Thursday, July 31, 2014

In Northern Virginia for a funeral for a friend

An old friend from my political days died last week, and the family asked me to have the funeral. I would have come anyway.

This isn't just about my friend -- call her L --who was one of a bunch of great people I came to know and love while working here in politics in the 90s; her longtime friend and companion was and is a mentor to many of us; come to think of it, she was a mother to a lot of the folks too.

Today here daughter in law and grandson met me at Dulles airport. Her son (who I've known for about 20 years) and I were talking and visiting this afternoon. Our friend, H, who cared for L as her health declined, also came by. We had a great visit, like old times...except L wasn't at his side.

This isn't something I'd often do. It something I might easily have been unable to do. But while I now wish I'd done more for L before she died, this is something I had to do.

Pray for L, who happily had the blessing of Last Rites to send her off; pray for the family and friends who are very sad.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Some thoughts on the readings, especially about Mary

As I heard the readings four times this weekend, I had some thoughts that might have become part of a homily, if I hadn't had a visiting priest giving me a break:

Solomon's request for wisdom...

Father Tim Schehr, who taught us Scripture in the seminary, would make much of the point that all this happened in a dream. The whole episode concludes with "Solomon awoke: it was a dream!" (1 Kings 3:15) -- i.e., perhaps offering a wry commentary on Solomon's actual performance, as opposed to his aspirations.

When Father Fortunatus touched on this, he mentioned how, in the seminary, guys would offer their own answers to God's question: what would you like from me? And Father suggested that if we were answering that question in light of the Gospel reading, we might ask for "the joy of the kingdom." And he developed that idea nicely, along with the way we spend much of our lives searching for true joy, and growing in the life of the kingdom.

But then I thought of a similar encounter with God, only this time by Saint Thomas Aquinas. The saint was praying, and the Lord spoke to him from the crucifix: "You have written well about me, Thomas; what gift would you wish from me?"

And Saint Thomas responded, "I would have you Lord!"


While Father didn't do much with the passage from Romans, I had some thoughts as I listened...

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose. 
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers and sisters.
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

It struck me: all this is certainly true of our Blessed Mother!

Her role in salvation history -- along with her son's, of course -- God "foreknew" before the fall of humanity; it is hinted at in the conversation with Adam and Eve after the fall.

Who "he foreknew he also predestined" -- that's what we say of Mary: "predestined by eternal decree." Thus she was saved from all stain of sin from conception (the immaculate conception), so that she could be, in the fullness of time, the new Eve who would untie the knot of the first Eve's disobedience.

And who is more "conformed to the image of his Son" than Mary? Indeed, insofar as 100% of the God-Man's DNA came from her, Jesus is an "image" of Mary; but we might more fittingly describe the creature, Mary, as the image, of her Son, who is God!

Mirabile dictu!

And look! From the one so predestined, indeed -- he is the "firstborn of many brothers and sisters"! What do we call our Lady? Mother of the Faithful.

Did God not "call" Mary? "Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with will conceive and bear a son..." (Luke 1)? Did God not also "justify" Mary? "There is no stain in thee!" (Song of Songs 4:7)

"And those he justified he also glorified": did not God do this when he took his mother, body and soul into heaven at the conclusion of her life on earth?

Not that I am saying all these promises are only fulfilled in Mary; on the contrary: everything Mary receives, we will receive. Why should anyone begrudge the greatest human cooperator with God's work that she received her portion first? Without her fiat, where would we be?

Sorry no homily today...

Because I have a visiting priest, from Uganda, giving an appeal for his home diocese.

I will see if I can post something later as a substitute; however, I'm taking him around, after the last Mass, to see some historic sites in this area.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The problem of pornography

By way of Big Pulpit, I found this article -- Seven Steps to Beat Pornography and Masturbation -- by a priest I met some time back (I see he's in Calgary now).

This is a subject that some may not like to talk about, but the easy access of the Internet results in a huge problem -- which does profound damage to relationships and families. People may find it ridiculous to think that anyone seriously thinks viewing porn and masturbation are anything but harmless. But they are not harmless.

The solipsistic physical grammar of solitary vice says it all: a person turned toward the self.

Perhaps the very hardest challenge anyone faces involves relationships, don't you think? Think of the problems you had yesterday or today: how many of them involve other people?

When someone gets caught up in a habit of solitary fantasy and pleasure, it provides a convenient solution for what is so frustrating and challenging in real relationships; in fantasy-land, you're the boss, everything goes your way; you design people to meet your needs; and you dismiss them when they cease doing so.

Now, of course, our capacity for fantasy isn't a bad thing; on the contrary, our ability to imagine and create is a faculty to develop. But, the goal isn't to escape reality, but to encounter it -- and, perhaps, with full use of God's gifts, improve it in some way.

While fantasy and masturbation may seem, to many, to be rather trivial things to worry about, I think there's something else at work here that is far from trivial. Call it narcissism. Call it selfishness. Call it social isolation. Call it an inability to make relationships work. Call it apathy or disinterest in the cares of others. Do these sound like real problems we have in our society?

And of course, the problem of pornography -- so readily available now via the Internet -- pours gasoline on the fire.

In the home, an adult gets into the habit of prowling online, but assumes no one else will ever know. In fact, frequently their children will find their trail -- and then follow it.

And if you think this isn't powerful, do a little checking on the number of times this becomes a problem in the workplace. People lose their jobs over this: and how addictive must this be that people would risk so much for so little?

So back to Father's advice. I think it's very good. I would add some other ideas:

1. Keep the computer in a public area and try to go online only when others are around. This also helps keep us just from wasting time online.

2. Plan your time online. Instead of just going online for an indefinite time and purpose, set time limits for yourself and have a plan for your time online.

3. Pray before going online.

4. Keep holy images nearby; you can even paste a holy card on your screen! It's not magic; just a reminder.

5. As Father Schneider says, it really helps to sit down, calmly, and think about the times and circumstances when we most often fall into these sins. Certain moods can make us more prone to temptation: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Frustrated, Tired and Bored: HALF-TB.

Why these moods? I think what happens is that we feel a need but may not identify it right away; we just want to satisfy it. To put it simply, we feel bad and want to feel good. With anger and frustration, I think our inner dictator comes out: I'm tired of not having my way, d*****! And we give ourselves some moments when things go entirely our way.

6. If you're tempted, change your location immediately. It's amazing how just getting up, walking around, eating an apple or getting something to drink, can clear our heads.

7. Fasting can be a useful tool. Because we have so many comforts, we can tend to fall into an automatic, need-felt-need-gratified sequence. Fasting or denying yourself other comforts can teach us that our bodies' cravings don't need to be met constantly.

8. Some people may want to consider going Internet-free. While email and ready access to lots of information are tremendously useful, the truth is, we can get along without it. There actually are lots of people in western society who never go online, and they do quite well. It may be rather humbling to have to take this step, but it's what alcoholics do for their well-being. Having the humility to admit and accept your limitations is something everyone admires; refusing to do so, not so much.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

No more silence about extermination of Christians!

Marked for death

I'm disgusted -- to say the least -- about the continuing silence and indifference in the west about the horrors being visited on Christians in the Middle East.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Thank the don't-give-a-damn idiots in the media.

And let me tell you, I don't use the term "idiots" carelessly.

You see, I used to work in media relations, when I worked in Washington. I worked directly with a lot of these folks. They are hired because they can make a good presentation on the air, or to turn out copy. Not because they necessarily know anything.

I can still recall being in Arizona, crisscrossing the state for the Right to Work cause; and I met with a TV anchorman and his sidekick in one city, to explain our purpose. He needed me to tell him who the state's two U.S. Senators were. Note well: he didn't know who they were!

In Iraq, Christians are being marked for extinction. They are being driven out of their homes, their towns, where they have been since Apostolic times. Ancient churches are being burnt down.

Notice the symbol above? It looks innocuous. But it is the Arabic letter "n," for "Nazareth." The jihadists mark the homes and businesses of Christians with that sign. A reversal of Passover: they are marked for destruction.

Meanwhile, our current President? Golfing; raising money; but showing no concern for these terrorized folks. Our former President George Bush, whose war started this process underway (which church leaders predicted would happen, by the way)? No comment.

Does anyone give a d***? Do you?

All right, I've ranted enough. Here are some practical things to do:

1) Pray for our fellow Christians. They are very alone and desperate.

2) Send money.

Here are several Catholic charities providing material help. You can donate online, or else arrange to send a donation. I sent $200 of my own money to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (because I wanted to specify it help people in Iraq), but they are all legitimate charities; please make your own choice:

Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Near East Welfare Association
Aid to the Church in Need

3) Learn more. Here and here are two pages at the US bishops site:

4) Speak up! If you are on Facebook, share your thoughts with others. Here are ways to contact the President and our members in Congress:

President Barack Obama
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Sen. Sherrod Brown
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C., 20510

Sen. Rob Portman
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C., 20510

Rep. Jim Jordan
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515


Here's the text of the letter I sent to all the above:

Dear Mr. President/Senator/Congressman:

Please, please, please speak up, loud and strong, for the Christians who are being marked for extermination in Iraq and Syria, among other places!

When Jews are persecuted, America speaks up. And we stand by Israel. As we should!

When Muslims are persecuted, we speak up. And we went to war several times to defend their rights. As we should!

Why does our government remain silent and inert about this persecution?

Please do what you can to oppose this persecution, and to provide material relief. In particular, I think our country owes these folks asylum, as it was our war that helped create this situation.

Thank you for your attention to my letter.

Rev. Martin Fox

Update, 7/24/14: Welcome readers from Catholic and Enjoying it; thanks Mark Shea for the link!

I hope you will see some good ideas here for acting to help our suffering brothers and sisters. Feel free to add your own in the comments. Glad you came!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Working for justice is not a negotiation with God (Sunday homily)

When we listen to a parable from the Lord, like the Apostles, 
we are often unsure how to understand it.

Here’s a suggestion:

To get more out of what the Lord says,  
Try asking what about his message 
is something you do NOT want to hear.

Let’s try it with this parable.

It clearly illustrates how good and evil will endure until the end, 
and only God will really solve the problem. 
Not only that, God is willing to be patient -- 
often much more patient than we think he ought to be.

So far, so good. 

But many take this parable to mean something else: 
that we don’t really have to worry too much 
about confronting evil -- they let that be God’s job.

So for example, what do you hear people say -- 
even people who imagine themselves to be good Catholics? 

“I’m personally opposed, but…”

See how convenient a surface reading of this parable can be? 

Now, you might ask, 
how can I be so certain I’m right and they’re wrong?

Here’s why. 
Because if you go through the Bible, you will not go far 
before you find God telling us 
he expects us to stand up for justice -- 
particularly for widows and orphans, 
For the foreigner and the outcast, 
the poor and powerless.

But there seems to be a conflict. What do we do with that?

Well, remember my suggestion. 
Let’s look for something in the parable we won’t like to hear.

How about this: You and I don’t get to play God. 

Let me ask you: have you ever played the “if I were king” game?

That’s where we are ready to explain -- 
if anyone asks, and even if they don’t -- 
all the ways we can fix what’s wrong with:

-- The world
-- The church
-- The archdiocese
-- The Reds…or even the Bengals
-- The parish
-- The county or the village
-- Even the family next door!

But here’s the thing. Does anyone ever play, 
“I’ll be vice president -- 
have no power and let someone else call the shots”? 
That’s nowhere near as fun, is it?

That’s how you solve the seeming contradiction.

Elsewhere, our Lord tells us: work for justice. 
But here, he tells us, you won’t be the one in charge.

When we work in various ways in pursuit of justice, 
one of the humbling and frustrating things we must face 
is the limit on just how much we can accomplish.

Let’s talk about the marriage question. 
A lot of us are astonished and discouraged 
to see so many around us going along with redefining marriage. 

Just as an aside: it’s not really all that surprising. 
It’s been a long time in the works. 
To be very plain: when we as a society 
first accepted easy divorce laws, 
and then accepted contraception, 
this was the logical outcome.

Still, a lot of people are thrown off. 
As a result, many are simply abandoning 
what they always believed; they are, as they put it, “evolving.” 
It’s very hard to stand alone.

Meanwhile, maybe others of us, 
while not abandoning the truth at stake here, 
still might get mighty discouraged.

We might be tempted to take 
the “personally opposed, but…” approach, and let God sort it out.

But here’s the thing. 
When God tells us we must work for justice, 
When did he promise we’d see results on our timetable?

This is not a negotiation:
“OK, God, I’ll work for prolife laws, or to help the needy, 
or to oppose the death penalty, or to defend marriage…
but we have to win by such-and-such a date!”


Saint Thomas More was on the right side; 
and he pretty much did everything right. 
And he got his head chopped off! 

But never did he imagine that that meant 
he didn’t have to do exactly the same thing as he did!

So you and I are called to work for justice.

And lest you think that doesn’t apply 
to this question about marriage, 
let me explain why it certainly does.

It’s about justice to the truth. 
The truth about what family is, 
and therefore, what being human is: male and female. 
These are not mere external attributes; 
they are at the core of who we are; 
and we are not interchangeable. 

When government or society starts saying 
that something essential to human identity 
actually has no meaning? 
Watch out: that’s a road to oppression.

And this is about justice to children. 
We have already become a world in which 
children are less a gift we accept, and more a right we demand. 
We have more and more people seeking children, 
not for the sake of the children’s needs, 
but to meet the needs of the adults!

The word for this is narcissism, and it never ends well. 

This massive social experiment will not end well. 
And lots of people will suffer along the way.

Meanwhile, we have the maddening truth of today’s Gospel.
We have our methods and timetable; and God has his.

The parable tells us the field has wheat and weeds; 
children of light and children of darkness. 

Right off the bat I can think of two reasons God is so patient.

First, he’s waiting for those of us, 
who imagine ourselves to be pretty spiffy wheat,
to discover how weedy we actually are!

And then, of course, God is surely eager that 
as many of the weeds as possible cry out: 
Please save me! Lord, have mercy!”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rectory update

Folks in Russia are aware that the rectory at the parish needed some updates, and is in the process of getting them. So they've been asking how it's going, and am I comfortable?

First, I'm fine. I have everything I need for now, and I'm looking forward to how nice the house will be when all is finished.

To review, here's what is part of the project (which parishioners set in motion with help from my predecessor):

-- Repairing and replacing old plumbing (complete);
-- Tearing up old carpeting and refinishing beautiful wood floors (complete);
-- Repainting the interior (underway);
-- Rewiring; much of the wiring is very old and potentially hazardous (underway);
-- Installing air-conditioning (underway);
-- Installing insulation in the walls (soon);
-- Some updates in the kitchen and bathrooms (complete).

Did I miss anything?

At any rate, here are some photos of the work in progress, and some of the results:

My office, where the magic happens. With both some electrical work underway, and insulation still to be blown into the walls, we haven't hung up any artwork or put books on the shelves yet.
Side porch with new patio furniture! Well, new to me! A parishioner donated it. I like that!
Here's the dining room. Doesn't the floor look great? Since I took this picture, some of the rewiring has taken place; unfortunately, the light fixture needs to be replaced. The wiring was dangerous, and rewiring existing fixtures can be a headache. The walls are also slated for painting soon. 
Ed hard at work on the rewiring.
Kitchen: mostly complete. A little touch-up needed in a few spots. They built some new cabinets and spiffed up the existing ones; I think many of the fixtures are new, and the table and chairs too?
My bedroom. Since this was taken, the window a/c was taken out, as a wall unit was just installed above the bed -- you can just see the edge of it. When everything is finished, I'll hang some pictures. You can see I made my bed!
Here's the guest bedroom, with hardworking parishioner, Bonnie, working hard! We just finished the painting; after the re-wiring is finished, we'll kit it out for a visiting missionary next weekend.
Here's one of the other three bedrooms that will ultimately be painted. We have tables and lamps and other furnishings, but we will need some items eventually -- especially if I have a seminarian or two stay in the parish next summer. However, I would rather wait for garage sales or other opportunities that have a way of showing up.
Meanwhile, the concrete work outside church is underway. You can see the new handicap ramp being completed -- it will be a gentler slope than the older one in front. The older one will remain, but will get a new cap.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday night dinner

One of the questions people are asking me is about food: what I like, and do I cook? 

It may be related to the fact that my admirable predecessor was never seen eating.

So, for those who may be interested, here's what the parish priest of Russia fixed for dinner tonight:

Cube steak, sauteed with a steak seasoning, a little flour, and olive oil. Done medium. Very quick to cook. One of the parishioners warned me it might be a little tough -- but not meat from Buschers! It was quite tender. I wanted to get a ribeye, but it was $14/lb., while the cube steak was less than half that! This was preceded by an antipasto of cheese and crackers, and paired with green beans lightly steamed with a little butter ( the micro!) All this was accompanied by a feisty Chianti (i.e., box wine). 

For dessert, I had some peach ice cream as only Graeters can do it, accompanied by some fresh raspberries, dressed with a little sugar. 

And pretzels. If you don't know about pretzels with ice cream (only Grippos will do), then try it before you scoff. You will be surprised.

Life in Russia

Here's how it stands here...

You can tell, from the time between posts, that I'm keeping busy. I'm a little tired, but it's all good.

These wonderful folks get up early! (They work farms, you know!) The Angelus bells that ring promptly at six -- just outside my window! -- may have something to do with it. But it's mainly farming.

I've been having a series of meetings with parishioners; three nights a week, into early August. We divided up the parish list, inviting about a hundred folks each time. They don't all come, but anyone getting invited feels better about the parish, just knowing its happening. And when folks come together, they not only meet me, but they get to know everyone else better (although everyone here knows everyone -- it seems -- already!). I'm working on the names, but failing a lot; but everyone still has a good humor. I'm asking folks what they like about the parish; and then they get to ask me anything.

You know what I've learned so far? People here really love their parish! At least, those I've met.

Lots of the normal stuff of parish life. Daily Mass, confessions, anointing people as they need it; I had Mass at the Versailles nursing home, and visited folks who didn't make it to Mass.

Meanwhile, I'm getting things set up in the house. While I'm stocking up the food items I like, parishioners are painting the house, while various contractors are working on air conditioning (we never had it before!), overdue wiring upgrades, insulation, and concrete work. Lots of coming and going! 

Some folks are a little surprised that a big-city guy like me would like coming to a really small town -- and they are flabbergasted when I tell them I asked to come here (once I found out I couldn't stay at Holy Cross-Immaculata). 

Here's the thing.

This is a peaceful, happy place. The children are friendly and happy. Life isn't easy, but it's sane and good. And here, the parish is the center of the community. Faith is the center. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the center! 

Why in the world wouldn't I want to come here?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sin & redemption, time & eternity (Sunday homily)

(My homily is a little different today. Comments are always welcome, especially for this one.)

My homily today is going to be kind of heavy. 
And a little longer. But I’ve heard you’re used to that?
It’s about sin and redemption; time and eternity. 
I know what some of you are thinking: oh no! 
Now we won’t make it to Bob Evans ahead of the Protestants!

Why would I want to tear off this big bite?

Well, because that’s what Saint Paul is talking about 
in the second reading.

We heard Saint Paul contrast 
the “sufferings of this present time” 
with “the glory to be revealed”; 
and he also talks about “all creation” suffering, 
and “groaning” to be set free.

One of the things Paul is telling us is that sin isn’t just personal. 
Sin affects all creation. The entire universe!

How this happened we do not know. 
Genesis describes God creating Adam and Eve in Paradise, 
where there is no time; no decay; no weariness; no suffering. 

When Adam and Eve fell from grace, and they leave, 
they enter this world of time, 
which brings with it both growth and decay, 
suffering and triumph, life and death. 

We can challenge the story of Genesis all we want; 
but what Saint Paul says about Creation is demonstrably true: 
it’s embodied in the laws of physics. 
This glorious creation, on its own, is running down toward death!

So what is sin? Sin is rebellion: our will against God’s. 
And once a gap was created between humanity and God -- 
a darkness of distrust -- that brings corruption. 
This is what we call Original Sin, 
that created a rupture in the harmony between man and God.

Do you want an illustration of this? Think of Christmas. 
You have been working hard preparing for Saint Nicholas’ visit, 
and at last the family dives into 
the pile of presents under the tree. 
There’s a moment of pure joy: the tree, the lights, 
your children’s faces, it’s so wonderful, isn’t it?

How long does it last? Before…

“Gimme, gimme!” “That’s mine! Take your hands off!” 
And then, the unkindest words of all: 
“Is that all there is?”

This sin problem of ours, 
which takes pleasure and turns it to lust, or greed or gluttony, 
not only corrupts us, but also our relationships. 

And that leads to injustice and cruelty on a social level. 
In our own history, 
somehow a lot of individual people with bigoted views 
turned into Jim Crow and segregation.

If you’re like me, you read to keep up with 
what’s going on the world. 
Whether it’s world news, or science, or medicine, 
lots of folks are always trying 
to identify the causes for our problems.

Well, Saint Paul just told us: the problem is sin. 

Do you want to change the world? Start by changing you. 
St. Francis, and St. Ignatius of Loyola, among others, got this: 
they realized the power 
of a small number of people who lived truly changed lives.

So our program for changing the world 
begins right here in our tiny corner of it. 
And to the extent each of us seeks our own true conversion: 
through self knowledge, humility, 
and coming to Jesus frequently in confession and the Eucharist? 
That’s a powerful force!

But we don’t stop with personal conversion. 
When sin infects our society with injustice, we also change laws. 
That’s what we did with segregation, 
and it’s what we are still seeking to do in other ways, 
particularly defending human life in the womb.

Let me expand a little more on conversion.
And I want to use the example 
of a movie from a few years ago called Groundhog Day. 
And I use this because it connects to the other idea 
in what we heard from Saint Paul, which is eternity.

In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray 
is an cynical, self-absorbed TV weatherman 
who is somehow trapped living Groundhog Day, 
over, and over and over.

At first, the Bill Murray character 
lives this endless day as a kind of hell. 
He’s trapped and he can’t escape. 

Then it becomes a kind of purgatory. 
It begins to change him. As he changes, 
the day goes from being a nightmare to something truly human; 
he becomes someone he never had been before. 
Someone who gives, and helps, and changes others.

You see? What redeems that endless day isn’t a different day; 
but a different Bill Murray! Conversion. 

When we talk about eternity, 
sooner or later we talk about heaven or hell. 
So here’s a way to understand heaven and hell.

If you and I live this life unhappy with God, 
unhappy with anyone else, unable to find any joy…
then one day we will wake up, and that will be our eternity: hell.

And that will happen if we try to live a life where we are king. 
Remember what the sin of Adam and Eve was: 
“you shall be as god.” 
They wanted a world that revolves around them. 

Isn’t that what we all crave? Isn’t that what greed and lust are? 
And when anything threatens our king-of-the-world routine, 
that’s when wrath comes out. 
Either kids hitting each other with Christmas toys, 
or nations with bombs.

On the other hand, if you and I find joy in this world -- 
above all, in people…

And that joy comes, doesn’t it, not really from taking…but giving!
Look at how all known forms of life operate: 
we are designed to give life. 

It’s woven into everything about us. 
To motivate us, 
it’s coupled with really strong desires and pleasures -- 
which, of course, we manage to mess up! 
Even so, there is no joy so great as the joy of giving life!

Yes, I mean procreation, but not just that.

Long after a father and mother 
have raised their children, what then?
They help others do the same. 
Or they find other ways to share life with friends and neighbors, or even strangers. 
Isn’t that what we do with all the countless charities we have? 

And those of us who never have our own children -- 
such as priests -- isn’t that what we do? 
We give life in other ways.

This fundamental nature of each of us -- 
dying to self, giving of self, for others -- 
is what gives the most powerful satisfaction of all. 

The Gospel tells about the “seed”; 
And we know from another passage 
that our Lord calls himself the grain of wheat 
that dies, to sprout up to new life. 
What did he say? 
“I came that they might have life -- and have it to the full.”

This is what the Cross and Resurrection are; 
what the Holy Mass is; 
what we seek in the sacraments, right?

Isn’t it interesting that it’s also built into our very DNA?

And if, each day, we live that kind of life -- 
in the words attributed to Saint Francis, 
“in giving that we receive; and in dying, 
that we’re born to eternal life” -- 
then one day, we will wake up, not in time, 
but to that endless day: 
an eternity of life and joy: and that is heaven!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

'A Prophecy: The Vocation Crisis is Over'

Prophet Nahum, not Dwight Longenecker. Why Nahum? Why not?
The headline is the "prophecy" of Father Dwight Longenecker, whose blog, Standing on my Head, I visit regularly. I wish I could take credit for what he said, because it's things I've been thinking lately, but he said it first, and way, way better.

Why does he say the vocations crisis is over? Here are some highlights (be sure to read the whole thing at his site):

> The battle over Vatican II is coming to an end. Before long, those who see things as "pre" or "post" Vatican II will have gone to their reward. Not only are the folks who see things that way "dying out, but their ideas are dying out. Their places are being taken by a younger generation of Catholics who do not remember the Vatican 2 wars."

> This new generation isn't necessarily more "conservative" or "traditional," Father says, but are Catholic because that's what they want to be. And they are filling traditional religious orders and seminaries.

> "Cultural Catholicism is dying." (And I partly want to say, "requiescat in pace." There are certain aspects of "cultural Catholicism" I will be very glad to see die. Ask me in comments if you want, and I'll unload...) "Cultural catholicism doesn’t produce vocations. Committed Catholicism does." (As Fr. Z says, can we get an "amen"?)

> In the years ahead, the culture will become more aggressively hostile to our Faith. Although Father doesn't say this, I will: we may be stunned by how ferocious it becomes. But he does say, "As it becomes difficult and dangerous to be Catholic the complacent and comfortable Catholics will quietly slip away. They are doing so already." And I will add my own prophecy: this may be a more sizeable exit than people are ready for.

> "As it becomes difficult and dangerous to be Catholic more young men will stand up to be counted. Men like the militant aspect of being a priests. They want to stand up for what they believe in without compromise. They want to fight the good fight with all their might. The Church militant will make a come back and an increasing number of men will step forward to be engaged in the spiritual battle."

We may not be "flooded" with priests, Father Longenecker concludes, but they'll be strong, courageous priests. Absolutely.

Let me add my own prophecies to Father's:

> The liturgy wars will begin ending faster than you may expect.

As already mentioned, a certain generation is dying out; and the complacent are departing. Included in this departure (either form) will be the narcissists who have been demanding parish liturgies cater to their demands, as opposed to liturgy being what it truly is: a corporate act of worship and intercession, for those who realize their needs are fundamentally met by God Almighty and the sacraments, not mood-music Masses and lots of affirmation from all around them. They are less interested in a "table" to "gather around," but readily understand the need for an altar to kneel before.

While this will be a trial for the "progressives" -- this process is already a trial for them -- many of the "traditionalists" will continue to be tried as well. There's narcissism there, too; and it won't be catered to. The Church is going to be too busy to do that. "Told you sos" may be merited, but it would be better to let it go. Many traditionalists need to prepare themselves for something new that will be good.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Spending money...

Today I was buying liturgical books for the parish.

Because we have the Extraordinary Form Mass, we needed a resource with the readings in English. About 60 bucks from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.

Because we have Mass at area nursing homes, we needed a travel edition of the regular missal. About 70 bucks from LTP. I'm not crazy about that missal, but it looks like it'll lay flat, and that's a good thing.

And because we sometimes have Mass -- in the Ordinary Form -- in Latin, we needed a Latin Missal. Cost? Over $400! Ouch!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

'Progressive Catholics': like angry babies

I have developed this theme before here: if the Church were to jettison Natural Law as a pillar of her moral theology in matters of sexuality, how would the end result not be that only consent remains as the sole criterion of the good?

After posing that question in some comments at Father Z's blog, a commenter pointed me toward this document: Listening to the Faithful: Recommendations to the Synod on the Family. Now, this looks like something serious, so I decided to take some time today to read it. Perhaps someone on the "progressive" side has actually thought this through?

Sadly, this document ain't it. I was only halfway through the introduction before I was feeling embarrassed for the people who put this out. Here are some examples:

"At the Second Vatican Council, we realized in a new way that the teachings of the Catholic Church could evolve..."

Well, that is a problem. The theory of evolution holds that new species evolve from old ones. Do the authors claim that the Mystical Body of Christ can "evolve" into a different species? Just think that through -- how is that possible? Does God need to evolve? Into what?

Then there's this howler:

"All of the Church’s social teaching is an attempt to clarify and amplify what Jesus taught by his words and by his deeds, recognizing of course that we face situations today that Jesus could never imagine."

There is no other word for this but stupid. Notice what they actually said: it is impossible that the second Person of the Trinity, once incarnate, could have brought his fullness of divine knowledge to his human brain. Just how can these folks know this to be true? Now, in the area of Christology -- the theology of who Christ is and how the implications of the incarnation work out -- we often find the idea that because Jesus was and is fully human, his divine knowledge was, in some fashion, "denied" to his humanity. I don't hold to that view, but I don't declare it an utterly impossible view to hold; I just think it doesn't make sense.

Ah, but these folks -- who can't bear to have anything condemned when it comes to sexual behavior, actually condemn the proposition that Jesus the God-Man had access to divine knowledge!

And it goes downhill from there. Within a few paragraphs, we learn that "in most cases," clerics haven't got any notion that any family ever struggles with finances, adolescent issues, "dealing with sickness," or marital conflict.

Oh, and: "women are to be feared."

Now, that's actually something I learned growing up with one mother and three sisters, as well as from dating before entering the seminary; and it's something I suspect not a few husbands would confirm; but it's definitely not anything I was taught in the seminary!

So what, if anything, do they offer on sexual morality?

-- It doesn't matter how many marriages people enter into. Now, admittedly, they didn't put it that baldly; but they did say that sometimes marriages "die" and therefore, a second marriage, after a valid first one, should not be a problem. So, why stop there? Can't second marriages also "die"? And third ones? Where do they draw the line -- and why? Nothing there.

-- Any partnership can be a relationship, "gender" notwithstanding.

-- For that matter, with or without marriage, sex is OK.

-- And of course, "Humanae Vitae was a mistake." Contracept and make babies in test-tubes all you like, folks! Because the Church should "Translate prohibitions into compassionate counseling based on the primacy of conscience."

So it goes.  This isn't theology; it's a wish-list. From a theological standpoint, it's incoherent.

On the basis of this sort of reasoning, on what basis would a priest -- or a parent -- tell someone his or her "adulterous" relationship was immoral? "My spouse and I agreed to an 'open relationship,'" comes the response. So if the spouses agreed, what makes "adultery" wrong? And the same question arises for any other question of sexual behavior. As I said at the outset: the only remaining criterion is consent. Read this document and tell me I'm wrong.

Further, serious theology has to ask this question: why should this sort of moral reasoning be limited only to sex? Why shouldn't decisions about paying taxes, business matters, respecting the property of others, whether a statement is "true," also be governed by "prohibitions" translated into "compassionate counseling based on the primacy of conscience"?

Now, perhaps you think I'm being mean; after all, why should this group be expected to provide serious theology? Because they are proposing this for the bishops to consider; and the "board of consultors" includes not a few self-described theologians.

I'm tempted to claim this document shows that progressive theologians confirm my initial point about consent being the sole remaining criterion of the moral good. But this is too shoddy. But it does confirm, I think, that there is a huge hole left, that the "progressives" won't be able to fill -- that is, assuming they even care. But on the evidence of this mess, it seems their real issue is a kind of infantilism: they simply resent the h*** out of the word "no."

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Introducing myself (homily)

No doubt you’ve figured out 
that I am Father Martin Fox, your new pastor. 

I know that when a new priest comes in, 
and everyone has to adjust. 
Let me say this about Father Amberger: 
he is greatly respected by so many of his fellow priests. 
He is a role model for many of us. 
So I readily understand that having him move 
to a different parish is difficult.

I’ve been through this several times, 
and I know that from the first moment anyone set eyes on me, 
you can see how I am either like Father Amberger, or different. 

You can see we both wear a cassock -- 
but I fill mine out a lot better! 
That’s because I’m not malnourished like Father Amberger! 

I didn’t realize this until just recently, 
but apparently Father Amberger 
liked to do these outdoor adventures. 
That sounds like fun! 
But my wilderness skills are pretty limited: 
I can toast marshmallows, 
and I think I remember how to turn on a Coleman lantern. 

As I see it, there are only two groups I’m bound to disappoint. 
First, those who expect me to be exactly like Father Amberger. 
Second, those who expect me not to be like Father Amberger.

Since I like and respect Father Amberger, 
of course I’m pleased if you do, too. 
I won’t be able to fill his shoes -- my feet are too fat! -- 
but I’m happy to follow such a good priest. 
Like the altar servers this week at Holy Mass, 
who had to adjust to my particular quirks, 
I’m sure we’ll get used to each other.

I have a letter from Archbishop Schnurr 
that he asks I read to you...

On Tuesday, I signed that Profession of Faith 
and Oath of Fidelity, immediately after the morning Mass. 
Father Steve Shoup is the dean for this area, 
who helps organize things around here. 
He came over, right after Mass ended. 
And I made my oath on the Holy Gospels. 
Here’s some of what I promised God, the Archbishop, and you: 

> “Always (to) preserve communion with the Catholic Church”;
> To “hold fast to the Deposit of Faith in its entirety, 
(to) faithfully hand it on and explain it,” 
to “avoid any teachings opposed to that faith”;
> To unite myself to the bishops 
as “authentic…teachers of the faith” 
and to “faithfully assist” them.

Every priest, upon becoming a pastor, swears that oath. 
I think it’s important for you to know about it. 
And that I take it very seriously.
Very  bluntly: my eternal soul is on the line, here! 

So that tells you a lot 
about how I will conduct myself as your pastor. 
I will do my best to teach and explain 
everything our Faith teaches. 
I will do my best to practice it -- 
and to confess my failings in the sacrament of penance, 
just as all of us do as Catholics. 

Speaking of the Gospel, what did we just hear? 
The Lord says he is grateful for the “hidden” things 
that the smart people don’t get, 
but which “little ones” do understand. 

These mysteries aren’t really hidden -- 
it’s just that for folks who live “in the flesh” as Saint Paul put it, 
the Lord’s way seems to be nonsense, or unfair or unreasonable. 
There is no getting around it: 
the way of Jesus Christ is at odds 
with the ways of the world around us, 
and that has always been true. 
If we ever thought otherwise, we were kidding ourselves.

Who are the “little ones” who can accept it? 
Those who are not ashamed to come to the Lord and admit, 
we need his strength; ours won’t cut it.

Frank Sinatra, of whom I am a big fan, 
had a song called “My Way.” 
A great song; but a terrible spirituality.

To be able to penetrate the mysteries of the Lord, 
we have to be willing to come to the Lord and say, 
“yes, I did my way--and it didn’t work!“
Then we can accept doing it Jesus’ way. 
That’s when we let the Holy Spirit take charge. 
And that’s the key. 

Today is another opportunity to yield control to the Lord. 
Right here and now. And that goes for me, too.

That first reading is a prophecy fulfilled on Palm Sunday. 
And it reminds me of a story. 
There was a donkey that came into a big city, 
and as he walked in, everyone was so excited! 
As he saw the huge crowds gather, the donkey thought, 
“wow, I must really be something!” 
And then when he stopped, 
Jesus climbed off his back! 

You know what? That’s me. 
I’m the…donkey who gets to bring the Lord to you. 
And I’m just fine with that. 
And if each of us can accept being the servant 
who brings Jesus to others, 
we too will discover the secret of his Kingdom.

Contraception: 'Behold your gods, O Israel!'

[Jeroboam t]he king took counsel, made two calves of gold, and said to the people: “You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” And he put one in Bethel, the other in Dan. This led to sin, because the people frequented these calves in Bethel and in Dan. He also built temples on the high places and made priests from among the common people who were not Levites (I Kings 12:28-31).


King Nebuchadnezzar questioned them: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Now, if you are ready to fall down and worship the statue I made, whenever you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, dulcimer, harp, double-flute, and all the other musical instruments, then all will be well; if not, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, you should know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace. They were bound and cast into the white-hot furnace with their trousers, shirts, hats and other garments,
for the king’s order was urgent. So huge a fire was kindled in the furnace that the flames devoured the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into it
(Daniel 3:14-22).

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad" -- spoken by Prometheus in Longfellow's poem The Masque of Pandora.


This past week, we have witnessed lots of seemingly sensible, intelligent people lose their minds in rage as majority of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to endorse President Barack Nebuchadnezzar's order to bow down before the false gods: "Estrogena," "Prophylaxis" and "IUD." Decisions in three of many score of lawsuits were handed down by the nation's highest court this week: Monday brought the now-famous Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood rulings; Thursday brought a less well known, yet much potentially more far-reaching ruling in Wheaton v. Burwell. The latter is actually a temporary injunction, but the nature of the ruling and the circumstances of it suggest it may prove very consequential.

So what happened?

On one level, we had a bureaucratic mandate which conflicted with the plain text of existing law: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; which, it should be noted, was enacted in response to a prior Supreme Court ruling affecting religious freedom. In that case, the "left" position was (a) to decry the ruling's intrusion into a minority's religious practice (smoking peyote), and (b) to urge the passage of RRFA, which sailed through a Democratically-controlled Congress and was swiftly signed by President Bill Clinton. RFRA was and is crystal-clear about the high hurdle any government act must clear in order to pass legal muster; yet all this was forgotten by the court's "liberals" when the issue wasn't allowing people to smoke peyote, but to refuse to facilitate contraceptive use.

The white-hot rage really came to the fore when the second decision -- a temporary injunction, let us note -- several days later. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor issued a "scathing" dissent that, I must say, shows them -- not the majority -- in a bad light. Note well that Justice Stephen Breyer, their ally in the Hobby Lobby ruling only days before, conspicuously absented himself from their dissent.

I'm sorry to say that these three justices embarrassed themselves. Justice Sotomayor makes the tendentious claim that the Hobby Lobby majority "retreated" from its own decision in a matter of days; but that only follows if you wilfully misconstrue what Hobby Lobby actually said; and then, even more laughably, assume that the other six justices (including one who dissented from Hobby Lobby) don't even understand the prior ruling!

At issue is the so-called "accommodation" that the Obama administration has offered to objecting religious organizations, which the Hobby Lobby decision pointed to as an alternative to the mandate as it affected profit-making enterprises like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. Justice Sotomayor and her co-dissenters claim that the Hobby Lobby ruling gave its blessing to the accommodation -- and then, several days later, changed their minds. That claim requires you to believe that Justice Kennedy, in particular, didn't know his own mind when he wrote his concurrence, in which he, himself, highlighted this accommodation.

Here's an alternative explanation: the majority cited the accommodation not in order to declare it entirely satisfactory; but merely to demonstrate that there existed a less-burdensome way for the government to carry out it's birth-control-for-everyone mandate. Why is that so important?  Because RFRA explicitly says the least-burdensome means must be used; and if anything less-burdensome could be pointed to -- anything at all -- then Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood prevail. Simple as that.

Even those who are generally joining in the hair-on-fire reaction to these rulings admit that the Hobby Lobby decision did not sanctify the so-called "accommodation." Note what Timothy Jost admits, in a moment of lucidity: "Although Hobby Lobby did leave open the question as to the legality of the accommodation..." -- but the moment passes, and he proceeds to act as if he never said what I just quoted. Why? Because that's the tune being played by the three dissenters, who likewise assert that

After expressly relying on the availability of the religious-nonprofit accommodation to hold that the contra­ceptive coverage requirement violates RFRA as applied to closely held for-profit corporations, the Court now, . . . retreats from that position. That action evinces disregard for even the newest of this Court’s precedents and undermines confidence in this institution.

Madam Justices, the majority "relied" on the "accommodation" solely to demonstrate a key point in the Hobby Lobby case: that a less-restrictive means was available. That's it. Nothing more.

Mr. Jost faithfully follows the tune being piped by Sotomayor & Co.: "The Wheaton College decision seems to contradict directly the Hobby Lobby decision the Court had entered three days earlier. The Court offered virtually no justification for its change of position." But wait: was it indeed a "change of position"? This is where the votes of both Kennedy and Breyer are noteworthy. Kennedy's concurrence in Hobby Lobby is the centerpiece of Jost's repackaging of Sotomayor's argument; and Breyer gave full support, with Sotomayor, to Ginsberg's dissent in Hobby Lobby. How does Mr. Jost explain this?

He doesn't -- except to resort to the most laughable of arguments: because they are "men." Egad!

Now it is true that the six men lined up one way, while the three women another.

But how is this meaningful? The implication is obvious, but Mr. Jost won't spell it out, because if he did, he'd have to defend what is utterly indefensible: that these justices voted this way because of their chromosomes!

Then there is the obvious rejoinder: did the women rule as they did, because they are women? If so, shouldn't the credibility of their dissent be just as tainted?

Of course, Mr. Jost is hardly the only one to make this sort of idiotic pseudo-argument. But when immodestly claims to be "the leading journal of health policy thought and research," promising "high-level, nonpartisan" "analysis," one accepts being held to a higher standard.

One expects less of the Huffington Post, and Ronald Lindsey doesn't disappoint with this howler: The Uncomfortable Question: Should We Have Six Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court?.

This echoes, in somewhat more respectable tones, a disgraceful ad that has been placed in the New York Times by the aptly named Freedom from Religion Foundation. I wanted to reproduce the ad right here -- it's so ludicrous -- but I can't seem to do that. So it's here.

To continue to demonstrate my thesis that these people have gone mad, note who the FFRF decides to put up front as the heroine of their civil-liberties-not-dogma crusade: Margaret Sanger! That would be the same Margaret Sanger who advocated the secular dogma of eugenics: more reproduction of the "fit" and less of the "unfit," going so far as to describe people with undesirable traits as "human weeds."

What undesirable traits might those be? Well, she did have something called "The Negro Project," and she wanted to dispel the notion that she was out to "exterminate the Negro population"; just why she thought anyone would get such a notion I'll leave to you to deduce. Go here to read some of her choicer quotes about "a race of human thoroughbreds," as contrasted with those who are "defectives," and "feeble-minded." Weigh the fact that she chose to give a talk before the "women's branch of the Ku Klux Klan at Silver Lake, New Jersey," read some of her choicer remarks here, and decide for yourself what to make of the Freedom from Religion Foundation's chosen champion.

Meanwhile, let's look at the actual "argument," such as it is, from the neo-Nativists of the FFRF and the Huffington Post: there are too many d*** Catholics on the Supreme Court!

FFRF at least has the modicum of sense to qualify their argument: there are too many of the wrong kind of Catholics on the court: they evince no objection to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the sixth Catholic.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lindsay recognizes the peril of his argument (perhaps he thinks of how it would sound to highlight the Jewishness of three of the four disssenters), and attempts to inoculate himself from the charge of bigotry. Why, Mr. Alito actually "relies squarely on Catholic teaching" to make his argument!

In Justice Alito's majority opinion, he relies squarely on Catholic teaching about "complicity" to explain the supposed burden. In doing so, he reiterates the argument that the Catholic Church has made in the dozens of lawsuits it has brought challenging the contraceptive mandate. According to the Church, it violates the moral obligations of a Catholic to do anything -- anything -- that would "facilitate" the provision of contraception to an individual. So even if one is not using contraception oneself, if one facilitates access to contraception by others, a grave moral wrong has been committed.

Now, if you go read Alito's ruling, you will never find the word "complicity" anywhere in the decision (that is, if my search function worked properly). You will find the word "Catholic" referenced only in the dissent. So I'm wondering, just what evidence does Mr. Lindsay have for his claim that Alito "relies" on Catholic teaching?

All he offers are the words I bolded in his quote above. Catch that? If the Catholic Church makes an "argument" in a court of law, that argument somehow transforms into "Catholic teaching." Wow! Think about that claim: if an argument is made in court by you-know-who, it's simply impossible that the argument could be accepted for any other reason than but a sectarian bias. See that?

It's the same argument used by anti-Catholic bigots who claim that opposition to abortion is merely a Catholic "dogma," totally ignoring the fact that lots of people who are decidedly not Catholic -- and even non-believers in any religion -- oppose abortion just as stoutly as we furriner papists.

Now, if you think I'm being unfair to Mr. Lindsay, well, go read the article and come back and tell me what more he offers to substantiate his claim that the Hobby Lobby incorporates "Catholic teaching" into secular law.

I assert, contra Mr. Lindsay, that there is nothing particularly Catholic about objecting to being told -- by government -- you must help someone else do what violates your conscience. And if Mr. Lindsay or anyone else is unconvinced, I make this prediction: it would be ridiculously easy for a researcher to find examples of this very argument being made -- in courts of law, in this country -- by non-Catholic advocates.

I'll make the bet: I will stake a significant amount for me -- $500 -- that I can find one such example. And only one is needed to explode Mr. Lindsay's argument: if just one time a lawyer made the very same argument without being tainted by Romanism, then the argument is no more a sectarian "doctrine" than is asserting the law of gravity. I won't go searching for free, but $500 -- which I'll give to the parish St. Vincent de Paul fund -- will make it worth my while.

There are so many more examples to cite. There's this lachrymose New York Times article, pitying the poor, powerless, blindsided President! Like a latter-day Johnny Appleseed, all he wants is to do good: but no! So misunderstood is he!

According to the Times, he is "reeling"! The poor man "must move fast" but it's so hard to react quickly. After all, who could have seen this coming? I.e., other than the fact that this was his signature legislative objective, announced in 2008; enacted, 2010; he announced the contraceptive-coverage goal in 2011; the text of the 2012 mandate was "two years" in the crafting; and then there were two more years of litigation.  How could they have known?

If you've been following all this discussion, you know well how many more examples of this lunacy I could cite. But even shooting fish in a barrel can be tiring at some point. I've got confessions shortly.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Cincinnati and Russian hospitality

It's been a busy but wonderful few days.

The weekend featured several goodbyes, or "so longs" -- with some a family that's been very welcoming to me, and to the people of Holy Cross-Immaculata Parish.

Monday was moving day; everything went smoothly, despite a bad backup on I-75 south of Dayton. A crew of men met me on Mount Adams to load up the truck; two of them drove up in the truck; and then a mob of adults and children met me in Russia, and we quickly unloaded everything. Some things marked "1" (for first floor) ended up on "2," but that's part of the charm of moving, isn't it?

The priest's house here is a beautiful old building, and huge! It has five bedrooms, one of which was intended for a housekeeper, with it's own back staircase! Plus a finished attic that might easily have been living quarters. The house, however, needed some updating, so the parish is working hard on it this summer: new wiring, plumbing, some updating in the kitchen and bathroom, refinishing floors, rugs, furniture, air conditioning--the works! My bedroom and bath were ready and they look great! Since they were painting the house anyway, they gave me a choice of colors, and they are all working out great. When I reminded the staff they were a little skeptical about whether my choices would work, they reminded me of the choices they talked me out of!

So while I'm waiting a few days for everything to come together, it will definitely be worth it. And it's very moving to see all the trouble and expense folks are going to. I'm very, very grateful.

Tuesday was the first day "on the job." I was so impressed with the crowd that turned out for daily Mass; then I realized, "you dummy, they're hear to get a look at you!" Thankfully, a good number returned for Wednesday's Mass.

That first Mass was a little hard on the two new servers; they'd been diligently trained to serve for my predecessor, and what do I do? I zig when they expected me to zag! What a rotten trick! I apologized to the guys and we worked it out afterward.

Not many know this, but a new pastor must give a profession of faith and swear an oath -- on the holy gospels -- that he will be faithful. I chose to do it after Mass, when the dean -- the "head priest" for this area -- could join us. Right after that, I had a sick call! I got there in time.

Wednesday and today, I've been opening boxes, organizing some things on my desk, and meeting folks as they drop by. Already two meals have been brought by, plus some tomatoes.

We did get the wifi fixed, so now I'm online. Good thing, too, as I needed to order some items from Amazon! Just in time!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Connectivity almost non existent for me in Russia (Ohio!). So I don't know when I can blog again. Soon I hope.