Saturday, May 24, 2003

The ladies are at it again...they held a bread blessing ceremony at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio. There are pictures of the ceremony here. Sigh. (Scroll down.) Interesting place, the San Fernando Cathedral. It's the oldest cathedral in the United States. This is what it looked like until 1970. It was a beautiful church back then if the pictures can be believed. But it was renovated, of course. Even after the renovation it was still Catholic in appearance. But the liturgical designers weren't satisfied with it. It has been renovated once again. Now it looks like this. And this is where the bread blessing ceremony took place. Apparently when your cathedral looks like this, you need an innovative liturgy to go with it. Well, it was ecumenical. A lot of strange activities are excused by being ecumenical. That altar in the middle is becoming increasingly fashionable in Catholic church interior design circles. Sometimes the altar rests in the center of a circle, but not always. This layout, with altar at the center and movable chairs around three or four sides is familiar from other investigations I've done. I spent a little time on the web and found these pictures: Braidentown Masonic Lodge No. 99 Masonic Hall, Camrose A Lodge in Florida A generic lodge from clipart We don't have the checkerboard floor. Yet. But the square altar has appeared repeatedly in our churches recently. Back to the San Fernando Cathedral. One of the factors that prompts movable seating is that the space is more flexible. The cathedral hosted a jazz concert. (Click the "Jazz in the Cathedral" link for the story. I see they played "Come Dance with Me" at the concert. Would have been appropriate music for the bread blessing ritual. I wonder if they used it then as well? If "Smoke Gets in your Eyes," just blow out a few of the candles. But shouldn't "Fly Me To The Moon" have been "Take Me Up To Heaven"? Oh wait, I guess it would have been offensive to the musician to rename the song, wouldn't it? This concert is part of the Saturday Evening Concert Series. I wonder if that's after the Vigil Mass? There is a Cathedral in New York that does this sort of thing, too. The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine. But that's another story. Anyway, the folks in San Antonio can thank Fr. Richard Vosko for all of this summer fun. He was the designer who conceived of the new liturgy space in the cathedral. Paul Likoudis wrote a story about him for The Wanderer. In it he tells us: In Vosko's anthropological religion, the story of Jesus is a "myth" and Catholic rituals are not objectively different from Sioux sun dances or the Shamanic practices of Nepalese monks.In fact, Vosko speaks reverently and respectfully of pagan cultic practices, but can barely say anything pertaining to the Catholic Church except by laughing uncontrollably.He began his talk with the trite statement, "we live in a very interesting time;' when only four out of ten Catholics go to Mass. He spoke, about declining Mass attendance, the aging of Mass-goers, the differences among types of Catholics, contrasting those who "find a sense of the sacred in private prayers" with those who "find the sacred in more flamboyant" celebrations.He said "there's a lot of debate in the Church," because "some challenge the Church to a new direction" while "others cling to relics of a bygone era."Then, the man whose name has become synonymous with church "wreckovations," and who has made a fortune demolishing beautiful churches, stated flatly:"What's important is not the church building - believe it or not I am going to say that...."This is really about how we understand ourselves as inhabitants in a period of process. It's about finding out more about who we are and what we are and where we're going. It's not so much about searching for what's out there but about going inside more and digging out what's inside us and finding further revelation, enlightenment, illumination."Art and architecture - said the art consultant for Roger Cardinal Mahony's new cathedral and Bishop Matthew Clark's cathedral renovation, among others - are only important insofar as they help people on their "inner search." And During his lecture, Fr. Vosko expressed his preference for the church-in-the-round model, saying circles - citing Stonehenge, Indian tepees, and mandalas as examples - are powerful symbols, as is the labyrinth. He also defended Corpus Christi Chapel's movable bare wooden cross, which he de- scribed as a "powerful totem that puts us in touch with that which can be." Hmmm. So I guess Fr. Vosko thinks tepees, mandalas and the labyrinth are an improvement on the cruciform. I wonder how he came to that conclusion. Is Christ's cross that much of a scandal to him? Here are some more of Fr. Vosko's designs. Nice circle around that one altar. I wonder if it works as well as the circle of safety the Wiccans cast before performing their ceremonies? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, May 23, 2003

My book report on The Da Vinci Code is done. I sent it to Stephen Hand instead of posting it here, and it's up at his website. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, May 22, 2003

A reader sent me a link to this "Defender" website. Clicking the first link under "contents" took me to the San Fernando Cathedral ecumenical ladies' bread blessing ceremony. Sigh. These ladies don't look especially spiritual, but they do seem to be having fun dancing around the altar. Even more interesting for anyone who is into labyrinths is the material under the question "Is this Catholic? I can't tell anymore." (You have to scroll down the webpage for this one.) This new version of the labyrinth comes from Our Llady of Perpetual Help in Selma. That elaborate wooden structure is topped by a monstrance. Get this passage from the website: This �Prayer Path� labyrinth design is new to this area although we have had the labyrinth kit from Vereditas once before. The Vereditas Labyrinth Project is from the Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, and it incorporates Jungian archetypes, the Divine Feminine, etc. We had no problem discerning where this one came from, but this new labyrinth kit left me with an uncertain feeling. The Prayer Path The Prayer Path labyrinth kit is being distributed by an outfit called Group in Loveland, Colorado. Their website is www.grouppublishing.com. A Prayer Path brochure states, �The Labyrinth was designed by several Christian creative worship groups in London: Live on Planet Earth, Grace, and Epicenter.� There is a website for these groups. www.labyrinth.org.uk This labyrinth employs several neo-pagan techniques such as centering, creating sacred space, grounding, journalizing, etc. Although they titillated the neo-pagans sensibilities with some of these techniques, they did not go further than that. At the same time Jesus, Mary, the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc., were also included. These too were not fully expressed but were slightly more pronounced than the mild pagan undertones. Oooookkkkk..... They did say that this is a Catholic church, didn't they? But there is even more fun at the labyrinth link. There is a virtual labyrinth in the website. Now you don't even have to wear out your shoe leather to walk the labyrinth. Won't make your feet tired either. Poking around this website eventually brought me to this little gem. It gives a whole new meaning to "cafeteria" when applied to faith. They have something in there for everyone and nothing that belongs completely to anyone. But it's "spiritual" I guess, and appeals to those with eclectic spiritual taste. Or should I have said "ecumenical"? At least when they dabble, they dabble in a goodly share of the best. I've been thinking...most parishes are financially strapped most of the time. Maybe we could copyright our Catholicism and charge royalties whenever someone wants to borrow our stuff. What would our "Celtic spirituality" be worth on a per-use basis? Surely admission to the Chartres labyrinth would be a good money-maker! We'll have to split the royalties on the Celtic Orthodox Church with the Eastern Lung. Shouldn't be any problem copyrighting stained glass window designs. We can save our highest fee-per-use charge for St. Francis. He's very popular. Heck if we play this right, we might be able to eliminate hunger in Africa with the proceeds! CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Joseph asked for my thoughts on von Balthasar. I came to a knowledge of the Pope's enthusiasm for von Balthasar somewhat by the back door, so to speak. While investigating Rudolf Steiner's Rosicrucian Freemasonry, I found the following comment about John Paul II in an interview with Anthroposophist, Robert Powell speaking about the Anthroposophist turned Catholic, Valentin Tomberg: The one name we can leave aside, the other one they went on to describe, they said he was a young man aged 21 in the year 1939, and he was part of an Anthroposophical group in Poland who were working especially with the art of speech formation and among other things they were working with various scenes from Rudolf Steiner's Mystery Dramas, and this young man, it was around about 1939, was one day walking down the street and a lorry(truck) drove into him and as a result of this accident had an experience of Christ in the Etheric and helped him to recover. And after this experience this young man went and joined a Roman Catholic priest seminar which was of course at that time under German occupation, was an underground seminary, he joined the seminary and became there a priest. Later he became Bishop in Cracow and this young man who was a part of this Anthroposophic group then later went to Rome became Pope John Paul II. Additional comments in the interview: Question: Just briefly on this last statement on the new impulses beginning to work through the Roman Catholic impulse, can you give a brief indication or idea? Robert: Yes, one example is how the Roman Catholic Church is beginning to wake up to the idea of reincarnation and in one of the last works that Valentine Tomberg wrote that has been published in Germany a work called "Lazarus, Come Forth" a work about the mystery of the raising of Lazarus, a work that was written for Catholics, but which contains deep spiritual teachings, there he introduces the teaching of reincarnation which is understandable for a Catholic reader. This book has been published by Herder which is the largest Catholic publishing house in Germany and at the beginning of this year there was a television program in Germany where a panel of people, one who was an Anthroposophical professor of mathematics. There was a woman theologian, a Protestant theologian and a Roman Catholic priest and there were several other people who were to discuss the theme of reincarnation. And of course the Anthroposophist was able to communicate from his side a clear idea of reincarnation, the protestant theologian was fiercely against it, she said it does not fit in with the teachings of the Bible, but the Roman Catholic priest was quite adamant that reincarnation was a fact of existence and this priest who works at the Vatican has had conversations with Pope John Paul II and has his, well, blessing would be to say too much, but said he should continue his research in this field of reincarnation, so we can just see in such events something is going on as it were behind the scenes because that would have been unthinkable say 25 years ago.... Question: Was he a member of the Anthroposophical Society? Robert: No, he was part of this group that was working with above all the Mystery Dramas and so the Pope has done some work with Anthroposophical speech formation. Question: I understand, also, that Pope John Paul II is also a philosopher. He's studied phenomonology, which is as close as secular thinking has come to the ideas put forward in Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom. He investigates the laws of perception. I haven't been able to learn whether there is any substance to the claim that Karol Wojtyla's plays written when he was a young man had any connection to Rudolf Steiner's mystery plays or not. This material from the Vermont Sophia website led me to Google the book titled MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT by Valentin Tomberg, which brought up this picture. The picture could have been altered, naturally. But what can't be altered is the fact that Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote the Forward. At the time I found it on the web, the book was out of print. Getting a copy of it was difficult or at least very expensive. It has since been reprinted in 2002. Von Balthasar's Forward has become an Afterword in this newest edition. Robert Powell is the translator. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam is the publisher. The book is dedicated to Our Lady of Chartres. Here is the opening of von Balthasar's Afterword: A thinking, praying Christian of unmistakable purity reveals to us the symbols of Christian Hermeticism in its various levels of mysticism, gnosis and magic, taking in also the Cabbala and certain elements of astrology and alchemy. These symbols are summarised in the twenty-two so-called "Major Arcana" of the Tarot cards. By way of the Major Arcana the author seeks to lead meditatively into the deeper, all-embracing wisdom of the Catholic Mystery. Firstly, it may be recalled that such an attempt is to be found nowhere in the history of philosophical, theological and Catholic thought. The Church Fathers understood the myths born from pagan thought and imagination in a quite general way as veiled presentiments of the Logos, who became fully revealed in Jesus Christ (which once again Schelling undertook to show at length in his later philosophical work). Origen in particular, completing this line of thought, undertook as a Christian to elucidate not only the pagan philosophical wisdom in the light of Biblical revelation, but also the "wisdom of the rulers of this world" (I Cor.ii,6), by which he meant the so-called "secret wisdom of the Egyptians" (especially the Hermetic writings supposedly written by "Hermes Trismegistus", the Egyptian god Thoth). He also had in mind the "astrology of the Chaldeans and Indians... Further into the Afterword he says: A third, less clear-cut transposition will be referred to briefly: that of the ancient magic/alchemy into the realm of depth psychology by C. G. Jung. The author's MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT are in the tradition of the great accomplishments of Pico della Mirandola and Franz von Baader, but are independent of them. The mystical, magical, occult tributaries which flow into the stream of his mediations are much more encompassing; yet the confluence of their waters within him, full of movement, becomes inwardly a unity of Christian contemplation. And still further: The basic spiritual direction of an author is recognisable by the fact of who--in the spiritual tradition--stands close to him: Whom does he frequently refer to, often with loving reverence? Again and again the names of St. Anthony the Great, St. Albertus Magnus and St. Francis of Assisi appear; and he quotes extensively above all from the works of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. It seems to me that this recommendation is taking ecumenism rather over the top to say the least. The back cover of MEDITATIONS has a recommendation by Basil Pennington, OCSO; by Father Bede Griffiths; by Thomas Keating, OCSO; and by Richard W. Kropf, National Catholic Reporter. Knopf says of it: The book begs not only to be studied cover to cover, but also to be savored, meditated upon and assimilated into one's life. That was my introduction to von Balthasar. It didn't exactly recommend his theology to me, and so I haven't read more of his work. I find the Pope's enthusiasm for him disturbing in light of MEDITATIONS. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Parents of young Sesame Street fans say "hello" to the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor. CarrieTomko@aol.com

The government would like to have better surveillance technology to fight terrorism. This article from the Washington Post outlines the possible future of such technology. With this in place, we would be little more than pets on a leash, and George Orwell would be gloating in his grave. The American Civil Liberties, so often the thorn in the side of organized religion, might become the best friend we ever had when they fight this sort of surveillance technology. From the article: The Pentagon yesterday detailed the development of a massive computer surveillance system that would have the power to track people as never before. It would identify people at great distances by the irises of their eyes, the grooves in their face or even their gait. It would look for suspicious patterns in video footage of people's movements. And it would analyze airline ticket purchases, visa applications, as well as financial, medical, educational and biometric records to try to predict terrorists' acts or catch them in the planning stage. The technology does not yet exist, and no one knows whether its creation is even possible. Indeed, the very concept of what was originally known as the government's Total Information Awareness initiative raised so many privacy and civil liberties issues that, in February, Congress banned its deployment. Legislators asked for more information about the project and sought an analysis about how citizens' privacy would be balanced with the need for security. The report that was delivered to legislators yesterday identifies the effort by a new name -- the Terrorist Information Awareness program. It sought to allay concerns about privacy by outlining policies to conduct spot audits of the data being collected and implementing technical safeguards. "The program's previous name, 'Total Information Awareness' program, created in some minds the impression that TIA was a system to be used for developing dossiers on U.S. citizens," the Pentagon's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, said in a statement. "DoD's purpose in pursuing these efforts is to protect U.S. citizens by detecting and defeating foreign terrorist threats before an attack." DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker said the report is intended to express the agency's "full commitment to planning, executing and overseeing the TIA program in a way that protects privacy and civil liberties." CarrieTomko@aol.com

Pentecostalism is a strange ecumenical world. This MacNutt Conference held last April was sponsored by the School of Divinity, Regent University. (Pat Robertson is President and Chancellor of Regent) Healing & Prayer Conference with Dr. Francis and Judith MacNutt Conference Speakers: Dr. Francis MacNutt received a B.A. from Harvard University and M.F.A. from Catholic University of America, where he decided to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. After becoming a member of the Dominican order and being ordained as a priest in 1956, he earned a Ph.D. in theology at the Dominican Seminary. When Dr. MacNutt experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit he discovered the healing power of prayer. He helped start a prayer group and became one of the first Roman Catholics involved in the Charismatic Renewal Movement. Dr. MacNutt has authored and co-authored numerous books including Healing, Power to Heal, The Prayer That Heals, Overcome by The Spirit, Deliverance from Evil Spirits, Homosexuality: Can It Be Healed?, and Praying for Your Unborn Child. Judith Sewell MacNutt earned a degree in counseling at Eastern Kentucky University. After working in psychological units in the Boston area, Judith discovered the need to pray for her clients. She moved to Jerusalem and directed a prayer center that ministered to both Jews and Arabs. When she moved back to the States she founded a counseling service that gave her the opportunity to integrate her work as a psychotherapist with healing prayer for her clients. She is especially known for her teaching on inner healing and angels, and the book she co-authored with her husband, Praying for Your Unborn Child. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Interesting comment in John Allen's column this week: Most agreed that a defining aspect of John Paul�s thought is the �anthropological turn,� i.e., taking the human person as the starting point. The pope himself stressed this idea in May 9 remarks. �The person must be at the center of every philosophical or theological reflection,� he said. �The church is at the service of the human person.� Now I would have said that God is the starting point, and that the Church is at His service. Hmmm. When did Catholicism decide that all the philosophical and theological questions revolve around man? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Another indication of a growing rift between the Vatican and America: VATICAN CITY, May 17, 2003 � Are relations between the Vatican and the United States government in crisis? Some signals suggest a profound rift is emerging between Washington and Rome. The latest, dramatic sign of tension between the world's greatest temporal power and its leading moral authority comes in a blistering editorial blasting US policy in Iraq published today in a key Italian Catholic journal known to represent the Vatican's viewpoint. CarrieTomko@aol.com

The UK Telegraph reports that Gordon Bowker, biographer of George Orwell, uncovered an incident in Orwell's youth when he and Steven Runciman practiced voodoo, apparently successfully. David Mills has a Comment on it at Touchstone. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Christians in Iraq are increasingly being targeted by Islamics who want their faith to be the rule of the land. In the news today are stories detailing incidents, including the murder of two Christian liquor store owners. The American led coalition created the chaos which is making persecution of Christians a reality. As a nation we can hardly shirk our responsibility for what is taking place. Something needs to be done, and quickly, before there is a bloodbath. Here are two reports: From the Charlotte Observer: BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two weeks ago, Raad Karim Essa arrived home from work to find his furniture on the street. His Muslim landlord wasn't renting to Christians anymore. "He told us not to argue and threatened us," said Essa, 42, a father of four. "He said the government was no longer here to protect us. What could we do? We feared for our lives." "The Muslims want to destroy us," said Amira Nisan, 38, Essa's wife. "I think we were better off under Saddam." Such a statement, once unthinkable, is voiced increasingly today among Iraq's 800,000 Christians. Like most of their countrymen, Christians greeted the fall of Saddam Hussein with celebration and hope. But their desire for greater religious freedom has been replaced by fear of the fundamentalism rippling through Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, which has moved quickly to exert its influence after decades of violent repression. Christian women say they've been harassed by Shiite men for walking on the street without head scarves. Priests complain that Shiite clerics inflame religious hatred by calling for the expulsion from Iraq of "nonbelievers." The most overt acts have been directed at Iraq's liquor stores and manufacturers, almost universally run by Christians. The owners say they've been threatened with death for selling alcohol, forbidden under a strict interpretation of Islamic law. "I'm afraid for my people," said Bishop Ishlemon Warduni, the religious leader of Iraq's Chaldean community, which represents about 80 percent of the nation's Christians. The remaining 20 percent is comprised mostly of Syrians, Assyrians and Armenians. And from Catholic News: The violence which Christians in Iraq have long feared seems finally to have arrived with the brutal murder of two Chaldean Catholic men. The report, from The Barnabas Fund, was published on the website of the British theological think-tank Ekklesia. Sabah Gazala and Abdul Ahed who were shot and killed by two Islamic gunmen within ten minutes in separate incidents in Basra. Like a number of Christians in the city and in other parts of Iraq they were involved in the sale of alcohol, jobs forbidden to Muslims but permitted to Christians under Saddam Hussein's rule. CarrieTomko@aol.com

For centuries France was thought to be a Catholic country. That has changed. There have been reports that French churches are often empty and that there are many Muslims in France. But I didn't expect indifference to turn into hostility this quickly. This story from Austin Ruse about a debate at the U.N. pits France against the Church over abortion. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, May 19, 2003

There is an article about Tony Blair and his wife at the link, that I would expect to read in the Enquirer. But it's not in the Enquirer. It's in the UK Guardian. I'd post some quotes, but ya gotta read the whole thing to get the full impact. This could convince me to side with the Pope who sided with Iraq! CarrieTomko@aol.com

New York Governor George Pataki's plans to become a Mason in June have been scuttled. He has decided to avoid the "grave sin" of Masonic membership. So far there is no reaction from the Masons. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Here is the story of priestless parishes in San Bernardino from the Los Angeles Times. It isn't clear from the story whether there are non-Mass services as well as the two Masses the visiting priest says. If there are, it would have been interesting to know how they are conducted and what the laity think of them. I suppose the alternative would be itinerant laity who seek out a church within driving distance which actually still has a Mass on any given Sunday. Most likely some of the parishioners from San Gorgonio Catholic Church have moved to other parishes. The article hints at that, anyway. Personally I don't think I can handle a parish led by a woman. A deacon would be another matter, though. That would be worth trying to see how it worked out. CarrieTomko@aol.com

It's comforting to know that we in the RCC don't have exclusive possession of clerical scandal. The Orthodox side of the scales of justice is weighing this press release this morning: Greek bishop is accused of hiring hit-man to kill Patriarch By Neil Barnett in Athens (Filed: 18/05/2003) A Greek Orthodox bishop is to be charged under anti-terrorism laws in Athens for allegedly plotting to murder the head of the ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Bishop Timotheos of Vostra is accused of offering to pay a hit-man $500,000 (�354,000) to have his clerical rival, Patriarch Irenaios, killed. According to Irenaios's lawyer, Timotheos offered the money to a Palestinian radical, Yusaf Naim al-Mufti. He was said to be angry that he had lost out to Irenaios in the 2001 election to become patriarch - one of the most sought-after roles within the Greek Orthodox Church. Last week, the Athens criminal prosecutor announced that Timotheos would be charged with forming a criminal gang. The bishop, who is in charge of the Patriarchate's finances, has denied the allegations. "This case is unfair and I will defend myself because I am not guilty," he said. "I never thought of doing something bad, especially not murder." The secretive Jerusalem Patriarchate, which administers about 100,000 Christian Arabs, is believed to be one of the richest churches in the world. As the second-largest landowner in Israel after the government, its holdings include land around the Israeli parliament. Patriarch Irenaios was told about the alleged plot in February by Zouzer al-Manasrah, the Palestinian Authority's intelligence chief, after al-Mufti was arrested and held at Ramallah police station on an unrelated theft charge. Mr al-Manasrah said that al-Mufti had volunteered details of the murder deal he had struck with Timotheos in 2001, apparently while the bishop was on "charitable business" in the West Bank town of Beit Jala. There are more details to the story at the UK Telegraph website. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Keith Payne believes 20 million people is an acceptable level of collateral damage that will give us the chance to claim victory in a limited nuclear war. Honest, I'm not making this up. Check out the story at MSN. Ya gotta read it to believe it! CarrieTomko@aol.com

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com