Wednesday, August 31, 2005

So awful

I can not believe the devastation down south, particularly in Louisiana and Mississippi. I was personally lulled into a false sense of security the night after Katrina hit - There were not a lot of images of absolutely devastating damage, and the levees had apparently held up pretty well.

Well, as it turns out, the reason there weren't a lot pictures is that it took a while for the authorities and the media to get to the places hardest hit, particularly in Mississippi. And Tuesday morning, the levees began to collapse, flooding New Orleans. The photo above is New Orleans, which, from all reports, appears to be dying.

Widespread looting and violence are being reported. Fox News has reported that the police are being attacked; the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the media rep for Governor Blanco had issued a statement on looters who are gathering in front of the N.O. Children's Hospital, and are attempting to break in. Although the National Guard has been informed, they are reportedly unable to help due to the floodwaters. This article paints a horrible picture of the breakdown of the social fabric of the city.

The Governor has also ordered that the entire city be evacuated, which I suppose includes the thousands of people in the Super Dome. 80 percent of the city is under water, which is still flowing in, and attempts to stop up the levees have failed. I think the Big Easy is pretty much going to be a total loss, except for maybe the French Quarter. The main question now is whether they will raze whatever is left and rebuild, move the city to higher ground, or actually elevate the city site, the way they did in Galveston, TX after a hurricane devastated that area in 1900.

Of course, with all the attention focused on N.O., Biloxi and other points in Miss. are getting the short end of the stick in terms of attention. Apparently, not as many people evacuated as in Louisiana. Alabama also got hit hard.

The three words everyone should keep in mind are "American Red Cross." We can also pray, pray, and pray, occasionally taking short breaks to pray.

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As I'm sure most people know, Louisiana and particularly New Orleans is historically speaking a very Catholic area, Mardi Gras and all other debauchery notwithstanding. Free Republic has started a thread to keep track of the Catholic churches and other institutions that have been destroyed. Of course, the first priority is preserving human life. However, I have to admit that I feel a special little stab in my heart when I hear about entire parishes - where generations of families were married, baptized and raised their children, and buried the dead - being utterly destroyed. I am particularly concerned about the fate of the above church - the stunningly beautiful and very historical St. Louis Cathedral.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Who says Papa isn't warm and cuddly?

He must be, the kids love him!

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Soooo cute! :)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Good news!

Vatican-Israeli Row Simmers Down

"Tempest" Is Over, Says Apostolic Nuncio

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 28, 2005 ( It was nothing more than "a tempest in a teacup," said the apostolic nuncio to Israel when describing Israel's recent diplomatic incident with the Holy See.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi's comment refers to July's conflict that arose when representatives of Israel's government publicly accused Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI for not having condemned terrorist attacks against Jews.

The Holy See reacted with a long communiqué that cited John Paul II's numerous statements against terrorist acts, as well as Benedict XVI's condemnation of all acts of violence, including those against Jews.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said on Friday that the conflict has been resolved: "Relations between Israel and the Vatican are again as good as they were before," reported the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

You can read the entire, very brief article from Zenit. I have to admit that I find it funny that Israel's ambassador to the Holy See is named Obed Ben Hur. Or maybe "Ben Hur" is a common Jewish name, and I'm limiting myself too much to Hollywood movies :)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Please pray

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- New Orleans braced for a catastrophic blow from Hurricane Katrina overnight, as forecasters predicted the Category 5 storm could drive a wall of water over the city's levees.

The huge storm, packing 160 mph winds, is expected to hit the northern Gulf Coast in the next 12 hours and make landfall as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane Monday morning.


A statement from the National Weather Service in Slidell, near New Orleans, Louisiana, warned that much of the affected area "will be uninhabitable for weeks, perhaps longer."

Low-rise, wood-frame buildings will be destroyed, and concrete apartment buildings "will sustain major damage," it said.

"High-rise office and apartment buildings will sway dangerously, a few to the point of total collapse," the warning read.

"All windows will blow out. Airborne debris will be widespread, and may include heavy items such as household appliances and even light vehicles."

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency Sunday and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. (Watch video of mayor's announcement)

Nagin exempted essential federal, state, and local personnel; emergency and utility workers; transit workers; media; hotel workers; and patrons from the evacuation order."We are facing a storm that most of us have feared," Nagin said. "I do not want to create panic, but I do want the citizens to understand that this is very serious and it's of the highest nature."

About 1.3 million people live in New Orleans and its suburbs, and many began evacuating before sunrise. (Watch video to see who's staying and who's leaving)

Highways out of the city were jammed, while thousands who opted to stay behind lined up to take shelter in the Louisiana Superdome.

City officials told stranded tourists to stay on third-floor levels or higher and away from windows.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said that New Orleans could expect a complete loss of electricity and water services as well as intense flooding. She added that the Superdome, the city's main shelter, "is not going to be a very comfortable place at some point in time." (See video from New Orleans, a city below sea level)

About 70 percent of New Orleans is below sea level, and is protected from the Mississippi River by a series of levees. (Full story)

Forecasters predicted the storm surge could reach 28 feet; the highest levees around New Orleans are 18 feet high.

Rest of the article. And please pray for all those in the path of Katrina, in particular for the State of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans. Especially pray that the levees hold.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

How gross

I know there has already been a lot of posting on the annual conference of the Leadership Conference of Women Religous (LCWR): See my sis's blog, and LA Catholic, for instance.

However, I can not resist adding my own comments on the keynote address by Margaret Brennan, IHM.

It gives quite an interesting history of the LCWR, including its rather rapid descent into navel-gazing and infidelity. The most disturbing part of the whole address, for me, anyway, was when she stated: "The history of LCWR is itself a wondrously luminous movement in the history of the American Church to which God has surely shouted 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'"

Ehhhh ... Now, I know all about the ecstacies of the saints, like those of St. Theresa of Avila, and the essentially nupital love that God has for His Church and for His children. Christ doesn't describe Himself as "the Bridegroom" for no reason, after all. And yet ... I could not help cringing when I read "Yes! Yes! Yes!" It must be my dirty mind. At any rate, it doesn't seem that contemplating the history of the LCWR would be an occasion for the phenomenon of religious ecstacy or eros. More like ... Trembling in fear of the Lord ... "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," you know! Or, you do if you know your Pslams and Proverbs :)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Je suis finis

My last day at Allstate was today. I have to admit that I'm glad to be through with work; getting up early every day was starting to seriously annoy me :)

Everyone was so nice there, though. All through the day people were coming up to me to tell me good-bye and wish me good luck at school. There was a new temp in the accounting office today; name of Walter. I guess he is supposed to pick up the slack since I and Ashley (the other girl temp) will be gone. Poor guy was trying to figure out the computer system; I remember my first day was awful because I just couldn't get it to work. On top of everything else we had an error show up in Mainframe and one of our work sources crashed.

And they had us do balancing for about an hour. Balancing is possibly the most boring, yet fear-inducing activity I have ever encountered. Basically you go through long lists of numbers trying to find where someone else has made an accounting error. If you can't find it you have to ask to see the actual check batch, and if the check batch has gone missing (a frequent occurrence) you have to ask for the "tape" which lists the check amounts. If you still can't find it you have to have the annuities clerk stand behind you calling out the numbers on the tape while you double check. It is a huge hassle for both you and the annuities clerk, so one feels a lot of pressure to sort of figure it out when you're going through yourself. Can you tell that I often failed at that and had to bother the guy at the annuities desk a whole lot?

Ah well. I made over $2,000 in eight weeks of work, so I should cut out the complaining. I have a week to pack for school. Gulp.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Can you imagine

Being at an event with THIS many people in attendance?

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Incredible! Papa did wonderfully, as I knew he would :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Crazy, or a case of foot-in-mouth disease

Whole lot of weirdness reported here.

Let's assassinate Chavez, says US Christian leader

From Tom Baldwin in Washington

The former presidential candidate Pat Robertson, a founder of the Christian Coalition, was stamped on last night by the Bush Administration for urging the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader.

The right-wing religious broadcaster said that President Chavez was a "terrific danger" to the US because he wanted to use his oil-rich country as "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism".

"We have the ability to take him out and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Mr Robertson told the Christian Broadcast Network's 700 Club. "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator.
"It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with," he said ...

... "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.
"It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Talk about ridiculous. What is even more ridiculous is that some conservatives are running around defending Robertson!

It's wrong for Islamic leaders to call for the murder of Americans and the assassination of our leaders; it's wrong for Christian leaders to call for murder, too. In my opinion, it's even worse for Christians to do it - while it's true that many Muslims, and the vast majority of American Muslims, are peaceful, freedom-loving people, the example provided by Muhammad in the Qur'an is not always a non-violent one, when it comes to his opponents. In contrast, somehow I don't think Christ would ever contemplate "taking out" another human being because "it's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war" and we should "get it over with." Besides which, we "don't think any oil shipments will stop." How convenient! Let's go for it! Gag me.

Luckily, the Bush Administration quickly distanced itself from Robertson's comments:

... Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, said: "Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. He's a private citizen - private citizens say all kinds of things all the time."

Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, underlined that, for all its differences with Mr Chavez, assassinating him was "not the policy of the United States Government".

Besides the weirdness and distastefulness of Robertson's remarks, this adds fuel to the whole left-wing "Christians = Taliban" clique, as well as the radical anti-war line that "all American wars are fought for oil." Why the heck did he even have to bring up oil? My guess is that he spoke without thinking. I am sure that he does a lot of good work for Christ, but ... Talk about damaging the cause.

Apparently he has developed a habit of making radical remarks:

... he has marginalised his mainstream influence with outspoken remarks in the past. These included suggesting that activist judges represented a bigger threat to America than terrorism, and that the US State Department should be blown up by a nuclear weapon.

Of course, when one evaluates crazy comments allegedly made by conservatives, one always has to factor in the distortion that the press will often go out of its way to insert in the story :)

And I don't want to leave the impression that I'm just bashing on Robertson because although he's a Christian, he's not a Catholic. Plenty of Catholic Bishops and Cardinals have run their mouths ahead of their brains. It's like the joke I heard about the memo that was sent from the Vatican to all the Cardinals:

Approved Two Step Approach to Public Relations

Step 1: Open ecclesiastical mouth.
Step 2: Insert ecclesiastical foot.

A Pontifical Commission will evaluate compliance with this policy.

Just kidding. I know Joaquin Novarro-Valls, the Pope's spokesman, is quite good at his job ;)

UPDATE: Robertson apologizes. Bravo! Check out the article, you'll see some blather from guess who - Jesse Jackson. Surprised?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I got sent home early

Because I was a bad girl!

No, actually it was because Tuesdays are the "light" work days at Allstate and they decided they didn't want to pay me $8.50 an hour to sit and do nothing but read the company website and twirl around in my chair. Now, I would have appreciated hearing about this last night, or perhaps this morning, when I could have gone back to bed. But alas, I had gotten up at 6:45 and sat, reading and twirling, for an hour before they let me know. Oh well, it's good to get the day started!

Betsy has gone back to Washington. I am sure she will enjoy her volunteering/work; I think she's hoping to get placed in a school, teaching. On the last day of her nanny job I went with my dad to pick her up, and then we stopped by our grandparents' house to say hello. Oma - that's what we call grandma - had this delicious zucchini with some kind of meat in it. Mmmm, good! I miss Betsy already, though :(

Before she left, my sister got her monthly newsletter from EWTN. She gets their newsletter because she donated once, so now she's in their database! Ooo, sinister! Just kidding. They also send along a program schedule, so it's quite useful. The one she recieved last week (the October issue) included this great quote from Pope John Paul I, who reigned for only 33 days in 1978 before he died and Pope John Paul II was elected. He wrote during a time when many people despised the "old ways" of devotion, including the Rosary; self-appointed spokesmen for the laity claimed that the faithful were grown-ups and had in spite of this been treated like children by the Church. In a reaction to this, and in a sad attempt to demonstrate the "maturity" of the laity, many traditions that were deemed "childish" (like the Rosary) were jettisoned. This is also where the phenomenon of receiving Communion in the hand came from. Previously, this was unthinkable! The idea was that people were grown and should feed themselves; they didn't need to be "fed" Communion by the priest. Incidentally, John Paul always strongly disapproved of this, and forbade the practice in the churches of Rome.

Anyway, that was the atmosphere John Paul I was living in. I'm rambling. Here's the beautiful quote:

"When they speak of 'adult Christians' in prayer, sometimes they exaggerate. Personally, when I speak alone with God and Our Lady, I prefer to feel myself a child, rather than a grownup. The mitre, the zucchetto, the ring disappear. I send the grownup on vacation, and the bishop along with him, and abandon myself to the spontaneous tenderness that a child has for its papa and mamma. To be for a while before God as I am in reality, with the worst of myself and with the best of myself; to let rise to the surface from the depths of my being, the child I once was, who wants to laugh, to chatter, to love the Lord, and who sometimes feels the need to cry so that he may be shown mercy, helsp me to pray. The Rosary, a simple and easy prayer, helps me to be a child, and I am not ashamed at all."

What a beautiful description of what a joy praying the Rosary can be! Note: In case you're in the dark, a mitre and zuchetto are two kinds of head-gear for bishops; bishops also wear a ring as a sign of their office.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Pope warns against `do-it-yourself' religion

COLOGNE, Germany - Young people should beware "do-it-yourself" religion, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday to an estimated 1 million Roman Catholics attending World Youth Day ...

... The pope on Sunday said that "there is a strange forgetfulness of God in many parts of the world. But there is also frustration," and this dissatisfaction has led to "a new boom of religion."

"I have no wish to discredit all the manifestations of this phenomenon," he said. "There may be sincere joy in the discovery. But if it is pushed too far, religion becomes almost a consumer product. People choose what they like, and some are even able to make a profit from it. But religion constructed on a `do-it-yourself' basis cannot ultimately help us. Help people to discover the true star which points out the way to us: Jesus Christ."

Michael LaRocco, 16, who attended the Mass with classmates from St. Peter's Prep School in Jersey City, N.J., said he was awed by the experience of being surrounded by a million others sharing the same faith.

"Back home, we hear that nobody goes to church anymore, nobody believes," he said. "This kind of shows that's a lie. A million people, traveling from around the world, camping out in a cold, wet field, just for the chance to share in this experience. It's clear, we're all here because we believe."

Yes! I know from personal experience that sometimes on a secular college campus it can seem as though no one is seriously interested in the "big questions," philosophy, or religion. Especially religion. But it would be provincial to think that this intellectually and spiritually light-weight culture is the norm for humanity. If you look around the globe at the spread of democracy, the rise and fall of Marxist regimes, etc., philosophy matters. And the vast majority of the world is highly religious, whether the religion in question is Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or other faiths. It's just a tiny corner of the globe - Western Europe and some (shrinking) parts of the United States - where religion does not play a major role in people's lives and the public square. Lots of people think devout Christians or Muslims or Orthodox Jews are "weird;" however, in terms of raw numbers, it's the non-religious folks who are the oddballs ;)

I also appreciate the Holy Father's comments on DIY religion. This has a lot to do with the rise of the "self-improvement" trend, which seems to be seeping into Christianity. I know that some people criticize Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life" on that score. Not having read it, I can't speak to whether the book has problems or whether it's beneficial ... There is always that danger, however: that "proclaiming the Gospel" turns into selling a product like prescription drugs or diet plans - a "fad" that explodes on the scene and then fades away, leaving no positive progress behind except lining some preacher's pockets.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

A little picture essay

Papa arrives in Cologne

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As you can see, he's wearing his stylish red shoes

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He really seemed to enjoy greeting the pilgrims

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And visiting the local synagogue

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Of course there have been minor mishaps

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But overall, so far, so great!

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Prayer of St. Therese

Divine Jesus,
Listen to my prayer.
By my love I want to make You rejoice.
You know well,
I want to please You alone.
Deign to grant my most ardent desire.
I accept the trials of this sad exile
To delight You and to console Your heart.
But change all my works to love,
O my Spouse, my Beloved Saviour.
It's Your love Jesus, that I crave
it's Your love that has to transform me.
Put in my heart Your consuming flame,
And I'll be able to bless You and love You
As they do in Heaven.
I'll love You with that very love.
With which You have loved me, Jesus Eternal Word.
Divine Saviour, at the end of my life
come get me with out the shadow of a delay.
Ah! show me Your infinite tenderness
And the sweetness of Your Divine gaze.
With love, Oh! may Your voice call me,
Saying: come, all is forgiven.
Come rest on My heart, My faithful spouse,
you have greatly loved Me.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Papa in Cologne

Pope Benedict is very fond of St. Augustine, and this beautiful bit from his opening address certainly reminds me of Augustine's famous prayer, "You made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You." ...
Today it is my turn to take up this extraordinary spiritual legacy bequeathed to us by Pope John Paul II. He loved you – you realized that and you returned his love with all your youthful enthusiasm. Now all of us together have to put his teaching into practice. It is this commitment which has brought us here to Cologne, as pilgrims in the footsteps of the Magi. According to tradition, the names of the Magi in Greek were Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar. Matthew, in his Gospel, tells of the question which burned in the hearts of the Magi: "Where is the infant king of the Jews?" (Mt 2:2). It was in order to search for him that they set out on the long journey to Jerusalem. This was why they withstood hardships and sacrifices, and never yielded to discouragement or the temptation to give up and go home. Now that they were close to their goal, they had no other question than this. We too have come to Cologne because in our hearts we have the same urgent question that prompted the Magi from the East to set out on their journey, even if it is differently expressed. It is true that today we are no longer looking for a king, but we are concerned for the state of the world and we are asking: "Where do I find standards to live by, what are the criteria that govern responsible co-operation in building the present and the future of our world? On whom can I rely? To whom shall I entrust myself? Where is the One who can offer me the response capable of satisfying my heart’s deepest desires?" The fact that we ask questions like these means that we realize our journey is not over until we meet the One who has the power to establish that universal Kingdom of justice and peace to which all people aspire but which they are unable to build by themselves. Asking such questions also means searching for Someone who can neither deceive nor be deceived, and who therefore can offer a certainty so solid that we can live for it and, if need be, even die for it.

Found it on the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, where you can read the Holy Father's entire address.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Pope is infallible

But only in certain rare situations ;)

Case in point:

... At the end of his weekly general audience, the Pope had left the window overlooking the courtyard of his summer residence where thousands of people had listened to him deliver greetings in various languages.

He then returned and joked:

"I ask your forgiveness. I forgot the most important greeting -- the one to Italian-speaking pilgrims," he said, laughing.

The 78-year-old Pope then read the greeting in Italian, turned away and was leaving, but aides reminded him that he had forgotten something else. He returned to the window yet again.

"Today, I am forgetting the most important things. It appears that I am already partly in Cologne. They told me: 'You forgot the most essential thing, the blessing'," he said.

He then delivered his blessing and, still smiling and laughing about his two oversights, returned inside the summer residence ...


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It's okay, Papa, we know you've got a lot on your mind and you always do your best! :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Who would do something like this?

TAIZE, France (AFP) - The French-based ecumenical Taize community is trying to take stock of the fatal stabbing of its popular 90-year-old founder, overshadowing a global Catholic youth festival starting in Germany.

Roger Schutz, a popular Christian figure known simply as Brother Roger, was killed late Tuesday in his Reconciliation church in Taize, in eastern France's Burgundy region, during a prayer service.

As a German cleric arrived to take over the group, messages of sadness came from Pope Benedict XVI, French government ministers and other dignitaries.

A 36-year-old Romanian woman believed to be mentally disturbed was in police custody for allegedly plunging a knife into his back three times in front of 2,500 mostly young people attending the service.

Full story here.

Prayers for Brother Roger!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


On Saturday, Katie, Carli, Betsy and I went out to eat one last time this summer. We went to this little Mexican resturaunt called Marcelita's. We thought Shannon was going to come, too, but in the end she thought it was better if she didn't :(

Anyway, it is supposed to be a great place; AAA reviewed and all. Betsy's employers even talked to her about it, and they're certainly not locals. Famous Marcelita's! It's a five minute drive from our house, the owners have been parishoners at St. Mary's for decades, my infamous Aunt Cay was friendly with them, and we've never been. For shame.

We only had to wait a little while for our table; they had a very amusing menu, which, besides the Mexican fare, had a section of American food called "For Gringos." I ordered the chicken quesadilla. It stank. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "stank." It just wasn't quite what I was expecting. It tasted ... Weird. Oh, well. I wasn't that hungry anyway; they gave us free nacho chips and dip before they brought out our food, so of course I was already pretty full on that. I just don't know when to stop :) While we were eating it thunderstormed something awful, and when we came out there was a heck of a lot of steam rising off the asphalt parking lot. Fun!

It was a pretty cheap meal, besides, and it was great to catch up with my Hudson girls one last time before the end of the summer. Of course, I didn't get to see Kat at all, since she stayed at Bowling Green, and we sure did miss Shannon at dinner, too!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sacred monkeys!

I was re-reading Brideshead Revisted the other day, and really enjoying myself. My favorite passage comes when Julia's husband-to-be, Ralph, is taking instructions from a priest for the purpose of converting to Catholicism before the marriage. Of course, his interest is purely utilitarian in nature - no Catholicism, no Julia. Of course, Julia's sister Cordelia takes advantage of his ignorance and lack of intellectual curiosity:

"The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what's been taught and what's been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn't know existed. Take yesterday. He seemed to be doing very well. He'd learned large bits of the catechism by heart, and the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary. Then I asked him as usual if there was anything troubling him, and he looked at me in a crafty way and said, "Look, Father, I don't think you're being straight with me. I want to join your Church and I'm going to join your Church, but you're holding too much back." I asked what he meant, and he said: "I've had a long talk with a Catholic -- a very pious, well-educated one, and I've learned a thing or two. For instance, that you have to sleep with your feet pointing East because that's the direction of heaven, and if you die in the night you can walk there. Now I'll sleep with my feet pointing any way that suits Julia, but d'you expect a grown man to believe about walking to heaven? And what about the Pope who made one of his horses a cardinal? And what about the box you keep in the church porch, and if you put in a pound note with someone's name on it, they get sent to hell. I don't say there mayn't be a good reason for all this," he said, "but you ought to tell me about it and not let me find out for myself."

"What can the poor man have meant?" said Lady Marchmain.

"You see he's a long way from the Church yet," said Father Mowbray.

"But who can he have been talking to? Did he dream it all? Cordelia, what's the matter?"

"What a chump! Oh, Mummy, what a glorious chump!"

"Cordelia, it was you."

"Oh, Mummy, who could have dreamed he'd swallow it? I told him such a lot of things. About the sacred monkeys in the Vatican - all kinds of things."
Sacred monkeys. Sometimes I think some of our friends in the fundamentalist Protestant camp believe we have things like sacred monkeys. I bet you could trace back lots of those anti-Catholic rumors to a really bored Catholic kid who decide to mess with his Protestant neighbors ... ;)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ooooo, ahhhhhh!

Or, as the Holy Whapsters (where I found the link) say: "Eye Candy!" This picture is from Juventutem, the traditionalist pilgrimage to World Youth Day, which has been blessed by the Pope and will enjoy the participation of several Cardinals, including Cardinal George of Chicago and the curial Cardinal Francis Arinze (the Nigerian who was papabile in the last election). The first photos are already online, as you can see.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Good news

Pharmacist refuses to fill prescription

CVS pharmacists, acting on their religious or moral beliefs, can refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions as long as they make sure the customer can get the medication when another pharmacist is on duty or at another CVS store, company officials said yesterday.

"Our policy is to fill prescriptions for all customers in a timely manner and to make sure their needs are met and that they are satisfied," Eileen Howard Dunn, vice president of corporate communications and community relations for CVS, said yesterday. "As an employer, however, we must also accommodate a sincerely held religious conviction that may prevent a pharmacist from dispensing a certain prescription."

Dunn's remarks came in response to media reports of a woman who was temporarily denied the "morning-after" contraceptive pill at the CVS pharmacy on Tiogue Avenue in Coventry last Friday.

Dunn, who declined to identify either the patron or the pharmacist, said that the customer pulled up to the store's drive-up window at about 10 p.m. The pharmacist on duty at the 24-hour store refused to fill the prescription because it conflicted with his or her personal beliefs, Dunn said.

Instead, Dunn said, the customer was given the option of either returning to the store the next morning or having CVS send the prescription to another 24-hour store, in Warwick, where it could be filled immediately.

It's nice to hear of a corporation actually standing up for the integrity of its employees' consciences for once. Usually they take the line that "It's our business, and if you don't want to do it, you can go work for somebody else." In other words: Who cares about your deeply held beliefs? Conform, conform, conform!

CVS isn't like that, I guess. Good for them. I'm certainly glad there's a CVS in Athens that I can patronize when I go back to school ...

For what it's worth, I'd add that the "morning after pill" isn't a contraceptive. It's an abortifacient. Actually, most contraceptives are abortifacient. There are a lot of girls who wouldn't ever think of getting an abortion - lots of women even in the prolife movement - who are just on the birth control pill, and don't realize that the chemicals they put into their body terminate early pregnancies.

The above incident occurred in Rhode Island, by the way. You can read the entire article, including the typical tripe from Planned Parenthood ("Oh no! The girl had to come back the next day! What a terrible tragedy!") here. Bugmenot username:, password:papapa.

Found this article via CWN.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Almost done

With work, and with summer, unfortunately.

I did manage to make about $2,000. Not bad. I think I'm going to have to get a job during the school year though ... Can you imagine me, working in one of the dining halls? I would be a safety hazard ... Mass accidental poisonings ... Bleh. Oh well, we'll see how it goes.

Today at work my supervisor announced to everyone that I and the other temp were approaching our "use by" dates - I mean, that we are leaving Allstate soon. All of my co-workers were properly temporarily saddened, in that fake way I'm sure you're familiar with ;) The work load has been pretty heavy of late, and I guess that's a good thing. I remember at the start of the job, I was starting to get a little worried that they wouldn't have enough work for me to do! Well, they only sent me home early once. And it was on a Friday. At 1:30. More than a half day in.

My sister has been finishing up her nanny job, too. I think in terms of teaching the little kid, she accomplished a few things with him. Since she is leaving and they don't have another nanny, he is going to be sent to the Goddard School from now on. Very nice place. In some ways I feel jealous of the little boy, since he's going to be going to fancy private schools all his life. On the other hand, I also feel sorry for him, because he's going to be going to fancy private schools all his life. Yay for public schools ... Sort of. Yay for Catholic schools. Usually. Hurray, hurray for homeschooling ...

Thursday, August 11, 2005


A wonderful reflection from Boston Catholic Journal:

The Evil of Collective Sin

The faces of sin are many.

There is an aspect of sin of which we are sometimes not fully or even sufficiently aware. Most of us can grasp the existence of our individual sins, but there is also an inescapable sense of our complicity in sins that loom over us as a people, a society, a nation. It is essentially an intuitive realization of something beyond our individual culpability, a sense of collective sin --- of our guilt through our complicity in moral enormities, a complicity most often silent in nature. It might be summed up in three words: "Let it pass." Whatever the evil, whatever the injustice, whatever the oppression --- in whatever form it takes --- "let it pass."

Whenever evil is concealed under the euphemism of "correctness", or "tolerance" --- and we fail to raise our voice against it, to stamp it out as inimical to the good, to a Law greater than any men pass (and subsequently amend, discard, or abolish) in courts or seats of legislature ... However august, esteemed, and established its venue ... Whenever we fail to raise our voice, and simply "let it pass" --- we have entered into complicity with the outrage through our silence. We fear to condemn it, to reveal our abhorrence of it ... And in remaining silent, condone it.

This is nothing new to you. This is no great awakening. You have known it all along.

Unlike individual sin, from which we cannot exonerate ourselves, collective sin is a much more subtle --- but no less pernicious --- form of evil that easily lends itself to a multiplicity of plausible excuses. Because it is so subtle it is extremely pervasive. What is more, we come to believe that the more pervasive it is, the less evil it must be. It is essentially morality as distributive, or more simply, morals as mathematics.

We may recognize the evil, but believe that we can abstract ourselves from it and place the fault, the responsibility upon others. We distribute the blame, the guilt, until it becomes so suffuse that it is no longer morally tangible. That failing, any residual guilt can simply be ascribed to others, to the vast number --- of which you had hitherto been part. They become our scapegoat when the core meltdown of moral imperatives reaches critical mass and can no longer be ignored without catastrophic consequences to the individual and society at large.

Read the entire reflection here. It really makes a lot of good points. The most famous example of "collective sin" through silence is, no doubt, that of the German people during the rise of Hitler and the implementation of his "final solution." Many people nowadays look back on that horrible period and think, "How could they? How could they just let it happen, and not speak up, not object?"

We forget that we, too, have examples in our past of this kind of complicity. Many accepted slavery as an institution; perhaps an unfortunate one, but yet an unalterable social fact. Into the mid-20th century, systematic, institutionalized racism was often considered to be just "the way things are." And it's not like we, in 21st century America, have finally achieved moral superiority and have created the perfect society. We need to always be aware that our government can and does make unjust laws and sanction unjust actions. We need to know that simply because something has become socially "acceptable," doesn't mean that it is not profoundly wicked; and that, if we don't speak up about the crimes we see, our silence will make us accomplices.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Quick, Holiness, to the Bat ... I mean, Popemobile!"

Well, technically a black sedan-style limo isn't the Popemobile. But doesn't it look like he's rushing off to save the day?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Did you go to school, like I did, with annoying boys who would say "Yesssss!" every time they sunk a basket or got an A or did something vaguely positive? I was always looking for a way to throw it back in their faces, so that they would finally realize how horrid it was, but as I recall I was only able to do it once, during a game of Marco Polo.

Anyway, here is some Yesss-worthy news:

Mel Gibson asked to portray Passion for next World Youth Day

Sydney, Aug. 08 ( - Cardinal George Pell has asked actor Mel Gibson to stage a reenactment of the Crucifixion in Sydney, Australia, during World Youth Day there in 2008, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The newspaper reports that the portrayal would begin with a staging of the Last Supper at the famous Opera House, and conclude with the Crucifixion in the city's cathedral. The Morning Herald indicated that Gibson has not yet responded to the invitation, but Cardinal Pell said, "He might well be attracted."

Now, Sydney has not even been officially announced as the next site for World Youth Day ... Still, wouldn't this be great?

Peter Akinola rebukes the English House of Bishops

It seems clear the House of Bishops is determined to chart a course for the Church of England that brings further division at a time when we are still struggling with fragmentation and disunity within the Communion. Let it be known that it is not a path that we can follow. It is also a path that is clearly at odds with the mind of the rest of the Anglican Communion.

May I remind the Bishops of the Church of England that, when faced with similar decisions on the part of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, discipline was imposed. While I have great affection and respect for the historic role that the Church of England has played in all of our lives, no church can ignore the teaching of the Bible with impunity and no church is beyond discipline.

I call on the House of Bishops of the Church of England to renounce their statement and declare their unqualified commitment to the historic faith, teaching and practice of the Church. Failure to do so will only add to our current crisis.

Go, Anglican fascists! :)

Phoenix bishop enforces ban against pro-choice politicians

PHOENIX - Politicians who support issues like abortion and gay rights have been banned from speaking at Catholic churches in the Phoenix Diocese ...

... In a letter to pastors in December, Olmsted said churches may not invite to speak any politician or other public figure who disagrees with basic church teachings on abortion, gay marriage or other issues.

An invitation "would provide them with a platform which would suggest support for their actions," Olmsted wrote.

I love Bishop Olmsted. Talk about cleaning up a diocese!

New Liturgical Movmement blog

This blog, which looks awesome, enjoys the contributions of quite a few experts, including a couple very prominent writers. It's dedicated to exploring the possibilities for revitalizing the Sacred Liturgy. Particularly interesting are the various "streams" of thought on this subject: Those who favor the classical Roman rite (Tridentine or Latin Mass), the "reform of the reform," school, which seems more moderate and seeks to reform the current Novus Ordo, and finally, with regard to Eastern Catholicism. This last isn't exactly a "school," I guess I would say; however, elements of the Eastern rites (Byzantine, Ukranian etc.) are quite influential even in the Latin community. The Easterners certainly seem to have preserved liturgical beauty and reverence with far greater success than Westerners.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Hmmm, thinking

My sister had an interesting post a little while ago on the philosophical limitations of the scientific method. She notes, for one thing, that some of our highest values - justice, mercy, love etc. - can not be "proved" through empirical observation. Today, while going through then-Cardinal Ratzinger's Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion, I came upon some very interesting paragraphs on belief and certainty.

Ratzinger first relates Buber's famous story about the argument between a rabbi and an atheist, in which the rabbi overcomes the atheist's arguments with the disquieting statement: "And yet, perhaps it is true." Cardinal Ratzinger notes that this "perhaps" is faith's greatest advantage, as well as its greatest weakness. In the still, silent moments of his life an unbeliever must always admit that the beautiful, wild dream of the Divine may be true; at the same time, in our highly empirical age, that which can not be scientifically proved is automatically suspect to many learned people. Perhaps God is real, or maybe it is only a beautiful dream, after all. Perhaps, perhaps.

But the Cardinal adds:

Is it really only perhaps? If the forms of verification of modern natural science were the only way in which man could arrive at any certainty, then faith would indeed have to be classified in the realm of mere "perhaps" and to be constantly fused with doubt, to be virtually identical with it. But just as a person becomes certain of another's love without being able to subject it to the methods of scientific experimentation, so in the contact between God and man there is a certainty of a quite different kind from the certainty of objectivizing thought. We live faith, not as a hypothesis, but as the certainty on which our life is based.

(Emphasis his).

This is quite close to what my sister was saying!

Ratzinger continues:
If two people regard their love merely as a hypothesis that is constantly in need of new verification, they destroy love in that way. It is contradicted in its essence if one tries to to make it something one can grasp in one's hand. By then it has already been destroyed. Perhaps so many relationships break down today because we are aware of the certainty only of the verified hypothesis and do not admit the ultimate validity of anything not scientifically proved. Thus, the essential phenomena of human life escape us, with their quite different kind of certainty, which is in truth far higher.

Ahhh. Little bits like this are why I love reading Ratzinger. His suggestions about why relationships fall apart so often nowadays reminds me of an article I found via the Curt Jester, which stated that the traditional vows of "'till death do us part" were being replaced by "for as long as we shall love each other."


Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Cathedral at Cologne

Papa will be visiting this famous architectural tour de force during the World Youth Day celebrations in mid-August. You can see his whole schedule here.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


My brother officially signed up with the Marines yesterday. He's going to college (who knows where, blaaaah), and during the summers and on weekends he'll do basic training. I think they're going to give him $20,000 for school. When he graduates, he'll have a presidential commission and have the rank of an officer - a Second Lieutenant.

This is all through the Platoon Leaders Course. Of course, he owes them four years of active duty service after graduation, too.

He has been spending all of his time for the last couple weeks with the recruitment officer, Staff Sergeant ... Kazminksi? I can't spell Polish last names, lol. They are getting all the paperwork done and everything. Mother is all worried about him, and I guess I would be, too, if it were my son. I think he's going to be ok. It certainly will be prestigious to be a ranking officer. The SSgt. is with the Military Police when he rotates out of recruitment, and he said they don't see much action; so maybe Mother would be satisfied with that. However, Mother wants him to be a supply clerk, har har.

Of course, as soon as I got online today, what did I find but an article about our old "friends," the Westboro Baptists:
Friday, about 15 members of the group -- some of them children -- picketed the funeral of a St. Joseph soldier who was killed in Iraq. Mahoney reported that the group stood across the road from the Grace Evangelical Church during the funeral of 21-year-old Spc. Edward Myers.

"The first sin was being a part of this military. If this young man had a clue and any fear of God, he would have run, and not walked, from this military," said protester Shirley Phelps-Roper. "Who would serve a nation that is godless and has flipped off, defiantly defied, defiantly flipped off, the Lord their God?"

One protester had an American flag tied to his belt that draped to the ground. He was holding a sign that read, "Thank God For IEDs," which are explosive devices used by insurgents to blow up military convoys.

Protesters said America has ignored the word of God, and those who defend the nation must pay a price.

"That's the first piece of solid evidence that you have that the young man is currently in hell," Phelps-Roper said.

"The soldier is in hell now, you believe?" Mahoney asked.

"Absolutely," Phelps-Roper said.

I guess they are going around protesting military funerals now. Personally, I think that could be dangerous to their physical health.

Rest of the article.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sticky Situation

I'm sure that most of you are aware of the recent unfortunate diplomatic confrontation between the Vatican and Israel. It has really cast a shadow over Vatican-Israeli relations, and probably will have some short-term implications for Jewish-Catholic inter-religious relations, as well.

A recap of the affair: One of the Pope's statements condemning terrorism, which did mention days-old incidents in Egypt and London, did not specifically mention less recent attacks in Israel. For some reason the Israelis took vehement exception to this and actually accused the Vatican of omitting their suffering, deliberately. The Vatican response stated that, of course, the Holy Father condemned all acts of terrorism, and the accusations were utterly groundless. At first it seemed to be a one-off spat; but then, an Israeli official publicly charged that it had been Vatican policy for years to ignore Palestinian terrorism.

The Vatican's response this time was much more stern; it stated that "It has not always been possible to follow every attack against Israel with a public declaration of condemnation ... The attacks on Israel were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law; It would thus be impossible to condemn the (terrorist operations) and pass over the (Israeli retaliation) in silence."

It also included a long list of statements from John Paul II condemning acts of violence against Israeli civilians.

Needless to say, it is very unfortunate that all this should be happening right before the Holy Father visits a synagogue during his trip to Germany. Personally, I can understand why the Israelis are sensitive to European dismissals of their suffering, especially since it sometimes seems like certain European members of the United Nations spend much of their time drafting resolutions condemning Israel, while practically justifying Palestinan violence through silence. However, I think Israel's initial protests were a bit ... Could I say ... Silly? I mean, obviously, the Pope thinks it's horrible that civilians are being blown up in Israel. It hardly needs stating, does it? The point was that the attacks in Israel had taken place quite a while before, while the London and Egypt attacks were only a few days old. And to suggest that leaving the Israeli attacks out was deliberate is really quite nasty.

You can read a blow-by-blow assessment here. Warning: although the website is the Age, the article is from the Guardian, I believe. Guardian = Ick.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Look what I found!

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Quodlibeta has a "Ratzinger Reading Plan," that is, a suggested order in which to read Papa's major books. His suggestions:

1. Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977
2. The Ratzinger Report
3. Salt of the Earth
4. The Feast of Faith
5. God and the World
6. The Spirit of the Liturgy
7. God Is Near Us

I have read numbers 1, 2, 3, and 5; I've skimmed number 7. The first one I read was the Ratzinger Report, which was wonderful. Milestones is excellent, too, and fantastic for "understanding" Papa as a man. What can I say, they're all good! ;)

The links are to Blah. Why buy when you can borrow? Of course, the Hudson Library does not have a very good selection of Christian books, since they seem to prefer to spend their (I mean, the taxpayers') money on acquiring more and more Al Franken ;) I always have books from other public libraries sent to the good old - I should say brand new - Hudson library, through the Clevenet Consortium. Here's where you can get the books. Just type in "Ratzinger" and select "All Clevenet Libraries." They even have images next to the titles, ooo, classy.

Why am I becoming so intimately familiar with the library system? When I would rather be doing more productive things, like, for instance, sleeping? Well, I am trying to get mother to at least read a couple of his easier, less theological works, like Milestones etc., just so she can be more familiar with Papa. It is currently like pulling teeth, though. Maybe after I go back to school and she has more time on her hands she'll take my advice ;)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Morons with doctorates

One generally imagines that tenured professors with terminal degrees have a certain amount of intellectual ... Ability? And then, one's assumptions are challenged by gems from the mouths of the academes themselves. For instance, behold Boston College religion prof Alan Wolfe holding forth with regard to church and state:

It may make sense to allow symbolic displays of religion, but some religions are very symbolic while others are not. Catholics, for example, worship statues of saints, which conservative Protestants generally view as a form of idolatry.

Ahhh. Yes. You know, conservative Protestants view statue-worshipping as idolatry because, well, it is idolatry. Catholics who have gotten beyond their first two years of life without damage to their brains also know this to be true. Just when you think the whole "Catholics worship statues! And saints! And Mary!" crap had been successfully banished to the far margins of wacked-out, hate-mongering Jack Chick-dom, you hear it out of the mouth of a religion professor. And this really ices the cake: Boston College is supposed to be a Catholic university. I guess it's just a Jesuit university now ;) No offense to the "good" Jesuits ... I know you're out there somewhere, har har!

I'm really hoping Dr. Wolfe has been misprinted or something. And yet ... I have looked at some of his other work over the years, and in terms of quality it seems to jive pretty well with his "understanding" of Catholicism. Grr.

Came upon this on Off the Record.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Oh ho

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No, that is not me. Not for a couple years anyway ;)

I do feel quite happy today, though. Monday we had hardly any checks to handle at Allstate; on Tuesday, we got hit with a whole bunch. Either way is fine with me; on Monday I just sat doing the even more mindless change-of-billing-address work, and it was very relaxing; on Tuesday, we had so much to do that the time flew by.

My work is boring but sometimes interesting things happen. For instance, today I discovered that there really is a Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon - if you read the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary when you were little, you know Klickitat Street! I also handled a bill from a genuine article Lord and Lady. Lord and Lady Hunt, to be precise. They're obviously foreigners, but apparently they're living in New York. She even signed the check, "Lady Hunt." It was a bit of a surprise to see nobility with Allstate accounts. Then again ... The titles are hereditary, so you could lose money until you were as middle-class as the average American, and still have the title. Or maybe they're just faking for the sake of ordering checks with "Lord and Lady Hunt" at the top. No wait, that's something I would do ;)

Oh well. Their insurance bill has been paid out, so Lord Hunt should take his wife out to dinner tonight to celebrate ...

Monday, August 01, 2005


I'm sure I mentioned before that would-be Supreme Court Justice, Judge John Roberts, is a Roman Catholic. Here's a Beliefnet article that goes more in depth, focusing on his parish in Maryland, the Church of the Little Flower. Some excerpts:

Located in a prosperous, forested neighborhood of Bethesda, Little Flower displays the marks of a parish in conformity with official Catholic teaching: a large picture of Pope Benedict XVI at the moment of his papal election greets visitors as they enter the church; there is a Vatican flag on the altar; the bulletin board in the foyer announces the beginning of the canonization process for Pope John Paul II; pro-life literature is prominently available; the parish newsletter encourages congregants "to send your best wishes and prayer intentions to Pope Benedict XVI…by e-mail to"


On the Church of the Little Flower’s website, which links to the Vatican and promotes traditional piety and devotions such as "Forty Hours of Eucharistic Adoration," Monsignor Vaghi has posted a meditation on chastity. Quoting the archbishop of Bologna, he said that every "sexual act performed outside marriage" is "gravely illicit," but "even within marriage there can be an exercise of sexuality that does not respect its moral value: when the conjugal act does not truly respect the dignity of the person of one's spouse, as well as when it is deprived, through a positive intervention of the spouses, of its natural capacity to give origin to new life."

In another meditation, Monsignor Vaghi staunchly defended the Church's teaching on abortion. "After all, since Roe v. Wade in l973, the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion, there have been over 44 million abortions, young children dying before they had the opportunity to enjoy life outside the womb as we enjoy life," he wrote. "Our church is always, and will always, be on the side of life, life from conception until natural death. And it is precisely because Jesus took on life, took on flesh and ennobled it by becoming man and like us in everything but sin that we value human life so much, that we were born in His image and reborn in Christ Jesus."

Very good. I was starting to feel a bit ehhhhh about Mr. Roberts for some reason (maybe the sense of "resignation" to his confirmation I seem to see in liberals?); this goes quite a way to reassure me.