Sunday, July 30, 2006


After the doggie Mass I was feeling pretty low but on Monday my husband and went to our usual parish for a holy hour and just sitting there with Jesus I began to feel a measure of peace. Later that week we were in Prince William County, Va and stopped by the perpetual adoration chapel at Our Lady Queen of Angels. There were six other people there. Three were teenagers who came on their own and I was thrilled to see them. In the middle of the day on a Friday those young people came not to be entertained, not to see a freak show but to sit and kneel before Christ. Our bishops have failed us. The lay people who really run our parishes have failed us but there still is faith.

This weekend we took a trip to West Virginia and went to Mass at the brand new church, St. James. It's gorgeous. I'm not sure what the style is but it's full of stained glass and the tabernacle is right in the middle of church where it should be. It was a very reverant Mass and the congregation says the rosary before Mass starts.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I had a hair appointment yesterday that ran late so Rocky and I couldn't make the 5PM vigil Mass at our church so we went to the 6PM at another parish. It was without a doubt the WMOAT (Worst Mass of All Time). When we walked in I knew something was wrong right off the bat. Jesus was not behind the altar, not in a chapel but stuck in a corner. That's right, the the Blessed Sacrament-- Jesus in the flesh, our joy, our strength, our salvation--- was stuck in a dank, drab corner next to the side door.

The choir was rehearsing when we came in and I realized that the songs they were singing were the same ones I used to hear at Mass when I was young child back in the 70s. It was like we had fallen into a time warp. There was a gray haired guy vigorously attacking the guitar and most of the shorts wearing parishoners looked to be in their 50s and 60s. There was only one baby, and a few little kids and two teenaged boys. Everybody else was a Boomer. There were even banners (ugh!) hanging on the wall.

A bored looking altar girl sat in her chair on the altar for half an hour before Mass. I've never seen an altar server just hang out like that before. Usually the altar boys at my church are actually doing something to assist Fr. Theoden and Fr. Aragorn. This child seemed to be just lounging.

And then I saw the dog. I love animals, dogs especially. I'd rather play with a dog than talk to most people. I think the Doberman is one of the most perfect creatures God ever made but a dog does not belong on God's holy altar. It was the priest's dog and I guess he was just checking his territory. He walked around, stopped to be petted by various delighted people and seeing that everything was in order he returned the the sacristy. Then the priest came out. He wore an orange Polo shirt and greeted us like a maitre d at a swanky restaurant. He was very nice and the people were very sweet to us, obvious newcomers but it was so noisy that we never got to pray in peace. Even if your "ministry" is to be the church greeter if you see me hunched over saying my rosary with my eyes closed don't come over to talk to me unless my car is on fire in the parking lot.

Finally Mass started. The priest had on the green vestment but there was no alb or maniple underneath. He dropped some parts of the prayers and improvised. There was no Confiteor (when I was a kid I called it the Comforter) and when was time for the homily Fr. left the ambo and strode into the aisle. My first horrified thought was that he was going to walk the pews like a Pentecostalist preacher but he mostly stayed in one place. His homily consisted of jokes and audience participation.

I looked behind him at one the altar girls and was stunned. This child spent the homily and most of the Mass drumming her fingers on her chair's armrest, resting her head on the back of her chair and staring at the ceiling while she sat sprawled, with legs gapped open. I have never seen such disrepect in my life. These people wanted altar girls so badly (Why?) that they picked a girl who obviously didn't want to be there.

They held hands at the Our Father but I declined. I don't hold hands with anyone but my husband and blood kin, sorry 'bout that buckaroos. The priest added some words to the Concecration and told more jokes at the end of Mass. He would've made one hell of a stand up act. At the end no one stopped to pray and no-one visited the Blessed Sacrament. One man looked at me with a quizical expression when I genuflected before the tabernacle. We ran out the side door.

Rocky told me that this was the first time he ever had to say a Hail Mary in order to get the strength to sit through a Mass. He wanted to get up and leave at several points but kept telling himself that it was a valid Mass. I spent the whole Mass thinking of Jesus in that corner. There is a prayer in the Tridentine rite that asks God to look at our poor efforts with an indulgent smile. I thought of Our Lord smiling at this mess like a dad who's just been presented with a hideous rice and macaroni mosaic by his beloved seven year old and took some comfort in that.

I felt like Kurtz from The Heart of Darkness lisping, "The horror! The horror!" As I said this Mass reminded me very much of the 70s. It was weak, wishy washy Catholicism lite and I saw nothing there to live my life for and nothing to drink death like water for if need be. It was like a Lutheran or AME Zion sevice. I can't imagine a young woman or man sittiing in that church and feeling any call to the religious life. I can't imagine a young woman or man from that parish wanting to stay Catholic after high school.

Afterwards Rocky and I both decided that when we see our pastor again we're going to tell him that we love him and thank him for the beautiful reverant way he celebrates Mass.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fr. Fay

I've been reading a few of the news stories about Fr. Fay (he's the one on the right) and I just don't get it. If I walked into a church and saw that my priest looked like this had those big ole skunk stripe highlights in his hair I'd immediately assume that something is not right in the rectory and I'd take my time, talent and treasure to another parish.

This poor, wretched man had his ... friend at the rectory all the time. He threw lavish parties, bought jewelry, took a lot of vacation and was allegedly very tightfisted about the parish's money. Some people are now coming forward to say that he shirked his pastoral care duties.

How is it that hardly anyone in the parish seemed to notice? Wasn't anybody bothered by the fact that the pastor had a Waterford cystal collection?The cheapest Waterford goblet I own costs $50 a stem and I picked from the one of the less expensive Waterford lines so in order to have a collection quite a bit of money ( Whose?) must have been spent.

Thank God for the parish bookkeeper and the parochial vicar (who apparently took a lot of heat from the chancery for daring to expose this sinful behavior) but since Fr. Fay was not discreet why didn't his activities ever catch Bishop Lori's notice?

Men gossip just as much as women. Surely somebody close to the bishop must have made an arch comment about Fr. Fay or told a joke. You would think that after the serious blow that the chuch took from the pedophile scandals that bishops would be downright paranoid about stamping out any hint of bad behavior in their priests.

St. John Vianney, pray for us.
St. Pio, pray for us.
Blessed Andre and Venerable Solanus Casey, pray for us.
Servants of God, Mngsr Knox, Fr. Baker, and Archbishop Sheen, pray for us.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

random thoughts for a Thursday morning

  1. This is so disappointing. I used to like Peter Jackson (not enough to go see that big bust, King Kong) and I loved, loved, loved The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

  2. Ten years from now we'll all be making "Don't leave the Spanish teacher/au pair alone with the kids," jokes but they won't really be funny at all.

  3. Rocky wants to buy me a new veil. He wants something that's not black for change. He's going to pick something from Modesty veils or Halo Works I have a feeling that he's going for pink or red. Gulp! The women who glare at my sheer black veils now will probably frown themselves to death.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

random thoughts on a wet Saturday morning

  1. Bishop Yanta is right. When you go to church with your naked buttocks showing you are making an immoral act. You chose to go out of the house like that. When you show up in the Communion line with your breasts practically falling out of your open top you are making a decision. If you step up to lector wearing a see through blouse or you get a kick out of sitting in the front pew with your legs open you are making a choice-- and a foul one at that. Ask yourself hon, why are you dressed like that? Unless you ride a pole for a living you don't go work like that so why do you treat your boss with more respect that you do Jesus?

  2. Certain blogs have started bashing Traditionalist Catholics again. What a bore. Really, what a tiresome, unhelpful, unlovely big fat bore. We ought to pray for SSPX people, not mock them. If you can treat a flat out heretic with love and respect why not do the same for the Trad? If you can go to a mosque or synogauge and bow your head respectfully why be rude and crude towards the Trad chapel? And we need to face one inconvenient fact: We would not have the Indult if it weren't for those stubborn independent chapels and SSPX. When you sit smug and prim in the pew for your indult Mass or you sit happy and relieved to be at a conservative insence and Latin filled Novus Ordo Mass, spare a kind thought for the hard headed and yes, in some ways legitamately angry people who really made it possible.

  3. I love Wal-Mart. Sorry, but I do. Is it endangering the old style mom and pop stores? Yeah but you know what? A lot of those mom and pops stores were small, dirty, overpriced and in the South, they weren't all that polite to their black customers. When Wal-Mart came to South Carolina my grandmother and her contermporaries were thrilled to go there. They could afford the stuff and Mr. Sam didn't care what color they were as long as they were carrying green cash. For the first time in Grandma's life the clerks called her ma'am and were helpful. She and my great aunts loved Wal-Mart. By the way, some of the mom and pop stores on Main Street in my Grandma's town are still thriving. The presence of Wal-Mart in town forced them to rethink their business plan. They revamped the stores, sold better quality stuff that you can't get at Wal-Mart and started treating all their black customers better.

  4. I think the Cafeteria is Closed has become one of the best Catholic blogs out there. I check it every day for news.

  5. I just read a weird conversation on a Catholic message board. There are people out there who actually think it's a mortal sin not to breastfeed. Okaaaaaay. I'm backing away and calling for Nurse Ratchett now. Some modern day pharisee actually believes that God is going to send women to hell because some of us would rather not have breasts that resemble rotten pears and hang to their knees by the time they're 45. Where the flip is THAT in the catechism?
  6. If you are ever in Northern Virginia, this is a really nice little church. The pastor and parochial vicar are very good priests.
  7. If you're in DC be sure to visit Saint Matthew's Cathedral. Mnsgr. Jameson, Gerhardt, and Fr. Caulfied have a really hard job and do wonders.

Your Emminence, You rock!

Some of the feminist Catholics have their lips poked out but about Bishop Yanta's letter on modesty but I don't have a problem with it. In fact, I'm delighted that an American bishop apparently has a spine.

When I was in college I used to go around dressed in the most itty bitty mini skirts and dresses I could find. My mother objected and there were times when I got around her objections by simply leaving house dressed decently but as soon as I was out of sight I would unbutton my blouse a little too low or hike my skirt up as high as I could get it. I did this because I was intoxicated by the way men, even men my father's age behaved when I walked down the street. Probably this has to do with my father dying so young. I needed older male attention but lacked the sense to realize what kind of game I was playing. If any of those men had actually gotten fresh with me I would've panicked and run away. I guess St. Maria Goretti was looking out for me.

Two things changed my outlook on clothes. First, I met Rocky and just wanted to dress in a more ladylike fashion. We got married when I was 21 and he was 23. The love of a good or at least a seriously macho man can change a lot. Have you noticed that Jennifer Lopez is never semi nude in public anymore now that she's married to a Latin man? Second, one day I walked into the Opus Dei chapel in Washington, DC. I'm too much of a lone wolf to join Opus Dei but I do love them. I met a serious, old fashioned Irish priest there. I started going to the chapel for Mass every day and reading classic Catholic books and then my whole attitude on modesty changed.

Now please don’t think that I go around looking like something Jedidiah the polygamist has locked in his barn. I love beautiful clothes and if Rocky isn't attracted by an outfit I don't buy it or I return it to the store. Modest dressing doesn't mean you have to dress like a back country Mormon child bride or a Muslim. For me it's the difference between dressing like my style icon Jackie Kennedy or dressing like Pamela Anderson.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sisters of Carmel

These nuns make the most beautiful rosaries I've ever seen and they have medals and scapulars that are far superior to what you will find in your local Catholic bookstore.

Hat tip to Recto Ratio.

a sad story

Look what happens when you don't take care of problems when they're small. When you see one mouse you get out the traps and poison. If you do nothing before you know it the house is infested. George Stallings was one of the few black priests in the DC diocese. There were upsetting rumors about him going back to the 70s. Cardinal Baum apparently didn't check him. Cardinal Hickey cared passionately about El Salvador but didn't pay much attention to the DC inner city parishes and by the time he tried to correct Stallings the wild man priest was totally out of control. He broke away from the church and started his own black Catholic in name only church. My husband and I sometimes drive past it when we got to DC. From the outside the building looks like an AME Zion church or perhaps a non traditional Catholic church. Now Stallings has apparently linked up with Archbishop Milingo, who may be suffering from the effects of old age and they may create yet another embarrassing moment for black Catholics.

Saint Therese, dear litte flower, patroness of black missions pray for those who may be led astray by these men.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Can You forgive her?

Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope wrote among others, a book called "Can You Forgive Her?" It was about the wild, but big hearted, Lady Glencora and her husband Sir Plantagenet Paliser. Glencora messed up in a number of ways and came to the brink of social disaster but Plantagenet always came through. He always forgave and he never stopped loving her. I think of this book every time I go to Confession. My thoughts tend to be something like, "It's me again, Lord. I've blown it again. I don't deserve to be here. I should be ashamed to ask You anything but …" And then He does forgive me time after time and that is so incredible. God's forgiveness is so huge a miracle that I don't see why people have to spend thousands of dollars running to Medjugorje.


Confession at my back up church was interesting this week. Once a month a couple with 5 kids comes and the whole family confesses. They were in line and so were several other people when I got to church at 4:15. The line was so long it went almost to the front door. On one hand it was beautiful seeing all those people taking advantage of the sacrament but on the other I was miserable because I thought Father Aragorn would never be able to hear us all before Mass started at 5. When I finally made it in Father told me frankly that he was pressed for time and he needed me to be concise. I'm not concise. Heck I'm a Southern woman. Concise is just not my nature unless I'm angry but I spat out a confession as best I could and got out.

The three other people behind me also made it in and then Father Aragorn ran for the sacristy in order to get vested and start Mass. Rocky was impressed that Father could move so fast and speculated that he must have been a left tackle in high school. The confessional at St. Burb's is hotter than a sauna in East Purgatory and he had to have been in there for more than an hour so I'm impressed that he could move at all.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Random thoughts on a Wednesday night

  1. My Lord, what a weekend! Storms swept through Virginia this weekend. The power was out for three days. I've had to throw everything in my fridge away including the expensive Irish butter that I'd only just bought. We had several trees down, no hot water or landline phone so Rocky and I just packed a few things and went to my mother's house. That was great, almost like a mini vacation. We ate junk food, laid around on the floor watched Star Trek and laughed more than we have in weeks. Once again, I'm reminded that God in His great mercy gave me exactly the husband that I need.

  2. Voodoo / black magic/ root work/the old ways/ whatever you want to call it, still holds a powerful grip on Africa, and frankly everywhere Africans were taken as slaves. There are people (including some of my relatives) in South Carolina and Virginia who go to church every Sunday but who also trust completely the power of the local root (witch) doctor.
  3. When you buy something made in China today please spare a thought for this woman and her children. St. Gianna, pray for us.

  4. Whenever there's a blog discussion about Medjugorje I notice two things always seem to happen. Someone will calmly mention what the bishop there says and then a Med Head will write back a 7 paragraph hysterical or bellicose response or they'll use all caps which is shouting in "net speak". If anybody has any doubts about Medjugorje read this before getting a plane ticket and going over there. You don't have to beleive it just read it before you write that check or decide to hang your whole precious Faith on this alleged apparition. By the way, have you noticed how the "seers" are always referred to as "the children", or as young people. All but one were born before 1967! Except for the youngest born, in 1971 they are all pushing 40 and over. That aint no kid.

  5. I just found TeDeum a truly excellent blog.
  6. Every now and then the devil slips up and shows his real face. These pictures are from a Legends condom ad that just won an award. I can only say that the spirit of this ad is totally and obviously demonic.
  7. Don't always assume that a married woman with no children is using birth control. I've only been pregnant twice and had miscarriages both times. I'd hate to think that someone is sitting behind me in the pews looking at me with distaste and thinking "Look at that wicked contracepting woman!" Unless you have access to someone's marital bed or their medicine cabinet you can't know for sure what the real story is.
  8. When nuns go rogue bad stuff happens…..

  9. If you happen to be in DC on Saturday, July 8, go listen to Fr. Caulfield' lessons on John Paul II's Theology of the Body from 10:00am to 12:00pm. Fr. Caulfield rocks. He's a most excellent young priest.