Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lord to whom should we go?

Get in the boat, stay in the boat.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Is the Al Smith Dinner Really Necessary?

Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. Matthew 6:2 

If the attendees of the Al Smith dinner really cared about  children's charities they could write a check without fanfare or the chance to be seen on TV. It's a largely secular and totally political ritual. Christopher Ferarra calls it an abomination. Should you wish to support the charities that receive money from the dinner you can contact them directly or use the Alfred Smith portal.  You won't get to dress up and be seen with the cardinal and nobody will  applaud you but God will know.

Astor Services
Cardinal McCloskey Community Services
Catholic Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Catholic Guardian Services
Catholic Diocesan Schools
Elizabeth Seton Pediatrics
Fidelis Care 
Good Counsel Homes
Incarnation Children's Center
Little Sisters of the Assumption 
Neonatal Care at New York Presbyterian Hospital 
Partnership for Inner City Education
Pregnancy Care Center
San Miguel Academy
St. Dominic's Home 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A history lesson

A really, really annoying whine that I've been reading all year is that politics has somehow descended into  a vulgar state never seen before and that things were better in the good old days. You don't have to be a former history major in college to know that this is  NOT TRUE. When Jefferson and Adams were running for president people were told that Jefferson was an atheist, and an adulterer with the wives of his neighbors, an attempted seducer of his close friend's unwilling wife, a pagan, a man who sold his own slave children by his slave, Sally Hemmings, and that he was a danger to American women and the family. Saying that this was a rough campaign is an understatement. The enslaved concubine story was openly discussed by his enemies and  quietly by his friends for the rest of his life and may have prevented him from speaking up in support of his son-in-law when the younger man proposed banning slavery from Virginia.

When Andrew Jackson ran for president the public was told that he was  bigamist and that his wife, Rachel was a coarse pipe smoking  backwoods harlot who would humiliate the country in front of European visitors to the White House.  John Quincy Adams was accused of gambling (he bought a chess board and a pool table) and of giving his maid to the Tsar of Russia while he was a diplomat there. There were whispers that  James Buchanan's fiancee did not die from illness but committed suicide because of something she learned about Buchanan.  Lincoln was accused of being the son of a black man. In a time when having one drop of black blood could get you sold into slavery or if you were above the Mason Dixon line, cast out from your job, marriage and social connections, this was seriously vicious talk. He was also called an ape, a liar and a dog.  Poor tortured Mary Todd Lincoln was accused of being a spy for the South. She was criticized when she entertained ambassadors during war time and paradoxically she was criticized for not doing anything social after the death of her youngest son and causing Washington to be no fun although the war was still going on. Andrew Johnson was accused of being an alcoholic.

Grover Cleveland was accused of having an illegitimate child and his opponents came up with the famous chant, "Ma, Ma, where's my Pa?"  Cleveland's supporters responded with, "Gone to the White House. Ha, ha, ha!" Woodrow Wilson was said to have been an adulterer during his university professor days. It was also said that he and his second wife were fornicating before the marriage.  Enemies of Warren G. Harding whispered that he had black ancestry. That claim hung around for many decades and has only been disproved this year with DNA testing.

There were people who tried to fear monger in Protestant USA by stating that Kennedy was going to a devout Catholic. Boy were they wrong! Poor Hubert Humphrey was accused by the Kennedy campaign of being a draft dodger. In truth Humphrey did try to enlist for World War II more than once but was turned down because he had a double hernia, calcified lungs and was color blind.  Does any of this seem nicer than what we've seen and read in recent years?

Politics is a filthy nasty low down business and it was ever thus.

Our Lord and the Gospel Writers

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dominican and Franciscan brothers

This charming painting shows a visiting Franciscan chatting with his Dominican hosts. Can you imagine an artist creating this today?

He descended into Hell

In this incredibly moving painting Our Lord has just descended into Hell and speaks to His creatures and parents, Adam and Eve and tells them that it is alright now. He has smashed the chains they forged they are free to come be with Him forever.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Random thoughts on a Sunday afternoon.

Our Lady of Good Help

Some people say--- well a lot of people are saying it but only a few dare publish it--- that we should calm down because Pope Francis is only going to live so long. When he dies everything will be okay. That is nonsense.  The cardinals and the bishops he chooses live on and they can drive good priests out and put compliant priests in. Your children will be living with the Francis decisions long after he goes to his destiny. You see this in families all the time. A grandfather was a drunkard and his kids reacted to it. His grandchildren are raised according to the reaction. An ecclesiastical example is Cardinal Bernadin. He's  has been dead for years but his proteges are still out there and still in charge.

The last few weeks of One Peter Five haven't held my attention but Hilary White's piece on the revival of an old idea that could serve the Church in these bad days is luminescent.

Is anybody  over the age of six really surprised about the latest Wikileaks?  Outside forces have attempted with varying degrees of success to interfere with the Church from the very beginning and you know what? It won't matter. Most Catholics vote the way we do for reasons of habit and loyalty to our tribe. Many of us are unthinkingly  like the woman in the song, "My Man." I mean the early Fanny Brice version, not the sanitized Streisand one. The protagonist sings that her man isn't good, cheats and occasionally beats her but fatalistically asks, "What can I do? I love him."  She knows and more importantly, he knows that she's not going anywhere.

John Zmirak has a new book out. According to a review in Crisis magazine:

 "His targets include left-wing Catholic dissenters but also the ever-growing numbers of—how would you describe them?—self-proclaimed orthodox Catholics with private college degrees who live mostly on social media, hate “conservatives,” hate the pro-life movement, hate the pro-family movement, hate Republicans especially, and rather than getting real jobs to support their ever growing families instead love welfare checks. He argues they are increasingly insinuating themselves into Catholic institutions where they can spread their new gospel."

This group of folks can be quite annoying because they dominate comment boxes with their pet theories no matter what the subject of conversation is. Zmirak is correct that they seem to hate everything and they are for their level of education often unemployed or underemployed. There are only so many Catholic college jobs, or Catholic media jobs to go around and those who refuse to join the rat race or work for a worldly corporation are going to have a hard row to hoe.  Most of this group  seem proud to be living in genteel poverty and condemn anybody who has a new car (never mind that the old car was 20 years old and falling apart) or who goes on vacation as unholy worldlings.  Unlike Zmirak I've only come across one person who said she was on welfare.  Several of her readers were incensed and criticized her mightily in the comment boxes. I didn't write in but I stopped reading her blog. 

 I'm not going to buy John Zmrak's book because it sounds like it's just a rehash of his essays that I can read for free and I think it's funny that the review appeared in Crisis at all, because quite a few of its readers are the kind of folks Zmirak delights in skewering, but Zmirak fans will like it. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Your priest can't control the noisy babies so give him a break

After Mass a person approached our pastor and complained about the noisy kids and babies. I wanted to ask "What do you want Fr. to do? Should he stop Mass and offer to spank them all?" Some of the things people ask priests are really unreasonable.  Normal human beings are simply hard wired to notice  to the sounds babies make. I can hear a baby coo in a noisy room or at work.  I ignore anger cries but if it is the distinct fear cry I will go and peep to see what's wrong. Yes, the little kid banging his metal truck on the pew can be maddening. The big kid playing video games is obnoxious and hapless the man who   who keeps getting up and down with his little one, dragging toys, blankets and sippy cups behind him while stepping all over you is enough to make you want to say something spicy and uncharitable but here are things you can do to minimize the noisy tot problem. You can ignore it and offer it up.  A friend of Rocky's uses ear plugs at Mass, others simply avoid the Family Mass. There are others who concentrate on the missal and throw themselves so deeply into prayer that they hear nothing. I have been known to switch pews.  You wouldn't dare go up to a woman and tell her to "Shut that kid up," so why demand that poor Father do so?

*Note to young parents: the people frowning at you at church are not necessarily annoyed by you and your offspring. They heard a panic cry and are instinctively reacting to it.