Saturday, April 10, 2004

HOLY SATURDAY In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing that has been made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness grasped it not. There was a man, one sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to bear witness concerning the Light, that all might believe through Him. He was not himself the Light, but was to bear witness to the Light. It was the true Light that enlightens every man who comes into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But to as many as received Him He gave the power of becoming sons of God; to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us. And we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth. (I John 1, 1-15) Let us sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously triumphant; horse and rider He has cast into the sea. He has become my Helper and Protector unto salvation. He is my God, I praise Him; the God of my father, I extol Him. The Lord crushes wars; the Lord is His name. Arise O God, Whose ancient miracles we see shining even in our times: since what, by the power of Your right hand, You conferred upon one people by delivering them from Egyptian persecution, You now operate by the water of regeneration for the salvation of the Gentiles; grant that the fullness of the whole world may pass over to the children of Abraham, and the dignity of Israelites. As the deer longs for the running waters, so my soul longs for You, O God. Athirst is my soul for the living God. (Canticles of the Tridentine Mass for Holy Saturday) PRAYER FOR THOSE TO BE BAPTIZED I beseech You, O Lord, to hear my prayers and by Your eternal power guard them, Your chosen ones, signed with the sign of our Lord's cross, so that serving the interests of Your great glory by the observance of Your commandments they may come to the glory of regeneration, Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Almighty and eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, graciously look upon Your chosen ones whom You have deigned to call to the beginnings of faith. Expel all blindness from their heart, break all the bonds of Satan that have held them. Open, O Lord, the door of Your mercy, so that filled with the sign of wisdom, they may be freed from the evil of all unruly desires and serve You in Your Church, rejoicing in the attraction of Your precepts and growing in perfection from day to day. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. God, the God of truth, Creator of all things and Lord of creation, bless these Your servants with Your blessing. Render them clean in rebirth and give them fellowship with Your angelic powers, that they may no longer be named flesh but spirit, by receiving Your divine gift to their profit. Preserve them until the end to Yourself the maker of the world, through Your only-begotten Jesus Christ. Amen. (taken from Father Hardon's "Catholic Prayer Book") CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, April 09, 2004

FRIDAY NIGHT The groceries are bought, brought home and put away. The cooking is done for tonight. The eggs are colored. The basket is partially ready for the blessing of food tomorrow morning. The kidlet has arrived safely despite some car problems that made the trip home nerve wracking for her father who was watching the clock until she got here. My grandbirdie is back. It's ok, though, because we still haven't moved the refrigerator back in place, so if he goes exploring, he will be able to get himself out this time. He didn't seem very happy to see me. I am on schedule. This is not normal for a holiday. I'm supposed to be frazzled and wondering how everything is going to get done, instead of sitting at the computer calmly typing away. Wonder what I've forgotten? The food blessing on Holy Saturday is something my Polish mother-in-law introduced me to. If it was done in my childhood parish, I didn't know about it. My MIL always makes it a point that everyone has a portion of the food that has been blessed. It's an appealing custom that I've taken up in recent years. There is usually only a very small group of parishioners who attend. Father always talks about the parish he served that needed two sessions of food blessing because the church was filled for both of them. That was in a certain ethnic neighborhood in the Cleveland area. I think he misses it. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CATHOLIC SYMBOLS the sights and sounds and smells of Holy Week... One of the sounds that is particularly evocative for me is the sound of the censor clanging against the chain during the procession on Holy Thursday. Perhaps it's done this way everywhere. At any rate, in my church two servers process with sensors in front of father, taking turns to walk backwards incensing the ciborium. As they do that and the censor clangs against the chain, it produces a mournful rhythmic sound that sets the mood of the moment in a way little else could. Today during stations of the cross I noticed a few people wiping tears away. Perhaps it's the effect of The Passion of the Christ making the stations come alive. The symbolism of light into darkness at Tenebrae becoming darkness into light on Holy Saturday is better appreciated when I attend all of the services of Holy Week. Our liturgy brings the Passion of Christ into our presence quite well if we take the time to attend services each day. I was amazed the first time I did this and have come back again every year since. There were seven servers at Mass last night. Three of them were as tall or taller than the priest, and five were young. All were boys. We do not have girl altar boys. We do have adult male servers. Three of them served with our deacon at today's stations of the cross. And a side observation... Last night at Mass there was a family in my pew with six very young children. The oldest appeared to be no more than seven or eight, the youngest about three. Never before have I seen six children so well behaved. You just knew there was something different about this family and the way these children are being raised. Their parents interacted very little with them during Mass. All eight seemed to be focused on what was taking place. None of the children had toys of any kind with them. I would have liked to ask them what their secret is, because they have got one. And a last observation... It happened Wednesday night. Something I've often worried about. A candle caught some paper on fire in the pew in front of me. May have happened because a father was holding two candles, one for himself and one for his son who tired of the candle very quickly and turned to his paper and crayons. The father was able to put the fire out with a minimum of fuss, but it was still an uneasy situation. CarrieTomko@aol.com

GOOD FRIDAY If I could observe Good Friday in the way I like best, it would be by going to church to spend a quiet hour in prayer, saying the stations and praying the rosary. But the churches in my area are locked. A quiet hour is not an option. So I'll be attending the 12:15 service tomorrow. Of all the prayers for the stations of the cross that I've seen, there is one form that has much more meaning for me than the others. Since I can't say them at church, I'll blog them. So this will be an awfully long blog. Each one is written in two parts. The first represents the reflective thoughts of Christ and the second is the voice of Christ speaking to the penitent. FIRST STATION - Jesus is condemned to death Pilate has just read my death sentence. I am to die on the cross. Should I rebel against Pilate? How can I? He is not my enemy. He is an envoy of my Father and the voice of my human destiny. Pilate told me when and how I would die. You may not get that blessing. You won'tl have a Pilate to tell you the place, the time or the circumstances of your death. Yet you stand condemned to death as surely as I was. You were destined to die the moment you were conceived. That is part of being human. Do you think of that very often? If you thought about your death, you could see more clearly that some of the things you are most obsessed with are the least important. You would not be so worried about money, clothes, cars and careers. These things don't make you precious. These things won't help you when your time to die comes. I remind you of your death not because my Father and I want you to be fearful of your future. I remind you to help you live fully and freely as my brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of my Father. In my death and resurrection you will receive the power to do that. THE SECOND STATION - Jesus carries the cross My instrument of suffering and death has been thrust on me. Should I curse this heavy timber and those who laid it on me? No. The cross is neither bad nor good. My response alone determines whether it will be redemptive or destructive. You also must carry the instruments of your own suffering and death. You were born with defects that you may control but never abolish. You have fatal flaws that cause pain and suffering. You want to be kind, patient and understanding, but at times you find yourself mean, short-tempered and cynical. But you must not curse yourself or your limitations. That becomes like quicksand pulling you down lower. My cross did not come only from Pilate or the Roman soldiers. My cross came when I took on my Father's work and became human. Your crosses are the same. They are your credentials for being human. The question is not whether life brings crosses, but rather your response to them. I embraced my humanity. You must embrace your humanity. Resisting crosses leads to self-hatred, hatred of others and bitterness. Some woods are stronger than steel because they bend. Learn to bend. Learn the wisdom of triumphing through your crosses rather than in spite of them. THE THIRD STATION - Jesus falls the first time I have just fallen flat on my face. I tried to avoid it. I wanted to stay on my feet. I wonder if I fell partly because I was trying too hard to keep from falling? You can learn from my fall. You also will fall if you try too hard to succeed all by yourself. I was so wrapped up in my efforts that I forgot to let my Father guide me. I forgot for an instant to let Him work through me. You are often tempted to take on more than you can do well. Or to take on goals that, however worthy, may not be right for you or may be undertaken for inferior reasons. You decide what you want and then say to yourself: I am going to achieve this goal, and when I succeed, even God will have to be impressed. You do not need successes to get my Father's attention. If you succeed, it is because of His grace anyway. So what you would be holding up as yours is really His already. My Father wants you, not your successes. In all you undertake, go first to Him in prayer and ask what He wants. Then, when you go to work, open your heart to Him and let Him work in and through you. THE FOURTH STATION - Jesus meets His Blessed Mother I have just seen Mary. I wished for a second that she and I could have been spared that meeting, which was short but painful. Was I trying to hide this final agony from her, thinking she might not be strong enough for it? Do you tend to avoid your loved ones, and they you, in times of crisis? Some spend a lifetime shielding their deepest selves from their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. In the end, this will fail, because your death exposes your weakness to your loved ones as nothing in life could. Why wait until death or desperation to "meet" your loved ones? Share with them your most profound aspirations, joys, fears and troubles before the opportunities are gone. But no matter how often you open yourself to them in crises, it won't be easy. I know. You want them to see you at your best, just as I wanted Mary to see me. I didn't want her to see me so helpless. For an instant I was underestimating Mary and losing sight of my Father's grace. Just as He gives you the grace to face loved ones when all hope seems lost, so He gives them the grace to cope not only with your pain but theirs as well. THE FIFTH STATION - Simon helps to carry the cross I felt badly for Simon of Cyrene. He had no way of preparing for what happened to him. He was a farm hand coming in from the fields when the soldiers forced him to carry my cross. I overheard him complain to himself, 'Why me?' Don't you dare condemn Simon. You would have been startled, reluctant and bitter, too, if you had been in his shoes! You must learn, as Simon did, that much in life is not just and fair. You will be startled by crosses thrust upon you when you least expect them. When that happens, my Father and I will not hold against you your reflexive cry of 'Why me?' But you must quickly move beyond that. You must not spend your life looking for "reasons" for your crosses. You may never know until you die. Learn this from Simon's plight. My Father uses anything and anyone to accomplish salvation. He uses Simon, so Simon could be said to have done the will of my Father. But that alone doesn't make one holy, because holiness is willing what my Father wills, wanting what He wants, accepting it and embracing it and making it your own. Only you in the depths of your freedom can do that. THE SIXTH STATION - Veronica wipes Jesus' face I am grateful to Veronica for wiping the blood, sweat and dirt from my eyes. She had not been as close to me in life as many others, but she responded when I needed an act of kindness. Do you realize she was the last person in my earthly life to touch me in a gentle act of mercy? You never know when an act of kindness you do will be the last one a person experiences. So you should regard every opportunity for kindness. Veronica didn't just happen to be at the right place at the right time. She had spent a lifetime learning to be gentle. My face wasn't the first - or the last - that she soothed. You, too, cannot expect to be gentle in a crisis unless you have practiced gentleness so often that it comes naturally. Would you have wiped my face? How can you say you would have if you had ignored a thousand troubled faces before you saw mine? THE SEVENTH STATION - Jesus falls the second time I had wanted to pace myself better to make it to Calvary without another fall. But I tripped. I'm not sure how. Maybe it was a loose cobblestone, a rock I stubbed my foot on or a wet spot that was too slick. This fall shows me up for being human as nothing else on my way to Calvary. I had enough strength and presence of mind to avoid it. Why did I fall? I think I was lulled into a momentry lapse. Simon had eased my burden. Veronica had soothed my sweaty face. A breeze had cooled my body. What flashed in my mind was that these fleeting strokes of good fortune meant I could somehow bypass the rest of the journey. Before I even recognized that as a temptation, I fell. I smiled, the only time I remember smiling on my way to crucifixion. I smiled because I recognized how deeply I was like other people in being tempted to cheat my Father. What a profound lesson for you! Momentary good fortune does not mean the struggle is over. If things are looking rosy, be careful. You may be about to fall harder. Both good and bad are fleeting in this life. Do not count on them. Count on nothing except my Father. THE EIGHTH STATION - Jesus meets the wailing women of Jerusalem Why wasn't I more understanding with these weeping women, who, after all, seemed to be showing me sympathy? Instead of graciously accepting their show of concern, I turned on them with the seemingly harsh words: 'Don't weep for me, Weep for yourselves and your children.' I was harsh because these women were part of a great multitude of curiousity seekers who had turned out to watch an execution. Remember that these women were engaged in a kind of formal religious practice of mourning and lamenting for the dead or condemned. They were weeping for the sake of weeping. They were weeping without really knowing me or my Father. I am intolerant of religious practice - for its own sake. I detest your religious routines when they are an excuse to avoid your deep personal commitment to me and my Father. Sometimes it is better to be silent, to pour out your heart where no one can hear. Go to your room and pray. When you know for whom you weep, then come to the Calvary's road. THE NINTH STATION - Jesus falls a third time I have no regrets about this fall. My strength was gone. I did not want to fall and I did not want to stand. I just fell. And this time I had to be helped up. I couldn't get up myself. You may someday fall for a third time and have no strength to get up. You will have to be picked up by others. Don't let that lead to despair; it does not mean you are less than human. Do not let those around you rob you of your dignity when you are on the ground. "What good am I to anyone," you may ask as others pick you up. If you bear your weakness with love, you are doing wonders for yourself, as well as the whole of creation. You are making yourself like me. In this life, you cannot become like me in many things. You cannot have the power I have. You cannot have the knowledge I have. You cannot have the wisdom I have. But you can become like me in the love you show when you are weak and helpless. THE TENTH STATION - Jesus is stripped of his garments When I was stripped of my robes, it hurt because parts of them were plastered to my body with caked blood. But it didn't hurt my ego. By this time, I had nothing to cling to. I was emptied. I want so much for you to know and live the truth symbolized by the ripping off of my clothes. My human life was an emptying of myself so I could be filled by my Father. Your life must be the same. Clothes are very personal. You would instinctively resist having them ripped from you. Yet clothes are a part of your outer self, and a symbol of it rather than your spirit. The more you cling to your superficial self, the more you wrap layers of clothing around you that will one day be stripped off. Your death will be the end of your ego, and all other empires you have been building in a lifetime. If you have died daily to yourself, the stripping of your humanity at death will not hurt so much. You may, like me, not even clutch at them as your clothes are stripped from you. THE ELEVENTH STATION - Jesus is nailed to the cross The pain of those nails almost made me black out. They were blunt Roman spikes that crushed flash and bone. Yet it as not so much that pain I felt. It was the agony that welled up at the thought of what was happening. "Why, Father? Why nails in your Son?" Let me tell you the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is the blind impersonal clashing of forces that is universal. Suffering is uniquely human. A plant or an animal may be in pain, but there is no suffering. Suffering springs from a mind capable of turning raw pain into agony by asking why. Why is this happening to me? Must it happen? Is it fair? That is why you must never underestimate the degree of suffering of any of your brothers or sisters. If you look only at their pain, you may wonder what they have to complain about. But you cannot see their suffering. You don't know how sensitive their souls are, how quickly their pain can become insufferable agony. Instead of judging, do all you can to relieve both their pain and their suffering. That is why, too, that you must never underestimate the power of my suffering. No one sustained more pain that I. But pain was not the issue. Suffering was. My suffering was infinite because my capacity to ask why was infinite and my love for you was infinite. THE TWELFTH STATION - Jesus dies on the cross I was dying, and it hurt. I was alone, so utterly alone. I had never felt this way before. I was sinking into hell and wondered if I was going to come back. I said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Some of you may think I said that only to fulfill an Old Testament passage. But I said that because I felt it. I was lost. I was in despair, even if I didn't stay in despair for long. This was not pretending. How could it be? Could I have lived and died as a man without experiencing despair and doubt? If someone tells you that faith and hope will keep you from experiencing doubt and despair, do not listen to them. Faith and hope are opposite sides of doubt and despair. They are not as different as most people think. You pass through doubt and despair, not around them. When you are falling into hell, do what I did. Shout your anguish directly to my Father. Complain to Him to your last breath, as I did. Your complaint will become a prayer, even as mine did...and He will hear and answer. THE THIRTEENTH STATION - Jesus is taken down from the cross The noise has stopped. Mary and a few faithful disciples take me from the cross. They say nothing. They do nothing, except, with hearts aching, hold my limp body. All is silent. You may have been taught that being my disciple is an active role. The more you do to improve yourself, the Church and the world, the better. There are times when you must work, but there are even more crucial times when you must say nothing and do nothing except be with me, your heart aching, as Mary and the faithful disciples after the crucifixion. I had asked some of my Apostles to be with me during my agony in the garden. But they were so depleted from talking, walking, planning and worrying that they quickly fell asleep. Not even one of them had the energy left to be with me. How often that has happened through the centuries! After my crucifixion, my disciples waited and watched in silence. Some were closer to me then than before. Do I have to die to get you to listen and love in silence? THE FOURTEENTH STATION - Jesus is laid in the tomb I had no grave of my own. My body was laid in somebody else's tomb. Was it fitting that I be buried in a borrowed tomb? I was always borrowing things. I borrowed a crib in Bethlehem to be born. I borrowed Peter's boat to preach from. I borrowed a donkey to ride on when I came into Jerusalem. I borrowed bread and wine to make my body move and my blood flow in history. I borrowed thorns, wood and nails to redeem the universe. Why should my burial be any different? I will go on borrowing things until the end of time, until I have borrowed them all and made them holy. I will also borrow you. You will be my tongue and my throat, parched. You will be my hands and my feet, nailed. You will be my head, thorned. You will be my side, lanced. You will be my body, stripped. You will be my corpse, buried. And when the borrowing is over, you will be my brothers and my sisters, risen. (written by James E. Adams for Creative Communications for the Parish, St. Louis, MO, 1985) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, April 08, 2004

HOLY THURSDAY When I was a child, this was the night when the parochial school children, dressed in their First Communion clothes, singing in Latin, processed around the church behind the priest and servers, when the Blessed Sacrament was transferred. It was something we looked forward to, and so did our parents. The church was always full. And so today, I still remember singing the words to Pange Lingua. The music and Latin text of the hymn are there at the linked website. I wanted to hear it again, and thought others might as well. The Tantum Ergo, always sung at Benediction, is the last two stanzas of Pange Lingua. Last night at Tenebrae, as we entered the church, we could smell the incense and hear the recorded Gregorian chant that was playing. Father's homily was about the sights and sounds and smells of Catholicism; about the faith appealing to both our sensory needs and our spiritual needs because we are composed of both body and soul. I spend a lot of time looking at the symbolism of those who oppose the Church. There must be a time for our own symbolism as well, and we are blessed with abundance here. Tonight we celebrate the moment when Christ gave us the greatest symbol of all, a piece of bread and cup of wine that becomes His Flesh and Blood. He remains with us in a symbol that makes present for us the awesome reality of His redeeming sacrifice and His continued presence among us, for which gratitude is the only fitting response. O most sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still. Now, as then, Thou sayest, "With desire, I have desired." I worship Thee, then, with all my best love and awe, with my fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will. O my God, when Thou dost condescend to suffer me to receive Thee, to eat and drink Thee, and Thou for a while takest up Thy abode within me, O make my heart beat with Thy Heart. Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual, all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity, of all disorder, of all deadness. So fill it with Thee, that neither the events of the day nor the circumstances of the time may have power to ruffle it, but that in Thy love and Thy fear it may have peace. Amen. (Taken from Fr. John A. Hardon's Catholic Prayer Book) Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You. Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often. Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor. Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness. Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will. Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You. Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company. Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You. Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I wish it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love. Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes, death, judgement, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches. I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile! Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You. Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart. Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love. Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but, the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You! Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for. Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more. With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity. Amen (Padre Pio's prayer after Communion) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

YA GOTTA SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT Go check it out. They forgot to do the gilding. The only antidote for this thing is a medium rare filet. Blog credit to Saintly Salmagundi. CarrieTomko@aol.com

FR. MINKLER COMMITTED SUICIDE according to the Albany County Coroner's office, as reported by the Troy Record. Blog credit to Open Book. CarrieTomko@aol.com

CATHOLIC CONFUSION AT THE VERY TOP David Palm's article in last month's NOR is up at the Seattle Catholic website: I do not think it would be difficult to reach a broad consensus among NOR (NEW OXFORD REVIEW) readers that the state of the Catholic Church today is downright confusing on many fronts. Where we would begin to diverge from one another is in the analysis of the root causes of that confusion. Although all would likely agree that there is no single source, orthodox Catholics have increasingly stated in public that at least part of the confusion in the Church today has its origins at the very top � that some of the words, deeds, and omissions of Pope John Paul II are causing confusion among faithful Catholics. To state this, however, is immediately to raise some hackles � hackles that I myself have experienced until recently. In a letter to the editor published in the NOR (Oct. 2003), Bill Foley chided the NOR for criticizing the Pope. Indeed, there are those who believe that any criticism of the Pope leads to undermining papal authority as such. I agree that such a danger exists. But I have come to believe that there is also a danger in not speaking out. The difficulty is that if a certain hierarch � whether priest, bishop, or pope � is particularly well respected, the faithful under his charge may be tempted to take his every word, action, and even inaction as a positive example. They may be tempted to conform their understanding of right Catholic faith and practice to the man, rather than the man to the Faith.... David Palm says what few Catholics are brave enough to say in the present climate of reverence for John Paul II, and NOR went out on a limb to print it. Two courageous voices for truth in a Catholic world that has been chronically devoid of honesty over the last few decades. I hope that Rod Dreher sees it and knows he is not alone. I also hope his critics--those who stretch papal infallibility to include what he had for lunch--will see it as well and learn from it. CarrieTomko@aol.com

HETEROSEXUAL PARTNERSHIPS COMPARED TO HOMOSEXUAL PARTNERSHIPS by Timothy J. Dailey, Ph.D., at Family Research Council: Author Timothy J. Dailey, Ph.D., reveals that "'committed' homosexual relationships are radically different from married couples in several key respects: the duration of the relationship; monogamy v. promiscuity; relationship commitment; number of children being raised; health risks; and the rates of intimate partner violence." Specifically, Dailey relates that, despite homosexuals' claim that their relationships last equally long as married heterosexuals, "research, however, indicates that male homosexual relationships last only a fraction of the length of most marriages." While almost 58 percent of married heterosexuals were still married after 20 years, a survey of same-sex couples found that "only 15 percent describe their current relationship as having lasted twelve years or longer, with five percent lasting more than twenty years." Also, a Netherlands study related that the 'duration of steady partnerships' was typically no more than 1.5 years. When surveyed about fidelity, married heterosexuals consistently reported that men remained faithful at least 75 percent of the time, and women at least 85 percent of the time. On the other hand, research revealed that it was not uncommon for "the average male homosexual" to have "hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime." Also, a Dutch study found that "men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per year." Dailey illustrates that an "extremely low rate of sexual fidelity among homosexual men dramatically contrasts with the high rate of fidelity among married heterosexuals." A Journal of Sex Research study revealed "that only 2.7 percent of older homosexuals had only one sexual partner in their lifetime," Dailey reports. Blog credit: LifeSite CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

THE TOWN WITH THE FIRE PROBLEM IS STILL BURNING Some time ago I blogged an article about a town in Italy that was battling spontaneous fires no one could explain. Fr. Bryce Sibley has the story linked in his blog today. There is still no explanation: Spontaneous fires started in mid-January in the town of Canneto di Caronia, in about 20 houses. After a brief respite last month, the almost daily fires have flared up again � even though electricity to the village was cut off. An endless flow of scientists, engineers, police and even a few self-styled �ghostbusters� have descended on the town, searching for clues to the recent spontaneous combustion of everything from fuse boxes to microwave ovens to a car. The blazes, originally blamed on the devil, have not hurt anyone. �We�re working in the dark. We don�t have a single lead so far,� said Pedro Spinnato, mayor of the trio of Caronia towns. �Every time some new scientist comes to town, they arrive thinking the whole thing has been invented or that they�re going to solve the mystery in two minutes. They�ve all been wrong.� CarrieTomko@aol.com

CARDINAL ARINZE ON LITURGICAL CHANGES A reader sends this link to an article in Catholic News: ...the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council will continue as the Catholic Church continues, said Cardinal Francis Arinze. "The church is alive. It is not in the Vatican museums or sealed like some kind of 'ecclesiastical refrigerator.' It is alive and it will change," said the cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.... Catholic World News reports that Cardinal Arinze was closely questioned by journalists who saw evidence of an internal dispute among Vatican officials regarding liturgical reform. When one reporter suggested that discussions of liturgy sometimes became battles, the cardinal replied with a smile that "the liturgy is not a battlefield, but the worship given to God." He went on to say that "one can't stop men from having opinions." Prodded about a more concrete sign of disagreements within the Vatican, Cardinal Arinze admitted that he could not give a date for the publication of a long-awaited document on abuses in the Eucharistic liturgy. That document, originally promised by Pope John Paul II more than a year ago, has been seriously delayed by critics. Vatican officials had said that it would be published before the end of 2000, then that it would appear in February of this year. Now informed sources say that it could finally be issued in the near future-- but say that it will not contain any significant policy changes. Cardinal Arinze declined to encourage the speculation on the document's timing, instead assuring the reporters that they would be "the first to know" when the document is published. Is this a warning? The document is 3+ years overdue. What could such an entrenched disagreement be about? CarrieTomko@aol.com

?????? - KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS OR BLACK KNIGHTS I've run across the name a few times, but know almost nothing about them except what is written here. Anyone...? CarrieTomko@aol.com

A MOST UNUSUAL CHOICE OF FILM FROM A PRO-CHOICE PERSPECTIVE From the UK Observer: An abortion is to be shown on British television for the first time. A Channel 4 programme will also use previously banned images of aborted foetuses in one of the most controversial television programmes broadcast in Britain. My Foetus, to be screened at the end of this month, will show a woman who is four weeks pregnant having a 'vacuum pump' abortion. The results of the procedure are then placed on a petri dish and shown to viewers. They will also see pictures of foetuses aborted at 10 weeks and 21 weeks, when limbs and a face can clearly be seen. Similar images were banned by broadcasters, who were backed by the courts, as being 'offensive' when the Pro-life Alliance tried to show them as part of a general election broadcast in 2001. Channel 4 said the programme, which has been seen by The Observer, only uses the images in the context of a wider discussion about the battle between the pro-choice and pro-life sides of the abortion debate. 'The pro-life film contained 23 images, many repeated, in a four-minute film,' said Prash Naik, the channel's head of legal affairs. 'This film uses four images in a 30-minute film which carefully explains the issues. It is very, very different.' Blog credit to Diogenes at CWN. CarrieTomko@aol.com

"ONE CHILD, ONE VOTE" SUGGESTED from Zenit: TURIN, Italy, APRIL 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Christian Associations of Italian Workers proposed the right to vote for children, exercised by their mothers or fathers.... "We are faced with a democratic dilemma; that is, the lack of political representation of the interests of minors," he said. "It has become a central and inescapable question, especially in countries like Italy, in which the culpable lack of care of children and adolescents has been followed by a rapid and dramatic reduction of the birthrate, that is, of the future of the country," he said. "The apparently most natural solution to this problem consists in offering indirect representation to minors through their parents," Bobba said. "The proposal is that the mother be the delegate in the representation of the political voice of her own children." Is anyone likely to take this seriously? CarrieTomko@aol.com

HOLY SEE WARY OF NEW KIND OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE reported by Zenit: GENEVA, APRIL 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See warns that a new form of religious intolerance is emerging that denies religion the right to state its principles in public life. The findings were put forth last week by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Holy See representative to the session of the U.N. Commission of Human Rights, being held in Geneva through April 23. "An emerging subtle form of religious intolerance is opposing the right of religion to speak publicly on issues concerning forms of behavior that are measured against principles of a moral and religious nature," said the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations and specialized institutions in this Swiss city. "While respecting a healthy sense of the state's secular nature, the positive role of believers in public life should be recognized," Archbishop Tomasi said. "This corresponds, among other things, to the demands of a healthy pluralism and contributes to the building up of authentic democracy," he added. "Religion cannot be relegated to a corner of the private sphere of life and in this way risk losing its social dimension and its charitable action toward vulnerable people it serves without any distinction," the Holy See representative said. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Monday, April 05, 2004

EMAIL FROM LEE PENN From an economics/intel site: At the bottom of the essay "Where Soros goes, trouble follows" .... is this: "NATO was scheduled to deploy warplanes to the Baltic states last Monday, a move that has both angered and alarmed the Russians (see The Heron�s Latest Catch). In Georgia, America�s new stooge, Mikhail Saakashvili, seems bent on creating a casus belli with Russia as well (see All News is Lies). George Soros was in Ukraine. Wherever that man goes, a �Rose Revolution� follows in his wake. The Ukraine is the gateway to Russia. Pressing already on Russia�s northern and southern flanks, a NATO move into Ukraine is going to significantly alter the strategic balance even further in NATO�s favour, and by doing so significantly reduce the choices left to those Russians who are opposed to NATO expansion. Are these to be only surrender or fight? The markets have a lot more than non-farm payrolls to be worried about." Watch these developments very carefully, recalling that Russia has publicly asserted her rights to make pre-emptive strikes against serious threats to Russian security, recalling that Russia has continued modernizing her nuclear forces since 1991, and recalling that Russia and China have a currently active mutual defense pact. An actual (or perceived, or alleged) Western threat to Russia could be a short path to nuclear war. It just may be that the wild prophecies of MGR (which have drawn decidedly mixed reviews from list members when I have pointed to them; see www.mgr.org to see the site I mention) will prove to be correct. Be attentive, and pray for the conversion of sinners, and pray for our enemies. Lee CarrieTomko@aol.com

A THEATER BECOMES A CATHOLIC CHURCH BECOMES A MASONIC HALL according to this article in the Bath Chronicle News: It wasn't until 1768 that a special Act of Parliament saw a royal patent granted, and it could be called the Theatre Royal. It was the first time outside London that a theatre had been given royal status. Actors such as Sarah Siddons, above, appeared at the theatre. But its success meant that larger premises were needed, and in 1805 the Theatre Royal opened in Beaufort Square. The Old Orchard Street building was converted into a Catholic church, with the vaults used for interring the dead. Most of those remains have since been removed to the Perrymead Cemetery. The old theatre building became empty, and in 1866 it was sold for �636 and converted into a Masonic meeting house. The Catholic authorities retain the right to enter the vaults of the building once a year to say Mass for those interred there. CarrieTomko@aol.com

PALM SUNDAY PROGRAM AT THE MASONIC TEMPLE in McAlester, OK, from the McAlester News-Capital & Democrat: The program begins at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Masonic Center at the corner of Second Street and Adams Avenue. It's free and open to the public. The program, which includes a depiction of the final times of Christ's life on earth, has been a tradition in McAlester for nearly 50 years. It's held in the auditorium at the Masonic Center, which includes its well-known painted stage backdrops. The Masonic Center also has an extensive collection of costumes which are worn by those in the play. This year's presentation includes more than 100 people. Masons and their families portray characters in the play. Meanwhile in MetroWest Daily News worship listings: COME AS YOU ARE� COMMUNITY, meets at the Masonic Hall, 404 Concord St.; Services: Sunday, 10 a.m.; Pastor: Rev. Ronald Ingalls, married Roman Catholic Priest; Tel: 508-881-5380; e-mail: ringalls44@comcast.net. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE FRUITS OF PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY are still with us today, as the Jesus Seminar shows us. Robert C. Cheeks has written a book review on Richard M. Gamble's The War for Righteousness from which the following quotes are taken. In response to the question "Why did we fight in World War I?" he writes: It is a question that has been answered by Richard Gamble in his new book, The War for Righteousness. Professor Gamble's book is a cautionary history, a warning of what can happen when elitists seek to implement their vision predicated on false doctrine or a myopic worldview. The elitists in question were self-described "progressive" Protestant ministers, "theologians, seminary professors, and college presidents" who never accepted Augustine's spiritually erudite vision of "two cities" as profitable and always held dear the old Puritan myth of America as that glorious "City upon a Hill." And, it was their faith in progress -- what they referred to as "developmentalism," and defined ". . . as an encompassing, meliorative force that controlled both the natural world and universal history" -- that started the intellectual and spiritual "migration" from orthodox Christianity. For these liberal or "progressive" clergy the Bible was an "incomplete and imperfect revelation." They did not see God as transcendent but as immanent and "at one with his creation. . . a God who manifests Himself in His creation and accomplishes His will through natural, developmental processes, both historical and biological." One no longer need be concerned with the "old" ideas such as salvation and redemption. The new path to God was achieved by improving the lot of our neighbors, and addressing the evils inherent in a capitalist society. The new religion -- social progress -- would not only save us all but begin the process of "Christianizing" America, then, of course, the world! A significant side effect, however, was that by "perverting" orthodox Christianity these liberals had tied the church to government. They had subjected the Will of God to the will of "Caesar." The results would be not only catastrophic for America, but never ending as well. The liberal or progressive church leaders garnered the support of the media, controlled numerous seminaries, and procured the funding of the Rockefeller and Carnegie endowments. They established powerful organizations, held regular meetings for planning the "War for Righteousness," wrote extensively in the Christian as well as secular press, and began to exert influence in government. Once World War I began the progressives, who were primarily pacifists of one stripe or another, began to take a hawkish position. They amended their beliefs to fit the events; the war was merely a means to an end. Of course there'd be thousands slaughtered but the survivors would surely return home as fine young, progressive Christians. America would spiritually advance to the status of "servant" nation, providing the impetus, funds, and the occasional whiff of powder necessary to move the reluctant and recalcitrant nations to the light of the "new world order!" It was, "elitist democratic messianism," writ large. Have any of you history buffs out there read the book? CarrieTomko@aol.com

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND AMERICAN CATHOLIC JOURNALISM Support the approved agenda, or don't publish. That seems to be the unwritten law of American Catholic journalism. If the material you uncover is controversial in ways that reflect badly on editorial positions, you will remain anonymous no matter how accurate your information. If you do succeed in publishing, your information will not see the light of day without mean-spirited attempts to discredit it on the part of publications we have come to respect; and lieing is not anethema. From diocesan publications, this is status quo. The diocesan newspaper serves the bishop and the chancery's agenda. If the bishop is corrupt, so will the diocesan publication be corrupt. If the bishop covers up embarrassments, so will the diocesan publication obfuscate. We have come to expect it, and so know better than to turn to diocesan publications for accurate information that reflects badly on the chancery. But independent Catholic press is not so constrained. Independent Catholic press should provide the checks and balances that are an essential antidote to the power of the chancery. Yet in our crisis and in Michael Rose's attempt to expose it, this has not been the case. Independent Catholic press worked against the truth, and thus against God. That seems to be the message that Michael Rose was given by the Crisis magazine attack on his credibility. The New Oxford Review article addessing the Crisis inaccuracies is online here. and addressed here as well. Criticism from other publications is mentioned in the article. If this is going to be the nature of Catholic journalism, who will it serve? We have already seen what cover-up and obfuscation will accomplish. It is no friend of the Church. Hidden damage still damages. Agendas still mislead. Only truth may be served in good conscience, and only good conscience serves the Church. I hope that the publications involved in this travesty have learned from it, and will give up the agenda in the future, and return to serving truth, which is the only legitimate reason for Catholic journalism to exist. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Sunday, April 04, 2004

APRIL FOOL You mean it's not April Fools Day? Mother Nature doesn't know that. We have five inches of snow and more falling. I said "I have to get ready for church." Husband said: "You're not going to church. They haven't done anything with the roads." Guess I won't have to figure out what to do with the palms this year. CarrieTomko@aol.com

ANGLICAN QUESTIONNAIRE, USED IN AUSTRALIA, TO WEED OUT SEX OFFENDERS has an unusual question: TANYA NOLAN: So why would you need to know whether someone is a member of or has ever dabbled in the occult, whether they've been cruel to animals, whether they have any driving offences? PHILLIP GERBER: In relation to the occult, it is not part of the Christian process or the Anglican process. In relation to cruelty to animals and serious driving offences, it's well recognised overseas � and a lot of those questions incidentally come from overseas questionnaires � that people who breach boundaries in those areas, there's a strong correlation between that and them breaching boundaries in other areas such as personal misconduct and sometimes unfortunately child abuse. The article is also carried at The Australian and at Scotsman.com CarrieTomko@aol.com

PRAVDA ON MAGIC "I am Magician" from Pravda.Ru: Oftentimes, magic is referred to the kind of knowledge that has been passed to humans by celestial beings in ancient times. True, magic has followed humanity since its birth. Traces of the so-called "natural magic" can be found in burials of the Paleolithic era. Civilizations were appearing and disappearing, Egyptian ancient Greek polytheism has been changed by solitary Gods of Israelites, Muslims and Christians. Time has made us forget names of cities, people, catastrophes. Magic remained. Having survived an unbelievable amount of centuries, this knowledge of magic did not cease to exist along with mammoths and Neanderthals; it did not sink together with the great Atlantis and was not consumed by the Great Flood.... Magical knowledge is inherited in every single one of us; it is in the human's nature. To exist separately throughout the entire planet, humans have to have an inborn magical knowledge. Otherwise we would have already died out. Therefore, we can all be called magicians! Today however the "magician" within us had to make way for a civilized, rationally-thinking person... CarrieTomko@aol.com

AN UNUSUAL SLANT ON KERRY from MichNews.com: His hypocrisy began with his application to Skull and Bones. At that time, 1964, it was strictly forbidden for Catholics to belong to any secret society, particularly Freemasonry. Bones has all the earmarks of a Masonic lodge, and Mr. Kerry went into that commitment with his eyes wide open. As a result of that, he was automatically excommunicated from the Church of Rome. Lucky for him, the Freemasons had enthroned Satan in the Vatican sometime between the pontificates of John XXIII and Paul VI. The obfuscating documents of Vatican II removed any mention of membership in Freemasonry as automatic excommunication. But the fact remains Mr. Kerry has not been a believing Catholic since college. Any fool can go through the motions; it takes grace and raw courage to live one's faith. I'd expect to see something like that in a traditional Catholic publication, but not in a secular one. So just what is Michigan.com? It sure looks secular. CarrieTomko@aol.com

EVER WONDER WHAT ECKANKAR IS, EXACTLY ? Well, the Jamaica Observer will tell you. Eckankar is merely a new name for an old heresy. CarrieTomko@aol.com

THE BIBLE AS HATE LITERATURE From the Calgary Herald: Portions of the Bible are in danger of being condemned as hate literature, say religious groups opposed to changes in the Criminal Code to be debated next week by the Senate. In a letter to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said Friday that Bill C-250 proposes changes that could lead to the church being prosecuted for its teaching that "sexual conduct between people of the same sex is morally wrong." "Participation in the current public debate on marriage has demonstrated there are individuals who believe that Catholic Church teaching on homosexual behaviour is hatred. We remain concerned that this bill as presently drafted could be used in an attempt to silence Church teaching in this regard," they said. Blogger credit to Crux News CarrieTomko@aol.com

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