Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hillary's Inner Tracy Flick

Tip of the hat to Mark Shea over at Catholic and Enjoying It! for this one.


This is hilarious on so many levels. Hope it comes out funny as a blog entry. You've got to imagine seeing the subject header in your email index and having to decide whether you are curious enough about the latest scam to take a look, or just want to give it a quick hit of the DEL key.

From: Laws, Dorothy
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:47 PM
To: Cheseroni, Beatrice; Driscoll, Alexandrine; Ashley, Marguerite

From: Lesniczak, Edward
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:35 PM
To: Laws, Dorothy

From: Rudloff, Charles
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 12:36 PM
To: Lesniczak, Edward

From: Donna McNeill []
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:27 AM
To: Rudloff, Charles


From: Cindy Gulden []
Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 8:49 AM
To:; Andrea Kleppe; Debbie (Debbie);; Donna McNeill;; Roseanne Prado


A generation unafraid of faith

Another indication that the times, they are a changin', from Newsweek's My Turn column:

A Simple Twist Of Faith

I didn't understand my sister's draw to evangelical Christianity. But I've learned to trust her choices.

Read the whole article here.

[Done reading? Back to Rae:]
When I was in college, I used to bait evangelical Christians. I really could not understand how they could be so totally unashamed about evangelizing. I laughed at them and felt superior to them. And of course I had my Catholic snobbery against Protestants. "How can anything good come out of Galilee... I mean Luther and Calvin." Even though I had abandoned my own Catholic faith, I felt like I was more of a Christian than those silly Jesus-speaking straights.

Now I realize that this very snobbery and sophistication on the part of Catholic and Jewish baby boomers -- those whose traditions left them feeling simultaneously entitled (as a Chosen People and a People of God) and estranged from modernity ("nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition") -- was playing a jazzy, come-away-with-me Pied Piper tune to the lost in space generation of the sixties. I look back on the hippie times and I am no longer proud of, or bewildered by, or angry at myself -- the stages I went through when I realized the damages done. I understand exactly the appeal, and much of it was good. But the evangelicals held down the fort for Christ while the new and the old Israel abandoned their understanding of the communion of saints and ran away.

They deserve our thanks.

And our prayers that someday they do come to understand the communion of saints. And lose the Puritan individualism of "me and Christ alone."

Monday, January 28, 2008

The smallest house in Toronto is for sale

My sister Marguerite sent me some pictures from the smallest house in Toronto, which is once again on sale, for $179,000. YouTube has a video about it but it's an old one, before the recent renovations were made. Take a look at these images.

It is so cute! Makes me want to run out and buy it, as a second home. I could visit my friends in Toronto and deduct the expenses as home maintenance. And did I mention it was cute? Not that I have $179,000 to spend...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fr. James Alberione was no "media baron"

Fr. Tom Fogarty, SSP makes some comments in 1982 in his book APOSTLE FOR OUR TIMES that are relevant to the Pauline mission today. He writes of the 1960's when the Church at large caught up with Blessed Alberione's vision of the importance of mass media for communication of the gospel:
An interesting aspect of modern mass-media influence is that... the information presented, not always very interesting, must be made interesting by underlining the darker or more controversial side of the picture. This is understandable. Unless we are stirred to our depths by a certain dramatisation of the urgency, many things that should be done will never get done.

It is not easy for [the media men (sic)] to adopt a friendly tone when they come to treat of God or of religion -- for the simple reason that a friendly approach to anything tends to run into ruts. Like any other subject, religion easily becomes boring so, if it is introduced at all, it is presented as nothing better than pepped-up humanism or, if the truth must be told, as something controversial.

This explains why those who watched the original extensive coverage given in the sixties to Vatican II and who said happily that the Church needed only latch onto this friendly collaboration via a good Press Office were quickly disillusioned. The old saying, "There is no such thing as bad publicity", has scarcely proven truth for the Church.

Much of the confusion we have experienced is the work of media men who in their tireless search for a good "story" huffed and puffed unsound or purely speculative theology out of all proportion to reality. In their turn, the theologians fell under the spell of being darlings of the media and were understandably led to confirm positions which they had not really taken.

The final result has not been development of doctrine, which is legitimate and necessary, but distortion of doctrine for which we shall pay dearly to the end of the [twentieth] century and beyond
When Fr. Fogarty wrote that in the 1980's, our media culture had not yet adopted its current competitive mandate to deliver exciting and controversial news 24/7. We in the Pauline family would do well to keep Fogarty's prescience in mind as we try to make an impact using the means of social communication.

He goes on to talk about material success and spiritual reality in the Pauline mission:
We are dealing with a spiritual reality when we talk about spreading the Word of God. Obviously it has a material dimension but this dimension can be very misleading. Admit it or not, we still have the subconscious persuasion that what we really need to convert the world to Christ are more and better Press, Radio and TV facilities. Thus, if the Church oculd truly make her voice a commanding force in every corner of the world, the world would reform overnight.

Nothing, unfortunately, could be further from the truth.

... The plain fact is that the mere presentation of Church teaching, however well or extensively done, is not enough. It must be supported by spiritual effort. And when we say this we immediately throw light on Father James' entire life and work.

In the mid-sixties when Church use of the media became official, following Vatican II, the Pauline Family had already been fifty years in existence. It had begun with principles which were now finally recognised as having always been valid and, in those years, it had not only expanded materially but, most of all, it had expanded spiritually.... It had expanded to include continuous prayer for God's blessing on the whole undertaking. There was a daily Holy Hour for everyone, Perpetual Adoration where this was physically possible and many other devotional exercises in honour of the Eucharist.

Most of all, it had expanded spiritually in the person of the Founder. Advanced in age but much more advanced in the grace, his daily schedule of prayer and utterly-dedicated life were a constant source of wonder to those who had the privilege of living with him.

[Father Alberione] had no intention of founding anything in the nature of a "Communications' Empire" in the modern sense, though he certainly did all in his power to increase the range of the apostolate.... What are we to think, for example, of his tenacious insistence that the Society's radio work badly needed to be developed - and this when he was over 80 years of age?

But he was no business baron. What he really set out to do... was to give life to a Religious Family whose members would be active in the mass-media field but whose main activity would be spiritual. His concern was that they should put prayer, witness and permanent commitment as the indispensable foundation and source of their work...

Father James was small in stature but he was a spiritual giant... The place and importance of the Religious Family he founded can be judged by the degree to which it is faithful to his spirit.

That is why the permanent and perennial work of the Pauline Family is not, and cannot, be measured in mass-media terms... In his own lifetime, Fr. James was almost unknown - even to his own sons and daughters. This was as it should have been. He was no superstar, blazing briefly in a personal display of religious brilliance. Instead, his mission was to be the first of many brethren, he was to give the Church a new type of work and an intense spirituality to sustain that work.

And so the success or failure of his Family is not measured either by number of members or by number of products. The measure is, and always will be, the degree of closeness to Christ each member cultivates, the degree of perfection with which he or she imitates the life of Christ. It is not all that difficult to communicate the Gospel. But what the world badly needs is people to live it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Michael Rew illustrated by Chagall's "The Prophet Isaiah"

I really like Michael Rew's poetry. Here is another one, and a link to his site, which I am putting on my blog roll.

So Sing God's Charity!

I praise the Lord because He took the tongs
and touched the coal against my lips and heart
and pardoned me and filled my soul with art,
with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
and sonnets also since my heart belongs
to Jesus Christ, Whose love I know in part,
Whose blood has blotted out and torn apart
and cast away all record of my wrongs.
So sing in tongues and prophecies unceased
the charity of God, which never fails,
the love of God the God of love released
when sinners pressed the wood and drove the nails
into the King, Whose kingdom is increased
whenever love within His Church prevails!
~ by Michael Rew | Email:

Michael Healy Remembers When Kung and Von Hildebrand Came to Loyola

Richard Chonak over at Catholic Lite posted a most excellent story by Michael Healy that I need to retell here. But first some background.

My son Ish has recently become a fervent Catholic, and he has a hard time believing the stories I tell him of what it was like for his father and me when we returned to the Faith in the mid-70's. He can't conceive of a time when rosaries, novenas, Exposition and Adoration were not only NOT in vogue but were positively ridiculed by pastors and laity alike.

Healy's article recalls the spirit of those times very well. I am linking to it (go read it already!) because my son's generation of young Catholics need to understand the times we older folks lived through. Perhaps then they will see that we didn't do too badly just to keep the Faith alive in a dark time, let alone make any progress.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Holy Presence Within

Steve Silvia has the spirit of Blessed Alberione to a tee. If he isn't a Pauline formally, he is in his heart.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Michael Rew and James Christensen touch the hem of God's robe

Each day I pray, my prayer request the same,
that I may dwell in quietness and rest
and offer up the firstfruits with the best
upon the altar of my heart, each flame
rejoicing in the goodness of Thy Name;
with thanks because Thou hast heard my request;
with faith because it shall be manifest;

with joy because it shall be for Thy fame.
And when my branch shall flourish so fruits grow,
bring to my mind remembrance of this hymn,
that I no more am running to and fro,
but laying at Thy feet, Thy skirt my hem,
for I approach Mount Zion, for to go
to be Thy Bride, the New Jerusalem.

~ by Michael Rew , Psonnets of Worship

Friday, January 18, 2008

King of Glory


I love Stephen Colbert's Catholicism. I hope he never falls into the self-hating anger of a George Carlin. I don't see that happening. As the youngest of eleven children in an Irish Catholic family with whom he is still quite close, and a practicing Catholic who is not afraid to declare his churchiness, he's the best PR person the Faith has had in awhile. I love that he wore his ashes throughout his Ash Wednesday tv broadcast. I love that on his surveys he asks you to mark, under Religion:

a) Catholic


b) Other.

Here is a glorious spin on "liturgical dance," set to a song every Catholic who grew up in the 70's-90's knows and either loves or hates. It is taken from the rolling credits of one of the Strangers With Candy episodes.

Hat tip to son Ish and to-be-daughter-in-law Sine for the link.

Friday, January 11, 2008

All You Really Need to Know About Prayer You Can Learn From the Poor

Prayer and Poverty.

In one sense it is profanely presumptuous for any of us first-world citizens to meditate on or learn lessons from "the poor." For this reason I tend to steer clear of books that try to explicate the life of faith from the vantage point of the poor. But being in the used book business brings me in contact with books I might ordinarily pass up out of hand. One such book is Louise Perrotta's book of essays of poor persons of faith she has encountered in the course of missionary work in Haiti and Jamaica, "All You Really Need to Know About Prayer You Can Learn From the Poor."


Prayer for a disciple of Christ is not so much food for the continued nourishment of the soul -- Eucharist fits that role --but like the air we breathe. It is not something we "do" so much as a necessary element of daily existence which we take for granted until we find ourselves somehow cut off from it and in danger of asphixiation. Techniques of prayers are like the breathing techniques of yoga - a way to assume some modest amount of conscious control over a reflexive process without which a disciple cannot remain attached to Christ.

The "advantage" the poor have in prayer is the advantage that suffering affords any soul who by the grace of God maintains faith, hope and charity when pushed to the human limits of endurance day after day. In my own life, I reflect back on two major crises, the continued hospitalization of my father for bipolar psychosis during my adolescence and the death of my son Simon when I was 33 years old. Teenage Rae's faith was severely debilitated by the experience of daily life in a household with a beloved father turned scarily psychotic. Thirtysomething Rae's faith was sharpened to a keen edge by the experience of losing a son to death. Did my comfortable existence as a middle-class American render these experiences less real than the material poverty of "the poor" that Louise Perrotta encountered in her Caribbean adventures? I would argue no. The emptiness & continual brush-up with despair that accompanies a life of daily pain over which we have no control is a universal leveling experience.

As my mother used to say, money is no good for the things that really hurt in life, so we should use it to alleviate those things it is good for.

Perrotta reflects on one basic prayer:

'Lord, make me more like you.'

Anyone who prays this prayer has glimpsed something powerfully attractive about God... Having caught a glimpse of God, they have fallen in love with him and have set out after him.

But no one whose eyes have been opened in this way wants to stop with merely seeing, or even following God. And indeed, for all of us - no matter how clear or how dim our vision of God - something planted deep within us cries out for fulfillment: we want to be united with the One in whose image we were created. 'Our hearts are restless, O Lord,' wrote St. Augustine, 'and they will not rest until they rest in you.'

Reflect again on that most famous of St. Augustine's observations: Our hearts are restless, O Lord, and they will not rest until they rest in you.

Perrotta goes on to say:

Amazingly, this union that we long for is precisely what God has in mind. 'As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us...' is what Jesus prayed for just before he gave up his life on the cross (John 17:21).

There is a choice here before us - one that we express daily through a host of minor choices related to friends, activities, thoughts, attitudes, prayer. These everday decisions put us on one of two paths. On one, God's image in us will be dimmed, blurred, eventually obscured. On the other, we are revealed as shining images of God, transformed by him 'from one degree of glory to another" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The people whose stories appear here [i. e. in Perrotta's book] have made their choice, each in their own way, to be drawn by love farther and farther down that sometimes painful, always joyful, road that leads to union with God.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Everything I know about sex I learned from Stephen Colbert

"Fantasy role-playing... just because it's naughty, doesn't mean it's a free for all. There are rules. If your spouse comes out of the bathroom wearing nothing but a red hood and a basket of goodies, you sure as hell better have a wolf head on."
- Stephen Colbert, "I Am America (And So Can You!)"

... or it might have been written by Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Allison Silverman, Michael Brumm, Eric Drydale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Peter Grosz, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Laura Krafft, Frank Lesser, or Tom Purcell. Suits, please give these writers what they deserve so the strike can be over and we can get on with the entertainment!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy new year, from Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Feynman & me

Sonnet -- To Science
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or deem thee wise?
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jeweled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Has thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?
- Edgar Allan Poe

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars -
mere gobs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere." I too can see
the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more?
The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination -
stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light.

A vast pattern - of which I am a part - perhaps my stuff was belched
from some forgotten star, as one is belching there. Or see them
with the greater eye of Palomar, rushing all apart from some
common starting point when they were perhaps all together.
What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm
to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth
than any artists of the past imagined! Why do the poets of the present
not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter
if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere
of methane and ammonia must be silent?
- --Richard Feynman