Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fragmentation = Oblivion

The intrepid and amazing Father Z. has a report on his blog about an interview wit Cardinal Arinze about the new typical edition of the Roman Missal. In the interview the cardinal makes this comment (Fr. Z's translation):
Effectively, it was preferred that these two Eucharistic prayers not be considered obligatory for the whole Church. Perhaps it is not then so necessary to have Eucharistic prayers just for children. This said, if there are conferences of bishops who want to maintain them, they can do so in national missals.

So this begs the point (as I commented over at Father Z's that if the Bishops' conferences can include prayers on their own, why even bother with a "Typical Edition of the Roman Missal"??? It would be a LOT more efficient to simply let the Bishops' conferences each make up their own missals!! That would eliminate any problems with translation, since these would, naturally, be in the vernacular from the get-go. And it would also eliminate all the ongoing angst over "inculturation". The inculturation would be built right in to the "Local Missal"!!!! If west African worship tradition includes drums and dancing, then so be it! Or Mauri warriors in New Zealand, if they so desire. And of course in northern Europe, they wouldn't need a missal at all, since no one goes to church in the first place - think of all the trees that alone would save!!! Everyone is Happy!!!! We can all revel in our catholic diversity!!!!!

But.... what about differences WITHIN each Bishops' conference? Using the United States as an example, I dare say that the "local mass" in southern California needs to be different than the "local mass" here in North Carolina (proud part of The Bible Belt). Bishop Mahony may want liturgical dance at all Sunday masses, whereas Bishop Jugis (my Bishop here in the Charlotte Diocese) has forbidden it. And what is considered reverent, appropriate speech in SoCal would no doubt be drastically different from that here in The South, where people still address each other as "Sir", and "Ma'am". So in order to be properly incultured, EACH DIOCESE would really need there own re-write of the "local missal" and its rubrics.

But Wait! There's More.... As we all know, WITHIN each Diocese there is often a drastic difference in tradition and praxis. Even now, within my own diocese, the "typical practice" ranges from very "relaxed" to very much by-the-book Novus Ordo often with a little Latin mixed. So essentially each PARISH should have their own Re-Write of their dioscean missal.

Given the above scenario, it would take but a few years before a Catholic church in Los Angeles, California would be unrecognizable to a Catholic from North Carolina. And who could imagine the difference between a Congolese mass and one in New York, NY, USA!!!! God Knows things are bad enough even now, where there is at least the intention of using a universal missal. With that intention no longer present, things will fly apart pretty quickly.

Folks, this is madness. Either we are a universal church, or we are not. If we ARE, then we need to act like it, and eliminate ALL differences between the missals. There should be ONE UNIVERSAL MISSAL for the ONE UNIVERSAL CHURCH. These are trying times, and are going to get far far more trying. We need to have more in common and less diversity because we are going to need the bonding and the internal support and strength that only that universal bonding can provide.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Little Latin

Sunday past, at my "home church" we were treated to a beautiful, reverent mass - as always. But this time, it included a sung Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei - in latin.

Amazing how that can affect the tone of the mass. How I wish there would be more of the same. Perhaps a sung Pater Noster in latin for starters. Who knows, it might discourage hand-holding!

Sadly, it will all probably disappear after Advent and until Lent...

It's the economy, stupid....

That famous line from the 1992 presidential campaign is what made Bill Clinton the 42nd President of the United States. The line consitutes a more modern and sophisticated version of Nixon's old line that "elections are determined by the price of pork bellies in Chicago". The economy is the foundation of every aspect of our power and identity as a nation - and our ability to continue to exist as one. If the economy is good, most everything else will fall into place. If it isn't - nothing else matters.

Today, as I have for the last few weeks (thanks to the weakness in said economy) I had the opportunity to watch as the Dow Jones plummeted even as Treasury Secretary Paulson was offering his rote assurancees that everything was under control and it would all be fine. I believe that it is worthy of note that the markets tank nearly every time he, or any other government official speaks. Perhaps it's because the very fact that they are speaking about the subject means that it is still a problem which is out of control.

There is an old saying that goes "when your only took is a hammer, pretty soon all your problems start to look like nails". Seeing Paulson, Bernanke, et al speak now is a sad and loud and garish real-world expression of that old proverb. They have cut interest rates and pumped billions of dollars into the oconomy, and each time it has had essentially zero affect. So, the answer - to them - is to cut more and pump more. And they will continue to do so until they can pump no more.

That is because the fundamental problem in the market - mark-to-market valuation - is was, and always shall be a lie. For years Wall Street has been operating under the assumption that any asset's value is determined solely on what one can theoretically sell it for. A good principle, but one with limitations. It only works if the buyers are well informed and make good decisions. There really is such a thing as intrinsic value. Just because some idiot somewhere pays $50,000 for a Toyota Corolla DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVERY OTHER COROLLA IS INSTANTLY WORTH $50,000. And now, sadly, the United States Government is in the position of having to pay (figuratively) $50,000 for a lot of Corollas while simultaneously trying to convince everyone else in the market that every other Corolla is a $50,000 car - and people are not that stupid. Not any more. And sooner or later they are going to hit the wall and lose their abnility to buy any more Corollas. People know that, and no amout of bluster on the part of Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, or anyone else is going to change that.

It is sad and frustrating and heartbreaking to watch this happen. To watch a great nation essentialy come unraveled because of the greed and hubris of a handful of elite business and government leaders.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

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Available as of 12 November, 2008.

If interested please contact the owner of this blog...

If not, please pray for same.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am sadly reminded today of my favorite John Wayne line, from Big Jake. After his estranged wife makes a fateful (and dangerous) decision, she asks for his input, to which The Duke replies:

"You decided alone. Now live it alone"

Today is sad not so much because of the fatefully bad, and horrendously uninformed decision that the electorate of this great country made yesterday - though it is horrile on so many different levels. It is sad because the idiots who elected Barack Obama will NOT have to "live it alone". The rest of us will have to live it right along with them.

It leaves me feeling like a rear-seat passenger in the car of a 16-year old who has had his license all of 4 days and is driving at high speed, at night, in the rain, in heavy traffic. You know how it is going to end up - a horrible, violent, deadly crash. But all you can do is cinch down your seat belt and hope you survive.

Or, to quote one more movie line:

"This is the kind of situation where something bad happens".

Monday, October 20, 2008

Political Prescience.. or I Was Right

Way back in January, when there was still a whole gaggle of presidential candidates (from both parties) I felt that there was one guy and ONLY one guy, of the Republican group that group that had more than a snowball's chance in hell of actually winning in November. He had a way of connecting and a way of understanding the real people out there who make the country work. Sadly, he was sneered at (not one of the chattering class), pigeonholed (a nasty horrible bible-thumper), and wrongly defined by the "conservative" base as a closet Democrat. The (save for McCain, who was at least respectful) republican cognoscenti just couldn't suffer such a rube.

And above all, he had the AUDACITY to believe that the aforesaid real people knew what was actually HAPPENING in the economy. This served them as confirmation the he was truly clueless, because all of their friends said the economy was GREAT!!!!

Witness this exchange in the Republican debate from January 28th:

But let's look at those economic issues. A few months ago, when we were all in Dearborn, Michigan, your network was the sponsor with CNBC and MSNBC, and every one of us were asked, "How's the economy doing?" every one of my colleagues said, "It's doing great," and they gave all the numbers.

When they came to me, I know people acted like I was the only guy at the U.N. without a headset that night. But the truth is, I was the only guy on that stage who said it may be doing great if you're at the top. But if you talk to the people at the bottom of the economy, the people who are handling the bags, the people who are serving the food, you get a very different picture, because their health care costs are up dramatically.

The cost to educate their children are up. And the cost of their fuel has way outstripped any wage increase they've had.

Now, often we hear people talk about trickle-down economics, that if you have a wonderful surge in the economy that it eventually works it way down to all sectors. But there's another issue, too: there is a trickle-up impact when the economy begins to go sour. And if you pay attention to the people who are the single moms and the working people who barely get from paycheck to paycheck, you'd find out months in advance that this economy was headed for a downward turn. And that's what I think people need in the president, is somebody who understands the totality of the American family and not just the folks at the top.

Governor Mike Huckabee doesn't sound like a rube anymore, does he?????

Mass, Vacation, Etc...

I had the RARE pleasure of going on "vacation" last month. Vacation being 4 days at the beach, but it was (literally) the nicest four days of my life. The weather was perfect, the place was perfect, the kids were perfect... Absolutely amazing that it all worked out. Made all the sweeter by the fact that we had not had a break AT ALL in about four years. Every waking moment of every day since August of 2004 was either at work or taking care of the kids/house. My wife and I hired a babysitter once to go to the MEF Mass at Our Lady of Grace (3 hours), and once for dinner (3 hours).

From Friday morning until the following Wednesday morning, I didn't read the paper, or see or hear the news at all. A self-imposed news blackout which made for a blessedly peaceful weekend. Call it blissful ignorance if you'd like, but it worked.
In spite of all of the stress and economic doomsaying that has happened since, it hasn't gotten me down like it did before. I watch with interest and fascination, but with no personal anxiety whatsoever. Amazing what the human brain can cope with once you give it a chance to recover !!!

Mass was fascinating, though! As you see, I don't travel much and rarely if ever get to see mass outside of my home church and the aforementioned OLG. So Saturday evening, my wife, mother-in-law, myself, and the powerpuff girls attended a "bi-lingual" mass, at Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel. Needless to say "bi-lingual" meant it was nearly all in Spanish, but with an obviously non-spanish speaking priest, there were some oddities. The opening prayer was in English, but virtually everything else was in Spanish save for a few words here and there. The Gospel was read in Spanish, by a nun. Something I had never seen before. The homlily was in English, but interpreted real-time. The eucharistic prayer was English, but everything else from that point on was spanish, and led either by the same nun or another lay person.

All that said, the mass was WONDERFUL. There were altar boys, reverent and precise. And even all of the lay participants were reverent, precise and well practiced. The congregation was so young, so passionate and reverent and there were kids EVERYWHERE. I was more comfortable there than at my home church. The ushers gave out a very detailed spanish-english handout of all of the prayers and hymns, in order, which was very easy to follow. Allowing me to sing and pray along in spanish* with no trouble at all, though I know little spanish beyond what one hears on Dora the Explorer.

I want to go back....

* At the risk of sounding conceited, I have a gift of being able, with very little practice, to pronounce a foreign language for the most part as a native speaker. Naturally, "sight reading" in a foreign language has its limitations, but for the purpose of participating in mass, it works great.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Coming Soon.....

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth sometimes hurts. I am not trying to be a doomsayer, just trying to warn the readers of this blog to get ready, or rather get as ready as you can. Not eveyone is in as volatile and vulnerable an industry as I am, but in the long run, that won't matter a whit. It may take a while until it gets to you, but it will get you eventually.

AND NOW, I ask my faithful audience to pray fervently that I am absolutely and completely wrong....

Meltdown.... procrastinated

Well, we have been watching intently the last six days (or more) as the house of smoke, mirrors, and paper that is the world of Wall Street unravels and collapses before our eyes. Comparisons to the 1930's, to the Resolution Trust Corporation, to the 1970's, etc., etc., etc. abound. They are all fundamentally flawed and fundamentally inadequate to describe the mess in which we find ourselves.

Fundamentally flawed because the crash of confidence that was behind all of the aforementioned crises was a crash in the confidence of the value of REAL THINGS. To be sure, there was speculation, and prices collapsed, and the financial system froze up as a result, but still, behind all the speculation, there were real things, of real value. So, no matter how bad things got, everyone in the system knew that they would be holding a real asset with some non-zero value - or paper backed by the same. The promise of value did not constitute value in and of itself. And even when there were not real assets to back up a promise of future value (bonds, paper, etc.), the lender of funds was compelled by self interest to insure that the expectation of future value was realistic and believable. This "crisis" is a crisis of confidence in the value of paper assets that have, essentially, no value at all. Zero. SO... Like musical chairs, whoever winds upholding them at the end loses EVERYTHING.

Of course there was also a time, not long ago, when real value was thought to be an integral component of value itself. And real businesses, which produced real products, were considered honorable and desirable and respectable. Now, the "Captains of Industry" (Carnegie, Ford, DuPont, etc) i.e., those who actually MADE things, have been replaced by the "Masters of the Universe", a comic-book sounding term used to describe the current batch of disgraceful bastards on Wall Street who bring to the table not any real productivity, but rather the self-inflated ability to pass worthless assets back and forth, inflating their value with each transaction, all to line their own pockets and scam the poor dumb bastards down below who operate under the pathetic belief that the price you pay for something has some connection to it's real value.

Think of it this way.... Say, for instance, I were to go into the woods to answer natures call, and find an expired (and losing) lottery ticket. An absolutely worthless piece of paper. BUT.... being unscrupulous and enterprising person, I find a gullible looking man o the street, and tell him that the ticket is a five-dollar winner, but if he will give me two-fifty for it, he can cash it in later for five. He, being gullible, believes me, and give me the two-fifty in cash. Then, he decides to "improve his position" and finds another person, tells him that the ticket is a $25 winner, but sells it to him for $12.50 cash, thus more than doubling his money, This happens two more times, and someone will be holding what they think is a $200 ticket, which is essentially and truly worthless. But then, the word gets out.... the lottery ticket that's being pedaled on "the street" is worthless, and all of a sudden, the holder of the ticket can't find a buyer. He's out $100, but he claims to be out $200! Because the ticket is "on his books" as a $200 asset. That is where we are today in the financial markets, except, of course that, instead of gullible street people, we have the "masters of the universe" and instead of two hundred bucks, we are dealing with trillions of them.

That is where we are until last week, that is. Last week, the United States Government agreed to come in and essentially buy the worthless ticket for some price, say.... $50. Which means that we, the taxpayers, just essentially gave away $50 - plain and simple. It also means that "traders" (we used to call them dumbasses) made a hundred bucks ($2.50+$10.00+$12.50+$25.00+50.00) trading worthless paper. And all the while the $100-paying dumbass is squealing about losing fifty bucks. Gotta Love that. He was stupid enough to pay $100 for a worthless piece of paper, knowing full well it was worthless, because he thought he could find another sucker. And now, that hubris, that moral bankruptcy, is supposed to be my fault, and I AM SUPPOSED TO BAIL HIM OUT!!!! Making certain, of course, that his billion-dollar personal wealth remains intact.

The comparisons are inadequate because nothing in the history of the modern financial system comes anywhere near the scale of this crisis. The numbers are unimaginable. So much money that, if all of the governments in all the world poured cash into the system, there would still be more worthless paper than there would be cash.

It is for these reasons that, no matter what the consequences, the inpending "bail-out" is a disaster in progress. NOT a disaster waiting to happen, but a REAL disaster unfolding before our eyes. It made a big splash two days ago, but it is doomed to fail. There is simply no way to make it big enough to make a real difference. Sooner or later - more likely sooner - within weeks, that is, the whole thing will crash. The numbers say it has to. The emperor has no clothes, and everybody knows it now. The fact that the government is trying to convince us otherwise doesn't change that de-facto nakedness. That is why they should have done nothing.... Nothing for Bear Stearns, nothing for Fannie or Freddie, nothing for AIG, nothing for all of them. If the Dow falls to 6000, then so be it. That is where it belonged the whole time. Let it fall, let it crash, let it bottom, and then, once things have assumed their REAL value, start to build it back. Build it back based on reality, not on pure bullshit paper. It will be rough, yes, but sounder in the long run.

BUT NOW the government (or central banks) has "shot their load", when it DOES crash, not only will it be worse, but the only refuge, the last resort of government assistance will be gone. So we will have the 1930's without "relief". People will be broke, and broken, and hungry, and there will literally be nowhere to turn.

And when THAT happens, it is going to get ugly. Very ugly, very fast. So get ready. It's going to be a long, cold winter....

May God help us...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Life Goes On - Updated

It has been nearly a month since I last posted. Wow... Based on all of the twists and turns of the world since then, not to mention those in my life personally, that is no surprise. It seems, having blogged for a couple of years now, and read blogs for a bit longer than that, that there are some people who take the stress in their lives and turn it into something of a muse-fountain and turn up the blog output as a result.

I am not one of them. I take stress, and turn it inward, and lose most - if not all - my inspiration. I think of PLENTY of things that I want to say, but cannot for the life of me figure out how to say them. So they just sit. And fester.

For example, a bit over two weeks ago, I was told that the following Wednesday (Sept 3rd) that our company would be laying off a large number of people. I spent five days wondering if I was on that list. Well, Wednesday came, and I was not. But I did get a 20% pay / hour cut, as did all of the remaining folks. A tough thing to handle, but not as tough as 100%. My thoughts and prayers are with those on the list. And with those of us whose fate - barring a serious upturn in the economy - is destined to be the same in a few months. I should be "secure" until about Christmas, at least. And I use the word "secure" very very lightly.

Anyway. So goes life. I don't want to sound whiny. Just want to explain the situation. I know it's a long way from "Brother can you spare a Dime", but it does weigh on the mind when you have the mouths to feed that I do.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Bear Ad

It is considered one of the most effective political ads of all time:

And in the light of current events, a suddenly relevant one.

Red Storm Rising

Since I first read it, a few months after it was first released in 1986, I have thought that Red Storm Rising is far and away the most thrilling novel of all time. I have, since then, re-read it several times, and have enjoyed each reading as much as the first. For what it's worth, and without spoiling the book for those who have yet to read it, the story is about an invasion of Soviet forces into western europe. It was noteworthy at the time insofar as it was thrillingly technically detailed, and it involved the one plot line that was unthinkable at the time - that the US and the USSR could go to war and it NOT escalate into a nuclear conflict.

Then, in a discussion with my wonderful wife some three weeks ago (I have been after her to read this book for some 16 years) I made a comment to the effect of "who cares anyway, it's a cold-war book about a cold-war that no longer exists. More like history than a thriller.."

Well, events have given lie to that statement. The Russian invasion of Georgia a few weeks ago made sure of one thing. The Bear is Back. If it ever really left, that is.

Reflecting on current events a few nights ago, my wonderful wife said "what was it you said about Red Strom Rising being history???
If you haven't read the book, do so. It is a great read, different than Tom Clancy's other fare, especially in the absence of Jack Ryan, his main hero character. And it may not be as spookily prescient as Futility (or at least I hope not)but it will give you some idea of what The Bear is all about.

Just Because

This has to be one of the least flattering pictures of me ever, but, It was a proud time. Exhausting, but proud. So, why not....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


YEARS AGO I came up with one of my rules-of-thumb for life. It was based on many years of careful observation, and has served me well over the years. It stated, simply, "Never trust a man who wears flip-flops."

It is important to note the gender-related factor here - women go by a different set of rules when it comes to footwear (that's fodder for another post). And there is the factor of context - beach or poolside use.

But by and large, my rule has served me well over the years. Naturally, there are exceptions - a former client who was nicknamed "flip-flop". Flip Flop was in fact a great guy and fantastic client. In fact, he stands out as the one true exception that comes to mind.

Though times and styles may change, some basic principals are timeless. And one of these is that ones attire (footwear or otherwise) should render one ready to do at least some productive activity. Flip-flops, by their nature, scream BEACH PARTY, and are more appropriate for spring break and a keg than for any real productive work. Any footwear that does not attach securely to one's feet is wholly unsuited to productive activity. (Sandals, by comparison, are pretty handy and comfortable and offer all of the comfort of flip-flops without any of the slackiness. Or the annoying sound effects.)

I also know that for the gen X or Y er, that these ubiquitous but annoying contraptions are considered to render them ready for "work". The only problem being that work for them is seen as some activity for which they are paid large sums of money based entirely on the fact that they managed to land a job as a computer geek or something. Thus rendering themselves worthy of such rewards even though their chief accomplishment in life is the total lack of accomplishment - he looks like a slacker-geek, therefore he must be BRILLIANT!!! God forbid someone should hire a 30-year old! Everyone knows that "these kids are soooo smart nowadays"!!

And lest we forget (or you haven't noticed) most peoples feet are just ugly as hell. No two ways about it. I don't really want to see that. Nobody does. Add to that the aforemetioned annoying sound effect, and the only conclusion possible is that the flip-flopping of our nation must stop NOW!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Coming Soon (maybe) to a Parish Near You!!!!

Fathers' day weekend, combined with two birthday parties, kept me off line for the better part of three days. And what happenings is such a short time! First I saw on Sancte Pater blog a post that said, to my amazement that Card. Castrillon Hoyos had said that the Extrarodinary Form of the Mass, which he referred to as "The Gregorian Rite", should be offered in ALL parishes. He unmistakably said "not many - all." I nearly jumped out of my chair. Wow.
I re-read it again and again, just to be sure what I had seen. Then the amazing Father Z. posted it on his blog, and so it spread.

Now, as if to confirm, the CNS has posted this:

Pope would like Tridentine Mass in each Parish, Vatican official says.

Not that that was required to make it true, but to see it written so clearly in such a "progressive" but well accepted forum gives it all the more impact. The statement can no longer be discounted as a rumor in the rad-trad blogosphere. And once it gets out in the various dioscean papers, it will spark even more interest, and even more reaction, both positive and negative. Keeping in mind, of course, that the vast majority of Catholics have no idea that Summorum Pontificum exists, or even if the do, know little about what it means in terms of the future of Catholic Identity and the Catholic Church as a whole.

So, the die is cast, the gauntlet thrown, and the game afoot, etc, etc. We are on a journey now, the church that is! And nobody knows where it will end. Or, as the old song says, "nobody knows but Jesus".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An Anti Latin Tirade

Last Sunday, mass was said, to my surprise, by our retired pastor, our regular one being on vacation this week. Now allow me to say that I absolutely love this man. He is the one who brought me back into the faith, and his homiletics and loving, caring, strong pastoral care are almost beyond belief. To borrow a line from a Dan Fogelberg song - "a thundering velvet hand" - is the best way to describe him. When he hobbled down the aisle, tears came to my eyes.

THEN..... The Homily.... First, he reflected on the readings, telling how the Mass doesn't belong to the people, but to the Church, and it must be respected as such. Then, after a pause, he stated how there are "some young priests" in the diocese who want to bring back the Latin Mass. And added that you don't see any of us "old timers" wanting to go back to that!! This is all young people! (emphasis mine) This led into a long speech about how much better it was since "Vatican II clearly stated - Mass in the vernacular!!! (emphasis his) Then, after a bit of critique of the old mass, he pointed out, correctly, that a priest - any priest - can say the mass we use today, that is the mass of Paul VI, in Latin, whenever they want to. He even explained that it was in the sacramentary. Gradually, this progressed into a sort of admission that there had been a lot of abuses, "priests doing crazy things", but the solution wasn't Latin.

The whole thing was, while not a surprise, a sort of complete non-sequitur with the rest of his personality and attitude. I find myself amazed at how a priest with that amazing depth of knowledge and reverence could be so absolutely foursquare against both Latin and the old mass.

And I wonder...

Is he just that totally sold on the infallibility of the reforms he lived through and implemented?

Or is he right?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Powerpuff Girls

Blossom, Commander and the Leader
Bubbles, she's the joy and the laughter
Buttercup, she's the toughest fighter
Powerpuffs save the day!!!

(Note: this post has not a thing to do with the mass or the catholic church, it's just a Father bragging.)

I am blessed enough to have not only a beautiful wife, but three beautiful children. A friend of my wifes once said, "Oh, just like the Powerpuff Girls!!!" And she (unknowingly) hit it right on the head. Allow me to explain...

First, we have soon to be six year old "Blossom" (see middle character above) - though I call her princess. Since an incredibly early age she has been creative, intellectual, and always wanting to direct things. When we play she says things like "you stand here, and say___" She still is that way. Only now she spends as much time "mothering" and teaching her little sisters as she does telling me how to play. Definitely the Commander and the Leader! Daddy already has her pegged to be a nun - or more of a Mother Superior.

Second comes three year old "Buttercup" (on the right above), whom I nicknamed "Wild Thing". Strong willed, strong physically, VERY physical, and absolutely fearless. And with a pain threshold almost beyond belief. Since she was about 6 months old we called her "the bowling ball", based on her seeming indestructibility and penchant for ramming in to and knocking over things. The toughest fighter indeed!!!! I can easily see her, wearing a flight suit, helmet in hand, on the deck of an aircraft carrier, climbing into the cockpit of an F-18.

Third comes "Bubbles" (on the left above) - nickname "Cherry Pie". She's beautiful beyond all reason. Never seen a child smile and laugh so much. Of course now that she is almost two, the smile and laugh times are contrasted sharply with the insufferably moody ones, but she is still a sweetheart most of the time. I can't imagine the exact career choice for this one, but her love of dancing and music, combined with her looks, means that all of the ones I do imagine scare the heck out of me. Maybe I'll get lucky and she'll be the next Danica Patrick, on the cover of Sports Illustrated with good reason, and good looks, rather than just the latter.

Or maybe I am just a crazy dad with crazy ideas for his girls....

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The 1962 Missal - Hazard warning...

Recently, there have been some word from Rome (via the person on Card. Castrillon Hoyos) that the Holy Father wants to see the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (MEF) celebrated at least weekly in every parish in the Roman Catholic World. Needless to say I think that this is a WONDERFUL Idea!!! How to effect that change is another matter entirely. The MEF is supposed to be part of the "fabric of the church" . It cannot be, and will never be, such if it is limited to a few masses in a few churches, attended by MEF "enthusiasts" who travel to these masses exclusively. I understand how important the MEF is, and why one would want to abandon everyday parish life to experience the beauty and reverence it offers, and so I do not mean to disrespect those who are doing this very thing already. But if the MEF is to be the key to the restoration of the church, it simply MUST NOT be allowed to fall (in reality or perception) into the realm of a liturgical Grateful Dead Tour, complete with a following of chanting, latin-loving "deadheads".

This potential was noted quite eloquently by Fr. George William Rutler in an interview with the New Liturgical Movement:

" Unless the usus antiquior is more widely available, it could end up being the exotic indulgence of few for whom it can function as a symbol of other problems they have with the Church and with life in general. Quite simply if it is not centric it will be eccentric and will give the impression that it is for people who do not want to face the challenges of our age. When the usus antiquior is rare, it attracts the rara avis type of person who discourages others..." .

The entire interview is on the NLM blog, and I recommend it highly.

But the point is well taken. If the MEF is able to be pigeonholed into a special category - for Latin mass speciallist only, we are doomed. The traditional mass MUST be gotten into as many parishes as possible and quickly. Every week, or month of delay allows the perception to sink in that those who appreciate the older mass are simply cranks who hold desperately to the past. The opponents - no enemies - of the 1962 missal, and Summorum Pontificum are already using this tactic as the main thrust of their opposition, so it must be cut off quickly, or else the vast majority of Catholics worldwide will see the 1962 missal - and reverence - and Latin - and Catholic identity, as something that doesn't apply to them. And never will.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Liturgical Thoughts, Part II

ONCE upon a time at a sales training class I took, the instructor (a quite successful race-car driver turned consultant) used a true, but politically incorrect saying:
"They say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but that's really not true. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but if you put him back in the same yard, he is going to poop in the same spot". The point being that training and seminars and books can teach you the right thing to do, but unless your environment changes, you are doomed to revert to the same old routines.

And so it goes with the liturgy. No amount of Papal suggestions, no books, no amount of training or retreats, will address the liturgical doldrums we are in unless something fundamental breaks the cycle. That is something that can only be done from the top down, and only with care and deliberate movement on the part of the Church. Certainly there are a quite a few priests, such as Father Longenecker who, along with his Pastor are taking the initiative to bring their own parishes liturgy around to something reverent and impressive, but they are the exception. For every one of them there are 9 who will not do it even if they think it is right, either from an aversion to parishoner complaints, or a fear of retribution from the hierarchy. And excepted from both categories are those who don't think anything is wrong with slouchmasses to begin with. Just as there are many who like Haugen/Hass/Schutte music, there are (usually the same) people who think that the liturgy is just fine the way it is.

So then, where to start? What changes can be clearly mandated in a non-fudgeable way to start the ball rolling toward the reverent liturgy that is both proper and needed? Anything that says "should" is right out. To say something like "Priests must assure that the mass is celebrated with the proper reverence" is meaningless. There must be some outward and visible and unmistakable change that grabs both the clergy and the laity by the collar and says "look here". At the same time, one can't just slam too many changes in at once, lest they both be rejected or ignored. And more importantly, while by definition this must happen from the top down, it cannot be just proclaimed and dropped.

The path to follow is clear. There are only two possibilities. Both practical, both critical, and both more or less easy to initiate.
The first must-do is to get rid of, as quickly as possible, every table altar in the every Catholic church in the world. There are some places where this will take some time and some money, but there are probably just as many (at least in the US and Europe) where the old high altar remains and the "reconversion" would take, say, 5 minutes. The change will be a bit shocking to the laity, but with a bit of catachesis, they'll adapt, and soon they will understand. And then they will believe.

The other possibility is that of re-instituting communion on the tongue while kneeling. There is simply no substitute for the feeling of being on your knees before the lord, opening up your mouth and accepting him into your person. The feeling of complete submission is simply indescribable. Since my sincerely believe that our fundamental problem with the modern liturgy is one of pride, kneeling in submission would go a long way towards dispelling the pride and restoring the submission. Something we all - including myself - desperately need.

So there are the two keys to the restoration of God's Church. THe question is, who is willing to take up those keys, and unlock the gate to the kingdom of heaven. A gate which was slammed shut decades ago by the self-absorbed "reformers" of the 1960's.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Liturgical Thoughts and Time Travel

I spent some time this evening watching my DVRed version of The Eternal Gift, which is the film of the celebration of the Easter Sunday mass at Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago, circa 1940 (youtube version here). I recorded it when it appeared on EWTN on the same day as the celebration of the Extraordinary Rite by the FSSP for the EWTN special. (FWIW, I recorded that mass too, but could only bring myself to watch it once all the way through, the incessant high-pitched nun-singing during the mass grated on my nerves - but I digress).

The film is scratchy black and white, and the audio flutters and wows, but I can still watch it and transport myself back in time to when it was happening. It is truly amazing to do and to feel. But one of the things that is unmistakable is how deeply people believed then. Sure there were no doubt some louts and philanders and what all in the congregation, just as there are today, but people by and large believed unhesitatingly. You can see in the faces - hear in the voices - such unadulterated and heartfelt joy and pleading and just raw emotion. Not in a pentecostal kind of way, but in a more sincere, reasoned, and true-believing way. The people were there talking to God in a way that one would talk to - say - a Judge on the Bench, or the President of the US, or the Holy Father. As if they were in a room with Greatness and Power, and had a chance to address the All Powerful One directly.

Absent completely is the careless off-handedness one sees today. The attitude of "ho-hum, gimme my host so I can get out of here" that is EVERYWHERE today in the Catholic Church. And I am not talking about some stupid puppet mass, I mean a properly celebrated by-the-book novus ordo mass. People plain and simple, don't CARE. I'm not questioning their fundamental beliefs or motives - God forbid I should do that - but their slouchy attitude. What I'm saying is, I know they believe something, or else they'd be at St. Mattress every Sunday morning, but it is not possible to reconcile their attitude and behavior with a sincere belief in and understanding of the sacrifice of the mass and the real presence of GOD HIMSELF in the tabernacle - or on the altar.

So what happened???? I know that society in general is rapidly deteriorating to the point where clean cargo shorts and t-shirts are considered "business attire". But is what we see representative of that decline? Or is it something different? Well, to use an inapproriate but telling business technique, let's check out the competition! In the more mainstream protestant churches, never (nearly) does one see men go to Sunday Service in anything but a suit, or at the very least a jacket and tie. But in OUR church, such attire is a rarity! At each mass there are a few suits, yes, but about 80% of the congregation looks like they are dressed for a round of golf, at best, or a Jimmy Buffet concert, at worst. In fact, here in the south, I have often heard people (protestants) point out that Catholics "wear anything" to church!

My Latin basically is nonexistent, consisting of one year at Page High School in '75, so I can't translate this. But, as the church, and Pope Benedict in particular says "as we pray, so we believe" (Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi), I would like to add "how we act and dress is how we believe". And I speak with personal experience. Looking Back over the years at my own behavior, there were times when I went to church in a ratty t-shirt, holey, dirty jeans, and old sneakers. Only now, with the clarity of hindsight, do I realize that those were the same times when I was just "going though the motions". It may be unfair or unreasonable to extrapolate that out to the Catholic world in general, but I don't think it is. I think it's the only logical choice.

The question for the ages is, how did we get here? And how do we get out? The first half is easy. We got here because we were put here. A whole generation of priests came out of Vatican II with the attitude of "Jesus is COOL man!!!" "He Loves you no matter what you wear". Combined with their own laissez-faire attitude toward reverence and respect, they dumbed us all down.

The answer to the second is harder, and it will be the topic of my next post....

Tune in again tomorrow!!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Meme-Tagged By The Cannonball!!

Write whatever comes to your mind about yourself.

1- blogging.
A Love-Hate relationship, in a way. I love doing it, but hate NOT doing it. The problem is that there are times when I just don't really have anything interesting or insightful to say. Then, the blog kind of dies and I feel guilty about it. On the other hand, sometimes I have occasion to look back at some posts from months before, and think "Wow, I wrote THAT". So, more than anything else, blogging has given me the opportunity to pound out some interesting thoughts that otherwise would have been lost in the noise-filled echo-chamber that is my brain nowadays.

2- writing.
Oh how I wish I could!!!!! I am told that I am a great storyteller, and I so wish that I had the ability to translate that to paper (or ether). My brain is full of so many interesting stories, mostly of the people I have worked with, and interesting things (at least to me) that I have had the chance to see and do. Since I read the first chapter of All Creatures Great and Small, I thought that it (and it's three companion volumes) was the greatest book ever written. I'm no James Herriott, but I think I might be able to make a few people laugh, or at least giggle.

3- art.
Art is beautiful. Art is beauty. It is all around us. Everywhere, it seems, except those places where "modern man" intentionally tries to create it. Art takes time, both to create and appreciate, maybe that's why it is so rare in our world any more. This is true in the Catholic Church in the extreme. It appears that any art found nowadays is cookie-cutter 1970 minimalist. It all ha the appearance of a conscious effort to be "cutting edge", the problem being that the style was about 8 years past "cutting edge" in 1970 when it became the catholic norm. But I suppose the boomer generation, secure in their knowledge that everything they do is by definition the ultimate achievement, is unable to learn that the world has moved on.

4- crazy dreams.
I have been known to have some wild ones, on rare occasions leading to physical action. One time, I had a dream about getting into a fight with my former employer, grabbed him by the collar of his jacket, and shook him while screaming "You Son of a Bitch" over and over. The dream ended when my panicked (and previosly sleeping wife woke me up, as I actually, in my sleep, had HER by the nightgown, shaking her and saying the same thing!!!

5- nuns.
I miss them so much. I went to catholic school toward the end of the "mean nun" era. I had a few hard cases, but most were kind, firm, guiding. My daughter is in Catholic school (a GOOD one), and it breaks my heart to see her there without the whole platoon of nuns around. There is a retired nun (a real one, in a real habit) who still often is at the school in the mornings, either to visit or to help out, I'm not sure, and her very PRESENCE on the school grounds changes the whole atmosphere of the place. And I pray - every day - that my daughters, or at least one of them, gets the call.

6- music.
Love to listen to it, love to sing it - LOUD. Damn near any kind. But I have to be careful - very careful - because it can define my mood and attitude. I can drive myself into a real depression by listening to to much melancholy music.

7- normalcy.
I always wanted to be "normal", but never have been. Nowadays, since normal seems to be defined as a herd of starbucks coffee sipping SUV driving pretentious yuppies, I no longer have the desire to be "normal". On the other hand, now that I live in a real subdivision, I find that I can't fire up the grill or mow the lawn without the Monkees' song Pleasant Valley Sunday coming into my head!

Thanks CC, for the Meme, and for waking me up. I needed that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Requiescat in Pace, Deke Dog

Yesterday, 21 April, 2008, marked the end of the road for the Dog who had been in my family since 1997, and whose picture, up until now, graced the right side of my blog.
He was a good old dog, was Deke, and didn't really seem too upset as the anaesthetic flowed and he passed away. I think he was just tired of the discomfort of the ever growing tumor in his abdomen. So, in a few seconds, it was over for the old guy.

Odd name for a dog - Deke. It was actually picked by my wife, based on the way we acquired him, suddenly and unexpectedly in March of '97. At that time, I worked as a manager of a local car dealer, and I went by the office one Friday afternoon (my bi-monthly day off) to get my paycheck. As I walked across the showroom, there was, sitting at one of the tables, a girl with a big black dog on a leash. I immediately said "Aww, a doooggg!" and went over to say hello. As I knelt down in front of him, and the dog gently reared up on his haunches and gently placed his front paws on my shoulders. Then the girl explained that it was her family dog, and she was taking it to the animal shelter, and had stopped to get an oil change on the way. It was a good dog, she said, but her neighbor was a kook and for a series of reasons, they had to get rid of the dog. A couple of quick begging calls to my wife later, the dog was in my truck and headed for home.

When we got home, she asked what was his name - it was "scratchy". Well, we wanted to rename him to make him ours. Since he had managed to essentially save his own life with minutes to spare, she suggested "Deke", based on the quote from my favorite test-pilot astronaut, "Deke" Slayton - "A test pilot in trouble doesn't think 'I've got 10 seconds until I crash', he thinks 'Hell, I've got ten seconds! I bet I can save this thing!'" I liked it, and it stuck.

He was an odd dog - silent - he only barked three times in the 11 years we had him. And loved LOVED to run - as long as it was away from me! We quickly learned to never let him off the leash, or he was g-o-n-e. And boy did he love food! The people kind, that is. And he was infinitely kind and affectionate with the kids. And me.

But now he has gone from this world, and I miss him badly.

Arrivederci, My Friend.

Monday, April 7, 2008

City - vs - Everywhere Else

(Note: This post may reveal some of my prejudices, but so be it.)

For as long as I can remember, I have been disgusted with the way the overwhelming majority of these United States are portrayed in the media. The Big Media centers of New York and Los Angeles are populated with people whose view of the nation is (understandably) prejudiced. They live in "The City", and eventually operate under the assumption that "The City" is the the country. Hence we get a media driven phenomenon like the doomed presidential campaign of Rudi Giuliani - "America's Mayor". He was a good guy who did a good job of running New York City - especially post 911, but he had not a snowballs chance in hell of translating that into the presidency. The rest of the country "out here" are not under the same illusion that "The City" is just like everywhere else in the US - a condensed melting pot so to speak. Then there is the accurate, telling and incredibly offensive term "flyover country" which the "cultured" media use to describe the vast majority of the United States where the "uncultured" rest of us live.

There is a fantastic blog which I have been following the past few months, written by an Irish family in an RV, traveling across the U.S. This morning, I read this post wherein this fine Irish gentleman contrasts the America he has found with the America as perceived in his homeland. It is a fascinating description from an outsider's perspective on the nature of the American people. Or at least the nature of the good citizens of flyover country.

I no sooner read this post that I blunder into this story about raising children in New York City. Apparently, having three children in "The City" is now considered to be a status symbol - a way of saying "look what I can afford". This amazing column not only tells us that some see having three (3) children in "The City" as elitist or selfish or unnecessary, but gives an interesting insight into what parental life is like for "In upscale urban areas and tony suburban enclaves". From $800 a week child care to $50,000 a year nannies to hauling children to squash (the game, not the food), it give a glimpse of how "the other half" lives. To be fair, the author is in no way bragging about these things, and is in fact trying to make them seem a bit absurd or over the top - which they are. But that doesn't change the fact that there is no way that someone who loves in that world can understand what life is like in my world.

So next time you hear someone on a network TV broadcast from New York tell about their life and their travails. Remember that, well meaning though they may be, their perspective is unavoidably different than yours.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

New Translation of Vatican II in the offing???

My faithful Google Alert sent me a link to a post on this blog by a retired priest in the UK. Included as part of this post about Cardinal Hoyos and the status of the SSPX is this little nugget:

Cardinal Levada the Holy Father's head of the Doctrine office has indicated he wants "new and authoritative translations of major council documents"

This is the first I have heard of this, and a quick Google search turned up no mention of it anywhere. I don't have the time or resources to investigate (I'm posting this during a 10 minute class break), but it sure seems like it would be worth looking into!
So I would hope that someone will read this and look into this possibility, because it is very very exciting to me, and I'm sure many others.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dignity... Always, Dignity

"Well, Dora, l've had one motto
which l've always lived by:

'Dignity. Always dignity. '

This was instilled in me by Mum and Dad
from the very beginning."

Gene Kelley, in the opening scene of Singin' in the Rain.

Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jeffers Schori

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I once knew a man, friend of my fathers', who used to say "I like nice things". He was a very successful businessman with a history of, shall we say brutal successes. One was considered luck if, having done a deal with him, one survived with the skin on his back - because the shirt was gone for sure. That combined with an almost shark like sense for businesses that were bleeding and weak - ripe for the kill, so to speak.. His explanation of his success was always simply "I like nice things". That was it. He liked nice things, and he was willing to do whatever it took to get them and keep them. That said he was very kind and generous to my father, and I will always be grateful for that.

Now here we are, as a culture, doing whatever it takes to get and keep "Nice Things". In itself, that isn't bad, of course. I like nice things too. The problem occurs when the acquisition of those nice things involves giving up too many other, important things. Like home and family.

I plead guilty here. I work way too much, and so does my wife. But for some reason, I don't have much in the way of "nice things" to show for it. I have a decent house in a decent neighborhood - no McMansion for sure. I drive a ten year old used minivan, and thank God for it, because there's no way I could afford to replace it! I look at our income, and am amazed at how it seems to evaporate. Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and say to hell with it all, pack the kids up in the van and just roll. To Montana or somewhere. I know that's not realistic, but DAMN. I just can't seem to see the way out. Perhaps there isn't one. Just keep my head down and keep paying off debts and wait to get out of the tunnel. I just hope I make it out of the tunnel in this lifetime!

How Stands the Empire???

SO WENT the last words of the late King George V. Or so the (apocryphal) story goes.

The question nowadays is more along the lines of "How Stands the Western World?". Well, for those of us who care, and are observant and not entranced and numbed by the indescribably vapid pop culture around us, the answer is obvious - it sucks. We live in a world where of people lead empty hedonistic self destructive lives. Examples are everywhere, form non-existent birth rates to drunken louts running amok to the worst offense of all - indifference. Indifference at the same time the culture is being overgrown by external forces hostile to the past 500 years of western heritage - here is a column from today about that very thing.

Well, fortunately, not everyone in a position of power is oblivious to what is happening. The Throne of Peter is currently occupied by one who not only sees what is going on, but who is so intellectually powerful that he has a plan to try to stop the bleeding - and re-win the battle. This aside from the fact that he has the Holy Spirit on his side - as well as at his side! Pope Benedict is a man on a mission. Not only that he is a man with a plan. Bit by bit we can see it being played out. And it is beautiful!

Today, browsing my usual blogs, I came across this post by my friend the Catholic Knight. Obviously he is onto the same thing. His Holiness sees a problem and he means to address it! A year ago, I had the feeling (as did many) that he was intending to derestrict the old mass the try to save keep the church from flying apart due to the lack of discipline and teaching and the liturgical free for all that had developed. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Now it is apparent that that was only a small small part of the plan.

Then, thanks to a "google alert", I got a link to this article which is saying some of the same things. Yes I know that it's from the followers of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, and I am in no way endorsing that, but that doesn't exclude it from being insightful and correct - albeit from a different perspective.

So, bit by bit the lines are being drawn. And the people are deciding on one side or the other. It's still somewhat at an embyonic stage - actually more of a 12-week fetal stage - but it is happening. Get ready, folks. It's gonna take a while, and it's gonna get rough.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I rarely blog about work, but today I'm pretty much maxed out. All In, as they say. Not that it doesn't come with the territory. Everyone in the surveying (or engineering) business deals with challenges - it's what we do. But sometimes the challenge is just so damn vexing and so annoying that it makes me want to pull my hair out.

The project I have opened in AutoCAD right now is one of those. Retracing two adjacent properties between which there is 10-15 feet of discrepancy. Along with the 16-20 foot discrepancies between "my" properties and the adjoining lots. Combined with (of course!!!) ambiguous deeds and plats, a road that has moved (without paper trail), and a deadline. Oh, and I am ALREADY over budget and behind schedule.



I eventually got the whole thing worked out, and produced a beautiful map for the client. As a result, he is planning on using our firm to do his site design and engineering work after he buys the property. So, in this case the pain in the arse yielded a feather in the cap!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Red Phone and The Scream

Four years ago, the Democratic Party seemed to have a nominee for the Presidency. He was intelligent, attractive, well-spoken, and experienced. He was the hand's down favorite of the core of the party. He was ahead in the polls going into the Iowa Caucuses. He had basically invented the idea of internet fund raising. And in retrospect he was the by-a-long-shot best candidate the party had to offer. Might even have made a damn good president. His name was Howard Dean.

Unfortunately, following a somewhat disappointing Iowa finish, he gave a concession speech which demolished his chances of winning. That because it ended with the famous red-faced manic scream - thereafter known as "The Dean Scream".

The reason it killed his campaign was simple (remember you saw it here first). As usual, the average man or woman picked up on it, while the elites in the press and politics were clueless. That thing known as common sense still exists out there. Just because the "political insiders" have scornfully sworn it off doesn't mean it has ceased to exist. Most common folk are immediately aware of the Emperor's lack of clothes.

Somewhere in the back of the minds of those common folk, they remember the football. They are aware, consciously or not, that the President of the United States is the man they are trusting to have his finger on "the button". And after seen the "Dean Scream" these common folk were not about to put anyone who appeared that unstable in charge of that awesome (and awful) responsibility.

Fast forward to 2008, and we find that Hillary Clinton, the poser of posers, has decided to play on those same instincts to try and derail the Obama Express. She has been running an ad (now famous) depicting her answering the phone in the White House at 3AM... The ad appears to be working to a limited extent, based on polling data anyway. We shall see the final results tonight! BUT the ad itself opens up a can of worms come November, where John McCain's astonishing experience make either Hillary or Obama look absolutely and hopelessly unprepared by comparison. He won't need to make a big deal out of it, or brag about it. His very existence carries with it the knowledge of his background and amazing story. Not just of his POW years, but since then both in the Navy and the senate. Yes, he's older, but old or not he is one tough son of a bitch. As the months wear on and November gets closer, people will start to think - really think - about that 3AM phone call, and I bet they'll like the thought of John McCain answering that phone a lot more than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What the Church can (and should) Learn from Mickey D's

Prior to the 1950's, when traveling across these United States, there was no way of predicting the quality and level of service for food or accomodations. At the same time, innovators like Kemmons Wilson and Ray Croc founders of Holiday Inn and McDonalds respectively, built huge empires based on the simple principle of consistency of service and product.

The concept was simple. People had really just begun traveling by automobile all over the country around that time, and Croc, for example knew that those people wanted to know that no matter where they went, when the walked in to a McDonald's, the burger and fries would be exactly the same as the ones they would get at any other McDonalds, any where. Similarly, Wilson knew that people looking for a place to lay their heads in a strange town wanted to know that the facility would be just the same any where.

These men were right. They became wildly successful as a result. And their methodology has been copied successfully over and over. That is because the fundamental principle is dead-on right. People want, or better yet NEED, to know that they can count on things.

Once upon a time, the Catholic Church was that way, too. One could walk into a Sunday Mass anywhere in the world, and know with very reasonable certainty what they would see and experience. Whether it was Seoul Korea or Seattle Washington, Warsaw, Poland or Wausau, Wisconsin - the mass was the same. This fact provided comfort to millions over the years. The Mass was The Mass.

Now, however, in our "enlightened" post Vatican II world, the mass in not only never, ever the same, it is often doubtful if it qualifies as a Mass at all! Priests feel "empowered" to change the words, the rubrics, even the theology according to their own personal whims. The result is that even in a modest sized city, one can find masses ranging from wide open Liberal Kumbaya-fests to pretty orthodox, by the book Novus Ordo celebrations. Here in my home City of Greensboro, NC we range from pretty much by-the-book Masses (two parishes), pretty good but some clapping and hand-holding (one parish), to no kneeling wide open Jesus Loves Me Can't We all Get Along Roman Protestantism.

Even architecturally, the Church is a mish-mash at best. Again in my city we have two older churches, one with the still awesome High Altar, the other much plainer and smaller, but still with the altar rail (but sadly the High Altar is history). Then there is one that is newer, but still looks like a church (albeit a Southern Baptist one). Then there is the other which is "in the round" with the most awful 1970's "mod" design. Looks like a standing rib roast on the outside, FWIW.

I think that it is no accident that the liturgical practices at the churches more or less mimic their appearance. But that is a subject for another post.

The whole thing is so so sad. A Catholic should be able to go to mass anywhere and know what to expect and how to behave. A Church should feel like a church, the Priest should act like a priest, and the doctrine should be strictly by-the-book doctrine. If you are Catholic, be Catholic. If you don't want to be, don't be, but don't expect all of the others who DO want to be to change because you like to feel like they need to be inclusive or sensitive or "in touch" or "speak to your needs" or what the hell ever. That's why there are protestant churches. Shop around, find one that "fits" you. No hard feelings, they're good people too.

The point is, that if you don't stand up and provide a stable, proven product, that offers your "customers" something that they can believe in, then you are doomed to extinction. For this reason, without a doubt, Rome needs to issue forthwith a strict set of rubrics and standards to be used world wide, without exception, if a Bishop or Priest doesn't like that, they MUST BE shown the door. A ship can have may may engineers, boilermen, cooks, etc. but it can only have ONE navigator if its to ever get anywhere. And this particular ship is hauling a lot of souls to heaven. It would be the ultimate shame if they were to wind up instead at a ... less desirable destination.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Catholic Schools Week

My late mother had a saying, "Fools and children tell the truth".

Several weeks ago was "Catholic Schools Week" and one of the things the school which my daughter attends did was make a bunch of little paper crosses, on which each student was to write something about why they like their school. Well, my lovely and lovable kindergartener, who definitely falls into mom's latter category had this to say...


The crosses were all then taped to the BIG front window of the school office...

My wife was devastated. I am laughing to this day.

The moral of the story here is: be careful when you discuss the family finances around your 5-year old!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lenten Meme....

From the Carolina Cannonball

1. What’s been your best Lenten-effort-idea ever?
Giving up meat and sweets simultaneously. Required more discipline than I knew I had.

2. And your worst?
Swearing off swearing... yeah, that lasted 5 seconds. damn.

3. What Lenten advice would you share?
Don't just "give something up" - give it up and remember WHY you are doing it. This is not just a diet or a "resolution".

4. And what you will feature this year?
This year I am foregoing snacks and sweets of all kinds - and it ain't that easy for a junk food junkie like me.

tagging, every passerby!!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


For some time I have been thinking about leadership. What does the term even mean? And how does it fit into our world today? I am not literally talking about the meaning of the word itself. Wikipedia describes it as "The ability to affect human behavior so as to accomplish a mission designated by the leader." I think that pretty much nails it. What I am talking about are the real world manifestations of leadership. Examples abound, both positive and negative.

On one side, let's look at President Bush. Yes, he's a leader, by default the President of the United States is a leader. But what to do with it? How to use it to your, and most especially (in this case) country's best interests? After 9-11-01, the country was more or less unified - practically begging for leadership. President Bush blew it. Yes, he did the right thing in deposing the Taliban, and Saddam, but screwed up practically everything else. First, he essentially told the country "Nothing to see here... Move along now to the mall and shop 'til you drop." In other words - EXACTLY the wrong thing. People being led want - no need - to feel as it they are a part of the struggle. To be told that you can and should pretend that life is status quo ante is not only absurd, it is counterproductive. "Freedom isn't free" but you can pretend it is!!! If people are sacrificing in some noticable way, they are more inclined to "buy in" to your idea and thus keep it on course even when the storms come. Then, to follow up on that blunder, he made matters infinitely worse by adopting a policy of never ever explaining anything about what was going on in the world and why he was making the decisions that he was. I call this the Loves Me Like a Rock based on the words of the song by the O'Jays:

And if I was president
The men of congress call my name
I'd say who do
Who do you think you're foolin
I got the presidential seal
I'm up on the presidential podium
My momma loves me
She loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
Like she loves me like a rock

In other words - I'm the decider and I'm right, now shut the hell up.

Now... rewind to 1961. The United States is in the deepest, darkest hours of the cold war. Another superpower is threatening to eclipse the freedoms that we as americans hold dear. President Kennedy knows that if the Soviets can make America look weak, that their converts in the world will quickly multiply. He also knows that the military (i.e. nuclear) option is madness but the US must look like the "king of the hill" in the eyes of the world. And he know that the current technological rage of space exploration is the best - maybe the only way to capture the world's attention that way. Or as his Vice President put it "Mister President, America cannot afford to be in Second Place".

So the young president gives a speech to congress. I highly recommend that you read the whole text, but I will provide out takes, with my emphasis here:

"These are extraordinary times. And we face an extraordinary challenge. Our strength as well as our convictions have imposed upon this nation the role of leader in freedom's cause... No role in history could be more difficult or more important. We stand for freedom... Read: This is serious stuff

I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:

First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish... Read: This is going to be a long and tough road.

Let it be clear--and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make--let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal '62--an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all. Read: Don't start what you are unwilling to finish.

Now this is a choice which this country must make, and I am confident that under the leadership of the Space Committees of the Congress, and the Appropriating Committees, that you will consider the matter carefully.

It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space.

I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.
Read: I repeat, this is going to be wildly difficult and expensive!!!

Notice the difference??? President Kennedy got the NATION working towards a goal, and investing in that goal. And as a result, not only did we not forget it after his death, we MADE IT HAPPEN, because we refused to do otherwise.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

South Carolina Primary

I know that this is not a political blog, and I am not intending to make it such, but the results of Saturday's primary in South Carolina are definitely worthy of comment in any case, so comment I will.

First, I will state that I am now and have been since day one of this campaign a Mike Huckabee supporter. I am not fanatical about it, and I understand and admit that there are certain positions that he has taken, both now and in the past, that I am not exactly in agreement with. In other words, he is not "perfect" in my eyes. However, unlike some other (influential) conservatives, I am not ignorant enough to let that get in the way of my appreciating that he is the best, most well-rounded, most electable candidate in the field - in either party.

It is that ignorance, that myopic intrasigence, in deadly combination with selective memory and misinterpretation, that has made this fight for the nomination so absurd, and so frustrating. There are many in the media (most notably Rush Limbaugh), in concert with many "conservatives" who have made it their mission in life to aggressively try to discredit and disparage any candidate who does not fit into their contorted concept of what a conservative is. The logic goes like this: Ronald Reagan snd his conservatism made this party and this country great - that is the "Reagan Legacy". ANY candidate who tries to claim the leadership of this party and is not 100% in the "Reagan mold" is not a "true conservative" and will lead therefore lead the party to ruin. Huckabee (and Romney and McCain for that matter) are not "true conservatives" and therefore will bring the party to ruin. Therefore they must be destroyed at all costs. At ALL costs. These people would much rather see another eight years of Clintonia than see Huckabee in the White House.

The main problem in that lies in the premise. The iconic image of Ronald Reagan is a dominating force in conservative politics. In a sense that is a good thing. It helps to remember how yougot where you are. The problem is the Reagan the remember is one who never existed. Yes, he was for smaller government, less taxes, and a dtrong defense - but so are Huckabee and McCain. BUT Reagan was also for a government that works. A government that is on the side of the people - not business interests. The deregulation that was driven through by Reagan was not intended to enrich corporate america, it was meant to (and DID bya and large) enrich the average Joe - The Working Man.

The Working Man has become the forgotten man NOT because of Reagan and his efforts, but because the results of those efforts were co-opted by the spawn of the old Country Club Republicans. The old stuffy pipe-smoking Republican has been replaced by the BlackBerry wielding MBA republican. Fully convinced of his manifest destiny to control and define conservatism - and AMericanism for that matter. The rest of us in the party are looked upon as useful idiots who didn't go to the right schools and dont' "network" with the right people.

How have so many seemingly intelligent people forgotten the one phrase that brought Ronald Reagan to power in 1980:

"Just ask yourself: Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Monday, January 14, 2008


Yesterday, January 13, 2008, marked a great day for tradition loving catholics in North Carolina. A 1962 Rite traditional High Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Grace Church. The celebrant was Father Ferguson, for the FSSP, and in attendance (observing from the loft, I think) there the priests of the Diocese of Charlotte who are learing to celebrate the Mass of Blessed John XXIII. The church was filled to capacity, both by traditional-loving catholics from around the state, and by many many local catholics who were interested in the mass. I was there, along with my dear wife and mother-in-law. And it was awesome. Got a bit hot in there at one point and I shed my jacket, but wow. The only downside was that, in my excitement, I left my glasses at home, rendering my new Missal useless (at least to me).

Our local paper, the News & Record, has a large article and a very well done multimedia presentation. Here is some of the article:

Latin Mass fills pews By Nancy McLaughlin
Staff Writer
Monday, Jan. 14, 2008 3:00 am

The pews quickly filled at Our Lady of Grace on Sunday for this special worship service, with many women wearing head scarves for the first time in decades and the priest speaking in Latin, an ancient language not spoken routinely in Catholic congregations since the 1960s.

"It's as if your grandmother celebrated Christmas a certain way and your mother never did it the same way, and this is grandmother's way," said parishioner Janet Morrison, who was wearing a scarf for the first time since 1963, when she was a teenager. "It's bringing something back from my childhood, and it's wonderful."

Latin was the language of the church for centuries, before the Second Vatican Council of leadership suggested the liturgy of the Catholic Church be reformed to increase the participation of the people. Those reforms included a reduction of the number of blessings and prayers that were spoken, the loss of age-old customs and that Mass be celebrated in the common language of the people. More recently, Pope Benedict XVI loosened restrictions of the Latin rite, referred to as the Tridentine Mass, allowing parishes to celebrate in that way if it is the desire of the faithful. Some churches have slowly added Latin Mass as an option. Most remain in English and Spanish.

Fourteen priests from the Diocese of Charlotte, which includes Greensboro, recently studied the rituals of the prayers in Latin with the Rev. Robert Ferguson, who led the Mass at Our Lady of Grace — partly as a demonstration model for them.

Those in the pews came from across the state.

"Some of these people have been waiting for a long time," said Sister Sheila Richardson of Sacred Heart Mission Church in Wadesboro. She traveled the hour and a half drive with eight others. Some of those who showed up at Our Lady of Grace were too young to have witnessed a Mass in Latin, but said they were there to connect with the roots of their faith.

"My father sent me a videotape of a Latin Mass and it was so beautiful," said 32-year-old Jennifer Carter of Huntersville, who only five years ago joined the religion of her father. "The old prayers are so beautiful, so rich."...

To help those in the pews, ushers passed out programs containing the Latin and English versions of the Mass — even instruction on when to stand and when to kneel...

Some things were more familiar for Banks and the others, ranging from contemplative worship to the use of incense as a symbol of prayers wafting to God...

The sacred songs were in Latin but there also was Gregorian chanting.

In the more modern Mass, for example, the altar is placed in a central location in the sanctuary, allowing the priest to face the congregation during Eucharistic prayers. In the Latin Mass, the altar was placed against the wall at the back of the sanctuary, which meant the priest had to have his back to the congregation. [Actually, the original, marble high altar was used. the wooden table altar was nowhere to be seen]

Like those around her, Tina Witt of Charlotte knelt at the altar rail, which symbolized the gate to Heaven, and received communion on the tongue from the priest. Communion is given in many ways using the more modern Mass, including "by hand" to each parishioner.

"This is something we never should have gotten away from," Witt said of the customs surrounding the service.

The complete original article can be seen here.
And if you follow the link, there is a highly impressive multimedia presentation as well.

Deo Gratias!