the hospital the expropriated funds. Being exceedingly wroth, the bishop hired assassins to murder the priest who loved both mercy and justice, this day in 1304.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

big exhale, i passed the test

via QuizFarm.com

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com



What more need be said?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I haven't got it read through yet, but here it is: Pope Benedict's first Encyclical Letter, "Deus Caritas Est"

Enjoy! How long before we get the paper copies with the queries at the end of each section, as I fondly remember from my strangely-spent youth? {I still have my Rerum Novarum, Pacem in Terris, Humanae Vitae, and Populorum Progressio, and some others, from my jr.high and high school days; access to them was one of the things that kept me in religious ed....)

Monday, January 23, 2006

May we all be one

It's been easy to forget, but we shouldn't. We are right now in the Octaye of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Over at Pie and Coffee, I got reminded again by this description of a Service of Artoklasia for Christian unity served at an Orthodox Church in Oxford, England.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Foundng Father of the Desert: Abba Anthony

Today is the memorial day of Abba Anthony, one of the very first desert Christians. St. Athanasius wrote Abba Anthony's biography, and here's what he wrote about the beginning's of Anthony's vocation:

Anthony, you must know, was by descent an Egyptian: his parents were of good family and possessed considerable wealth, and as they were Christians he also was reared in the same Faith. In infancy he was brought up with his parents, knowing nothing else but them and his home.

But when he was grown and arrived at boyhood, and was advancing in years, he could not endure to learn letters, not caring to associate with other boys; but all his desire was, as it is written of Jacob, to live a plain man at home. With his parents he used to attend the Lord's House, and neither as a child was he idle nor when older did he despise them; but was both obedient to his father and mother and attentive to what was read, keeping in his heart what was profitable in what he heard. And though as a child brought up in moderate affluence, he did not trouble his parents for varied or luxurious fare, nor was this a source of pleasure to him; but was content simply with what he found nor sought anything further.

After the death of his father and mother he was left alone with one little sister: his age was about eighteen or twenty, and on him the care both of home and sister rested. Now it was not six months after the death of his parents, and going according to custom into the Lord's House, he communed with himself and reflected as he walked how the Apostles left all and followed the Saviour; and how they in the Acts sold their possessions and brought and laid them at the Apostles' feet for distribution to the needy, and what and how great a hope was laid up for them in heaven. Pondering over these things he entered the church, and it happened the Gospel was being read, and he heard the Lord saying to the rich man, 'If thou wouldest be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor; and come follow Me and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.' Anthony, as though God had put him in mind of the Saints, and the passage had been read on his account, went out immediately from the church, and gave the possessions of his forefathers to the villagers. They were three hundred acres, productive and very fair. He determined that they should be no more a clog upon himself and his sister. And all the rest that was movable he sold, and having got together much money he gave it to the poor, reserving a little however for his sister's sake.

And again as he went into the church, hearing the Lord say in the Gospel, 'be not anxious for the morrow,' he could stay no longer, but went out and gave those things also to the poor. Having committed his sister to known and faithful virgins, and put her into a convent to be brought up, he henceforth devoted himself outside his house to discipline, taking heed to himself and training himself with patience. For there were not yet so many monasteries in Egypt, and no monk at all knew of the distant desert; but all who wished to give heed to themselves practiced the discipline in solitude near their own village.

Now there was then in the next village an old man who had lived the life of a hermit from his youth up. Anthony, after he had seen this man, imitated him in piety. And at first he began to abide in places outside the village: then if he heard of a good man anywhere, like the prudent bee, he went forth and sought him, nor turned back to his own palace until he had seen him; and he returned, having got from the good man as it were supplies for his journey in the way of virtue. So dwelling there at first, he confirmed his purpose not to return to the abode of his fathers nor to the remembrance of his kinsfolk; but to keep all his desire and energy for perfecting his discipline. He worked, however, with his hands, having heard, 'he who is idle let him not eat,' and part he spent on bread and part he gave to the needy. And he was constant in prayer, knowing that a man ought to pray in secret unceasingly. For he had given such heed to what was read that none of the things that were written fell from him to the ground, but he remembered all, and afterwards his memory served him for books.

Thus conducting himself, Anthony was beloved by all. He subjected himself in sincerity to the good men whom he visited, and learned thoroughly where each surpassed him in zeal and discipline. He observed the graciousness of one; the unceasing prayer of another; he took knowledge of another's freedom from anger and another's loving-kindness; he gave heed to one as he watched, to another as he studied; one he admired for his endurance, another for his fasting and sleeping on the ground; the meekness of one and the long-suffering of another he watched with care, while he took note of the piety towards Christ and the mutual love which animated all. Thus filled, he returned to his own place of discipline, and henceforth would strive to unite the qualities of each, and was eager to show in himself the virtues of all. With others of the same age he had no rivalry; save this only, that he should not be second to them in higher things. And this he did so as to hurt the feelings of nobody, but made them rejoice over him. So all they of that village and the good men in whose intimacy he was, when they saw that he was a man of this sort, used to call him God-beloved.

[St Athanasius, Life of St. Anthony, 1-4]


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A List Becoming Prayer

one of the kind gentlemen from Pie and Coffee wrote and asked would I please expound a little more on the Archdiocesan Directory post of a couple days ago.

As those of you who've been here for years know, I have a job description reading "pray for the city and archdiocese of Milwaukee". Part of how I do that is through the Liturgy of the Hours, which is the everyday prayer of the whole Church. The other part is the lists. One of the lists begins:

+Timothy, archbishop
Father Carl Last, pastor
Pastoral Staff of Cathedral Parish .........

and the other:

Thomas Barrett, mayor
James Witkowiak, alderman
all members of Milwaukee Common Council
Scott Walker, county executive
all members of the Milwaukee County Board ..........

and I've got a few tools to help: A picture of Milwaukee's bishops all together that lives in my L of H book, a subscription to the local daily newspaper and the local Catholic weekly paper, and that archdiocesan directory I mentioned before.

I read the daily paper with its daily litany of woe. I recite the names of all the archdiocese's priests and deacons and parishes listed in the directory. I read the list of all the civic officials. I have no way of knowing, myself, what the current special needs might be of each (many of them I've never even met), though being humans within human organizations it's inevitable there are needs.

So, I just hold each one in my hands and show each one to God, give each one to God, who knows all the needs of each and every one. Lord, have mercy. Make haste to help, O Lord. Please make us whole.

Occasionally on my bad days, I wonder why I am called to do what I do, since chaos keeps breaking out anyways. But, as long as I am called to this, I will do it. Maybe, just maybe, there's a little less chaos about, or a little more hope, because of faithfulness in prayer and doing what little service to others I can these days. I guess I'll find out in time's fullness; until then.......


Monday, January 09, 2006

New Comfort Food Recipe: Splendad Pumpkin Custard

This isn't much of a foodie blog, there's only been two recipes in the over 3 1/2 years so far --- Fowl Flesh in Grimy Green Guts with Toadstools and Splendad Rhubarb Crisp. Now I've a third for guilt-free enjoyment.

Splendad Pumpkin Custard

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

4 large eggs
2 cups evaporated skim milk (or evaporated whole milk, or half-and-half, or etc., according to desired fatty caloric naughtiness)
1 2/3 cup Splenda granular
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree (plain pumpkin, not "pumpkin pie ....")

In large bowl, beat eggs (don't need a mixer, a fork will do just fine) until well blended, add the evaporated milk and beat it up good. In another bowl, mix Splenda with the spices, being sure spices are evenly distributed in the Splenda. Then add the Splenda mixture to the eggs and milk, continuously beating the mixture to prevent lumps. When thouroughly blended, add both cans of pumpkin and stir until completely integrated and smooth. Pour into 2-quart glass casserole dish and bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, then, without peeking, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees F and bake 55-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes. May be served warm or refrigerated.

Enjoy! Feedback appreciated.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

My favorite prayer tool

is a little tabloid called "2006 Milwaukee Archdiocesan Directory". Twenty five-column pages of a long list of names and places. I've been caught by others with it a few times, and tried to explain how a long list of names becomes prayer. Not very effectively.

But this morning, a Desert story landed in my emailbox. I think Abba Macarius explains it much better than I. and there's not as much difference between the 300s and the 2000s than one might think:

Abba Macarius was asked, "How should one pray?" The old man said:
"There is no need at all to make long discourses. It is enough to stretch out one's hands and say, `Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.' And if the conflict grows fiercer say, `Lord, help!' He knows very well what we need and He shows us His mercy."


Friday, January 06, 2006

A Prison Carol

via SojoNet:

Charles Dickens at Fox Lake CI.
a sample:

I'm driving home through Horicon Marsh, reflecting on Scrooge and Tiny Tim, and also that other child, the one whose birth we're all so busy celebrating. I'm thinking about two million Americans in prison this Christmas. They're not just surplus population.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

He is revealed, and recieves full homage among all the nations

from the Liturgy of St. James ---

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wing├Ęd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!