Saturday, May 03, 2003

Interesting news from the UK's Catholic Herald: The Pope might soon allow the world's Catholic priests the right to celebrate the old rite Latin Mass on Sundays and holy days without the permission of their bishops, according to sources close to the Vatican. John Paul II is understood to be ready to grant a "universal indult" by the end of the year to permit all priests to choose freely between the celebration of Mass in the so-called Tridentine rite used up to 1962 - before the disciplinary reforms of the Second Vatican Council - and the novus ordo Mass used after 1970. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wayne Madsen, reporting for the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, claims to know the reason that John Paul II has opposed President Bush over the war with Iraq. According to Madsen, Bush practices a " 'Christian' Blood Cult " which the Pope is rejecting. Nothing I could say would come even close to the effect of reading the article. CarrieTomko@aol.com

I've taken a quick look on the web at the Talking About Touching program which is the subject of Deal Hudson's e-Letter below. There are a great many websites dedicated to it. The program seems to have wide use in many settings. A quick look through Google seems to indicate there is nothing negative about the program so far. In Boston, at the parish of St. Catherine of Siena, parents are taking seriously the need to protect their children, and are meeting to discuss this program. The "Parent's Discussion" link on their webpage goes to a site where concerns can be posted. As of the time I accessed it, there were no comments posted. It's encouraging to see that the Diocese seems to be open to parental opinion, and not taking a "we know best" attitude. There is also talk about the procedure for taking children out of the program if parents wish to do that, though it appears to be Diocesan policy that the program is mandatory. The "mandatory" must apply to the schools and not to the individual children. At the age of 5, no one else knows the child like a parent does. What would upset one child might not phase another child. So long as parents are made aware of what is being taught and have the option to take children out, it looks like this is a good program. But then, I haven't seen the curriculum or talked to a child who has gone through it, so that's a very general assessment. Might this program be a foundation teaching on which an abstinence program can be built in later grades, bringing in Church teaching about sexual activity being reserved to marriage? Based on that hope, I would give the program a cautious 1-1/2 thumbs up. Of course, the experience of children and parents is going to be the best judge of this program. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Deal Hudson, editor of Crisis magazine writes an e-Letter weekly. This week's letter deals with a new program being established in the Boston Diocese which is aimed at protecting kids from sexual abuse, but which may be too explicit for the age at which the program starts. Here's his letter: What A 5-Year Old In Boston Is Learning CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter May 2, 2003 ********************************************** Dear Friend, First, let me tell you that this e-letter is going to contain some unpleasant material -- material that's unsuitable for children. Nevertheless, it's vital that I get this information out to you...even though it may cause you some uncomfortable reading. Alright, you've been warned. I know a lot of parents, myself included, have been casting around for ways to better protect and educate our kids in the wake of the Church's sex scandal. Like all things related to the scandal, Boston is once again the focus of attention, as Catholics and the media alike watch to see what kind of programming the diocese will implement to clean up its act. To that end, and since April was designated Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Boston archdiocese has chosen to institute a program called "Talking About Touching" (TAT). Created by the Committee for Children, a secular group in Seattle, the program is designed to teach kids in kindergarten through grade 4 "safety, self-protection, and assertiveness skills" to help protect them from dangerous situations. Sounds great, doesn't it? I mean, what parent wouldn't want his or her child armed with some good safety tips as they go out into an increasingly dangerous world? But there are some parents in the Boston archdiocese who aren't so thrilled with TAT. And after investigating the program and the way it's being implemented, I can understand why. First, there's TAT itself. The title alone sets off warning bells in my mind -- "Talking About Touching"? After being billed as a program that covers everything from car and fire safety to assertiveness skills, I'm a little suspicious that they chose to focus solely on touching in the title. It makes it sound like a sex-ed program, which some parents may be uncomfortable with. When kids are this young -- 5 or 6 -- shouldn't the parent be able to decide the appropriate age to "talk about touching"? And isn't it the parents' job to do the talking in the first place? And then there's the program's contents... A Web site started by concerned parents in Norwood, MA, outlines some of the scenarios taught to the kids in the program. http://www.germino.biz/scsparents/ Again, remember that this is geared to children in grades K through 4: "This is Kerry. She is worried about something that happened to her last week when she spent the night with one of her friends. Her friend's older brother came into the bedroom, put his hand under the covers of the bed Kerry was sleeping in, and touched her vagina (private parts). She said, 'Stop that!' in an assertive voice. He stopped, but then he told her to keep it a secret. Kerry is wondering what she should do." I don't know about you, but I find this outrageous -- especially, when you consider the ages of the children who would be hearing it. The thought of my 5-year-old son Cyprian being subjected to this kind of thing burns me up. Frankly, I wouldn't stand for it. And that's the problem. You see, if my family lived in the Boston archdiocese, I wouldn't have a choice. That's right...the archdiocese has made it mandatory for every child in Catholic schools, and no parent is allowed even to sit in on the class with his or her child. Even if TAT were a completely legitimate program, the fact that parents are not given a say in how their young children are taught about sexuality is outrageous. It's the parent's responsibility to make these decisions, not the school board's. What's more, the Church agrees. Consider this passage from Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the family: "Those in society who are in charge of schools must never forget that the parents have been appointed by God Himself as the first and principal educators of their children and that their right is completely inalienable" (#40). That's pretty clear, I think. And what's also clear is that these parents in Boston are being denied that right. Some parents, like those at St. Catherine of Siena school in Norwood (where TAT just began this week), are raising questions about the program and petitioning the school and the archdiocese to allow them to pull their children from the class. I hope they're successful, and that their success might encourage other parents to do the same. In the wake of the scandal, it's vital for us to talk to our kids about safety. But as far as talking about sexuality, parents must be allowed to teach their own children when and how they see fit. It's not only our duty, it's also our right. Have a great weekend, Deal There is a link on the webpage where anyone can request to be put on the mailing list for the e-Letter which is free. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, May 02, 2003

May is here and my brain is still in February. Is that the result of spending too much time at the keyboard? Hmmm.... Anyway...May is Mary's month. When I was growing up in parochial school in the 1950s, that meant May crownings. Mark Sullivan's blog offers several links to information on May crownings. Some churches still have them. At my parish, Father holds the May crowning immediately after the noon Mass on Mother's Day. Nearly everyone at Mass stays for the crowning. The First Communicants participate in their suits and white dresses, giving the parents a moment of pride to enjoy. (Why were these ceremonies which involved the children done away with? They were so good at keeping the parents in church and in transmitting the faith to the kids in a meaningful way. What a shame they have been abandoned.) Unfortunately I'll have to miss the May crowning this year since I'll be attending a different church on Mother's Day. Back in the 50s at Catholic school, we always had a May altar in every classroom, and we raided our mother's flower gardens to adorn it. Some days there would hardly be enough room for all the flowers that were brought to school. Other days there were not as many. And there was always the concern about ants. Anyone who has grown peonies knows that ants love them, crawl all over them, hide in the abundant petals, and are really hard to remove. Peonies bloom in late May. Being chosen to crown Mary was a singular honor. I can't remember now whether we had a crowning every morning or just once a week. Maybe we did it both ways since every classroom was a bit different. Singing "Bring Flowers of the Rarest" was always part of the service though. (I've probably gotten the title wrong.) We still sing it at the May crowning at my parish. In addition to the classroom May altar, a lot of us kids had May altars in our bedrooms. I always did mine on a small table beside my bed. A couple of shoe boxes helped to form pedestals for the flowers, and a nice old sheet hid them and made an adequate "altar cloth" for the altar Mom's flower garden was in grave danger of being denuded in May between the altar at home and the altar at school. (She never minded, though. She used to help me pick the flowers.) What I'm curious about, though, is whether many parishes have May crownings. Does yours? CarrieTomko@aol.com

The Pope will be in Madrid tomorrow to canonize new saints. In a Zenit interview Madrid's Mayor, Jose Maria Alvarez del Manzano said: It is my hope that, with his presence, the Pope will help Spain to find its place in the new Europe, which in addition to formulas of political and economic organization, must seek its Christian roots to continue defending human rights, the dignity of the person, cultral and interreligious dialogue, and the solidaristic development of peoples. Sounds pretty good to me, provided the ecumenical dialogue maintains the Catholic identity uncompromised. The Holy Father is good at promoting solidarity. Maybe he can be influential in keeping Europe Christian. Certainly it seems that no one else is trying to do it. I'm still concerned about his opposition to Aznar over the war, though. A Reuters article indicates the Pope's Health is showing improvement, but doesn't offer an explanation. Apparently the Vatican is not forthcoming with information on this topic. The story I found most interesting in today's news is a Zenit interview with Monsignor Peter Elliott on the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Msgr. Elliott has written Ceremonies of the Moden Roman Rite and Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, both of which are published by Ignatius Press. He is a professor at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Melbourne and episcopal vicar for religious education. Msgr. Elliott indicated he thought "most of the reforms are good," but goes on to say: ...after the council, the "changes" were brought in an authoritarian way, hastily, often without respect for popular piety and what people valued. Extremists and cranks soon moved in, experimenting, innovating and pushing people around. They moved many altars but not so many hearts. I also believe that some changes to the Mass went beyond what the council Fathers envisaged in "Sacrosanctum Concilium," and this is the very area where we still encounter problems. We also need to remember that the late 1960s and 1970s was an era of cultural modernism, marked by overconfidence, radical chic and bad taste. There has been some stabilization and the revised Roman Missal and General Instruction should help, but there are still widespread problems -- sloppy ceremonial, verbosity, vulgar music, disobedience and sheer ignorance. He also cites the poor English translations, saying: We have suffered 30 years of banal and inaccurate texts. That scandal is on par with the mistranslated vernacular Bibles that spread errors at the time of the Reformation. In speaking of his hope that reapproachment with the Eastern Churches would help to improve Western liturgy, he said: In the West we often want to control, plan, even manipulate worship, so it centers more on us than on God. Liturgy becomes what we do, rather than the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. What a wonderfully insightful interview! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Amy Welborn has blogged a discussion about where we should look for the basic concepts of our faith, and recommends going to the source--Jesus Christ, Himself. I agree that certainly Christ is the source and central teaching of our faith. How then do we listen to the source? How do we know who is doing the talking? There is a difficulty here, for me at least. How do I know when the voice I hear is Christ speaking? We all have voices in our head speaking to us all the time. It is nearly impossible to quiet our thinking mind, and some religions place a heavy emphasis on learning to do that. We will quickly fall into delusion if we come to believe that inner voice is Christ. We simply must turn to an objective source. What does the Church recommend? Scripture, of course. When the inner voice and Scripture match, we can have more faith in the conclusions we reach. Scripture, though, is subject to interpretation as the many denominations of Protestantism demonstrate. Some have even suggested that we can bend Scripture to confirm whatever we intend. For this reason, Catholicism also gives us a magisterium to guide us. Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and ultimately the Pope guide us in our interpretation of Scripture. A handy place to look for that guidance is in the various catechisms. This guidance, formulated in dogma and doctrine, constitutes what we know as Tradition. Scripture and Tradition combine to give us clear notions of what it means to be Catholic. Until... ...Until the Bishops refuse to accept what the Pope teaches. ...Until one Bishop disagrees with another about what is right and proper. ...Until Priests disagree with the Bishops. ...Until it seems that the requirements of the Church conflict so badly with our experience of living the faith that we begin to doubt the teaching. Or ultimately, what for me is the greatest challenge of all-- ...Until the Pope says one thing and does something else. When these things happen, I begin to ask what it means to be Catholic. Ok, before you start collecting the tar and feathers, I'd better explain my "untils." ...Until the Pope teaches that priests should be celibate while the bishops go to great lengths to camouflage priestly deviance. (I guess that one is a no-brainer.) ...Until some Bishops condemn Call to Action while others support it. Until some Bishops promote or at least overlook goddess/Gaia worship while others write their opposition to it. ...Until the laity find dealing with the birth control issue in contemporary society so contradictory that they ignore it, and Priests don't talk about it. Until co-habitation becomes pervasive in the culture and again is ignored from the pulpit. ...Until conflicting Catechisms can be found on the issue of ecumenism. (CCC 821 vs. Trent, 378, "The Jealousy of God") My thoughts today, though, are focused on the Pope. When confusion arises in the Church, when we become unsure of what is really true, we turn to the Pope. He is our rock, our foundation. He represents Christ among us, and his voice is the ultimate voice in the Church. If the Church must be defended--if the faith must be defended--we look to the Pope as an army looks to their general. What is disturbing me, then, is the seeming emergence of Papal favortism for Islam, particularly as it has appeared over the war with Iraq. According to a Washington Times article, the Pope will visit Madrid on Saturday. It appears that he has fences to mend. His position of oppposition to the coalition which included Spain caused Spanish Prime Minister Aznar's popularity to fall into the single digits. According to Roland Flamini, International Editor, UPI, the Pope last met with Aznar in March, before the beginning of the war, when Aznar attempted to explain the coalition's reasons for going to war. That meeting, according to Flamini, was strained; and the Vatican "followed it up with a public statement declaring the war illegal." Since a Spanish election is coming up at the end of May, the Pope's visit might have far reaching consequences for the Spanish Government. It brings to mind the scenerio surrounding his visit to Poland prior to the fall of communism, and it brings to mind the source and headquarters of Opus Dei. If he is not going to Spain to mend fences, could he be going to cause a Polish sequal? Another story from Zenit released April 30 recounts the Pope's "Profile of Political Ruler According to Bible" which he delivered at a general audience. His comments include these: 1. "...a program of loyalty and justice, which comprises two important moral lines--integrity of heart and rejection of evil." 2. "...the Biblical Psalm [100(1001)] counsels the man of government to surround himself with faithful helpers, people of integrity, thus rejecting contact with anyone who practices deceit." 3. "...the 'primacy of love over the necessary justice' as a guidance for action that God offers to the man of government." 4. Lastly, he used the word "luminous" to describe the actions of a proper political leader, combining it with "wisdom" for understanding and good judgment, "innocence" and purity of heart and life and "integrity of conscience that does not tolerate compromise with evil." John Paul II is the political leader of the Catholic Church. As such, it is reasonable to apply his characteristics for leadership to the Pope, himself. 1. Has he rejected the evil of clerical sexual abuse, aligning himself with those who have been abused, making every effort to stop the abuse as soon as he knew about it? Or has he aligned himself with the bishops who were covering it up? Has he removed "musical bishops"? Did he reject the evil surrounding the Vatican Bank scandal and "clean house" as his predecessor had intended to do? 2. Has he rejected contact with the government of Iraq which practiced a kind of deceit for 12 years, while torturing Iraqi citizens? 3. Has he shown love over justice for clerical abusers and in the process denied the victims, some of them children, both love and justice in the process? While he was doing that, did he enjoy the adulation given him at World Youth Day events by young people who were in the same age bracket as those abused whom he rejected? Sometimes justice must prevail. 4. Were his actions in Item 3 not a "compromise with evil"? Are his actions in relation to Iraq not also a "compromise with evil"? And lastly there is that word "luminous" again, associated with a government leader this time. That word is most often associated with the occult. Given these contradictions, given the Pope's ecumenical promotion of the Assisi conference where crucifixes had to be removed in order to accommodate witch doctors, how am I to trust this ultimate leader, this rock of the Church, this gift of unity, that he is teaching me what the Catholic Church believes? Given the fact that he has chosen an Islamic country which is known to have abused its citizens, instead of a coalition of at least nominally Christian countries, how am I to rely on this ultimate source to identify what it means to be Catholic? And if I cannot rely on this source, how can I rely on those who are in communion with him? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

It's finally up. Not the way I wanted it to be up, but at least I can put it behind me. Blogger can be totally and completely frustrating! Anyway, Hopefully the links can be pasted and the websites accessed to check sources. A couple of them won't work, I have to warn you. I have the website printed out and typed in the URL from my printed copy. That's why they are there. Had my first attempt which included the embedded links published when I hit the button, this problem would have been solved. Alas... CarrieTomko@aol.com

Ok, I will do this one more time, and simply post the URL's instead of embedding the links which takes more time. If the Council of All Beings were not being used in Catholic settings, I would be less concerned about it. Unfortunately, though, it is being used in Catholic settings. Writing off the first use of it at the EarthSpirit Rising Conference in 1998 is possible by attributing its use to ignorance. But why was John Seed back on the program for the 2001 Conference as reported in The Trumpeter? http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/content/v17.1/seed.html And why, after what took place at the 1998 Conference, did the list of Co-Sponsors for the 2001 Conference include 36 congregations of Catholic women religious, the dioceses of Covington and Owensboro and Call to Action? Surely none of these sponsors would say they promoted channeling if you asked them--would they? Unfortunately the co-sponsors list is no longer available online. I counted the sponsors in my printed copy of the website (http://www.imagoearth.com/cos.html) which I last accessed on 9/2/01. There was a third conference in 2002 for which I have the printed list of co-sponsors. That list includes ten communities of women religious together with other Catholic organizations on my printed copy of the co-sponsors' list which I last accessed on 9/9/02 (http://www.imagoearth.org/schedule.html). Whether or not the Council was held at this third EarthSpirit Rising Conference is not clear from the schedule. John Seed was not on the program in 2002. The EarthSpirit Rising Conferences planted the seed. Some of the places where it grows include the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, where Kathy and Jim McGinnis, co-founders of the Institute for Peace and Justice, included a Council of All Beings in their Parenting for Peace and Justice Family Camp. http://www.archdpdx.org/news2000/newsmay2000/famioly%20camp.htm In June 2002 the Australian branch of the Sisters of Mercy offered the Council facilitated by John Seed. http://www.mercyworld.org/newsletter/archives.html The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana included the Council in their Right Relationships retreat. http://www.spsmw.org/info/rr.htm Earth Link, a creation of the Sisters of Mercy, offered the Council in March 2002. http://www.mercy.org.au/orgs/earthlink/schedule2002.html Global Education Associates, an organization composed primarily of Catholic women religious which form GEA's Religious Orders Partnership, offers The Council of All Beings as one of the programs available at its GEA-UM Resource Center. http://www.globaleduc.org/geaupper.htm The Catholics, of course, are not the only ones offering the Council. Ecology organizations, psychological organizations, non-Catholic religious organizations, and educational institutions also use it. Earthaven Eco-Village, which has an endorsement by Fr. Thomas Berry on its website, uses the Council. http://www.earthaven.org/culture/edge.htm (this link doesn't work) Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center will offer three-week courses in earth literacy in the summer of 2003 which will include the Council and a "Spirit Quest." http://www.narrowridge.org/summer%202003.html http://www.narrowridge.org/ Catskill Outback, a New York organization devoted to Eco-Psychology, offers the Council as part of its Personal Growth series. http://catskilloutback.com/catsgrow.html EarthTIES included John Seed on its speakers list for the Virtual Conference called "The Great Work," January 2002. http://www.earthties.org/index.htm Another presenter on the EarthTIES schedule was Bart McGettrick who gave a presentation on Teacher Formation. McGettrick is Dean of the University of Glasgow's New Faculty of Education, one of the world's foremost authorities on values in education, and is also president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities: Association of Catholic Institutes of Education. http://www.earthties.org/pages/events/presenters.htm In fact, there were a number of presenters at this conference who would be considered members of the New Age community. One tends to wonder what a Catholic expert on Teacher Formation was doing at such an event. The Greening of American Religions course at Harvard University includes John Seed's and Joanna Macy's book Thinking Like a Mountain as a required textbook. This is the book on which the Council is based. http://environment.harvard.edu/religion/education/classresources/syllabi/smtaylor1.html The Council of Europe and European Commission Partnership Institutions, which is a partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Commission for Training & Youth includes the Council in its New Philosophy Focus. http://www.training-youth.net/what.htm http://www.training-youth.net/coyote05/ecology.htm The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association in San Francisco offered the Council as part of its Conference 2002. http://www.ieata.org/home.htm The San Antonio Peace & Justice Resource Center recommends Seed's and Macy's book. http://www.salsa.net/peace/library/onlinedata/social.html The first gathering of O Beautiful Gaia-PEI, a Creative Arts Recording Project, located on Prince Edward Island included the Council among its brainstorming of possibilities. http://www.gis.net/~surtsey/mcdade/gathering1.htm The Seventh Fire: a Prophecy of the Ojibwe, based at Mt. Shasta, uses the Council of All Beings. http://www.the7thfire.com/index2.htm Prescott College includes the Council in their Sycamore Canyon backpack, April 5-7. http://www.prescott.edu/ http://www.prescott.edu/Users/jherring/forest%20policy/schedule.htm The "Sex and Spirituality Workshop of the United Church of Christ" used A Gaia Meditation as adapted by Seed and Macy from Thinking Like a Mountain, as the opening ritual of their advent retreat. http://www.stjoan.com/er2/sexspirit.htm There are more uses being made of the Council, but this is a good overview. In short, this ritual that includes Shamanic spiritual practices designed to open the practitioner to invasion by a disembodied spirit has found itself at home in churches, ecological organizations, psychological groups, and institutions of higher education. Where will it show up next and what will be the consequences of its presence? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Well, I've spent the last hour putting together a blog that disappeared when I hit the post button. Now where did I put that computer hammer? CarrieTomko@aol.com


Uh oh! I just attempted to post a short blog and it disappeared again. Not a good sign... Now I've added comments and an email link. Let's see what this looks like. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Well, the test post worked! Ok, so maybe I can post here agaiin. But first I have to change this back to the original template. The green template was an experiment to see if changing templates would eliminate the problem. Too bad I have to change it, because the Blogge people have set up a template that is much easier to understand, and I suppose I'll lose that when I switch it back. :( Have to put the comments back into the blog, too. Well, here goes nothing...! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

This is a test post performed by Blogger.com. If you ignore me, I will go away. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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