Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sad News

I know of no good way to say this but I want to let our readers know, Tony was hit by a car that jumped a curb, he unfortunately died as a result of his injuries. He and I were very good friends and though I trust he is in the caring arms of our savior, I wish I had him here with me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Center of our lives

Christ should be the center of our lives. Is there anything better to place as the center and focus of our very being? Too many times we put people, things, money or jobs before Christ or in the place of Christ. I know that I do. I place many many things in the place of Christ as the center of my life, I wish I could stand here and say that I wont do that anymore but I can’t because I am a fallen human being and all I can do is each time I place something before Christ is to work on removing it from my focus and put my focus back on Christ.

How do we tell if our focus is on Christ or on ’stuff’? I can only speak and advise from personal experience, when ever I worry greatly about something, money or desires for things, or worry about people or what they think of me some times I am very blind to it and some times it takes a while for it to hit me. I am in a better place when I can get my focus back on Christ, and most of all pray.

I use to think that things that were “rote prayers” like the rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet etc were old fashioned and out of touch and that talking to God/Christ as a friend was better but something my Spiritual Director said yesterday that we need both. The rote prayer and prayer that is just talking to God as our best friend. At times talking to God is hard, we don’t think we should or that we can, sometimes we think that we are unworthy to even approach God it is then that we really need to approach God asking forgiveness for our sins, talking about our day’s and the things we are struggling with and asking for help for them, and then praising him, thanking him for all of the gifts we have been given .

I am not an expert on prayer by any means, I fail more then I try, but I try. Sometimes all I can do is the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Rosary and sometimes I can only talk to God as my friend. Most of all, I try not to treat God like a vending machine, sometimes I fail and sometimes I avoid praying for things that I really need like patience and anger management… because he has a tendency to give me plenty of practice.

When Christ is the center of our lives, that is when we find peace; or at least I do.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Catholics and War

I have been reading this article on War theory and Catholicism. The idea behind any type of War theory from the point of religion is to decipher when, if ever, war can be a justified action. The article I am reading is from the perspective of a Benedictine priest who lived from 1890-1938 , Fr. Virgil Michel. Fr. Michel is known for his renewed thinking in the area of liturgy, but as Tobias Winright points out in his article, Virgil Michel on Worship and War, Michel also has a line of thought on just war.
Like many other facets in his life, Michel, uses the spirit of the liturgy to explain his thoughts on war. He states that in the liturgy we find Catholics offering each other the kiss of peace as well as participating in the Eucharist which calls each person to participate in the peace of Christ, the perfection of love. Bearing that in mind, any action of war is inherently evil because it does not adhere to the principles set forth by the liturgy that are grounded in the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Michel states that modern warfare is particularly unjust because 1) The weapons of science and technology do not allow for less non-combatants to be killed, and 2) the wars of today are steeped in history that has long passed. To Michel war naturally begets violence and evil. For this purpose I am going to adhere to the intelligent simple definition of evil as that which is devoid of God.

Later on in this article, Michel is quoted as saying, "[war] must be rightly conducted: retrained within the limits of justice and love." (Michel The Christian World 182.) Michel, however, also states that he believes war is really only a choice between two evils.

Although the article does go into much more detail, I think I have given enough of Fr. Michel's principles to discuss my own points.

Here are my issues,

Fr. Michel's idea on just war theory developed along with a post-Vatican II ideology. Pre-Vatican II, just war theory was based on the traditional principles that St. Thomas Aquinas had set forth, including but not limited to proportionality and restraint. Michel likens WWII to the Gulf War in terms of Catholic war theory.

First off, supposing that war is evil (completely devoid of God) are any of the goods that come from war also intrinsically evil? Along this line of thinking that war is never a good it only follows that those things which come from war also can never be a good (see Aquinas). Where does that leave liberated countries and freed peoples?

Ok, so war = evil. Got it.

Next problem. He states that choosing war is also a choice between two evils. Michel states that even participation in war by means of self-defense is evil, although maybe not a mortal sin. is it possible that in a given situation there is no choice aimed toward the good? Being that Jesus did die for the sins of mankind, I find it utterly unreasonable that we ever have a choice only between evil and a lesser evil. There is always a way to choose the good. Which means, logically following, that one of the choices must be good. Misdiagnosis.

Ideally Michel states that whenever possible a country should only defend itself and never take aggressive action in war. Thinking back to WWII, most of Europe, by way of using that theory, would be subject to socialist Nazi rule right now. Not to mention that in trying to support themselves by means of only defense they European countries would have stretched their natural resources beyond their means thus pushing Europe further into decay. And what of the killing of millions of Jews? It took military action, not only pacifism, to stop the Nazi's from decimating the Jewish people.

I appreciate Fr. Michel's sincerity in trying to keep with the teachings of Christ, and to be true to our liturgy, however I do not think it is as simple as all that. There is no doubt that there is atrocity in way, most of the time committed on both sides, but i have a hard time saying that freeing Jews from a gas chamber or stopping the stoning of women is intrinsically evil because of the means of achievement. I don't have an answer, but I do believe that God always provides us with a choice toward the good, knowing the good is the difficult part.

Incidentally, Fr. Michel's idea on liturgy and the Mystical Body of the Church are most definitely worth reading, a possible post on those ideals later.

Article - Tobias L. Winright "Virgil Michel on Worship and War", in Worship.

Friday, December 14, 2007

News of Intrest

Vatican defends duty to evangelize and accept converts - Sweet... Go Benny!!!!

Ireland steps away from Catholic schools - Sad

Catholic board evaluates dioceses - Good, they need to be evaluated on how they are doing with abusive priests.

Metro Fare Increase - Don't get me started...

New Jersey abolishing death penalty.
--- WHOOT! I spent a year volunteering with the moratorium campaign in New Orleans (Sr. Helen Prejean's group)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Quote of the day...

In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Back from Chicago

Actually, I've been back a couple of days. But there was a lot to catch up on and sort out. I mean, it was rough enough that the site was hacked as soon as I left, but then that person went and attacted the roommate-- and I learned when I got home that she'd (Roomie) been dead for a day. No, really, you can read about the adventure here.

*sigh* Life is never boring in our apartment.

I'll post some pictures when I get home-- there was some nice stained glass and flowers at Maggie's work that I thought I'd put up.

Other than the drama of having my dear roommate attacked by a psycho (props to Sam for bodyslamming the crazy-lady) and the blogs being hacked and recovered, my vacation was very restful. I had a great time hanging out with Maggie and Al at various places in the city, and catching up with Naruto while they were at school or work. And, as a side note, Maggie and her husband have a very comfy sofa.

Anyway, more soon!


Saturday, October 6, 2007


Yes, we were hacked. Some looser with nothing better to do with their lives went and hacked all of Kat's accounts, thus some of the oddness this morning. Due to this, until other measures can be implemented (because both Kat and I are not exactly full of free time at the moment), I have removed Kat's account from this blog. She is still a member, but at this moment, she has no control over her own email or blogs.

SO, if you know Kat and have gotten any odd emails, or if you've stopped by her blog. . . no, that's not her. Moreover, she's (for the moment) locked out of her accounts so she can'f fix things at the moment-- if she even had access to a computer, which she doesn't.

And, to the lame-o who's responsible for all this: It's really sad that you have nothing better to do with a Friday night or Saturday morning than to pull things like this. I'm sure we'll all be praying for you. And your social life.

PS: Comments are now under moderation as well.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Coyote chews more music . . .

I've been holding off on writing thise post because I wanted to make sure I had an accurate understanding of the situation before I publically went off the hook and started tearing into all manner of musical ranting. You know, there's nothing quite like going on a full-fledged rant only to find out you misread the announcement and boy, don't you feel like a schmuck?

But, sadly, this time, I had the right of it from the beginning. . .

Where to start? Well, I guess I should say that I'm a cantor at my church sometimes. I'm usually up singing with the choir but, when they need someone to fill in as cantor, I go down and cantor for that Mass. Since our usual cantor has been having various health problems these past few months, he asked me to fill on on the 9th and 23rd of September. At the time I was asked, I said "Yeah, sure, no problem."

The very next rehearsal, the conductor (reluctantly, I should add-- the man has taste, and this is not his fault) passed out little pieces of paper that looked like this:

And we were informed that we had to learn it, as pretty soon we'd be singing it before Mass, every Mass-- information which immediately made me want to start lighting little fires with little pieces of paper. In the bulletin, with the music is included this little bit: "All classes and groups in the parish are encouraged to use the refrain as an opening or closing prayer."

I'm gonna skip over how craptacular that melody is (I've sung campfire songs that had more moving, or uplifting, or . . . musical melodies) and go straight to my main problem, which is the lyrics. In case the picture is too small, the lyrics are:

We are the Church, the Body of Christ
We are the Church, a people Redeemed
We are the Church, anointed to serve
God's holy people, the people of God.

Now, I will grant, that in a different context, I would have less problem with these words. In an inspirational book, or (written more eloquently) in an encyclical of some sort, or something about the Cathecism. Basically, they'd be okay as part of a writing addressed to the Church at large. Well, mostly okay. I do have a problem with this verse however, even in such a context, and it is this: Who, exactly, is "God's holy people, the people of God"? In the context of the verse, we must assume that "people of God" would be the "people redeemed", which would be . . . As, yes, We. Us.

Talk about "self-serving." This verse is, basically, about how darned good we are, how frickin' fantabulous We, the Church, are. We're soooo great, we sing songs to ourselves about our amazing, fabulous greatness!

And moreover, we're singing this in church, where we should be completely focused on Him--not us. And when, exactly, are we singing this? Before the processional. To wit, in the cantor book this past Sunday, there was a sheet which I was supposed to follow (I did not, as I shall explain in a bit), in which I, the cantor was to welcome the people to the church (uh, okay, no biggie), then say something along the lines of "Let us greet one another with song--" (Erk?!) and then I was supposed to lead everyone in singing that thing, and then read reflection on the readings, and then a moment of silence for meditation or something, and only then invite people to stand and join in our processional . . .

They're trying to turn mass into friggin Sesame Street, and I won't stand for it. Now look, I love Big Bird, Oscar and Snuffleuphagus, this is not a knock on Sesame Street. But Sesame Street has it's place (public TV), and is not appropriate for a mass. But you know what, it's even worse than that, because the Sesame Street comparison comes from the idea of greeting each other with a song, but this particular song?

How did that email exchange with the conductor go? Oh yes, Dad mentioned something to the conductor like:

Also, you should know that C, who is scheduled to cantor Sunday, absolutely will NOT lead the congregation in "We are the Church." . . . C would love to cantor the rest, but that piece just triggers an aesthetic and spiritual gag reflex. If that is going to cause a problem, you may want to switch cantors.

I had nothing to do with her decision, but I definitely have the same reaction. This should be retitled "Hymn to Self-Absorbed Baby Boomers." I do not come to church to celebrate myself.

I, thinking I ought to say something for myself, then wrote to the conductor, saying:

Dad has it right. I'm perfectly okay and willing to do everything else (including the annoying little speech before the beginning of Mass), but my tolerance for self-worship runs out right here. If asked about my refusal, you can tell whoever that I say "There's something obscene about communal musical masturbation, and I refuse to have any part of it anywhere, much less in a church where we're supposed to be worshipping God, not ourselves."

Yes, I feel pretty strongly about this. I don't really consider myself very conservative when it comes to religious matters, but that doesn't mean I don't take my faith seriously. This . . . drivel is insulting enough as a "song", without the lyrics. Kum-ba-yah is literally more sacred, since it's at least supposed to be a sorta-prayer.

Hell, I know Linkin Park and Korn lyrics that are more reverent.

And that's saying something. [Especially when it's a soprano complaining about something being too self-centered. I mean, really. . . ]

I think that sums up my feelings on the matter pretty well. The pastor also knows my issues with the song since at one point I said to Kat, quite loudly in his hearing, that I would rather shove knitting needles through my eyes than lead the congregation in this . . . thing. This is not a prayer, nor a hymn. Prayers are addressed to God, hymns are either addressed to God or are primarily about God. This little ditty is about Us, We, and how marvelous we are.

Look, I know Pride. I'm a trained soprano (and a one-time fencer)-- pride is my middle name. I know narcissism when I see it, and this thing reeks of it. This is about as far from Humility as it gets, and to be honest, everytime I look at the music for this I hear chuckling from deep beneath my feet. Yes, Somebody Else knows these lyrics very well . . .

I was lucky this past Sunday that certain minders were not around and the organist, well aware of my intense dislike for the song, let me skip it. But if it is decided that this will be enforced, they'll have one less cantor on the roster.

Gah! Let's cleanse our mental palate with something truly Good and Sacred. Mmmm, Mozart!

PS: Here's Kat's take on the whole mess.

PPS: An article on Church Music for those interested.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Today is officially the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, only one of my favorite days of the year. To say something that will make people think I'm far more conservative than I really am. . . I'm pretty old school about this. Once upon a time, this was simply Michaelmas, the Feast of St. Michael the archangel, while Sts. Gabriel and Raphael had their own days (March 24 and October 24 respectively). They've all been lumped together on this day, now but . . . I really do prefer a separate day for each for two reasons: 1) I think that we should get to know each of these angels as individuals and poor Raphael sometimes gets overshadowed by his more well known siblings and 2) I have a mad, long-term crush on Michael.

Yes, I know, I'm a fan-girl for a lot of things: anime, Jesuits, Firefly, nuns in habits, Jesus, etc. . . but, if you asked me who my number one was, it would be (naturally) God. Number two, though, would definitely be Michael.

I'm sure most of you reading this know the legend of how back at the beginning of time, Michael was instrumental in kicking the rebellious Satan out of heaven. This is, as you know, where he got his name, when he cried out (in the midst of kicking Satan's butt) "Who is like God?!", which, in Hebrew, comes out M'chael.

A lot of other traditions and legends have arisen since then about Michael, and I think today would be a good day to share some of these. . .

Jewish legend (referenced in Jude 1:8) holds that Michael and Satan met up again at the death of Moses, and quarreled over the patriarch's body (Satan contended that Moses was a murderer and not worthy of burial). Jude says of this "Not even the archangel Michael, when he was engaged in argument with the devil about the corpse of Moses, dared to denounce him with the language of abuse; all he said was, 'May the Lord rebuke you.'" *Sigh* A warrior and a gentleman. Goodness knows that if I had been in Michael's position, I would have fallen prey to my sometimes over active tongue, staring out with "Ah, go to hell ya blankety blank blank blankety blank!"

One of my favorites is one I actually heard in New Orleans, that says that blackberries are special to Michael because, when Satan fell, he fell through Earth, and over the hole left by his passage, a blackberry bush grew up to ensure that he didn't try to return the way he came (if you've ever picked blackberries, you understand why this might be considered a deterrent). This seems to be a variant of an old Irish tale that says that Satan landed on a blackberry bramble when he fell, and returns every year to spit upon the plant that caused him so much pain. For this reason, all the blackberries had to be harvested by Michaelmas, or else they'd be inedible after. So, eating a nice dessert involving blackberries would be a good way to celebrate the day.

Various sites are recognized for a connection with the angel, such as Mont St. Michel off the coast of Normandy, the Michaelion in Constantinople, Monte Gargano in Italy, St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall, Eusebios in Constantinople, and Chonae in Phrygia. These latter two are notable for showincasing Michael's healing abilities, Chonae especially for it's springs which legend says Michael had a hand in bringing forth.

Michael is considered the defender of the Church and of Christians, and protector against all evil. This is why when Pope Leo XIII had his vision regarding the (at the time, yet to happen) 20th century, he wrote the now popular prayer:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle;
be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God,
cast into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits,
who wander throughout the world,
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Another, more involved prayer is the Chaplet of St. Michael, found here with some other Michaeline devotions.

Here's the prayer set to music (well, kinds), as found on YouTube:

Also, appropriate for today, an old fashioned book-burning over at Kat's place. She's cleaning out her library of things she doesn't want around anymore, but does not feel right about letting others be exposed to, so go ever, and see what you'd like to help rid the world of.