Sunday, November 22, 2009


Some six months ago, I went on a blogrant about my home parish, and the degradation of the music there.

Well, things have improved markedly over the past few months. The choir has been getting better and better. Yes, there is still too many '70's style hymn selections, but the execution is getting better nearly every week. And the addition of a song, always very traditional, an often in LATIN, sung by the choir as the congregation takes communion and for a few moments after, has lent a tremendous amount of reverence to the mass. The transformation is quite remarkable, really.

But today, for Christ the King, they just outdid themselves. The selections were (save for one) VERY catholic and very traditional. And they were sung - not just by the choir, but the congregation - with amazing strength and gusto.

The sung like they meant it!

Thanks be to God!

Christ the King - Christ MY King

Today, being the feast of Christ the King, has gotten me thinking... thinking about the FACT of Christ the King, and thinking how that fact manifests itself in my life - or rather how I make that fact manifest in mine.

Because the FACT of that Kingship is out there. Whether we think about it or not, it's still there. And most importantly it is a FACT right NOW - in "real time" as we say. At times, we tend to think of Jesus returning as He promised, to reign as King of this world for all eternity. But in fact, he is King RIGHT NOW.

This morning, when I arrove in Church, I knelt in prayer, and began to contemplate that Kingship. And I began to relate it to the situation of a King or Lord in the medieval Europe - and now he would relate to his subjects, and they to him. And at that moment, it occurred to me that if I were to think of Jesus in that way - as not just A king, but MY king, how much better my life here and now would be.

Now all this may sound like a very "Baptist" thing to say. Baptists in particular make much of the idea of being saved and dedicating your life to Jesus. But I am not meaning it in that way - I didn't get "saved" before mass this morning. And the validity of that whole concept is not the issue here. I mean it solely in the sense of understanding the relationship....

Jesus is MY King!!!

And I am HIS subject.

And I am astonished at the strength and clarity that single, amazing FACT brings to my soul.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Long Time - No Blog - Sorry to all...

But now I have been esconsed in my new job for nine (9) months, and I have made (or perhaps re-made) the most wonderful discovery about towns, cities, money, and life in general...

First and Foremost, as the hit song by Mellencamp says, I was born in a small town. Now, after almost exactly 40 years, I have managed to get back to one. And I know that I am Home. Five Hundred miles further south perhaps - but home nonetheless. In the most amazing (puzzling) way, I feel more at home here, where I work (population ±24,000) after nine months than I do 30 miles north, where I live (population ±256,000), even though I have lived there for 40 years - i.e. my entire adult life.

And I have figured it out, or so I think. The difference is the DYNAMIC of the town. In a larger city, there are sooo many people that it is common to only associate with a tiny fraction of the population, and that fraction is one that has been selected almost excusively because they share so many common interests, perspectives and attitudes. You don't live "with" your fellow citizens, you simply compete for space. This same self-isolation applies economically as well as socially - most "city dwellers" share very little time or space with those not of their "class". An affect made more acute by the fact that there are SO many different "classes" separated by so many $$$.

In contrast, in a smaller town, bthere are far far fewer people to "group" with. And as an inevitable result everyone is forced to associate to a much larger degree with those "different" from them. It's learning to coexist by simply coexisting. And the beautiful part of that is a much larger degree of acceptance - or rather learning to accept - those who are different. And economically, because the stratification is much more limited, there is much more "coexistence" in that way too.

So as if by osmosis, you "learn" your fellow citizens, their quirks and "funnies" and learn how not just to live with them, but to DEAL WITH THEM!

Now all this isn't perfect, of course. There are bigots and idiots everywhere and there always will be. And some people are just anti-social to the point of sociopathy. But they are everywhere, and at least in a smaller town, you have a greater chance of knowing who they are and how to be wary of them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back Home Again

After some selfish cranking and consternation over the music at my "Home Church", I spent some weeks attending mass at a couple of other area parishes. As one might imaging, all were good - and bad - in their own way, But I am thankful for and appreciate them all very very much. Yet for the last three weeks I have been back "at home" just like I had been for so many years.

After some discussion with my wife, we decided that it was the right thing to do. I just don't feel comfortable with "parish hopping" on a weekly basis. Parishes should mean something. I remember a Robert Frost line that said "home is the place that, when you go there, they have to let you in". Well I know that that is not literally true in the Catholic Church. In a sense "home" is any church in the world where the Mass takes place. But still there is some comfort in going to a place where you know so may people, and they all treat you like you belong there. And mediocre music doesn't change that.

Also, I realize that the mass isn't about me. It is God's Mass and I am just lucky enough to be there. That said there are still some things that could make it much better, more reverent, or whatever. But those problems are by no means exclusive to Saint Benedict's. They are present most everywhere. Some in different ways, some to different extents, but still there. And GOD HIMSELF is still there, really there, present in the form of the Eucharist. He doesn't look down from on high and say "I'll take a pass on Saint Offkeys, that music stinks!!!!" He comes on down anyway. Even if there is a church full of people, and only one of them is there rightfully, really wanting and needing him, he's there.

Think about that!!! He KNOWS the music sucks! Heck he know's that it's gonna suck even before the first note is sung!!! But he still comes. He's still there. For us..... So I figure if He can stand it, then I can stand it.

And I ALSO figure the right response is to help make it better - for HIM - rather than Urinate and Moan and do nothing.

And though I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to attend the local TLM - and every day I pray for the Mass of Ages to be a daily occurance at Saint Benedict's - I'll still be there, pretty much every Sunday, head down and praying as the publican prayed: "God have mercy on me, a sinner"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Mass

As per my new routine, I attended Mass this morning at Our Lady of Grace Church. It has been a bit of a tough adaptation to change from a routine of some 16 years or so, but I have begun to appreciate the change. The whole process being helped especially by the semi regular celebration of the mass by one Msgr. Joseph Showfety, my retired former Pastor and something of an institution in our Diocese. And without a doubt, the BEST homilist I have ever heard. INCREDIBLE depth of knowledge, ALWAYS on point, ALWAYS with enough background explanation that one can really appreciate the meaning of the readings, and ALWAYS engaging.

As much as it breaks my heart to have "lost" my old church, I have really come to enjoy the new. Maybe I am being silly to have been chased away by something as superficial as musical accompaniment, but I really don't know. Right or Wrong, at least now I leave mass feeling full of Grace and God's love, instead of angry and with a knot in my gut. It reminds me, as I think of it, of something I read some time ago on Father Z's blog to the effect of Good music may not always draw people to the Church, but BAD music NEVER does.

Six Months On.

This past week marks a milestone in my career. I have now passed the six month mark in my employment in my new position, meaning two things - One, I am no longer on "double secret probation" and Two, I am no officially enrolled, for the first time in my recent life, in a honest - to - God retirement plan.

Again, reflecting on my job and the amazing fact that I have it at all, I pray for all of those who prayed for me during my months of unemployment. And I will always do so. Thanks to you all.....

Thursday, May 14, 2009


After attending the MEF (see previous posts) on Easter of this year, and then attending a different local parish (for schedule and logistical reasons) in the intervening weeks, I returned to my home parish for mass the past two Sundays. And what did I discover???


What was once the most dependably conservative and musically unpretentious Catholic parish in my city has been replaced by a "new and improved" version. Thanks to these reforms 11:00 AM Sunday mass now includes "canned" music and a Cantor-cum-semaphore operator up on the altar!!! Now I get to hear pre-recorded orchestral accompaniment to not only the hymns, but other parts too.
So this 100+ year old church, small and beautiful, and now featuring 101 strings style accompaniment for our singing!!!

I have been stewing over this for over a week, and the though that keeps coming to mind is WHO THE HELL THOUGH THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?

And aesthetics aside, isn't there a rule against prerecorded music in the mass?

The whole liturgical world is changing, reconnecting with the good aour ancestors lived and died for, but apparently there are some who havent noticed the writing on the wall - or simply ignore it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ordinary and Extraordinary reflections

Now a week and a day has passed since my second exposure to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Time, and the experience yesterday of the Ordinary Form again has given me a bit more to reflect on, and the difference is even more striking.

Casting aside the obvious differences between the forms, such as language and posture, the MOST striking difference is one of continuity. Not continuity with the past, but continuity within the rite itself. With the Novus Ordo, there is a great deal of fussing about and going from one "step" to another. It isn't one celebration of the mass so much as a sequential compilation of parts. And no matter how hard I try, I often cannot get past the "when will this end" feeling of experiencing a seemigly endless torrent of disjointed and unrelated prayers. The trasition - in fact and in spirit - from one step to another is gone completely.

With the Old Mass, the experience is one of a continuum that leads slowly and inexorably to the sacrifice itself. Leaving one hearing the bells of the Consecration and trembling at the thought. It is a moving and beautiful experience that one can FEEL without actually being personally outwardly involved at all, but inwardly and on a level that defies description. In a very real sense, I felt that I didn't attend mass, but my SOUL did. It was as if my body carried my soul into the church and my chest opened up like a tabernacle, exposing my soul so it could participate in the sacrifice, only to close back securely at the end and say, in effect "you can go now". Leaving me to step out of that church filled with God's Grace.

It is the difference between a breathtakingly beautiful cathedral and the materials of the same cathedral, stacked up, crated and shrink-wrapped, ready to assemble. Imagine this: Could you take apart St. Peters, neatly stack all of the countless stones, glass pieces, tiles, frescoes, woodwork, and all of the other bits and pieces, look at those neat stacks and honestly - HONESTLY - say it was the same thing????

Monday, April 13, 2009


By the grace of God, Easter Sunday was the second time of my adult life that I was priveledged to experience Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite...

And OH how I loved it! In spite of my longing for and predjudice in favor of the old mass, I was honestly unprepared for the way I was "drawn in" to the mass spiritually. In spite of not completely being able to keep up at times, I still felt like I was drawn in to the mass, almost organically. I suppose that is the way it is supposed to be, after all. The mass we describe as "according to the Missal of 1962" is actually the result of cenuries of evolution, all leading to a rite that could "draws in, organically" the generations who lived and died long before the idea of a "personal missal" which they could use to follow along. I found that my curiosity and desire to learn was the only reason to really follow along with the missal at all! I felt a part of the mass - the mystery - in a way I never have since I was a small child. I could go on, but it was beautiful and timeless and awe-inspiring and more words won't do any more to describe it.

As the saying goes - you had to be there.

As I said, this was my second "adult" TLM. My first TLM, last year at Our Lady of Grace in Greensboro (whre my daughter attends school) was a "special mass" which was attended by a massive crowd and while amazing (as I reported) it was not nearly as close or as intimate as what I experienced yesterday. Yesterday's mass was one of the regular bi-weekly masses which are offered at St. Benedict the Moor Church in Winston-Salem, NC. The building itself was small, intimate, and pretty. I cannot imagine a more perfect venue to experience the Mass of Ages "up close and personal". In fact, thanks to the enthusiasm of my daughter (who practically ran up the aisle), I was seated in the very first pew! This led to some embarassment at the very beginning of the mass, though, as my desire to show her the Missal and where we were in the mass (she loves to read along) led to a momentary distraction, leaving me (and her) standing when we should have been sitting - IN THE FRONT PEW.

But nonetheless I can honestly say: Ladies and Gentlemen, I have seen The Mass, and it works.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ya Think????

Reuters this morning features this story:

Soros sees no bottom for world financial "collapse"

The essence of which (the "money quote") being: "We witnessed the collapse of the financial system. It was placed on life support, and it's still on life support. There's no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom."

Soros knows that what we had been living through for the past several decades was not real prosperity. It was a synthetic prosperity built on synthetic wealth, and all based upon everything was more valuable than it really was. A sort of "mark to market" mentality permeated the world economic vision. All leading to the equally false idea that, if you paid $100,000 for a house three years ago, and it was appraised for $200,000 now, you had just "made" $100,000. Which meant, of course that you "take out" that equity and pee it away on vacations and new TV's. I was personally chided by friends and business associates over the "folly" of letting all that equity "go to waste".

To me, the truly amazing - TRULY AMAZING - thing is hearing the various talking heads on TV (or the internet) going on about "the bottom" and so many stocks being such "bargains". I have never seen a group of people living so deeply in denial. What we are living through is a fundamental change in our economy, or rather our economic system. The essence of this is of course the (FALSE) idea that, for example, the value of General Motors was many multiples of the "book" value, because it was a known fact that GM would grow so far in the future. Well, guess what, it isn't. Just like the value of a horse is equal to what it can do for you (pull a plow, for example), the value - TRUE VALUE - of any company is what it does NOW. Sure, you can anticipate growth, but remember that it is ANTICIPATED value, not real, present value.

Only now the world's conciousness has woken up to the fact that this was all ANTICIPATED value. And unless and until the PAPER assets of the world fall back in line with the REAL assets of the world, the bottom will never be reached. The problem though, is being prolonged by the fact that Wall Street, the Business Media, and all their minions have yet to accept these facts, and keep buying (or supporting) the paper assets as best they can. Because they have yet to come to grips with the fact that they were all wrong, and were all willing sycophants in the construction and maintenance of a financial house of cards. So, for all of you in the "Business Media" that are among the multiple millions of the followers of this blog, please hear me...


Now, accept the fact that you are also pretty smart, and have the ability, once you have "handled the truth" to be a part of the recovery - a good recovery built on sound numbers. Have at it, and help where you can, and get wealthy if you can. But don't try to bulls**t us anymore. We won't buy it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


I know mine will be. My wife one amazing creature. I am well and truly blesssed by her presence in my life. Not to mention the presence of the three little girls sitting in the other room right now, watching TV!

It will be 18 years ago in May since I first laid eyes on her. And my thought then was "that is the sweetest girl I have ever seen".
It will be 18 years in December when I laid eyes on her for the second time, and I thought then "that is the sweetest girl I have ever seen" (I didn't recognize her at first as the same girl). Now, after 17.33 years of marriage - she still is.

Doomed to Fail


Many things (admittedly not all) that we experience in our personal lives can be extrapolated to the world at large and government in particular. This goes especially for economic things. Personally, or macroeconomically, one can NEVER borrow their way to prosperity. Any apparent prosperity is just that apparent, with no more connection to reality than a computer generated visual effect in a movie or television show.

Case in Point: A person (mea maxima culpa) is given credit cards which he then uses to "enhance" his living standards. He (or she) eats at better restaurants more often, goes on nicer vacations to nicer places, has nicer appliances and computers and televisions, etc. Now all of this happens s-l-o-w-l-y, over many years. Then suddenly, the credit cards are maxed-out, and he can't "afford to live". Worse yet, the bills are due! But just in time, an exciting offer comes through the mail, giving him an opportunity to move his balances to a NEW card, and have more available credit to live off of. The cycle repeats several times and eventually you have a person who cannot POSSIBLY afford to pay the money back. What follows is bankruptcy, and years of living much much lower "on the hog" and hopefully a long, slow recovery from the addiction.

WELL.... what we have seen in the past 30-odd years is that whole situation writ-large. Our government, through sdeficit spending, has been pumping BILLIONS of borrowed money every year into our economy, making us all appear more prosperous. Whether it was easy money for constuction loans, or mortgages, or money for the military, or for social programs - whatever they spent money on. It all served to "pump up" the economy, like a sugar rush pumps up a child - or speed pumps up a user. But now - RIGHT NOW - is the point where we are used up. Tapped out.

The bottom line is, this "stimulus" is doomed to fail, or at least doomed to ultimately fail, one that bit of fake money is used up. So my economic advice to anyone reading this is... GET READY! Because as soon as this plays out (however long it lasts) it's gonna be really really ugly.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Liturgical Changes?? It makes me wonder.....

This Sunday ( 6 February ) the bulletin for (one of) my Parishes had this entry....



Still to come this month: February 21st
Lessons in Discipleship
"Preparing for Changes in the Liturgy" They ARE coming.....

I find it interesting that the post appeared just as I show it, with the "ARE" capitalized. It seems to indicate an obvious certainty - get ready folks. Now it is time for me to hope and pray even more fervently that this will be the start of something good. I KNOW we have two amazing priests, but they have seemed to be "held back" in their efforts at tradition by some invisible force. Or maybe they were just waiting to assess the situation before they made any major changes. Either way, it may be that they have decided that the time was right. Now lets see where the ride takes us. Now I can't WAIT to find out!

Maybe somewhere like THIS.

UPDATE: The aforementioned class about Liturgical Changes realtes to the coming new translations of the mass. What it is and why it is happening. Isn't it good to see the catechesis on this important change starting already! I hope that it starts soon in a lot of parishes. Better catechesis = better understanding = better reception = better impementation.

Liturgical Update - Perspective

Any reader of this blog will know my preferences for a traditional, reverent Catholic Mass. But any Catholic who doesn't live in a bubble of and FSSP parish, or SSPX Chapel (and a few others) knows that such a thing is as rare as hens' teeth. Most Catholic masses are a mish mash of prayers recited blandly and bland music played even more blandly. I LIVED through the '70's and I know form personal memory that the "pseudo folk-rock" music of that era - liturgical AND secular - was with few exceptions lame drivel even back then. Usually preformed by lame wannabe troubadours with soft beards and hair. People who really would like to be hippies, but weren't up to the commitment and earthiness that would require.

I have tried and tried to get one of my regular parishes to introduce the Extraordinary Form of the Mass - but to no avail.
And I will continue to do so - albeit quietly. I feel that the survival of Catholicism and Christianity is dependent WHOLLY on the development of a strong identity. One more strong than the "soft rock" mentality and attitude can EVER provide.

Well, sometimes life gives you surprises. ESPECIALLY life with three small children. Last Sunday, I was served up one such surprise. Due to "logistical issues" I wound up attending a Sunday evening Mass at the newest, allegedly most "liberal" church in town. It was Mass in the Round, with music provided by and electric bass, three or four guitars, a few other instruments and a group of young and old men and women. I was deeeeeply suspicious of the whole affair. But was I wrong!!! Because what I leraned was that 1) the group was HIGHLY talented. 2) they sang and prayed like they BELIEVED. 3) The congregation prayed and sang like they BELEIVED as well. Now the forms of the music were a bit wrong, they were at least performed like they were MEANT.

Of course, the priest "winged" the prayers for the most part - which disturbed me deeply. But it was SO refreshing to be in a church where people seemed to mean what they were praying - rather than "going through the motions". And the music was while definitely NOT from the Parish Book of Chant, it was not the usual Haugen-Haas-Schutte drivel either. And I'd rather have that than the same old junk that I have been forced to endure for the past 75% of my life.

One of my favorite bible verses is Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says (KJV): "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." And those folks at that mass last Sunday did just that. I may disagree with their choices or tastes, but at least they cared. And how many parishes can say that???

2 months later....

Well, two months (roughly) have gone by since I last posted...

Personally, it has been an interesting ride. In the sense that is of the ancient Chinese curse of "may you live in interesting times". But in the end, thanks to God in heaven, and working through some dear friends here, I am now gainfully employed. And not JUST gainfully employed, but in a job which suits me perfectly. It was just the process of getting here which was "interesting".

Psychological stress is a fascinating thing. Sometimes when you are not really even consciously aware of it, it can get inside you and wear you down and manifest itself outwardly and physically in ways you don't ever expect. Once again in my life, I have re-learned that, while working is sometimes stressful - NOT working is worse. Or at least when you have a family who depends on you. Now each day I even more strongly thank God for the blessing of my job, and pray that he help all those fathers (and others) who are out there still searching - and worrying.

To all those friends who were praying for and trying to help me in my employment search - Thanks.