Friday, February 11, 2005

Defending Real Presence 

Are there specific Catholic prayers against doubt? "Real Presence" is a difficult concept for me. I plan to spend a good deal of time seeking guidence through prayer in its regard. There is, though, a website called "The Real Presence.org" where I found an article about early Christian belief.

Update: Many thanks to Lane Core Jr. for these Words on the Holy Eurcharist. You can always visit his Blog "The View from the Core" or his excellent website "elcore.net," he has many, many Catholic resources.

Up and Coming 

I'm not sure why, but the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese will be celebrating the Rite of Sending and the Rite of Election a week later than many areas. I think many locations around the country will be performing these rites this weekend, on the 13th. Fort Wayne-South Bend will be Sending and Electing on the 20th. I think these rites are supposed to be performed on the 1st Sunday of Lent.

In the Rite of Sending, we will write our names in a book in front of the congregation before our normal dismissal. In the Rite of Election, we will go to the Fort Wayne Cathedral, sit as a group with our sponsors, and have our name read out (along with all the others in our diocese who are joining the church) for Bishop D'Arcy (and perhaps get to shake his hand).

Our next step will be to go through some Scrutiny and to confession sometime during Lent. From what I've read, and this hasn't been communicated to us very well, the three rites of scrutiny and exorcism (yes, exorcism) should be performed on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent. The Scrutinies are prayers for us so that we can look deeply into ourselves and discern what and how we need to change in order to live a good life in Christ. I couldn't find a decent link to any description of the Scrutiny Rites or Scrutiny prayers.

The New Order of the Mass 

It's got to be very difficult for priests, after following the order of the mass for so many years, at so many masses, to have the wording switched every so slightly, here and there. I saw an unofficial English Translation of the new Order of the Mass over at The Shrine of the Holy Whapping. And, of course, I never would have run across the Shrine of the Holy Whapping if not for the Catholic Blog Awards.

Disney's Hindu Gambit 

I heard a story on NPR this morning that seemed rather offensive to me... maybe. It seems Disney is having some success penetrating the India pay cable TV market. Disney is working to translate its cartoons into Hindi and Telugu. Mostly the channel will be showing Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, etc., but (and here's the part that perked my ears) Disney said it will be looking at creating new programming based on Hindu gods.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Anyone who watched 'Pocahontas' saw Disney's ability to portray strange faiths, but I wonder if Walt Disney himself would have approved of Hindu-god animation. Click here for a statement of Walt Disney's faith from 1961 (which doesn't seem particularly strong, to me). I don't recall a specifically Christian Disney movie. I woudn't really call "The Hunchback" a Christian movie... it just happened to take place around a church.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Why Catholicism 

Several of us in our RCIA class were discussing during a break just why we were joining.

For some, it was rules: they had been raised totally without religion, perhaps to think ill of religion, but now they had their own children and had found in the Catholic Church a place where there were rules to live by that don't change with the cultural wind.

For some, it was beauty: they had attended Mass with a friend, or an Easter Vigil when a friend or family member joined, or happened to go to a Catholic Church for a wedding and were taken by the mystery and beauty of services.

For some, it was more simple: their intended spouse was Catholic and they wanted to worship together, they were tired of not participating fully with their family, they are old and want to, need to, take this further step with the church.

I've tried to understand my own case. I said in the past it was conflict in the Methodist Church that drove me away, I've said that it was the weakness and willingness of the Methodist Church in the face of culture that drove me away... but the further I go, the more I believe I wasn't driven away, but was instead, led home. I link the beginnings of my becoming Catholic to an online Bible Study class I taught at our Methodist Church. Our pastor gave a sermon about how lightly attended Sunday School was and how so few people were reading or studying the Bible, so I decided to use the "Year of the Bible" site and a message board (a precursor to blogs, don't you think?) to re-examine the New Testament. Each entry was pushed to our congregation's mass-email list. So for one year, I read a small portion of the New Testament every day and read what I could about what it meant. I had read the New Testament before, but I'd never examined it so closely and had never shared my own thoughts about it. I began to see many teachings our pastors were glossing over or ignoring; teachings on divorce and other cultural issues. I was led to web sites like "Early Christian Writings" and "The Catholic Encyclopedia." I was drawn to the histories of the saints and many sites concerning the Crucifixion and Miracles. I read for the first time the miracle stories of Lourdes, Guadalupe and Fatima. I began asking our pastor why Methodists don't talk or preach about the lives of the saints and miracles. I asked him how the Methodist Women could march for choice when everything I was reading seemed so very much pro-life. In short, I was taken by the mystery and logic of Christianity and upset about the lack of mystery and logic in my own church. I was taken by the teachings of the early fathers, the teachings of the saints, the teachings in the Catechism, the teachings of the Pope and the Teachings of the Magisterium.

And now, here I am, nearing my own confirmation at the upcoming Easter Vigil.

NASA: Global Warming 

NASA reported recently that 2004 was the 4th warmest year on record since the late 1800's. 1998, 2002 and 2003 were warmer. NASA has also reported recently that the Sun's activity was at at 8,000 year high between 1998 and 2002 and is now somewhat declining. In fact, the Sun's activity has been higher than normal for the last 70 years, or so. The fact that Sunspot activity was almost non-existent during the "little ice age" and Sunspot activity is large during this period of global warming leads many people to believe the gigantic ball of fusion-fired gas hanging in space just eight light minutes from Earth may have a larger impact on our climate than does burning fossil fuels.

Who is our Judge? Bill Moyers 

Who can judge how well we each follow our Christian Belief? Why, Bill Moyers, of course, whose mea culpa for lying about James Watt includes this gem:
I talked to Mr. Watt on the phone and expressed my own regret at using a quote that I had not myself confirmed. I also told him that I continue to find his policies as secretary of the interior abysmally at odds with what I, as well as other Christians, understand to be our obligation to be stewards of the earth.
Now that's one great apology, isn't it.

Note: Bill Moyers, an ordained Southern Baptist minister from Texas, served as deputy director of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy Administration, was a special assistant to President Johnson and later was the publisher of Newsday.

Fort Wayne 

For some reason, Men's Health Magazine has it out for Fort Wayne, Indiana. The magazine named us both one of the dumbest cities in America and one of the most unhealthy. (Aside: Shape Magazine labeled Fort Wayne THE most unhealthy city in America, but it turned out one of their criteria was "access to abortion." Fort Wayne does have an active Pro-Life community who go out and picket the abortion clinic weekly.). Anyway, here is a pro-Fort Wayne letter that's making the rounds. And read this, too, in support.

Actual letter being sent to Men's Health Magazine who recently deemed Fort Wayne as being a "stupid" city...

Men's Health Magazine
Dear Editor:

Upon finding ourselves listed in your magazine as the Dumbest City in the Nation, we of the Allen Business Exchange, a group of "stupid" business people in Fort Wayne, Indiana, decided to help you clear your offices and homes of all those pesky products that were invented in Fort Wayne. By return mail, or even fax, (if you haven't already unplugged it to ship back to us) please advise us of a convenient pick up date for the following items:
  • All your television sets -- born in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
  • Your turntables, used to be called phonographs, morphed into turntables.
  • Every fax machine you own or lease; we even want the broken one in the storage room. You may be able to find a repairman, and that wouldn't be fair.
  • Hand over your hand-held calculators, the inventor of the Bowmar Brain never meant to be ridiculed, so figure it out for yourself.
  • Get the screwdriver out and remove your garbage disposal. Once called Bill Morrill's electric pig, the garbage disposal certainly helps you in the kitchen, but it looks like life is going to get a bit tougher for you anyway. You can handle it.
  • And while we are working in the kitchen, dig out those three cans of baking powder. Biscuits just won't be quite so fluffy and tasty, but you'll survive.
  • Before we leave the kitchen, clean out your refrigerators and freezers for shipping. They too were invented in Fort Wayne.
  • While we are cleaning up, we will take all your washing machines. Our Horton Washing Machine Company invented, produced and sold the first self-contained cleaning appliance, which nicely replaced the corrugated washboard. We may be able to find three or four of those washboards in our antique shops, so you won't have to be without clean clothes. Where shall we drop-ship them?
  • Now, let's see all the products you have with magnet wire in them. Yes, we're the world's magnet wire capitol. Invented here, manufactured here. We'll need you to box up your computers, radios, and the engines and motors of your automobiles, SUVs, airplanes, boats, even your hearing aids. Next we'll take the wiring harness from your vehicles, as well as all the motors in your electrical appliances.
  • Oh, yes, we need your Public Address System-magnet wire you know. It's just everywhere nowadays.
  • Carefully pack all your hi-fi equipment, now known as stereo, plus all the transistor radios, TVs, and watches. Ask your parents how to wind a wristwatch, because we are hauling away all those nifty little self winding jobs.
  • It won't bother you so much to give up your automobiles when you learn that you can no longer fuel them easily. We are taking all your gasoline pumps. They too were invented here.
  • Oh-almost forgot, those kiddy cars that are battery operated. Crate them up too. No Slattery's Battery for you! Entertainment has always been big here. So get all your juke boxes packed up, and all your video games, all copycats of our original Pac-Man.
  • Now we want the lights from the tops of your tall towers.....the ones that notify the maintenance group and the FAA when they burn out. Of course you won't even hear about the new Zoom product that feeds information about traffic hazards and road conditions to the GPS system, that is another story.....you'll have to read about it in the newspaper, as soon as the pony express gets your edition to you, that is.
  • How soon can you get solar powered lighting for your city? Yes, municipal lighting systems were invented here, and the first night baseball game was held here, too. Give up your night time sports? Uh-huh. We will just make a clean sweep of it.
Well, thanks for all the goodies. Send a messenger down to let us know when you have reinvented all the items you no longer have available, and we'll see if we can find someone to get you back into the current century, whenever that may be. Oh! And if this is what "stupid" people can invent, imagine what all of you "smart" people are capable of!

All in the spirit of great fun,
Carolyn DeVoe, Vice President
Allen Business Exchange
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Excellent. And don't forget all the famous people our little town has helped produce, including Bill Blass, the fashion designer; Dave Thomas, who started Wendy's restaurant; Rod Woodson, of the NFL; Shelley Long, from Cheers; Carol Lumbard of Hollywood fame; the great author, Stephen King lived here; DeMarcus Beasley, the great soccer player, went to school with my kids; and, of course, Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel. Fort Wayne, "The City of Churches."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Order of the Mass 

I just bought "The Order of the Mass with Prayers and Devotions" online.

I noticed this morning, at the Ash Wednesday service, that one of the side effects of RCIA dismissal (all Catechumens and the Elect are dismissed from Mass after the homily) is that I no longer remember the prayers and responses for Mass very well. I attended Mass without participating in the Eucharist from about Thanksgiving 2003 to September 2004 and had gotten pretty good at the Gloria and the Penitential Rite and the Nicene Creed and the different responses. Now, having seldom gone through Mass for the last five or six months, I find I need additional study.

I'm sure my purchase of the book will lead to the immediate release of the new Missal Translation.

A Journalist Targeted for Death 

Terrorists in Iraq laid in wait for Abdul Hussein Khazal al-Basri, a correspondent of Al-Hurra ("The Free"). Al -Hurra was funded by the United States to "cut through the hateful propaganda that fills the airwaves in the Muslim world."

The journalist's 3 year old son was with him and was killed as well.

CNN reports this news on its web site because it is actual news, it actually happened. CNN didn't report that the US military targeted and killed journalists because it wasn't news, it never happened. For the CNN executive Eason Jordan, to announce, as he did, that the US troops behave like the terrorists in the above story and then not back up his words with stories (like CNN did with the above story), proves that Jordan's words are slander, not fact.

7 a.m. Ash Wednesday 

We attended the 7 a.m. Ash Wednesday service this morning. School is cancelled from ice and snow today and the church was lightly populated. The mass was all business: all music was a cappella, all announcments were via remote mic on our priest, the psalm and responses were spoken, not sung, no procession before the gospel. The homily was an interesting take on giving things up as discipline.... something like, normally we have, perhaps, a kind of balance where our spiritual life fills us up and we become empty by sin and normal excess and flaws. During lent, we both increase our spiritual life through prayer and sacrifice and alsmgiving, while decreasing our sin and excesses. The result is an overflowing cup and our Christian light spills out for all to see through our actions.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Danielle Bean: No Little Joke 

I read this post by Danielle Bean and thought I'd shine my little light on it.

Condi Rice vs. the Washington Post 

I read "Nobody's Archetype" by Eugene Robinson today. In the article, Mr. Robinson lists all of the various sterotypically downgrading views of black women and says, "Nope, Condi doesn't fit that view." Robinson gives Condi Rice strange praise by saying she's not angry, like so many other black women, she's not a Jezebel like Josephine Baker was, she's not an "Earth-Mother" nanny type, and she's not a rich, black princess (quite) because she likes football as well as playing the piano. Robinson, letting his low-life imagination run, hints at sexual tension between President Bush and Condi Rice but blames his mentioning it on others' snickers. He goes on to complain that her policy views are not "black" views:
Condoleezza Rice is nothing if not different. She's not a Democrat, though most African American women are. She's certainly not a liberal. She obviously is race-conscious, but she puts that consciousness into a box that's more deeply hidden than the one most of us African Americans use to store race when we're on the job.
If you read this article and remove all the offensive caricatures, you are left with something like this: Condi Rice is surprising to the bigots of the world, but that doesn't mean her policy views are correct.

What a low piece. I'm sure Robinson is let off the hook by the Post because he, too, is black. He couldn't, for example, get away with writing the same piece about Paul Wolfowitz: listing all of the various stereotypes of Jewish people and then saying Wolfowitz doesn't fit that mold. I'll bet the Washington Post wouldn't approve an article by Robinson on the Pope if it was full of Polish jokes and Catholic caricatures, either, just so it could conclude that John Paul II doesn't fit those molds. No, the Post stoops down to a black, liberal man and gives him reign to insult black, American women.

The news has just broken that Condi Rice just presided over a cease fire between Israel and the Palestinians. Here, in America, one of the papers of record reports:
People see her walking next to President Bush and there are ugly snickers of the Jezebel sort.
And journalists want to be taken seriously.

Update: "Condi Urges new Chapter between U.S. and Europe"

European diplomats, especially after January's elections in Iraq, have welcomed US overtures to mend the partnership.

And they have praised Dr Rice for leading a renewed US peacemaking role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is probably Europe's top foreign policy priority.

Fat Tuesday 

We were surprised to receive several different invitations to Mardi Gras parties this year, our first year at our Catholic Church. I took Spanish in high school, not French, so I didn't even realize that "Mardi Gras" means "Fat Tuesday" in French. I asked our priest last night whether Mardi Gras is a Catholic thing & he said it was more of a French thing. But here's an article: "The Catholic Roots of Mardi Gras" that discusses the linkage. I don't recall Mardi Gras ever being dicussed or enjoyed in my Methodist days, while here, our Catholic women's group is hosting a Mardi Gras party right at the church.

And since we're talking foreign languages, notice "Carnival" is from the Latin "carne vale" which means, "farewell to the flesh." I read somewhere, yesterday, that the season of Lent is approximately one tenth of a year (40 days out of 365 days long)... so the abstinence and self-denial, the fasting and the almsgiving, the prayers and the focus on the season is really a tithing of our year, given up for God. To start that tithing with a big, self-indulgent party goes against my Methodist grain, but I'm willing to learn.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Our priest took his time with us tonight at RCIA, walked us through Reconciliation from start to finish, showed us the confessional, gave us prayers to practice, talked about Lent. He covered the 7th, 8th and 10th commandments by discussing a "web" of humanity: each action we take has its effects on others, like ripples interacting in a pond. Stealing ripples. Lying ripples. Gossip ripples. For every action we take, other actions are taken by us and others down the road.

We should be detached from material things. Averice and greed leads us into sin. This doesn't mean that the material world is bad, in fact God said the world is good. Belief that the material world is bad led to Manichaeism in the past, which is definitely not something Catholics believe. There should be balance, temperance.

Preparations Underway 

Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
The time is nearing when I'll join you
in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Lord, help me to reveal my sins
with an open heart and be forgiven.
Help me accept my penance
and the mystery of your presence
within the priest.

RCIA tonight is on Commandments 7, 8 and 10. Here are some questions we're to ask ourselves about Commandments 7 (Thou Shalt Not Steal), 8 (Thou Shalt not Bear False Witness) and 10 (Thou Shalt not Covet They Neighbors' Goods):

  1. Have I stolen anything?
  2. Have I damaged anyone's property through my own fault?
  3. Have I cheated or defrauded another?
  4. Have I refused or neglected to pay any debts?
  5. Have I neglected my duties or been slothful in my work?
  6. Have I refused or neglected to help anyone in urgent necessity?
  7. Have I failed to make restitution?
  8. Have I lied about anyone (calumny)?
  9. Have I rashly judged anyone of a serious sin?
  10. Have I engaged in gossip (detraction) or spread scandal?
  11. Have I lent an ear to scandal about my neighbor?
  12. Have I been jealous or envious of anyone?
I would score better on this test than I did on the sex test last week. Of course, no one is perfect. Speaking of the sex commandments, I ran across a nice article about the letters J.R.R. Tolkien used to send to his male children (Tolkien had three boys and a girl). It's good reading.

I'm starting to feel the nerves grow as Easter nears. The Rite of Sending and Rite of Election are in a couple of weeks and those of us who are baptized will have Confession/The Rite of Reconciliation soon after. I've asked several times over our RCIA class when we will learn basic things, like how to hold our hands for the Eucharist, how we are to move and bow, what to say to the priest both before and after Confession. Some of these things I can try to copy from watching others... but the only Confession I know is what they show in the movies, and they never show the end of confession, only the beginning. (In how many movies does the priest not even make it to the end of confession?). Each time I ask, the teachers say, "oh yes, we'll cover that later." Well, it's later enough for me... I found this description on my own:

To begin, the penitent kneels and, by custom, says: "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned", and may add, "It has been [time] since my last confession." The priest greets the penitent. Then crossing himself, the penitent says "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" and begins his confession.

The priest may help the penitent with an examination of conscience, perhaps by asking questions. During the confession, the priest may read Scripture passages and offer spiritual counsel.

After hearing the confession, the priest assigns a penance, and the penitent accepts the penance with the following prayer:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The priest then extends his hands in blessing over the penitent, and prays the prayer of absolution:

Prayer of Absolution
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Well, that makes me feel like I have something with which to prepare.

James Watt sets the Record Straight 

I wrote the other day about Bill Moyers' contention that Christians in Government try to set policy to destroy the environment so that Jesus will come back sooner, rather than later. Well, Powerline, not only went the extra mile to destroy Moyers' entire article, but James Watt, of the Reagan administration, contacted Powerline to set the record straight about the lies Moyers told about him.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Pope's Legacy: A view from the left 

From my home town paper: The Pope's Legacy. The article seemed to draw a contrast about how Pope John Paul II worked for Freedom and Democracy all over the world EXCEPT in the Vatican. In fact, the article tries to link the Pope's failing to make women equal to men in the Vatican to the sex-abuse problems... I will read it closer and spend more time later.

Later: It wasn't clear to me, reading the article by James Carroll, just where he leaves off reviewing John Cornwell's "The Pontiff in Winter: Triumph and Conflict in the Reign of John Paul II" and John Peter Phan's "Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession" and where Carroll instead is offering his own opinions. In this paragraph, for example:
The conventional assessment of John Paul II contrasts the pope’s liberalizing work outside Catholicism with his profoundly anti-liberal governance of the Church itself. Thus his support of pro-democracy movements against totalitarian regimes stands in stark relief to the rigid authoritarianism with which he has squelched not only theological dissent but also the regional autonomy of bishops (which, in part, accounts for the bishops’ grievous failure to act against priestly abuse of children).
I'm not sure Carroll is reviewing a book, or stating his own beliefs.

Update: Jeremy Lott reviews the reviewer. (Hat Tip, Amy Welborn)

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