Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Climbing the rungs with Martin Buber

I took my coffee this morning on my beautiful front patio, with a cool May breeze ruffling the delicate pink roses that Bill suggests I might want to prune ("It's the kind of thing a retired person might do. You can find information on the Internet on when and how to prune").

I don't actually have a front patio. I am extending my newly discovered sunroom/foyer to the outside, which feels a lot like creating outdoor housing with my sister Marguerite when I was a kid. So I drag my UD rocking chair outside to the sidewalk leading up to the front stoop. I'm thinking a cafe bistro set might be just the ticket for spring-a-fying my oratory.

My reading material today was Martin Buber's Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings. I was listing the book for Pious Ladies Bookmobile. What a wonderful find!

Why do we say "Our God and the God of our fathers?"

There are 2 kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this:

The advantage of the first is, that no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is a flaw. He has faith only in response to the command of a man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself.

The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence.

But the person who invites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say "Our God" with reference to our studies, and "God of our fathers" with an eye toward tradition.

The same interpretation has been given to our saying, "God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob," and not "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham, they themselves searched for God.
- The rung of God and man

In May the month of Mary, a mother can dream....

This one goes out to all my kids, grandkids, and young people all over this world that brings us such sorrow and such joy.

Deepen your lives. Pray the rosary.

"The Blessed Virgin Mary -- the go-to girl for 2000 years!"

In May the month of Mary, a mother can dream....

This one goes out to all my kids, grandkids, and young people all over this world that brings us such sorrow and such joy.

Deepen your lives. Pray the rosary.

"The Blessed Virgin Mary -- the go-to girl for 2000 years!"

A Mother Can Dream, Can't She?

So, I hear that my son Walter reads this blog. Walter doesn't think much of Catholicism or the God he thinks we serve. He believes what he reads in the MSM about the Church. And the MSM almost always skews it weird.

Anyway, a mother can dream. Walter, this one's for you.


Friday, May 22, 2009

In May the month of Mary, a mother can dream!

This one goes out to all my kids (yeah, that means you, Walter!), grandkids, and young people all over this world that brings us such sorrow and such joy.

"The Blessed Virgin Mary -- the go-to girl for 2000 years!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A young Catholic reviews old Catholic music as we watch the eternal pendulum swing fore and aft.

I found the following in an Amazon review of Catholic Latin Classics, a CD I just acquired. The reviewer was 16 years old when she wrote it in 2002. We baby boomer Catholics are the ones who lived through the times she writes about. Unlike some of my peers, I love both the traditional Catholic music and the "guitar Mass" style music that was almost all that was played for 30+ years after Vatican II. But I was quite taken with this review, and the light it shed on the differences between generations. I love that the Catholic culture of my childhood is being embraced again by my children and grandchildren's generation.

81 of 86 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Aaaaaah... that's better! ;-), September 30, 2002
Not that they didn't perhaps have good intentions, but I often feel as though those '60's generation Catholics quietly disposed of the rich and all-embracing ("catholic"!) Faith that was to be my birthright, and, beaming, set a big ol' mess of steaming pottage in front of me instead. They told me how lucky I was not to have grown up being forced to listen to Latin, be taught by real live nuns, or shock my poor tender eyes on statues or ornate high altars. Instead, I would have the privelige of attending guitar-and-maraca Masses, where the priest warbled the words of consecration in a sort of blues tune, and-... Ai! Is this really about the God "who gives joy to my youth"? Then why did they, ahem, cut that line? Trying to reconcile all this relentlessly chirpy weirdness with the Holy And Awesome Sacrifice that IS going on - it always deals me Kafka-esque trauma and a headache.

My fellow reviewer from Connecticut, you are so lucky... I can attend the Old Latin Mass only once a month. When I get out of college, I want to move somewhere where I can go every day and live a NORMAL Catholic life! Man, I must be the weirdest teenager in the Valley... ::sighs:: Eek! It's hard not to start using this thing as a message board...

Anyway, keep the Music alive in your hearts with this CD until we can bring it back to the sanctuaries! The day will come... ::smiles tearfully::

Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The social justice activism you did not see yesterday at Notre Dame

For your consideration:

Miles of pro-life protestors line the road into Notre Dame yesterday.

These folks are ordinary Americans who came from around the country to stand against the egregious violation of human rights that is legalized abortion.

As for the commencement itself?

Father Jenkins' demeanor and comport affected me far more than did Obama's. Obama was merely doing his schtick. Hail fellow well met, jolly rhetoric with lots of abstract nouns that sound good and mean absolutely nothing.

Fr. Jenkins, on the other hand, made me almost physically ill. I can not begin to count the ways he conveyed a smarmy worldliness and betrayal of Christ. Was there nobody to fit him with a millstone before he came out there, addressing that sea of young Catholics with his effusive praise of Obama? Were any of the faculty sitting behind him uneasy at the spectacle of a Catholic leader playing Ed McMahon's "Heeeerrrrre's Johnny" to our media-savvy young president? A president who came joking, winking and showing fond indulgence towards the few protestors uncool enough to think the bishops were serious when they advised Catholic institutions not to host dignitaries who support abortion and other non-negotiable evils?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stephen Colbert & Fr. Jim Martin talk about the economic downturn

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Turning to Religion - Jim Martin
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

Finally, a blog that collects all of the Catholic stuff from the Colbert Report in one neat little place on the web!

We should all remember to pray for Colbert daily. He's the funniest and most influential Catholic television personality since Bishop Sheen. I'm sure he needs prayers to keep his equilibrium amidst the adulation he receives. If he defected, what a victory it would be for the Enemy.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do your homework, Opie! Aunt Bea would be so sad

Oh, Opie. I know they probably had only one Catholic church in Mayberry. But surely your pop, Sheriff Andy, or your teacher, Miss Helen, would have told you get your facts straight before completing an assignment on The Catholic Religion. I know I had to do quite a bit of research to complete my project on Islam when I was in 8th grade at Our Lady of Fatima in New Castle, Delaware.

Non-Catholic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette religion editor Ann Rodgers has a cool (in both senses of the word -- "nifty" and "non-inflammatory") article that lists the stupidities about the Catholic Church present in Ron Howard's film Angels and Demons.

Here's the one that made me laugh out loud. Apparently, in the film there is a bomb threat while the cardinals are in conclave, electing a new pope, and the cardinals refuse to leave or even to have St. Peter's Square evacuated:
The senior cardinal says of thousands of endangered visitors, "We all go to heaven."
That line of dialogue is just so risible! It's one of those goofily pious things that religious characters say in fiction written by people who are clueless as to what a daily life of faith is like.

As Rodgers writes:
I'm not sure I can count all of the ways that statement violates Catholic teaching. I once covered a papal Mass at which a far larger crowd was evacuated mid-liturgy due to lightning.
Of course, many folks are so ignorant about the Vatican that they well might think this is how cardinals think and act.

I am currently reading Lord of the World, an apocalyptic SF novel published by Robert Hugh Benson in 1907, and set in the late 20th or early 21st century. This novel, described by Fulton J. Sheen as one of the three greatest depictions of the advent of the demonic in modern literature - the other two being The Brothers Karamazov and Solovyov 's Three Conversations - has one of its characters explain the Catholic faith to his wife, who had just witnessed a priest minister to a dying man:
"My dear, I'll tell you what he believes. He believes that that man whom he showed the crucifix to, and said those words over, is alive somewhere, in spite of his brain being dead: he is not quite sure where; but he is either in a kind of smelting works being slowly burned; or, if he is very lucky, and that piece of wood took effect, he is somewhere beyond the clouds, before Three Persons who are only One although They are Three; that there are quantities of other people there, a Woman in Blue, a great many others in white with their heads under their arms, and still more with their heads on one side; and that they've all got harps and go on singing for ever and ever, and walking about on the clouds, and liking it very much indeed."
He gave no more thought to his exposition of the Christian creed; it was a mere commonplace to him that Catholics believed that kind of thing; it was no more blasphemous to his mind so to describe it, than it would be to laugh at a Fijian idol with mother-of-pearl eyes, and a horse-hair wig; it was simply impossible to treat it seriously. He, too, had wondered once or twice in his life how human beings could believe such rubbish; but psychology had helped him, and he knew now well enough that suggestion will do almost anything. And it was this hateful thing that had so long restrained the euthanasia movement with all its splendid mercy.
If a contemporary filmmaker took on Fijian idol worship in a film, want to bet he'd treat it with serious research and respect?

I can't help but have a fondness for both Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. They have both brought me hours of entertainment. And at least this one isn't the outright offensive hooie of The DaVinci Code.

But.... oh, Opie.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

fiction + faith = what [this] girl[s] want[s]

I've been trying for years to figure out the relationship of fiction to faith. The two things are my passion. Fiction includes stories, novels, poems, film, television, ballads, narrative music videos - visual art, dance, pretty much any form of art. Faith includes theology, theophany, epiphany, apocalypse, prophecy, morality, mortality, existence, actuality, potentiality.... as we say in the Nicean Creed, "All that is, visible and invisible".

Today I stopped by the chapel at the Oratory, not feeling much like praying but wanting to move past the opacity and the reluctance of prayer delayed into either an honest flow or an honest stoppage of communication with my Lord. Kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament, the only thing I could communicate was,

I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want .....

Later today, after dark, sitting on my porch in my rocking chair (my sun room converts to a porch when I put the screen door in) feeling the breezes of the evening as I rocked and tried to make out shapes in the fading light, it hit me that in that prayer I had stumbled across the key to the bond between fiction and faith.

Fiction is our way of reproducing our wants and running simulation after simulation of what happens when we run pell mell after them, chasing them down, gorging on them, and letting them reveal to us the state of our souls in the wake of their consumption.

We are quivering bundles of wants. Faith teaches us how to stand our wants on their heads. Fiction revels in our wants and reveals their final destinations. And then lets us roll the dice again and take off on another permutation of the chase.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blog, blog, blogging again...

There are not two separate kingdoms, one for the living and one for the dead. There is only God's kingdom and, living or dead, we are all therein.
- Georges Bernanos
Baptisms have a way of breaking my personal inertia.

After my son Simon died, in March of 1982, Bill and I started sleeping downstairs on the couch. We were still sleeping on the couch when Walter was born in August. In September, Fr. Goldstein baptized him with great ceremony during the evening CCD classes at Holy Angels, with all of the CCD kids in attendance. That night we climbed upstairs and slept in our own bedroom for the first time since the night Simon died.

Neither of us ever spoke a word about our change in sleeping location -- neither when we started sleeping downstairs, nor when we climbed back up to our own room the night of Walter's baptism. It was one of those unspoken things.

I haven't blogged since Easter. My various joint ailments flared up and gave me both chronic pain and a lot of discouragement about my inability to lose weight and so relieve the pressure on my arthritis joints.

Yesterday, Emily and Scott's son -- and my newest grandchild -- Simon Eric Gregg (named after that first Simon & his brother Eric) was baptized. We had a perfect May day, sunshine in a blue sky, trees in bright green leaves, flowers blooming in all shades of whites & pinks & yellows, with a cool wind taking the edge off of the Delaware hot spring humidity. My grandson Wade was drafted into service at the baptismal font, holding the liturgical book while Father Nash poured on the waters of baptism, and then anointed the babies' heads with the sacred oil.

Afterwards we had a party at my house. Meatballs and shells. Salads both vegetable and orzo with fruit. Wine and water and beer and Coke Zero & Sprite & box drinks. Maria made a flan that was so good I ate four pieces, and skipped the cake from Bing's.

Owen demonstrated his frisbee-throwing skills, skimming it so high that it landed in one of the tall pines in back of the house. Mike then started throwing my dust mop up into the tree trying to dislodge the frisbee. Eventually the dust mop got stuck in the tree also. By this time the guys were having big fun. After they finally dislodged both objects by poking at them with a tall ladder, Owen threw the frisbee again and got it stuck on the top of the house...

A good time was had by all, except for the newly baptized whose pacifier was lost in the shuffle. But Aunt Marg ran to the store & picked up another one, and all was calm and quiet.

And I'm blogging again.