Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oh, yeah.

Just 'cause I haven't mentioned it in a while, doesn't mean I am no longer in need of your prayers.

Don't you dare quit!



Worth viewing.

Here is a series of videos on the Shrine of St. Joseph, in St. Louis, MO (of which Rev. Brian Van Hove, SJ is the Rector)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Yeah, thanks Media

Seems the media doesn't just whitewash stuff here.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

¡Que viva España!

Check this out from supposedly secular, supposedly Socialist Spain:



* This translates as "Christians without any hangups about it." (i.e. "unapologetically Christian.")

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

God bless us, everyone

By the time I get back to these august pages it will be Christmas -- or as I say during my more mordant moments, Boxing Eve -- over here.

So I wanted to issue my official Christmas message to the world (WARNING: SENTIMENT TO ENSUE)

2008 was a bit of a tough year. While, yes, work hath given much suck, and my dad's health is declining, this is a navel-gazingish sort of statement, no doubt as most of my people are in good health, we're all together and we've not had to undergo the level of awfulness which have been the fate of other people. No hurricanes, no plagues, and just a bit of sinus trouble.

I have a gorgeous wife who, inexplicably, loves me. I have two (normally) wonderful sons. In most ways I have been blessed well beyond my deserving. I know this. Perhaps you've realized this way your own bad self. It's good to be reminded of this with regularity.

That said, I will be more pleased than not to have 2008 wrap up and leave me alone. I have lost some dear people, some through death and some who turned out different than I had thought and they sublimated out of my life as quietly as they entered it.


I have been blessed with some stellar new pals in addition to the Usual Suspects. I take astonishingly little seriously, but my friendships are among those things I actually take with seriousness. Thank you all.

To all of you who have stuck around here, especially during the rough moments of the World Ending: Thanks. I am speechless -- not an easy feat, this -- with gratitude. You are all in my prayers and, old-school Catholic that I am, y'know there will be candle-lighting at some point.

Of course, being the old school Romish sort I am, you know I can't post something without a mention of Whose Birthday it is. As per Douay-Rheims (Protestant kids, feel free to substitute the KJV):

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 wounded 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.
Let's keep in our thoughts and in our prayers all those whose Christmas will not be merry and bright. People who are estranged from family and friends, people who are suffering anxiety or depression, suffering from emotional or material deprivation, carrying the pains and scars of abuse and neglect. Let's never forget our individual moral obligation to those who need our help and concern. 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. Enjoy this honest but saccharine post, you shan't see its like for another year.



P.S. May Santa Claus/Father Christmas deal kindly with you, too.
P.P.S. If you can spare it, breathe a quick prayer for me/us and these convoluted business projects o' mine.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Behind schedule.

This year, for a number of different reasons -- including some nearly valid ones -- Christmas hath crept upon us as a thief in the night.

This means that a lot of stuff we normally do (i.e. that we do NOT fail to do) has gotten done late and amid much rush, with imprecations muttered under the breath. At least from my end of things. In my beloved's case there has been much motion -- none of it forward -- which allows her to labor under the misconception that movement equals progress.


Because I am a fairminded sort, I shoulder half of the Christmas burdens. One task which was mine this year: the Making Room Thing.

For those of you "who cannot be arsed" to remember, this is the day when we gather all the $#!+ toys accumulated since last Christmas, inspect ruthlessly and donate the stuff that simply isn't being used. People who ought know better say Advent's not a penitential season (minor or otherwise) but will readily agree it is a preparatory season in which the believer makes room for the Holy Child. And making room means making some #$%&ing room. The stuff that is in new (almost always still in the original plastic wrapping, to boot) is rewrapped and put under our church's "Giving tree" and will be given on Christmas morning to the underpriviliged children in the poorer areas of our fair metrop.

(The other stuff is just donated in bulk. But that's another post for another Christmas.)

As a consequence of my worldview -- which may or may not be a particularly unique one -- I am of the mind that we are our brother's keeper and that task is (watch this closely, here) an individual moral obligation. So, it behooves me to actually do* something for my fellow man. It is also important for me to make sure my children actually latch on to the concept, as well. No matter how rough you have it, someone always will be worse off and if it is within your power to help, then help.

Also, because it was my turn to handle this task, I was a bit Appeals to my pity to spare the FIFTH box of K'nex building sets, or the FIFTH Monopoly game or the SIXTH through NINTH Play-Doh playsets, etc. all were as seeds which, in the rocky soil that is my implacable will, could find no purchase. Off they all went.

You simply would not believe, if I told you, how much stuff (new, never opened, never given a glance since Dec. 25, 2007) was hauled away.

So here are some photos, that ye may believe indeed.

This is about 30% of the way into the packing extravaganza. The rules are the gifts must be wrapped and must state whether the gift is for a boy and/or a girl and the appropriate age range.

Here we are about 2/3 packed. Eagle-eyed readers will note those small bags were the ones I used as goody bags for my wife's surprise party last year. (Glad the eBay seller sold me a gross of them!)

Here we see the oldest lad carrying out bags aplenty on either arm. Eventually we had to make two car trips.

And, here are gratuitous shots of our living room mit der tannenbaum

And a gratuituous shot of a test run of the tablescape in progress.

So there you have it.


* as opposed to "supporting something being done"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yet more on Cdl. Dulles

Excellent obituary from The London Sunday Times.

Don't let the door hit your mass on the way out.

The above, probably, is not the most charitable sentiment I have ever expressed, but the pun was too good to pass up.

Turns out Msgr. Dale Fushek, who is responsible for the LifeTeen Mass -- for which I do not care, he said diplomatically -- has been excommunicated, along with his associate Fr. Mark Dippre, by Phoenix's Bishop, Thomas J. Olmsted, a man who clearly know a thing or two about bishing.


Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open meme...

In lieu of actual bloggery, here you are.

Here's how it works

a) Things you've already done: bold
b) Things you want to do: italicize
c) Things you haven't done and don't want to: underline
d) Things you just haven't done and feel neutral about: plain font

1. Started your own blog.
You tell me.

2. Slept under the stars. Once. I'm still in therapy.

3. Played in a band. I almost bolded this, but it never materialized. All those guitar lessons down the drain.

4. Visited Hawaii. To look at DIFFERENT palm trees?

5. Watched a meteor shower. Yawn.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity. Probably.

7. Been to Disneyland/world.
More than I can recall for WDW, 5x for DL.

8. Climbed a mountain. No, thanks. (I know Scripture tells us to flee for the mountaintops, but I haven't quite gotten the "flee!" command yet.)

9. Held a praying mantis. Um, why?

10. Sang a solo (in the shower).

11. Bungee jumped. No @#$&ing way thank you. That sounds like a test-run for suicidals.

12. Visited Paris. France, meh.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. Nah.

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. Does hardcore chef-like cooking count?

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning. Once. BAD.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.

18. Grown your own vegetables. I usually manage to grow one of whatever I plant then the bloody plant dies.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. France. Meh.

20. Slept on an overnight train. Why did God create airplanes?

21. Had a pillow fight. I may have had a thought or two in that direction but, in my defense, I was young and foolish.

22. Hitch hiked. I once accepted a ride from a stranger, but I had run out of gas AND it was raining buckets.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. Eons ago.

24. Built a snow fort. I was a snow ninja; we traveled light.

25. Held a lamb. Only by the rack, chops or leg.

26. Gone skinny dipping. Once, I believe.

27. Run a Marathon. I've never been chased that far on foot.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice. That's for tourists.

29. Seen a total eclipse. Once. Meh.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. Mostly the latter.

31. Hit a home run.

32. Been on a cruise. Once. Not as good as "OK" but better than "meh."

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. Once. Meh.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. Spain and Italy.

35. Seen an Amish community. No, but I've seen 'em at the Reading Street market in Philly.

36. Taught yourself a new language. Italian. Not spectacularly, but yeah.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

39. Gone rock climbing. Not even indoors.

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.

41. Sung karaoke. Not with any sobriety .

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. Why?

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. Done the "sent a bottle of wine over" thing, though.

44. Visited Africa. Not sure if I really want to do this.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. It was Spring Break and I was returning to my car. So, yeah, technically.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. Fingers crossed.

47. Had your portrait painted. As a child. I am shuddering at the whole concept.

48. Gone deep sea fishing.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. WHAT IS THIS OBSESSION WITH PARIS? I mean, really...

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Snorkeling. Meh.

52. Kissed in the rain. It may have been raining, I don't check the Weather Channel.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater. I used to love that when I was a kid. Then naked people started cropping up on screen and my parents immediately desisted.

55. Been in a movie. I even directed it.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China.

57. Started a business. I know. Shocking, innit?

58. Taken a martial arts class. Ditto!

59. Visited Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. They don't let boys.

62. Gone whale watching. I'm not good with "nature."

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
Um, no.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma. Just the blood.

65. Gone sky diving. @#$% NO.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. I did the the U.S. Holocaust Museum. That was pretty much as much as I could manage.

67. Bounced a check. In college.

68. Flown in a helicopter.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. Not for lack of trying.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar. And now I'm hungry for blini.

72. Pieced a quilt. Um, no.

73. Stood in Times Square. Only because I was lost.

74. Toured the Everglades. Involuntarily.

75. Been fired from a job. Quit but never fired.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. I like London, but this isn't on my list of things to do.

77. Broken a bone. My arm.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. We weren't going THAT fast, but yeah.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. Nature. Meh.

80. Published a book. I've been published IN a book or two, and a few periodicals, but I've never published one MYSELF.

81. Visited the Vatican. Next time on a pilgrimage.

82. Bought a brand new car. Harrowing.

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible. Yes. Not in any sequential way, though.

86. Visited the White House. Back when you could.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Do fish count? Because I've done fish.

88. Had chickenpox. When I was 29. Oy.

89. Saved someone’s life. I've jumped fully dressed into a swimming pool after my youngest when no one else was around.

90. Sat on a jury. Almost

91. Met someone famous. Yes. Mostly they were nice, except for Sam Waterston who was utterly, inexpressively odious.

92. Joined a book club. No, thank you.

93. Lost a loved one.

94. Had a baby. (Not directly.)

95. Seen the Alamo in person. Meh.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake. Why?

97. Been involved in a law suit. Usually when a company files Ch. 11 and I have to get my money from those giftcards that are now useless.

98. Owned a cell phone.

99. Been stung by a bee.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yet more!

The Funeral Liturgies for Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ will be webcast by Fordham University at 7.30pm Tuesday & Wednesday

(That's 12/16-17/08)





Our Lady of Bethlehem...ora pro nobis.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

His Eminence Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles, S.J. -- RIP

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.


Here is a roundup of thoughts on Cdl. Dulles' passing:

Whispers in the Loggia

Jimmy Akin

American Papist


First Things (lots of great links)

America Magazine (ditto)

The New York Times (it is actually pretty good, even if it is -- inevitably -- NYTish and therefore does contain some of the eye-rollingly expected things)

It is important to note two things about Cdl. Dulles of blessed memory:

1- L'Osservatore Romano has run THREE full-on articles -- usually it's just a reprint of the telegram and a sentence or two that given cardinal's life -- on him and his passing, and

2- He was the only person whom the Pope specifically requested to meet on his trip to the USA.

And here is the Papal Telegram of Condolence's text:


I have a sneaking suspicion we won't fully realize just what a colossus we have lost for some time.

Cdl. Dulles, ora pro nobis.



Saturday, December 06, 2008


I HATE college football these days.


Carry on.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A coupla things here

1) Today is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, SJ.

Born in 1506 and baptized Francisco; he was a Spanish nobleman (sound familiar?) from the Navarre region, the town of Javier (why the Js turn to Xs is a mystery). He studied and then taught philosophy at the University of Paris, and he had planned to be a professor. However, his friend Saint Ignatius of Loyola convinced him to use his energy and talents to preach the Gospel. Thus he became one of the founding Jesuits, and the first Jesuit missionary.

He was in Goa, India, waiting for passage on a ship, he preached in the street, worked with the sick, and taught children the Catechism.

But, being a Jesuit, he wasn't content with spiritual works alone. In a study of true justice (social or otherwise) he admonished his patron, King Juan of Portugal, over slavery*: “It upsets me to know that at the hour of your death you may be ordered out of Paradise.”

As a tireless missionary, he spent a decade in India, the East Indies, and in Japan, baptizing over 40,000 converts. He went wherever the Spirit told him to go, meeting with tribes of head hunters, caring for lepers, catechizing in India or baptizing 10,000 in a single month. He went on long sea voyages -- in those days that meant being cheek-by-jowl with a zillion others with no, er, plumbing -- enduring harsh extremes of heat and cold. Everywhere he went he would seek out and help the needy and the marginalized.

His zeal for the Gospel can be encapsulated by this prayer he composed:
Eternal God, Creator of all things, remember that You alone has created the souls of unbelievers, which You have made according to Your Image and Likeness. Behold, O Lord, how to Your dishonor many of them are falling into Hell. Remember, O Lord, Your Son Jesus Christ, Who so generously shed His Blood and suffered for them. Do not permit that Your Son, Our Lord, remain unknown by unbelievers, but, with the help of Your Saints and the Church, the Bride of Your Son, remember Your mercy, forget their idolatry and infidelity, and make them know Him, Who You have sent, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, Who is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection, through Whom we have been saved and redeemed, and to Whom is due glory forever. Amen.
He traveled thousands upon thousands of miles, mostly barefoot, preaching the Good News with his gift of tongues. He died in 1552 at Sanxian, China of "the fever" which he contracted on a mission journey.

One of the cool things about Jesuits is that when they are "away" they send letters with great frequency to report on their doings. St. Francis Xavier was no different [emphasis mine]:

We have visited the villages of the new converts who accepted the Christian religion a few years ago. The country is so utterly barren and poor. The native Christians have no priests. They know only that they are Christians. There is nobody to say Mass for them; nobody to teach them the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Commandments of God’s Law.

I have not stopped since the day I arrived. I conscientiously made the rounds of the villages. I bathed in the sacred waters all the children who had not yet been baptized. This means that I have purified a very large number of children so young that, as the saying goes, they could not tell their right hand from their left. The older children would not let me say my Office or eat or sleep until I taught them one prayer or another. Then I began to understand: “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I could not refuse so devout a request without failing in devotion myself. I taught them, first the confession of faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; then the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father, and Hail Mary. I noticed among them persons of great intelligence. If only someone could educate them in the Christian way of life, I have no doubt that they would make excellent Christians.

Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians.

I wish they university students would work as hard at converting these people as
they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them. This thought would certainly stir most of them to meditate on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what God is saying to them. They would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and His choice. They would cry out with all their heart: “Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do?” Send me anywhere you like - even to India!

- from letters to St Ignatius Loyola from St Francis Xavier

Beatified 25 October 1619 by Pope Paul V
Canonized 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV

He is the Patron of:

African missions
Agartala, India
Ahmedabad, India
Alexandria, Louisiana
Apostleship of Prayer
black missions
Cape Town, South Africa
Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith
Dinajpur, Bangladesh
East Indies
Fathers of the Precious Blood
foreign missions
Freising, Germany
Goa, India
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Indianapolis, Indiana
Joiliet, Illinois
Kabankalan, Philippines
Malindi, Kenya
Missioners of the Precious Blood
Mumbai, India, archdiocese of
Navarre, Spain
New Zealand
parish missions
plague epidemics

2) The other thing is today's Mass readings. The lovely and gracious Karen reports the miracle of the loaves and fishes is her youngest's favorite in all of Scripture. The lad has a point, because it is the only miracle (Resurrection aside) that is mentioned in all four Gospels. I like the extra little flourish in St. John's, when you get the back story of how they got the loaves and fishes in the first place: a little boy had brought them. It was all this kid had and he trustingly gave it all to Jesus...and in return wound up with basketfuls of bread and fish in return.

"To such as these..."



* Take THAT, those of you who think the Church used to be in favor of slavery.