Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, again.

2006 was a bit of a tough year. Which is a rather egocentric thing to say. We're all in good health, we're all together and we've not had to undergo the tribulations and tragedies that have befallen other people. We had no hurricanes or other natural disasters.

I have a kind and beautiful wife who, for inadequately explained reasons, loves me. I have two (usually) glorious sons. I live in a pleasant house in a terrific location. In many ways I have been blessed well beyond my deserving. I know I have been. Perhaps you've felt this way your own bad self. It's good for me to be reminded of this with a bit of frequency.

Still, I won't exactly be distraught to see 2006 scoot out the door. I lost some dear people, some through death and some turned out not to be the people I had thought and they shimmered out of my life as quietly as they entered it. Some friendships hit some unseen sell-by date and just sublimated away.

But!

I have been blessed with some brilliant new pals (pray for my friend Lewis, who has a big work thing pending and which could go either way) in addition to the Usual Suspects. I take very little seriously, but friendships are one of those things I actually approach with seriousness. Thank you all.

To all of you who have stuck around here, especially during the touch-and-go moments of the Big Autumnal Project: Thanks. I am dumbstruck--no mean feat, that--with gratitude. You and your intentions are all in my prayers and, retrograde Papist that I am, y'know there will be candle-lighting for all of you. I won't put anyone on the spot, but you KNOW who you are and so does God.

Of course, being the retrograde Papist I am, you know I couldn't let this post go by without a mention of Whose Birthday it is. As per Douay-Rheims (Protestant kids, feel free to substitute the KJV) the prophet Isaiah:

And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.

Riffing off something the very estimable Ryan Duns, SJ wrote, let's remember that much like He who was pierced for our iniquities and through whose stripes we are healed was once a baby, beloved of his parents, held and cradled and nursed and dandled. Let's keep in mind and in our prayers all those whose Christmas won't be merry and bright. People who are alienated from family and friends, people who are struggling with anxiety or depression, suffering from emotional or material deprivation, bearing the pains and scars of abuse and neglect. Let's not forget our individual moral obligation to those who need our help and concern. Like Ryan wrote, these were once, like the Christ Child, babies. Let's see our Redeemer in their affliction, and respond as He wants us to respond.

Let's not also forget all the blessings we have received, and let's not forget that chief among these are the love of family and the comfort of friends. I wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases, spent basking in the warmth of loved ones and reflecting on the good in your life.

AMDG,

-J.

P.S. May Santa Claus/Father Christmas deal kindly with you, too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

While we're at it.

OK.

The Big Autumn Project looks like it's going to be OK. Not by a landslide, or even a comfortable margin, but if everything goes as it seems, all will be fine.

Thanks to all of you for your support and prayers. This project has felt like giving birth to a flaming porcupine. A special thanks to Veritas and the Carmelites (esp. Sr. I & Sr. R) and the lovely and gracious Karen who hobbled around St. Pat's with a candle to light for me. PLEASE KEEP IT UP, IT'S WORKING.

I will pray a novena for all of you and your intentions.

Now, while I have you in a prayerful frame of mind, please keep my oldest boy Joey in your prayers. He's flying up to NYC from 12/19 to 12/23 with my BiL and his whole family. He's only 9, and even though he's a big boy (he said so himself) he could use your prayers for a safe and uneventful journey. Those of you with kids know the sort of angsty feeling I'm feeling.

Thanks, and put this all on my spiritual tab.

-J.

Monday, December 18, 2006

So's you have a rough idea.

A week ago yesterday, a platoon representing one of my clients flew up from Argentina. This client is an exhibitor at an annual trade show and must bring a massive booth infrastructure along. This client is one of my original clients and while the work I do for him is awfully schleppy by the current standards of my career, I do it because he gave me "my big break" and all that.

This meant I had to spend Monday and Tuesday at Customs and Home Depot and Office Depot and Crate & Barrel and so forth. I also had to rent a truck and drive it to the convention center in central FL (at 72mph top speed)...then unload the booth, assemble the booth (2500lb), "work the show" (12 hours of standing for 3 days in a row), break the booth down at 7pm, reload it in the truck, grab a quick drive through dinner and arrive at home at 3am on (technically) Sunday.

All while surrounded by pottymouth semi-misogynists who smoke as much as Californians would if it would get them into movies. Today, I finally wrapped up the whole truck thing by dropping off said truck.

Now I have to sweat out the Big Autumn Project, for which I am (still!) openly requesting prayers, seeing as how we're coming down to the Crunch Time. (The extremely lovely and searingly gracious Karen lit a candle for me at St. Pat's, which you, dear reader are not required to do, but I'll take what I can get.)

So there.

-J.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Yes, we'll win, but the score still doesn't reflect that.

I generally try to stay away from hot-button stuff. I also generally try to stay from internal church politics.

But two things have happened recently that lead me to this post. First, some disclosure. I happen to really, really, really enjoy reading Off The Record at CWNews.com, as penned by "Diogenes." Although every once in a while Diogenes will write something with wording I, myself, wouldn't have chosen, I'm not going to slag anyone over an .875 batting average. Even when his choice of words are somewhat less than charitable, Diogenes happens to be right almost all the time, and those who take exception to his posts (usually, but not always, those for whom orthodoxy and traditionalism are, um, malleable) generally do an insufficient job of explaining what error it is they perceive.

The other bit of background is that my sister and I (and our respective children--our respective spouses being stuck at their respective offices) had dinner last night. During the course of dinner, somehow the matter of Confession came up and she announced that during a given Mass, some visiting priest (not the pastor, nor any of the parochial vicars) asked everyone to write down their sins. Then he had everyone tear up the papers where said sins were scribbled and promptly absolved the congregation. My sister, who is not a kumbaya-bongos-and-tambourines sort of Catholic, had thought this was a pretty cool and efficient way to get some Penance action going on. I, being the retrograde ecclesial throwback I am, was horrified* and she was horrified that I was horrified, which I saw and called by being horrified that she was horrified that I was horrified.

So reading the most recent post by Uncle Di, I was moved to post that not all abuse of this sort takes place in California. It can take place even in fairly staid parishes. It can take place ANYtime and ANYwhere a priest places his own stamp on things above Christ's. In light of the above story, here is the "money quote" from this column:

"Question #2: How many bishops, do you think, could read the following paragraph out loud and not wet themselves laughing?
It is the right of the Christian people themselves that their diocesan bishop should take care to prevent the occurrence of abuses in ecclesiastical discipline, especially as regards the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and devotion to the Saints. [Redemptionis Sacramentum §24]" (Emphasis mine.)

Amazing.

-J.

* If I am unduly horrified, please feel free to post something correcting me.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Like, blegging, but not really.

OK.

As you guys may know, besides my raving Ignatiophilia, I also have an immensely soft spot in my heart for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. These women are unfailingly holy, humble, kind, dynamic, and ardently committed to serving Christ. To be as steadfast and loyal and positive and yes, orthodox (what? shut up!) to our Catholic faith, something which, given these times*, requires an amazing outpouring of grace.

But it's not all skittles and beer** in Carmelite Land. A lot of the places where they serve aren't, y'know, affluent; which is a bit of a strain as they strive to bring the Good News to children and families via their Religious Education program.

So I have decided to give them a hand.

They are selling handcrafted Christmas cards. How often have you wished for Christmas cards that were both beautifully artisanal and also kept alive the true meaning of Christmas? It's nearly impossible, innit? Either the cards that are wonderfully crafted leave God entirely out of the picture or those that show reverence are, well, not all that much to look at.

Here is your chance to have both and to do a bit of good during this Christmas season.

These cards were designed and crafted by legendary "woodcut" artist Betty Portocarrero Solorzano exclusively for Christmas 2006 in a very limited run of 1000. Once these cards are gone, they are real gone. These charming images have been printed on 100% rag or 100% linen, 100% post-consumer recycled, 100% acid-free (archival quality!) heavyweight card stock. Each package of 10 cards (of the same design) comes lovingly packaged with cellophane and ribbonin case you'd rather make a wonderful gift of these cards, instead of sending them. (You could do both, you know!) Each pack of 10 cards also comes with 10 red or bottle-green satin envelopes. The cards are 7"x4¾" folded (tryptych-style, a far more time-consuming but beautiful way to do it) and 7"x10"open. One card (green envelope & ribbon) has "Oh, Holy Night!" on the cover and inside, a passage from Scripture underneath the image (Mt. 1:23), the other two (red envelope & ribbon) have "May the light of Christ fill your heart and home! Merry Christmas" on the cover and inside, one of these two has a passage St. John's Gospel (1:5a-9a), and the other a passage from Isaiah (Is. 9:1,5)
Betty sold these cards herself for $5 each or $45 for a package of 10, but has donated the last run of each design for the Sisters, who are selling them for a measly, piddly, paltry $2/card or $17.50/10. Show your friends and family you are thinking of them during this Christmas season, and remind them what truly lies at the heart of this very special time. Shipping will be $3.10 for Media Mail, or $4.05 for US Postal Service Priority, or $14.40 for US Postal Service Express if you're in a desperate rush. No, there will be no "handling" fees or any of that nonsense. Naturally, non-US buyers will incur additional charges for delivery.

If you have any questions, etc. please send me a message. Shipping will be combined to the limits of the flat rate packages offered by the US Postal Service. If you pay via PayPal, please be aware I cannot ship to non-verified addresses, I must ship to your address of record on PayPal. If you need these cards shipped to a different address, please pay by check or money order. Email me at JMGarciaIII at yah oo dot com for details (bigger pictures, multiple purchases or if you want to buy directly from the Carmelites) etc., etc.

I'm just a guy trying to do my good deed for the day. I strive for excellent transactions and if you have any concerns, please let me know and we'll put it right. 100% of the proceeds of this sale go to benefit the Religious Education program of the Carmelite Sisters.

To my loyal readers: If at all possible, please try to put a brief link to this sale on your blog. These Sisters really, truly deserve our support.

AMDG,

-J.

* and, the Inner Cynic says, "and the archdiocese in which they labor."
** yuck!