Saturday, December 30, 2006

Movie Favorites Meme

The Caveman has slapped me upside the head with the Move Favorites Meme

Your Favorite Film? The Exorcist (1973) I was 8 when this came out and the radio commercial scared the #$#& out of me. Most people focus on the special effects or the more lurid elements, but it is the story and the acting that have me watching it again and again. Max von Sydow is excellent as Father Merrin. The story is a great rumination on the nature of evil and faith, or the lack thereof. The re-cut issued for the 20th anniversary was a distinct improvement especially in restoring an important conversation between the two priests. (Funny Exorcist Story: The first time I saw this move was when it played on network TV for the first time in 1980. The local then CBS affiliate is owned by the Mormon Church and they wouldn't air it until 10:30 pm. Two hours to watch the movie and then another two to be able to get to sleep--It was 2:30 am before I could get to sleep. The next day just about every kid at my junior high was a walking zombie due to sleep deprivation.) The only one of its sequels that came close was the original version of the prequel Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005). (I have also read that the original cut of The Exorcist III (1990) was worthwhile, but it isn't available.)

Your Favorite Film Priest? No, it is not Father Merrin. (He is a close second along with Father Chisholm from The Keys to the Kingdom (1944)). It is Father Peter Lonergan from The Quiet Man (1952). Ably played by Ward Bond, this priest is a man of faith who is also a man's man. (Unlike the all too frequent characterization of priests as ineffectual milquetoasts.) My favorite line of his is when he responds to Danaher's threat to join the Church of Ireland with, "As if they'd have you!"

Your Favorite Film Nun? I would have to agree with The Caveman and say Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957). Her grace and faith remind me of the best religious sister I have known.

Extra Credit (Not in the Meme, but what they heck):

Favorite Older B-Movie? The Omega Man (1971) Charlton Heston! Gun! Mutants! It has it all. It fueled my childhood LaMOE (Last Man on Earth) fantasies and I have a framed, original poster!

Favorite Newer B-Movie? Army of Darkness (1992) The king of the Bs Bruce Campbell! Chainsaws! Deadites! And the best collection of movie one liners every! (Surpassing even Die Hard). "Now listen up, you primitive screwheads. See this? This... is my boomstick! The 12-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about $109.95. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You *got* that?" It is just plain groovy!

I tag: The Crescat, Paul the Regular Guy, and TO of LAMland.

Saddam is dead.

I suppose everyone has heard the news that Saddam Hussein did the air dance last night. (It was even proclaimed in the City of Orgrimmar in World of Warcraft, according to a commentator on another blog.) There has been a great deal of discussion on this in St. Blog's. Amy Welborn of Open Book refers us to this well thought out analysis of two view points pro and con on this issue. A Vatican spokesman even referred to the execution as a 'tragic event'. I agree, it is a tragic event. But, not for the same reason as the spokesman.

It is tragic that a human being could commit acts so evil that the proper response is to take his life. He terrorized his own people for over 30 years with murder and torture. He started two wars of aggression. He funded and supported terrorist organizations. (And he gave that ass Ramsey Clark a bully pulpit as his defense attorney.) The only way one could say that his death sentence is unjust is to say that all death sentences are unjust.

This is precisely what some within the Church are saying, even the Pope himself. But is this the teaching of the Church? No, the Church has always taught that the state has the right to execute criminals in accord with just laws. In the latest edition of the Catechism, John Paul II tried to limit this to only those cases where it was absolutely necessary to protect society. (On this basis alone, one can make a good case that Saddam was a threat as long as he was living.) However, there are good arguments that this is not infallible or even authoritative teaching. Even if it is, the prudential decision that in modern society with our great prisons, the death penalty is not necessary is shaky to say the least. The imprisoned are still dangerous to other prisoners and the guards and there is always the possibility of escape. But, I think we need to remember that punishment is, well, punishment. Its primary purpose is retributive justice not rehabilitation. Punishment restores the order of nature and some crimes are so heinous that death is the proper response.

I admit I am not disinterested in this subject. When I was younger, the son of a friend of my mother's was the victim of a serial killer. This boy that I remember as a nice, friendly little kind was kidnapped and tortured to death. He was one of five victims. His killer merited his punishment.

Not very forgiving are you Father? I have prayed and will pray for this man and Saddam. (Though Saddam's last words don't give me much hope for his repentance.) I hope and pray that they asked for and received God's mercy. But this does not mean that traditional justice ought not to have been done.

See, they really are the team of evil

If asked who my favorite NFL teams are, I respond DA BEARS, THE BRONCOS, and WHOEVER PLAYS THE COWGIRLS. I have never liked the Cow "boys". Win or lose, they are obnoxious. Now I find out they are pro-death. According to this Matt Abbot Column, they are big supports of Planned (Non) Parenthood.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Future Marine

Thomas, my friends Jim and Cindy's youngest son, posing with my Thompson. (Thomas' dad is a retired Marine flyer and his big brother is a NROTC midshipman.) He is even ready for the chow hall.

"What time is Midnight Mass?" and other obnoxious questions.

Last Easter I was tempted to go up on the roof with the M-14. Every other minute the phone was ringing with questions about the Mass schedule. (Yes, in one way that is a good thing. But, if they had been coming to Mass the rest of the year, they would know.) During the I could cope. However, it was when the phone rang after midnight that the old BP began to rise. "Umm, hi. I thought I would get a machine. What time is Mass?" Some of us still answer the phone in case it is a sick call.

This shouldn't be a problem this year. Our old phone system was dying. We replaced it with a new one. When I go to bed all I have to do is press a button and it goes to the automated attendant before it rings. (Don't worry. There is an emergency option on the menu that will ring into the rectory.)

I still pick up the phone though during the day. And I am dreading the question, "What time is Midnight Mass?" I know. It isn't a stupid question. There are a lot of slackers out there who have moved it to a time earlier in the evening. Fr. Stephanos has even pointed out that the Latin rubrics state that it is a Mass during the Night. However, the common understanding of Midnight Mass is Mass at midnight. So in my opinion, Midnight Mass should be at Midnight. End of story.

And no, Sunday morning Mass does not count for for Christmas and Christmas Eve Mass does not count for Sunday. As I told the folks last weekend, "NO LITURGICAL DOUBLE DIPPING!"
(See Jimmy Akin's post on this.)

Best Christmas Movies

In my opinion the following are must see for Christmas:

A Christmas Story (1983) Good thing TBS plays it for 24 hours straight.

Christmas Vacation (1989) So many good scenes. Can't pick a favorite.

A Christmas Carol (1984) George C. Scott as Scrooge and The Equalizer as the Ghost of Christmas Present. The most faithful adaptation.

Scrooge (1951) Another good adaptation.

Die Hard (1988) Well, it does take place during Christmas.

And in deference to opinions expressed in the combox:

Elf (2003) Will Ferrell's best movie. (Though I did like Zoolander.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Famous Distant Relatives of the Priest

Due to a post on this blog, I have been contacted by a relative of my father's father. It is rather cool as I don't know too much about that part of my family. Any way, I do have some famous, rather distant relatives. Here they are in no particular order:

John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865) "Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"

Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) Agriculture Secretary under Eisenhower, President of the Mormon Church, and noted anti-Communist.

Fay Wray (1907-2004) Actress and girlfriend of King Kong.

Heinrich the Fowler (876-936) Holy Roman Emperor.

St. Mathilda of Ringelheim (895-968) Wife of the above and saint.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Priest, the Flu, and the Worst Christmas Ever

Sorry about the lack of posts over the last week. It is penance service season and I am having my annual winter bout with the flu. (Father, why don't you get a flu shot? Because the shot makes my sick and I get the flu anyway. Next question.) I will spare you the gory medical details. Suffice it to say, getting through the Mass schedule last weekend was tons of fun.

Being a priest is a lot like being a teacher. If a bug is out there, odds are that you are going get it. Personally, I blame Communion under both species from the Chalice. At my last parish, the year I gave Communion by intinction was the first in a long a time that I didn't get sick at all during the winter.

Which brings me to 'The Worst Christmas Ever'. At about 10:00 PM on Christmas Eve, I came down with rip-roaring case of gastrointestinal flu. I tried to make it through Midnight Mass, but only made it through the Gospel. I skipped right to the Consecration, directed the Extraordinary Ministers to give out Holy Communion, and ran for the restroom. It was not a fun night. At about 4:00 AM, as I was stretched out on the nice, cool bathroom floor, my prayer was, "Oh Lord, please just let me die now." I did recover enough by the morning to do the Christmas Day Mass, though with ALL the optional parts left out. And later in the day the nice lady from across the street brought me a ton of the world's best chicken soup.

End of ramble.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Carols for the Psychologically Challenged

(Sent to me by a friend)

1) Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear, the Voices, the Voices?
2) Amnesia - I Don't Remember If I'll Be Home for Christmas
3) Narcissistic - Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
4) Manic - Deck The Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and Fire Hydrants and...........
5) Multiple Personality Disorder - We Three Queens Disoriented Are
6) Paranoid - Santa Claus Is Coming to Get Us
7) Borderline Personality Disorder - You Better Watch Out, You Better Not Shout, I'm Gonna Cry, and I'll Not Tell You Why
8) Full Personality Disorder - Thoughts of Roasting You On an Open Fire
9) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
10) Agoraphobia - I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day But Wouldn't Leave My House
11) Senile Dementia - Walking In a Winter Wonderland Miles from My House in My Slippers and Robe
12) Oppositional Defiant Disorder - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus So I Burned Down the House
13) Social Anxiety Disorder - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas While I Sit Here and Hyperventilate
14) Attention Deficit Disorder - We Wish You......Hey Look!! It's Snowing!!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Rectory Vandalism!

I was in Denver last weekend baptizing the youngest daughter of my friends Dave and Stephanie (the parents of my senior godson Matthew). When I got home and opened the door, I came face to face with THIS! At least, it wasn't in the church.

+Major David J. Richtsteig, USMC, 9 May 1942 - 8 December 1965

Today is the 41st Anniversary of my dad's death. Dad was born in American Fork, Utah and grew up in Cedar City, Utah. He attended the University of Utah and graduated in 1964 with a degree in accounting. He joined the Marine Corp. He received his commission through OCS. Originally, he was to have been posted to Hawaii, but was instead shipped to Vietnam in May 1965. He was an artillery officer and headed a forward observer detachment. He was killed in combat in Operation Harvest Moon when the South Vietnamese Ranger Battalion he was attached to were overrun by the Viet Cong. Only one of dad's men survived. The other two were found the next year in a mass grave with executed South Vietnamese civilians. Dad's body was recovered in 1974.

I love you, Dad. I am proud of your service to our country and to the people of Vietnam.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Quote of the Week

From the Whapanators:

Which makes me think, perhaps the CDW should set up a Black Ops Division. I'm imagining black-cassocked priests in mirror-shades swarming over a 1970s-style church. And then the bullhorn sounds: "STEP BACK FROM THE TAMBOURINE AND COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP! WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED AND AUTHORIZED TO USE THE THURIBLE IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY!"

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sign of Peace? Sign of Sociability? Sign of Affection?

Most people either love or hate it. There is no middle ground. To be truthful, I tend to be on the hate it side. I don't object to the concept of it: a token of our willingness to forgive one another being offered before Holy Communion is a good thing. But, the cocktail hour it usually turns to be is not. Glad-handing, kissing, and hugging abound. It usually blows the snot out of any sense of quiet and reverence. This is not the case in the Maronite Rite (in which I have bi-ritual faculties). It is done in a very prayerful manner and is obviously a religious gesture. In the Latin Rite, it usually is anything but. It is the Sign of Sociability or Affection, not peace. There is nothing wrong with these things, but they are for after Mass, not during.

The sign of peace was present in some form during the worship of the early church. But, for some reason it was reduced to a pro forma 'Pax vobiscom. Et cum spirtu tuo.' Some see clericalism as being the reason for this. I suspect it was the things I cite above. I wish that the powers that be, before they 'restore' things to the Mass, would consider the possibility that there may have been very good reasons for their suppression. (See widespread Communion under both species and Communion in the hand for other examples.) Romanticism for past practices untempered by a healthy skepticism can do a lot of damage.

Add to this the possibility that it may be optional. This is the opinion of several respectable authorities. Reasonable interpretations of the rubrics admit this. The rubrics themselves are vague. Either the invitation to the sign of peace is optional or the whole thing is. The later seems the more likely; that whole exchange is optional. Until this is clarified by the competent authority, Rome, this is a legitimate interpretation. Its inclusion depends on whether the Celebrant considers it 'opportune'.