Saturday, March 31, 2007

DVDs on your doorstep

The local press here in Utah is all a buzz with the news that a Protestant, Evangelical group is distributing 350,000 DVDs pointing out their take on the errors of Mormonism. Here is The Salt Lake Tribune's take on it. From the tone of the coverage by the local TV stations you would have thought we were being invaded by rabid woodchucks: Anti-Mormon DVDs on YOUR DOORSTEP! News at 10!

OK, I am not too sympathetic. At least our Mormon friends didn't have to open their doors and listen to two well-scrubbed young Evangelicals in suits tell them that their church was in error (the Church of the Whore of Babylon). All they got was a DVD hanging from their doorknob. If they don't like it, well they have a nice skeet target or a new hot chocolate coaster. I am disappointed they didn't leave on the front door of the Fortress of Orthodoxy(TM). (Looking at it on their website, it seems to be a fairly accurate assessment of Mormonism, albeit from an Fundamentalist, Evangelical perspective.)

More interesting is what kid from my last parish called to tell me. (OK he is in his 20s, married, and has a job, but in my mind he will always be one of my altar servers.) He didn't get one either. He called to request one. When they found out he was Catholic, they launched into some fairly standard Anti-Catholic apologetics. The group is Good New for LDS. This is the first time I have heard of them. There is also a well established, Evangelical Anti-Catholic group named Good News for Catholics. This group also has a DVD; aimed at Catholics of course. I doubt that this is a coincidence and suspect that the groups are related.

Must play game! Must run over hippies!

I know. I shouldn't watch South Park. I shouldn't go to Comedy But they have the Hippie Drill Game! Where else can I run over hippies in a custom, At The Earth's Core style drill and not end up serving several consecutive life sentences? Anyway, here is the link.

Welcome to the Orthometer Blogroll

Mary's Muse the blog of my parishioner Tina (homeschooling mother of 7, including the singing at Mass toddler Cecilia.)

Holy Week liturgical strangeness

The topic: Handwashing on Holy Thursday.

The verdict: -10 on The Orthometer.

The first time I heard about this little bit of weird was from a classmate at the sem. This was the practice at the parish he worked at during his pastoral year. (For those who don't know, a pastoral year is an internship year where a seminarian interrupts his studies to work in a parish. In general, I am not in favor of them. All to often they amount to a year of forced liberalization and the seminarian ends up being stuck with the work that no one else wants to do.) Anyway, it seems that the pastor didn't think his washing the feet of twelve men was inclusive or relevant enough. We had a good laugh over the whole thing and I never thought that I would have to experience this.
That is until I spent a year as a transitional deacon. We were at the liturgy committee meeting discussing Holy Week. Someone asked, "Do we have enough towels for the congregation to wash each other's hands?" "Wait a minute," I said. "We wash hands on Holy Thursday?" As I got the Is-He-From-Mars looks, they explained that it had been done for several years and everyone loved it. "Ummm, but Jesus washed his disciples feet," I replied. As I moved farther out in the Solar System, they patiently explained that that wasn't inclusive or relevant enough. "Ummm, but didn't Pontius Pilate wash his hands around the Triduum. Do we really want to be imitating him?" Everyone laughed and sure enough the whole congregation washed hands at the Mass of the Lord's Supper while I said a few prayers to Our Lady of Vengeance.
Google this topic and you will find that this is not that unusual a practice. Neither is the no less common abuse of having the feet of women washed. Catholics United for the Faith has a good discussion of the footwashing issue. As for my parish, we follow the rubrics. (However, it was several years into my first pastorate before I was aware that the Latin rubrics specified males.)
Bottom Line: Which of the two men in the picture do you really think we should imitate?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The most frightening verse in Sacred Scripture

is, "Glory and praise forever" (Dan 3:52b) This is the responsorial verse for the psalm today. Glory & Praise forever--ewww-sounds like Hell to me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

16 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

(From an insane parishioner)

1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked Car With Sunglasses on and Point A Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.
2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don't Disguise Your Voice.
3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Fries with That.
4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It "IN."
5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks. Once Everyone Has Gotten Over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch To Espresso.
6. In The Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write "For Sexual Favors"
7. Finish all Your Sentences With "In Accordance With The Prophecy."
8. dont use any punctuation
9 . As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.
10. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is "To Go."
11. Sing Along At The Opera.
12. Go To A Poetry Recital And Ask Why The Poems Don't Rhyme?
13. Put Mosquito Netting Around Your Work Area And Play Tropical Sounds All Day.
14. When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream "I Won! I Won!"
15. When Leaving The Zoo, Start Running Towards The Parking Lot, Yelling "Run For Your Lives, They're Loose!!!"
16. Tell Your Children Over Dinner. "Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go. "

Spiderman 1 & 2 in Bunnyvision!

Monday, March 26, 2007

My schedule for Holy Week

Monday, April 2
Mass -- 8:30 am & 6:00 pm
Confessions -- 3-5 pm & 7-8 pm

Tuesday, April 3
Mass -- 8:30 am
Confessions -- 3-5 pm & 7:30-9 pm

Wednesday, April 4
Mass -- 8:30 am & 6:00 pm
Confessions -- 10 am-Noon & 7:00-8:30 pm

Thursday, April 5 -- Holy Thursday
Mass of the Lord's Supper -- 7:00 pm
Confessions -- 3-6 pm

Friday, April 6 -- Good Friday
Liturgy of the Lord's Suffering & Death -- 7:00 pm
Solemn Stations of the Cross -- 3:00 pm
Confessions -- Noon-3 pm

Saturday, April 7 -- Holy Saturday
Easter Vigil Mass -- 8:00 pm

Sunday, April 8 -- The Solemnity of the Resurrection of Our Lord
Mass -- 8:00 am, 9:30 am, & 11:30 am

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Rudy's last chance to save New York

(Courtesy of my DRE)

Algore nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Here is an editorial from today's Washington Times:

A rather ordinary Nobel

March 24, 2007

Just how did Al Gore get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? That question has been on the minds of people wondering what global-warming alarmism has to do with international peace. The short answer is that two Norwegian parliamentarians put him forward (as they told reporters nearly two months ago). The larger answer is that the selection process heavily favors precisely this event. That might have come as a surprise to Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who upon his death in 1896 willed his fortune for five prizes, including a peace prize with a highly specific purpose: To honor "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Then again, maybe not. The Nobel process is sufficiently expansive as to make nominations a looking glass of sorts for the era. Most current world ideas, some good, some bad, show up. Start with the group of people who make the nominations. Generically, they are among the likeliest people on the planet to be well disposed to Mr. Gore's message. The Storting, or Norwegian Parliament, begins the nomination process. It appoints the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The committee then invites nominators secretly from among national assemblies, jurists, university deans and professors, foundation heads, former Nobelists and others previously associated with the committee. Nominators are secret for 50 years unless leaked by insiders privy to that knowledge (like Norwegian parliamentarians Boerge Brende and Heidi Soerensen, who announced Mr. Gore's nomination). Historically speaking, people who speak to issues of concern to the intelligenstia of the day get the honor. Sometimes they are prescient. Other times they are not. Still other times, history proves them disastrously wrong. The full range of nominees include Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro and other monsters of the modern world, as well as saints and heroes including Mother Theresa, Theodore Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. Now we have Al Gore. Perusing the several hundred nominees of the late 1940s and 1950s (all are available at, a few things stand out. The first is that history -- political, social, economic -- is highly visible here. The nominees include Winston Churchill, Helen Keller, George Marshall, Jawaharlal Nehru and other towering figures of the era. The second is that the "ash heap" of history is quite literally present. In 1950, for instance, 25 of 77 total nominations went to two men, Clarence Steit and Emery Reves, two writer-activists, for "work to establish a world government." Neither man won the award. "Who doesn't have a Noble Prize nomination?" asked Eugene Volokh in the Los Angeles Times in 1995 after convicted killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams received his. Time will tell which category Mr. Gore falls into. If not the "world government" pile, then -- we'd tend to think -- somewhere comfortably far from Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr..

No one should really be surprised. After all, political correctness seems to be the sine qua non of the Nobel Prize of late. Pope John Paul II was turned down many times because of his opposition to contraception and abortion. Also, I find it very difficult to take seriously a peace prize that was awarded to Yasser Arafat.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Prayer request

Please keep Tammy, the wife of my cousin Chris Barnes, in your prayers. Tammy fell down a flight of stair and experienced a severe brain injury. She is undergoing extensive therapy in Boise. Tammy and Chris have a beautiful little daughter named Elle. Please keep them all in your prayers.

First time I saw a woman in a cassock

The last week has been busy with funerals, Lenten things, meeting with my Salt Lake lay Carmelites, and a four hour meeting to hire a new principal for our local Catholic High School. (BTW, this school, St. Joseph Catholic High School is a real gem. It isn't perfect, but it is the best Catholic high school I have ever been involved with. It has excellent teachers, a great student body, and is genuinely Catholic. Also, for each of the last three years we have sent students to our nations military academies. Last year, three students went to Annapolis! Which isn't bad for a school with an enrollment of 180. This year another young man is going to the Naval Academy and, more importantly, a student is applying to study for the priesthood for the Salt Lake City diocese.)

What you may ask does this have to do with this post's topic? Not a blessed thing. On to the post topic. When I attended the seminary, the use of the cassock by seminarians was banned. (The administration considered them to be too 'Old Church'.) So my cassock had to remain in my closet. (Last time I visited the old sem, several of the seminarians said, "Kudos on the cassock!" The times they are a changing.)

I also worked on the ground crew for some spare change. My specialty was tree pruning, which was a fair bit of work since it hadn't been done for a while and had to be done during the rainy Oregon winter. (This is where my custom of cutting down trees on Earth Day originates, but I will save that story for later.)

One day I was up about 30-40 feet in a tree with my pruning saw. I noticed a person coming out of the retreat in a cassock. I thought to myself, "Cool a cassock!" Then I noticed that something didn't look right. Eeks, it was a woman in a cassock! I almost fell out of the tree. It turns out that the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon was holding their annual retreat there.

I find it amazing that while clergy-ettes consistently decry the 'Patriarchal Church', they usually embrace her trappings with gusto.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Heaven & Hell

(Sent to me by a parishioner.)

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like. " The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, "You have seen Hell". They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, "I don't understand." " It is simple," said the Lord, "it requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves." When Jesus died on the cross he was thinking of you.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It is NOT OK.

Several times over the last few months, I have read and heard it said that the Catholic Church teaches that, "It is OK to be Gay." Ummmm, NOT! The Church teaches that homosexual attraction is a disorder that, if acted upon, will lead a person to acts which are gravely sinful. Wherever these attractions come from, if the person afflicted did not cultivate or encourage them, they are not morally culpable for them. But this is a far cry from saying that the same sex attraction is OK. No disorder that leads a person to sin can be termed OK.

Using the term Gay for people with homosexual attractions is itself highly problematic. There is a whole bunch of cultural and political baggage that comes with it. See a more extensive treatment of this, follow this link to the Courage site.

Sometimes this statement comes people who don't appreciate the subtlety of the Church's teaching that we can love and accept people as people loved and called by God to redemption while still condemning sin in their lives and calling them to redemption. But, sometime these statements are deliberately used to confuse, undermine, and attempt to change Church teaching.

Why don't we just say that the Church is for sinners. That we are all called by God and with His Grace to struggle and overcome our tendency to sin however it manifests itself. The very worst and most appalling thing we can do is confirm a person in their sins and encourage them to sin.

Our Lord said it much better than I ever could,

"Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were to be cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him." -- St. Luke 17: 1-3.

I'm back

The last two days have been spent on the festivities surrounding the installation of my new bishop, The Most Rev. John Charles Wester, formerly an auxiliary of San Francisco. (I wish they could come up with a different term than installation. Whenever I hear it, I have mental images of the bishop being bolted to the floor of the Cathedral with an impact wrench.)

On Tuesday night, we had vespers for clergy and religious at one of the Salt Lake parishes. The music was provided by the Madeline Choir School (more about them in a bit). It was very nice and I was able to talk with one of our former bishops, William Weigand, now of Sacramento. Bishop Weigand baptised, confirmed, gave first communion, and ordained me to the diaconate and priesthood. Two years ago he received a liver transplant. It was wonderful to see him looking so healthy.

The installation was on Wednesday at 1:00 in the afternoon. Unfortunately, it had to be by invitation only. But, this was preferable to holding it in an athletic arena. The Cathedral of the Madeline was filled to capacity. I have never personally seen so many bishops in one place. (Admittedly, Utah is not a hotbed of episcopal activity.) The Mass was very well done: no liturgical dance, no semi-pagan blessings of the four directions, and the music was superb. The Madeline has a choir school. The student learn real music; no Hagen/Hass. (I would have preferred some chant, but the polyphony was glorious.) Bishop Wester gave a good, but very long homily. (I suspect that there is a secret part of episcopal ordinations where they remove the ability to speak briefly.) The Mass lasted three and a half hours. The only blights on the splendid even were the presence of the leftist, homophile, peacenik Mayor of Salt Lake and the Episcopal Bishopette of Utah (women in Roman Collars give me the creeps.)

Please keep Bishop Wester in your prayers. He has a big job ahead of him. (After all, he has priests like me!)

Monday, March 12, 2007

How long, O Lord?

An anchorman on CNN has revealed that he was sexually abused by the priest chaplain of his school when he was 14. It is a heart wrenching story of a vulnerable boy being preyed on. It is also the story of the havoc it wrecked in his life. May God bless Thomas Roberts for having the courage to come forward and help ensure that the bastard who did this won't do it to anyone else. May God grant healing and strength to him and the other victims of this monster in clerical garb.

Whenever I hear a story like this, I pray, "How much longer will we have to endure this?" I suspect a good deal longer. At least as long it will take the church in this country to confront the problem of predatory homosexual priests.

Priest has Homer Moment

I got a call from one of our mortuaries on Saturday. They said that a lady from my parish had died and they needed to schedule a funeral. Well it seems the lady was actually from another parish in town but shared the last name of one of my parishioners. I assumed that it was her and included her name in the weekend's General Intercessions.
My funeral coordinator later called the woman's home intending to speak to her grand-daughter. When someone else answered the phone, it sounded an awful lot like Emma. It was Emma who is alive and well despite all the prayers for the repose of her soul this weekend.
What can I say except:
1) D'oh!
2) At least it wasn't as bad as when I asked the non-pregnant woman when she was expecting.
3) I am reminded of the line from Monty Python & The Holy Grail, "I'm not dead yet."
4) I am also reminded of Mark Twain's famous quip that the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Another reason to dislike Congress

Daylight's Savings Time in general and this year's early start in particular. (Give me back my hour of sleep you SOBs!)

Reflections of Sunday post hour theft:

DST Con:
1) A priest with sleep deprivation is a cranky priest.
2) My alarm clock which used to automatically adjust to DST is now worse than useless.
3) The automatic DST reset feature on our new electronic bell system is now worse than useless.
4) The collection will be down this week because of the people who missed Mass due to DST.

DST Plus:
1) It is entertaining watching people arrive for Mass an hour late.

Why I blog under my own name

My favorite orthodox, pro-life, convert, serving at my home parish, Democrat blogging deacon has a great post on Blogging and Accountability. Give it a read especially if you are a blogger yourself.

We all need to be held accountable for what what we say and do in a public forum and, like it or not, the blogosphere is a public forum. This is one of the reasons I decided to blog under my own name. It keeps me honest. If I say something goofy as I have and will likely do again, I want you to know who it is who is saying it. Also, if I have personal opinions on theological matters that are not 'official Church teaching', I label them as such. (Though if the Church teaches it as to be believed by all Christians, I believe it; end of story.) This is also why I, in general, let comments even critical ones remain on the blog unless they are off topic or slanderous.

Update March 12, 2007

There are great and thoughtful comments on this topic, so make sure you look at them.

Let me clarify a point. Blogging under my own name keeps ME honest. There are good and valid reason, several are mentioned in the comments, for using a pen name. However, using my own name helps me to remember that I am a priest of the Roman Catholic Church 24/7.

In answer to Julie's question, a lot of my parishioners know about my blog and there is a link to it from the parish website.

File under: if it isn't true, it should be

(From my sacristan)

I was testing the children in my Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven. I asked them, "If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into Heaven?""NO!" the children answered."If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?"Again, the answer was, "NO!"By now I was starting to smile.

Hey, this was fun! "Well, then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my husband, would that get me into Heaven?"I asked them again.
Again, they all answered, "NO!"I was just bursting with pride for them.

Well, I continued, "then how can I get into Heaven?" A five-year-old boy shouted out, "YOU GOTTA BE DEAD." Kids, gotta love 'em.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A reflection on the Transfiguration of Our Lord

(Part of my homily from last Sunday).

We need to appreciate just how wonderful the Transfiguration is. Our Lord takes Ss. Peter, James, and John to the top of Mt. Tabor. There the veil which concealed His true nature is removed. He is shown to be True God as well as True Man. Not only is His glory revealed, but He is seen in the company of the Prophet Moses, giver of the Law and instrument of the liberation of the people of Israel, and the Prophet Elijah, greatest of the prophets and so holy that he was taken up body and soul into heaven. What we find on Mt. Tabor is heaven on Earth. For what is heaven but the presence of God face to face and fellowship with God's holy ones.

St. Peter says Lord it is good to be here: let's just say. If we are honest with ourselves, we would say the same thing. (St. Peter usual says what we would say ourselves.) Who of us, if we were taken up into heaven would willingly want to return to Earth. I know I wouldn't. But what would have happened if they had stayed? None of us would be saved, not Peter, James, nor John. Christ could at anytime have revealed His glory and ascended to His throne as King of Heaven and Earth, but we would not have been saved. As He discussed with Moses and Elijah and as He taught His disciples, for the world, the flesh, and the Devil to be defeated, Our Lord had to go to Jerusalem, be handed over to evil men, be crucified, and rise from the dead. It was in this way that our salvation was won.

I would hazard to say that we are all tempted to be like St. Peter at times. We want our salvation NOW. And who wouldn't. No struggle, no pain, just salvation here and now. But it doesn't work that way. We are not saved. We are being saved. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are not saved until we are found worthy at the Judgment and admitted into the Father's Kingdom.

Maybe you have heard it said that we are an 'Easter People' or a 'Resurrection People', that we have been saved, that we are on our way to Heaven. And that because of this, we don't need 'that penance stuff.' And it is true, up to a point. Christ is victorious. Christ had conquered the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Christ does reign. But this victory is not finished in our lives. This is why the Crucifixion still needs to be made present in our lives through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We need to deny ourselves, take up our Crosses, and follow the Lord Jesus. We especially need to remember that our salvation is not a done deal. It can be lost if we turn from Christ and His Cross.

Therefore, let us renew our commitment to Christ and His Cross. Let us pick up our crosses and carry them with the Lord to Jerusalem.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Now I really have seen it all

Check out this post from Dr. Blosser on what the Care Bears tell us about our culture.

On the Charlie the Unicorn front, I am working on a Latin dub. Just imagine, "Ave Charlie Ave!"

New liturgical term

"Regurgical Dance", when you see them at Mass, you want to vomit.

--from an LDS organist (with this person, I could be ecumenical!)

God bless Bishop Vasa!

Just when the demon of despair starts to tempt you, God gives wonderful gifts like this column from Oregon's Bishop Vasa. Here is an analysis (via Spirit Daily) of his column by Life Site.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Orthometer: banned in China!

I would have been highly disappointed if it weren't.

(Zuccetto Spin to Dominican Idaho)

This says it better than I ever could

The Gay Mass in Park City is continuing and as several of you may know it has hit the local press and is likely to do so again. I haven't really thought that I could add anything new or constructive to the conversation. However, via Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex, I have run into a very fine blog CourageMan written by a faithful Catholic man who struggles with homosexual inclinations (which is worlds apart from being Gay). He has posted several excellent posts concerning evangelizing those with same sex attractions and this very good post on the Park City thing.

(Welcome to the Orthometer blogoll CourageMan!)

Catbox in the chapel

The lovely and twisted Crescat earlier this week posted this gem based on my ranting about kitty litter in the baptismal font.

As luck would have it, I do have a chapel catbox story from my time at the seminary. (nota bene: things at the sem have changed significantly for the better in the 14 years since my time there.)

During my last year there, the arts and environment nutjobs (aka art&enviro farts) decided that we needed at Zen sand garden in the seminary chapel. The question of why we needed a pagan artifact aside, the thing looked exactly like a litter box. During a late night bull session in the dorm lounge, several of us ortho types were ranting about it. One fellow suggested that we borrow a cat and let him use it. This was rightly seen as being over the top. Several of us then began to remember childhood experiences with Little Green Army Men in sandboxes. Desert Storm was still fresh in our minds. Wouldn't a nice LGAM battle scene really jazz up the catbox? As a group, none of us intended to make our dream a reality, but one guy took it upon himself to fulfill our vision. Presto! Operation Chapel Storm. The head art&enviro fart had a coronary about the 'sacrilege' in the chapel, but most of the guys had a good chuckle.

During Easter the catbox was transformed into a little pond with plants and fish. Wouldn't you know several rubber duckies also showed up in it.