Monday, July 31, 2006

Bad Logic

These guys went to Highland High School. I went to Highland High School. Therefore, I went to high school with Beavis and Butthead!

Coming soon to a TV near you!

FBS (Feminazi Broadcasting System) is proud to announce its new series The Heresy Boat! Joining hit series everybody Loves Kung and the Dick Vosko Wreckovation Challenge comes this story doctrinally impaired 'water witches' being empowered to fight the evil patriarchal hierarchy and be an "open forum for Catholics who are struggling with their consciences and want to discuss abortion, women's ordination and the need to minister to people who feel estranged from or abandoned by the church."

premiers live from Pittsburgh July 31st!

Homily for the Multiplication of Loaves

(Ordinarily I don't write out my homilies. If I do, then I read them and they tend to be very dull. Also, this way I avoid the temptation of reusing the same homily ever three years. However, after preaching this weekend, I decided to write this one out and post it here.)

Somewhere in the world this weekend someone is preaching the “Soggy Fish Sandwich” homily. Maybe you have heard it at sometime in the past. No doubt someone is asking, “Just what is the ‘Soggy Fish Sandwich’ homily?” It goes something like this, “Well you know, Jesus really didn’t create more bread and fish. He was just such a good guy that He inspired the people to share the bread and fish they had brought for themselves. (Hence, the term ‘Soggy Fish Sandwich’ given to this opinion by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.) This sharing is the real miracle.”
Well you won’t hear that non-sense here. In fact, if you ever hear me spout such heresy, you have my permission to smack me over the head with a 2x4 until I come to my senses. You won’t hear that drivel because it isn’t just non-sense, but rather it is heresy that undercuts the faith. Sacred Scripture and the constant interpretation of Sacred Scripture by the Church are clear in saying that this is, in fact, a real, physical miracle. It is clear that Jesus, by His power and authority as the Son of God, altered physical laws so that five loaves and two fish were enough to feed the multitude with more than five loaves and two fish left over. This is a real miracle which can inspire faith among the people: “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
Why is it important that we understand this miracle correctly? Because we must resist any attempt to explain away the power and the presence of Christ either in the Sacred Scriptures or in the world today. When Jesus worked a miracle or sign, He wasn’t simply doing parlor tricks. He wasn’t even primarily helping people. He was proclaiming the presence of the Kingdom of God not just in words but in deeds. If the signs are not real, then neither is the Kingdom they proclaim and our faith would be meaningless.
This is especially important with the miracle of the multiplication. It is a sign and a foreshadowing of the continuing, real miracle which is the Holy Eucharist. This miracle is recounted in the sixth chapter of the Gospel According to Saint John, which we will read at Sunday Mass over the next month. It is this miracle which the Lord uses to prepare the people for His teaching on the Holy Eucharist. It shows us God’s power to transcend the physical to meet our needs, physical or more importantly spiritual. It points to the continuing miracle of the Holy Eucharist in which there is always enough, more than enough, to feed the souls of all who believe. The real miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish points to the real miracle of the Eucharist which is the real thing, not a mere sign, memorial, or spiritual mumbo-jumbo.
Just as the reality miracle of the multiplication caused the crowd to believe that Jesus was the messiah, so the reality of the continuing miracle of the Holy Eucharist must inspire in us faith in Jesus, true God and true Man, who gives us His Flesh and Blood to eat and drink. Come let us adore Him!


At every Mass, people came up to me afterwards and said, "Father, I have heard the "Soggy Fish Sandwich" homily!" I even ran across a blog post commenting on how a deacon in Arizona preached the SFSH this weekend.

What I preached about this morning

Underwear. No, I am not kidding.

Thus said the LORD to me, "Go and buy a linen waistcloth, and put it on your loins, and do not dip it in water." -- Jeremiah 13:1

(And not only underwear, but dirty underwear as was pointed out in the comments.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Making news in the Blogosphere today

Lots of posts in St. Blog's today about the 'priestess coming out' of a chancery official in Boston. It seems that the creature in charge of hospital ministry in Boston was one of the deluded witches 'ordained' on the river. (I need to be careful the ' key may get stuck on this puter.) I don't feel the need to go into depth over the fact that women cannot be validly ordained. What I do want to go into is point number seven on my program for reform in the Church in America: De-bureaucraticization of church administration.

IMHO one of the biggest problems in most dioceses is the diocesan bureaucracy. The same can said of many larger parishes that judge their effectiveness by the size of their staffs and also of the uber-bureaucracy of the USCCB. Have a problem? Open a new office and start a new program. Some diocesan bureaucracies are actually larger than that of the Vatican!

Why is this a problem? Financial resources are taken out of parish for offices that do little or nothing. Are there necessary offices? Sure. Are there hard working, faithful people in chanceries? You bet. But there are also unnecessary office and people working to forward agendas apart or contrary to that of the Church. (Examples: the water witch mentioned above and the people who organize the Anaheim Religious Education Conference.) In most cases, resources are better used at the local level. (I also find it amusing that the bishops who complain the most about interference from Rome are often the ones whose diocesan bureaucrats are the ones who interfere the most in parochial affairs.) There is a story floating around sometimes attribute to Bl. John XXIII or Cardinal Spellman. In it the Pope/bishop is asked, "How many people work in the Vatican/your chancery?" To which the answer is, "About half." That this is largely true is scandalous.

What should be done? Every church bureaucracy should be reviewed asking, "Do we need this office?" And the prejudice should be in favor of "No". There is a story of a California bishop, now retired, arriving at his new See and being amazed at the size of the chancery staff. Within six months the staff was cut in half and no one noticed any real difference. But the staffs should also be examined for orthodoxy. Do we really need heretics using church positions to advance their agendas? If you think I am over-reacting, look at this woman, the above mentioned 'water witch priestess'. Does anyone think she didn't use her office to advance her heresies?

I am trying hard to be sympathetic but....

Today Spiritdaily links to the following story, "Catholics Face Crisis Over Retired Nuns." The upshot of the articles is that dying religious orders don't have enough financial resources to take care of their aging members.

Don't get me wrong, many of these ladies rendered great service to Holy Mother Church and they all should be treated with dignity. However, I can't help but think that many of them are in a bed they made themselves. Why are these orders dying? Could it be the abandoning of common prayer, common life, common dress? Could it be the twisting of poverty, chasity, and obedience into something else? Could it be turning from traditional community charisms to more 'relevant ministries' which turned out to be as relevant as mood rings? Could it be trading the Gospel of Christ for the ideologies of feminist, Marxist, and psychology? Could it be that community resources were squandered on jewelry, makeup, 'Nuclear Free Zone' signs, and training in Wicca.

The article disagrees. Instead,

The problem is discussed in the new book "Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church's Betrayal of American Nuns" (Doubleday) by former New York Times religion editor Kenneth Briggs. The book's main theme is that church authorities vetoed sisters' hopes for dramatic changes that would provide more freedom and effective ministries in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council.

Right.... It was the mean old hierarchy that kept the good sisters from having enough pantsuits and enneagram workshops

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pilgrimage

Yesterday I packed myself into a fifteen passenger van with my friends the Qs (wont even try to spell their name) and journeyed 70 miles north to the fabled city of Preston, Idaho. While there I ate a large order of tattertots and toured sights from Napoleon Dynamite. This is a movie you either love or hate. I found it hysterical especially due to the Mormon culture permeating the movie. Anyway, we saw Napoleon's house, Preston Senior High School, and Uncle Rico's van. On the way home, I bought some Utah State Lottery tickets. (Utah joke. We don't have a lottery, so most folks go to Idaho for tickets.) *Sigh* I didn't win the $125,000,000 (said in best vox Dr. Evil). What would I have bought if I had won? Well that will be the subject of a future post.

Like watching a train wreck


This just came in a junk email from the SciFi Channel. (Which I get because I keep trying to win one of the walk-on roles on Stargate.)

I am somewhat at a loss as to what to say. Scraping the bottom of the barrel in 'reality TV'? Maybe. But I still have to watch it. Maybe it will be 'so bad its good'.

(The cast looks a bit like a costume contest I saw at a SciFi convention once.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Life Highpoint


This picture was taken in April of 2002 when I was privileged to have a semi-private audience with His Holiness. It was the week after the Holy Father read the American Cardinals the riot act over the abuse scandal. (Which I think is why after I introduced myself as a priest from America, the Holy Father sighed.)

Beer is Good

This picture (c. 1905) of my great-grandfather Eduard Max Richardt Richtsteig drinking beer with the inlaws in Chicago. He is at the far left.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yet another sell out to the modern world

(Found at Spiritdaily)

Bishops Agree to Move Holy Days of Obligation to Sundays

By The Universe: The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is to follow the US precendent after it was announced that announced that Holy Days of Obligation are to be moved to Sundays. The switch, which was approved by the Vatican on July 13, comes into effect on December 3, 2006. It now means that the Holy Days of the Epiphany, the Ascension of the Lord and Corpus Christi will all now be celebrated on Sunday. The move was initiated after Diocesan Councils of Priests felt that efforts needed to be made to boost Mass attendance on Holy Days."This is something that the bishops have actively been considering since 1996," said secretary of department for Christian Life & Worship Catholic Bishops' Conference England and Wales Fr Allen Morris."The circumstances of modern life in England and Wales has made it impossible for a large proportion of the Catholic community to attend Holy Days. And these three Holy Days are very important mysteries of our faith and it is important that the whole community should be able to attend."However, Christmas Day, the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and All Saints will not be affected by the changes.A statement from the bishops added: "We have responded to requests from Diocesan Councils of Priests and many others, deeply concerned at the diminishing observance of these days.""The Bishops commend this as an opportunity for Catholics to deepen, through catechesis and celebration, their faith and understanding of these mysteries of the life of Christ."The current practice is retained with regard to other Holy Days of Obligation. In other words, Christmas Day, the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and All Saints will continue to be celebrated as at present. With the exception of Christmas Day, the discipline in England and Wales is that when these days fall on a Saturday or Monday they are transferred to Sunday. The Bishops call on all Catholics to observe their celebration."


Too 'hard' for people to come? No problem, we will just move it to Sunday. After all religion is just a Sunday thing anyway (as long as Sunday doesn't interfere with sports, visitors, or vacations).

In the future when historians look back on this period for its wimpy practice of the faith; no penance, no effort needed.

What we need to do is restore the pre-concilliar penance practices and the Holy Days of obligation. (As I mentioned to my former bishop once, "We need more holy days, not less!")

Bishop Envy, Pt. II


Look at what Bishop Vasa is doing for his vacation! Imagine what the Church in the US would be like if we had 20 more bishops with his pastroal zeal.

(HT to L. A. Catholic)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

In the Latin Rite, the Memorial of St. Sharbel


Saint Sharbel was born in 1828. He entered St. Maron Monastery in Lebanon in 1853 and lived there as a monk and priest for 16 years. Then, hearing the call of God to a life of greater solitude and prayer, he was given permission to become a hermit. For the next 23 years he gave himself in total dedication to God and the Church in his hermitage by a life rooted in the Scriptures, love for the Eucharist and the Mother of God.
After living a holy life hidden in Christ, he died on December 24, 1898. On the evening of his funeral, his superior wrote: “Because of what he will do after his death, I need not talk about his behavior.” A few months later, a bright light was seen surrounding his tomb. The superiors ordered the tomb to be opened, and they found his body perfectly preserved. Scientific experts and doctors are unable to explain this. Since his death, thousands of re-corded miracles have been attributed to his intercession—so many, in fact, that he is known as the “Wonderworker of the East.”
In 1965, at the close of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI declared: “ ... a hermit of the Lebanese mountain is inscribed in the number of the blessed ... a new eminent member of monastic sanctity is enriching, by his example and his intercession, the entire Christian people... May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God.” On October 9, 1977, Pope Paul canonized St. Sharbel at the World Synod of Bishops. May he intercede with God for us.


(from www.maronitemonks.org)

Also in Utah on July 24th...



It is Mormon Day! Ok, it is really known as Pioneer Day, but among the Gentile (non-Mormon) population of Utah we call it Mormon Day. (A Monsignor friend of mine calls it "The Day the Earth Was Created.") It commemorates the day in 1847 when Mormon pioneers, headed by Brigham Young (left) entered the Salt Lake Valley. The faithful celebrate it by not working, a very large parade in Salt Lake, and fireworks. I will celebrate it by saying Mass, blessing a new parishoner's house, and drinking beer in the evening.

And now a word from my animated namesake...



I know hippies. I've hated them all my life. I've kept this town free of hippies on my own since I was five and a half. But I can't contain them on my own anymore. We have to do something, fast! ... It's not potholes you need to worry about. It's potheads. I know what these people are capable of... You have to listen to me! You can't sweep this problem under the rug!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

So much for honor your father and mother

Daughter Who Surprised Mom With Birthday Visit Sues Parents

MADISON, Wis. -- An Illinois woman is suing her Wisconsin parents for maintaining an icy driveway that she blamed for a fall that broke her ankle two winters ago.
This week, a federal judge refused to toss out the lawsuit, setting up a trial for November.
Carriel Louah, 25, visited Darlington, Wis., to surprise her mother on her birthday in January 2005. But the next morning, she was injured when she slipped and fell on her parents' driveway. She filed suit against her parents earlier this year.
The daughter said that a letter from her mom apologizing months after the fall proves that her parents knew they had a defective gutter for years and did nothing about it.
She's seeking more than $75,000 in damages for medical bills and lost wages.
Her parents said that she can't prove the driveway was icy at the time or that their drainage system was faulty.
U.S. District Judge John Shabaz said that a jury should decide the matter.

+RIP Deacon Doug Sliger

We just received word that one of our permanent deacons Doug Sliger died yesterday due to injuries from a fall.

I worked with Doug at Hill AFB when I was with the Air Force Reserve. Doug was a great deacon and a good Catholic. He was a graduate of West Point, Air Force pilot, and financial advisor.

Please say a prayer for the repose of his soul and another one for his wife Terry who is not in the best of health.

Propeller Beenie SciFi Geek Happystuff

A priest friend of mine just sent me a link to one of the most amazing online stores I have ever encountered. Think Geek has more cool, geeky junk than I have ever seen in one place.

(My personal favorites are the hydrogen rocket, desktop trebuchet, and the 'Guns don't kill people. Kids with video games kill people' t-shirt.)

On another related topic. I finally got fed up with people stealing my coffee cups from the social hall. I have ordered a custom coffee cup that says the following: "This cup is stolen from Father Erik. (Remember the part about "Thou shalt not steal"?)"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Favorite 1970s TV Comedy
















WKRP in Cincinnati still cracks me up. It had it all: a great cast, consistently funny writing, and classic Rock tunes. It also was responsible for IMHO the funniest TV episode of all time "Turkeys Away". Newsman Les Nesman (I suspect he is Fr. Thomas Dubay's long lost brother) describing the promotional bombing of a shopping center with live turkeys a la the Hindenberg disaster. Arthur 'Big Guy' Carlson's assertion, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

It only lasted four short seasons. CBS killed it by prempting it and changing its time slot more times than I care to remember.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Islam as a Christian heresy

Biblicalia has a translation from St. John of Damascus describing Islam as a Christian heresy. (I believe this is the correct classification myself.

(HT to Pontifications)

Things that scare me: CLOWNS!


I have never been fond of clowns. There is just something creepy about them. It wasn't until Poltergeist that I realized I wasn't alone. Then when Stephen King's It came out, I knew I was RIGHT!

General Intercessions

These are one of my (many) pet peeves. While I like the intention (pun intended) the practice in most cases is highly problematic.

What are we supposed to be doing? In a nutshell, as part of our Christian vocation, praying for the needs of the Church and the world. What all too often happens, however, is a litany of particular intentions and ideologically driven statements. Perhaps you have heard, "For Mary who is having surgery today." Of course we should pray for Mary, but in the Intercessions it should be, "For all who are undergoing surgery today...." Or how about, "For a special intention." I am sorry, but if you want me to pray for something, I want to know what it is. Or the time I had three PCPs (Plain Clothes Penguins--non-habited nuns) pray, "That Bill and Hillary will lead us well."

This is why I don't take 'motions from the floor'. I write the intentions before Mass and these are the ones which the lector reads. (Don't get me started on the canned ones from the booklet OCP published. The title should be Politically Correct Intentions.)

I wish that the Latin Rite would have something more like the Maronites. As part of the Anaphora (Canon), there are beautiful prayers that fulfill the same function.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Narf! Zort! Poit! Mark your calendars!


Pinky and the Brain on DVD ships from Amazon on July 25th. (Pre-ordered one for myself and one for my senior godson Matthew.)

Vox Clara Meeting

Fr. Zuhlsdorf tells us that the Vox Clara Commission meets today in Rome. These are the wonderful people who are giving ICEL a kick in the rear and ensuring that the English speaking world will finally get decent liturgical translations. One of my teachers from Mt. Angel, Father Jeremy Driscoll serves on this Commission. (If Father Jeremy is involved with something, you know they will do a good job.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Who I wanted to be when I was 9

The guy on the left. Yes indeed, I wanted to be Carl Kolchak intrepid reporter and hunter of monsters.

A comedian, I can't remember who, once commented that it would be a very interesting world if we were all what we wanted to be as children--a world full of pirates, astronauts, policemen, and ballerinas.

I wanted to be Carl. He drove a cool car; a convertible Mustang. He wore a cool suit. (This opinion is yet more proof of why clerical garb is a very good idea.) But most importantly, he fought monsters. Very cool. I later moved on to Fr. Merrin from The Exorcist. (Before Carl, was Scotty from Star Trek.) But Carl is still cool.

Inappropriate for a priest

Twice now I have seen clergy with earrings. Each time I have had to struggle with an urge to imitate Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge. (For those of you who are not familiar with this glorious B movie from the 80s, Eastwood plays a Marine Gunnery sergeant who at one point rips an earring out of the ear of one of his subordinants.) Why do I have this reaction? Because an earring is highly inappropriate for a clergyman. While it does not necessarily have the homosexual connotations that it once did, that kind of ornamentation has no place on the body of one consecrated to the total service of God. I have similar opinions about rings and other jewelry. It speaks of vanity. (Bet you can guess what I think of tattoos.)

What else should clergy avoid?

1-Habitual wearing of lay clothing. (I knew a priest in grad school that was referred to as 'Father Powertie'.) There are appropriate times for civies such as exercise or yardwork, but certainly not while ministering.
2-High cost clothing. Good quality is one thing, Brooks Brothers is another.
3-Expensive autos.
4-Living in ones own pad. Though I know some diocese encourage it, living outside of a Rectory is not a good idea.
5-Date like situations. If you want to take the secretary to lunch, invite someone else along. Don't encourage scandal.
6-Dancing. I don't care if she is your mother, priests ought not to dance.

I think I'm gonna hurl...

Diogenes the Great at Off the Record cites a New Dork Times opinion piece about a sodomite 'wedding' between two ex-Catholic ex-religious. As you may well imagine, it was done in an 'oh isn't this soooo wonderful' writing style. What is it about the elite that they feel compelled to revel in perversion?

Friday, July 14, 2006

A homily I wrote after 9/11

Just War
Thirty years ago this week, I woke up in the middle of the night and turned on my little black and white TV. I kept the sound down and just watched the scratchy picture. I was seven years old and I was hoping to see my dad get off an airplane. This was the day the POWs returned from Vietnam and I thought maybe, just maybe, my dad, a Marine officer who was missing in action, would be on the plane and we just hadn’t been told yet. (We found out a few years later that he had been killed in combat and buried by the Communists in 1965.) I consider myself to be very aware of the consequences of war and have thought about it a lot in the last little while.
There are lots of varying opinions about the advisability and/or morality of the possible continuation of the war with Iraq. Many of you know my personal opinion. But that is not what I will speak about today. (It would be an abuse of the pulpit.) What I want to let you know about is what the Church teaches about the possibility of war.
Make no mistake about it; Christianity is not a pacifist faith. The Church does not and has never taught that war is to be avoided at all costs. War is a thing to be worked against. People die and suffer in every war. But there are some cases in which war is necessary in the face of greater evils. No sane person should ever say that the Civil War or World War II or even the Gulf War of 1990 were unnecessary in the face of slavery, genocide, and territorial aggression respectively faced in those wars. War is permitted in the face of aggression (either an attack or a sure threat) or to resist a great evil.
The Church teaches that certain conditions must be met for a war to be just. First, the evil and damage inflicted by the aggressor must be lasting, grave, and certain. In other words, war ought not to be fought over trivial matter such as an insult or national honor. Second, all other means of addressing the causus belli or cause of war must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective. Diplomatic efforts will work with some countries and not others, as will embargos. Other nations cannot be trusted or care nothing for the sufferings of their own people. Third, there must be serious prospects for success. Hopeless wars are just that hopeless and serve only to increase human suffering. Forth, the war must not produce evils greater than the evil to be eliminated. Are we causing more suffering than is being avoided? Who has the responsibility for judging these things? Our political leaders—“those who have the responsibility for the common good” as the Catechism states. We have the option and indeed the obligation of respectfully informing them of our informed opinion, but the decision is ultimately theirs.
All Christians are called to be good citizens: to inform themselves of the issues involved and make their voices heard in a respectful and helpful manner. But we must carefully delineate between opinions, which are and are not based and rooted in the faith of Christ.
One thing that also must be clear is that regardless of what opinion one has concerning the war, our men and women in military must be treated with respect. Many of our veterans can tell you of the slanderous and hurtful way in which people treated them during and after the war in Vietnam. I myself have sad memories of my father being called a baby killer. The Catechism teaches us that, “Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to common good of the nation and the maintenance of the peace.” We should all pray daily for our men and women in uniform and express our support of them even if we do not personally support what they are engaged in.
Our bishop has rightly and prudently requested that we pray for peace this weekend. Peace is always to be prayed for and worked for. But we must also be aware there are occasions in which war is possible and in fact the necessary course of action. Let us pray that God will grant political leader through the world the grace to make the right decisions in defense of what is good and right.

Rules to follow when naming a child

Father Erik's Rule #1 for naming a child: Ask yourself, will this get my kid beat up everyday after school.

Father Erik's Rule #2 for naming a child: Ask a random group of 8 year olds their opinion on the proposed name.

Father Erik's Rule #3 for naming a child: Check and make sure the initials don't spell anything unfortunate.

Propeller Beenie SciFi Geek Happyfest


Yippee! The new seasons of Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis start tonight.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Urgent Action by bishops needed NOW

Here is a little thought experiment for you. Think of something useful the USCCB has done. The only thing that readily comes to my mind is the education related to The DaVinci Code. (This is not to questions the good intentions of the Bishops. Rather the problem is staff in Washington.)

Here is something that they both can and need to do something about: the sale of sacred artifacts. Remember the controversy of the sale of consecrated Hosts on E-bay? That appears to have been taken care of. But go on eBay and look for relics, vestments, vessels, and church appointments. Most of these items are being sold either directly or indirectly by Catholic churches or clergy to anybody. They might end up in an art collection, a Protestant church, or in the hands of occultists. This needs to be stopped. Sacred items should only be transferred within the Church. If no one wants them, they should be appropriately destroyed.

Bishops could forbid this trafficking in holy objects by any person or institution in their jurisdiction. And then they could enforce it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Not who I would have guessed.

(found via the Ragemonkeys.)

Your results:
You are Superman





















Superman
80%
Spider-Man
70%
Green Lantern
70%
Iron Man
70%
Batman
65%
Robin
47%
Supergirl
45%
Hulk
40%
Catwoman
35%
The Flash
30%
Wonder Woman
25%
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.


Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

TV in the 70s

This morning while I was attempting to regain consciousness while eating my bowl of oatmeal (in Vox Homeris, "Ummmm Oatmeal...) I remembered a truly wretched sitcom from the mid 70s about a priest and a nun running an inner city counseling center. Called, In the Beginning, it featured Maclean Stevenson as a conservative priest who is teamed with a liberal nun. Can't you just feel the laughs coming. It didn't last long. All I can really remember is that it wasn't funny and the nun was in favor of artificial birth control.

The only other regular portrayal of a priest that comes to mind is Father Francis Mulcahey from MASH. In thinking about him, he seemed more like just a generic minister. I don't ever remember him saying Mass.

There were two shows that I remember dealing with anti-Catholicism. On the Waltons, a young relative of the Baldwin sisters came to visit. She happened to be Catholic, much to the disgust of the storekeeper's bigoted wife. One of the boys ended up falling in love with her, but she went off to become a nun. It seemed very respectful to me. The other was a short lived series about immigrants in the old west. One episode had a Protestant regular working for a Franciscan missionary. The topic of prejudice against the priest was dealt with.

At least then, there were positive portrayals of the Church and clergy. The only one that I can remember recently was on The Simpsons last year. Most of the time I see a priest on lets say Law and Order, I think, "Oh no, another molestation episode." And most of the time I am right.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If I were a cartoon

Feast of St. Benedict


Today is the Feast of St. Benedict, Abbot.
Happy feastday to all Benedictines out there, especially my friends at Mt. Angel Abbey.

Build-A-God Workshop


My mom is a teddy bear junky. (Which makes Christmas and her birthday easy for me; I just get her a bear.) Her office gave her a gift certificate for a bear from the Build-A-Bear Workshop. It was my job to take her down to cash it in. It is rather neat place where one can build a custom bear. (The stuffing machine is rather creepy though. Like a big hypodermic needle that blows the stuffing into a bear.) Great idea for stuffed animals, not a good idea for religion.

It occurs to me that modern liberal religion treats God like one of these teddy bears. Go in and custom build your God according to your own specifications. Don't like God the Father? Fine, make it a girl God. Don't want a God that judges? Fine, take that out and add unconditional and unthinking acceptance. (Maybe this is how the Presbyterians came up with their new names for the Trinity.) At the end you walk out with your own God or rather your own idol. Because a God that is conformed to us, is not the real God. It is just a feel good figment of the imagination.

The real God is the one who revealed Himself to us in the person of Christ. The real God is the one that we conform ourselves to.

Monday, July 10, 2006

He may not be perfect, but I am glad he is in office

(From the Drudgereport.)

ROVE: BUSH'S FIRST VETO WOULD BE STEM-CELL BILLMon Jul 10 2006 16:31:17 ET

President Bush likely will cast the first veto of his presidency if the Senate, as expected, passes legislation to expand federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, White House aide Karl Rove said Monday."The president is emphatic about this," Rove said in a meeting with the editorial board of The DENVER POST, newsroom sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del. If the Senate approves the bill this month it would go to the president's desk."It is something we would, frankly, like to avoid," Rove said The POST's John Farrell is filing a report.Developing...

Can you imagine Gore or Kerry doing this?

You're so RIGID...

At the seminary, I was once told, "Erik, you're soooo conservative and rigid. You need to be more open."

Fighting back the urge to smack this person silly, I replied, "Look, if I wanted to be a @#$ing Episcopalian, I would have become one."

This is needed like a hole in the head

(Taken from my favorite entertainment new site Dark Horizons).


Michael Moore's "Sicko" in 2007
Posted: Monday July 10th 2006 2:10pm
Source:
Variety
Author: Garth Franklin

Michael Moore broke his silence on Friday, revealing that his follow-up docu to "Fahrenheit 9/11" is about three-quarters done and on target for a 2007 release by the Weinstein Co reports Variety."We've spent the better part of the year shooting our next movie, 'Sicko.' As we've done with our other films, we don't discuss them while we are making them...I don't think the country needs a movie that tells you that HMOs and the pharmaceutical companies suck. Everybody knows that. I'd like to show you some things you don't know. So stay tuned for where this movie has led me. I think you might enjoy it."The anticipated 2007 release date for "Sicko" is also a bit later than the September 2006 bow for which the Weinsteins had previously planned.

Wonderful! Just what we need, another 'documentary' from the Joseph Goebbels of the American Left. Let me make a prediction. It will be slickly packaged and full of half truths and outright lies just like his previous work. The mainstream media will go into polysyllabic ecstasy over it and despite repeated de-bunkings it will enter popular culture as truth. If you tell a lie enough times, many people will come to believe it.

Do we really want government more involved in health care than it already is?

Conversion Story

(This was originally e-published at The Cafeteria is Closed.)

I was born in Cedar City, Utah in June of 1965. My dad was a Marine Corp Artillery Officer and mom was a housewife. My dad’s father was a Lutheran boy from Chicago who married a Mormon girl from Utah and eventually converted. The other three sides of the family are all of pioneer Mormon stock. (Through one of them, though, I am descended from Emperor Heinrich the Fowler and his wife St. Mathilda.)

When I was six months old, dad was killed in action in Vietnam. His body was not found until nine years later.

Mom fell away from the practice of the Mormon faith when I was about three due to an unfortunate incident with our Mormon bishop. (A bishop is their equivalent of a pastor.) I went to church and their religious education sporadically until I was about eight. I considered myself Mormon, even though I was never baptized.

I had some Catholic relatives. My mom’s sister married a Catholic and converted. They later became Protestant through the influence of the dark side of the Charismatic Movement. The first times I went to Mass, at about nine, I went with them. I still remember these occasions vividly.

I remember being fascinated by portrayals of the Catholic Church and priests in the media. (It was a good thing I wasn’t born twenty years later.) I have always been a fan of horror movies. And who was Dracula and the Devil afraid of in the movies? The priest with his crucifix. This was not my motive for converting, but it did catch my attention and caused me to read about the Catholic Church. I also paid attention to more realistic movies like Keys to the Kingdom and The Cardinal. Being a SciFi/Fantasy geek, I was also influenced by the Narnia series and, later Tolkein.

The more I learned about the Faith the more it made sense. The Eucharist, the Papacy, and the Trinity simply made sense to me. Eventually, I decided that it made sense that the Church founded by Jesus would have been around since Jesus was on Earth and be one Church. Only the Catholic Church could make this claim. When I was about ten, I decided in my heart that I was going to be Catholic.

The election of Pope John Paul II made a profound impact on me. The pageantry and ritual fascinated me. He fascinated me. It was about this time that it occurred to me that I should be a priest. I just needed to follow through with it. It is hard to convert when you are a kid and unable to drive to church.

On Christmas break of my sophomore year of high school, I decided to hop a bus and visit the Cathedral of the Madeline in Salt Lake. I vividly remember walking in the door for the first time, seeing the statues and stained glass, and smelling the traces of Christmas incense. I sat down in a pew. I think I prayed though I thought at the time I was just thinking. The thought came into my head: Do it! Become Catholic. I walked over to the Rectory and asked to see a priest. I told him, I wanted to be a Catholic. A few weeks later I was in instruction class. (This was prior to RCIA.) I was Baptized, Confirmed, and received First Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil of 1981. I received these sacraments from Bishop William Wiegand, now of Sacramento, who also ordained me.

I was planning on going to the seminary right after high school, but several things scared me off including my pastor leaving the priesthood and getting married. I obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in philosophy for the University of Utah. I was working on a Doctorate in Medieval Philosophy at Marquette when I realized I was just delaying the inevitable and applied to study for the priesthood.

I was sent to Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon. I was ordained to the priesthood on June 25, 1994. It hasn’t always been easy nor should it have been. The priesthood is about sharing in the Cross of Christ. I would do it again in a minute. I was able to baptize my mother when I was a deacon in 1993. I was also able to baptize her mother two years before she died in 2000. In 2002, I was blessed with being able to meet John Paul II in a semi-private audience.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Need of Reform in the Catholic Church in America

I think it is safe to say that there are reforms that need to be made in the Catholic Church in America. (Please notice that I did not say the American Catholic Church. There is no such animal except in the dreams of aging Modernists.) Such reforms must have as their aim fidelity to the teachings of the Universal Church on the part of all believers and an increase in holiness within the lives of all believers. Fr. Benedict Groeschel speaks of this eloquently in his book The Reform of Renewal.

Here are the topics that I think need to be addressed.
1) Reform of catechesis of the young (CCD).
2) Reform of Catholic schools (make them Catholic in fact as well as name).
3) Clean up Newman Centers/Catholic Campus Ministries.
4) Catechesis of adults (educate those we missed during the decades of experimentation).
5) Reform of Seminaries and Religious Formation.
6) Reform of Priestly Life.
7) De-bureaucraticization of church administration. (Hey, I think I invented a new word.)
(addition) 8) Change in the process of how episcopal nominations are forwarded to Rome.

Over the next little while I will be posting on these topics, in no particular order, with my ideas on what should be done.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bishop Envy


Robert Vasa is the the Bishop of Baker (Eastern) Oregon. IMHO he is one of the best bishops in the US. Not only has he done an excellent job cleaning up his own diocese, but he also has issued wonderful pastoral letters and teaching columns. In short he is a real bishop; he teaches, governs, and makes holy. I keep praying that he will be appointed the next Bishop of Salt Lake City, or we will get one like him.

He recently wrote a great column "Real danger lies in lack of reverence for Lord in Eucharist". It has caused all sorts of waves in the Blogosphere. (HTs to various sources I am too lazy to list.) The following paragraph really struck a nerve with me.

The strong communitarian aspects of the Holy Eucharist are certainly important and do likewise need to be fostered, but not at the expense of direct adoration of our Lord. It is our Lord, after all, who says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest, for My yoke is easy and my burden light.” The Lord does allow each of us to share in His mission of caring for our brothers and sisters and being sources of rest and burden lightening for them, but we do not ever replace Him. He remains with us, abiding in our midst, and it is to Him whom we must turn in a primary sort of way. Very often on retreat there are an abundance of words, and those human words are important, but it has been my experience, and now the experience of young families and high-school youth, that more good spiritual “work” can be done directly by our Lord in 15 minutes of intense adoration than in hours of conferences. “There can be no danger of excess in our care for this mystery.”

It has often struck me that we have allowed ourselves to be mired up to our necks in committees and meetings, as if our salvation is found through bureaucracy, as if the Gospel is spread through Robert's Rules of Order. (My personal theory is that committees are the 11th plague on Egypt. If killing the firstborn had not have worked, then the Egyptians would have been compelled to break into small groups and share.) Our time is better spent adoring the Lord as it is He that gives us the strength to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow after Him. This is part of the reason why my church is left open during the day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Children Playing by the Computer

My younger dog Katie trying to figure out what my bird Noel is. (And vice versa.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hey, What Does This Button Do?

Comments are now enabled for anyone.

It helps to read the directions, as my Great Aunt Florence used to say. She was an interesting lady. She taught me to like hot Mexican food. Also, she was one of the most bigotted people I have known. She left the Mormon church after they allowed Blacks to hold their priesthood. I ended up doing her funeral at her request. Also, at her request she was dressed in her Mormon temple garments. Say a prayer for her if you have a chance.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Ok, I admit it. I am a Trekkie. But this scares the &*(# out of me.

A Thought from the UK for Independence Day

The following is from the Telegraph in the UK and was filled in connection with a British poll that said, in essence that the Brits don't care for us much.

To hate America is to hate mankind(Filed: 03/07/2006)

Kipling's poem The White Man's Burden is often assumed to be about the British Empire, but it was in fact addressed to the United States, then beginning its global ascendancy following the Spanish-American War.
A century later, its lines -"The blame of those ye better, the hate of those ye guard" - seem eerily prophetic. According to our YouGov poll, even many Britons regard America as malign, although they remain fond of individual Americans.
Of course America occasionally deserves criticism. Like every country, it puts its own interests first, sometimes hypocritically. George W. Bush's decision to impose tariffs on imported steel, while preaching commercial liberalisation, is an example.
Ditto the outrageous one-sidedness of the extradition treaty that allows the American authorities to whisk British subjects away without presenting prima facie evidence, but allows no reciprocal action against IRA gunmen in America.
This is, of course, how all superpowers behave. A hundred years ago, it was Britain that resisted supranationalism, and America that constantly demanded international arbitration. But the fact that other nations would do the same if they could get away with it means little to America's critics.
Americans find themselves damned either way. If they remain within their own borders, they are isolationist hicks who are shirking their responsibilities. If they intervene, they are rapacious imperialists.
Indeed, many of their detractors manage to hold these two ideas in their heads simultaneously. Yet a moment's thought should reveal that they are both unfair. In Yugoslavia, America did everything it could to encourage Europe to act.
Only when European passivity was leading to mass slaughter did Washington intervene - benignly and decisively. (Even the most virulent anti-Americans struggle to explain what possible strategic interest there was in Kosovo.) It is a similar story when it comes to Iran.
For a decade, American policy-makers left it to the EU to defuse the nuclear threat from the ayatollahs. Now, with their tactic of constructive engagement in ruins, the Europeans instinctively look to Washington for protection. But you can bet that they will howl with protest if it becomes clear that such protection is best afforded through the deployment of force.
To dislike a country as diverse as America is misanthropic: America, more than any other state, contains the full range of humanity between its coasts. What binds its people together is an ideal encoded in America's DNA.
Conceived in a popular uprising against autocratic government, the United States has a natural sympathy with self-rule, personal freedom and representative government. To this day, it is guided by the Jeffersonian ideal that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect.
The EU, of course, is founded on the opposite principle, that of "ever-closer union". No wonder its peoples sometimes resent their more successful cousins.

Another Sign of Societal Decay

HT to the Drudgereport

Little Mr. Apricot Flips Off Crowd, Loses Title

(CBS 13) PATTERSON, Calif. A big brouhaha in Stanislaus County as a pageant winner in Patterson is stripped of his crown. Heather Hudgens reports it all started with apricots and a finger foul-up.It was another weekend of royalty in Patterson, and the parade queens were on their best behavior.“I would never do it, it’s not queen worthy,” said one of the queens.What she's talking about is what happened last month at the Apricot festival, when the newly-crowned Little Mr. Apricot, 4-year old Matthew Burgos, raised his middle finger to the crowd!At Mil's Cafe, now all the talk is what happened next, when Matthew was unceremoniously relieved of his crown. The reason - the unfortunate flip of the finger.Matthew's mom understands why the apricot board took Matthew's title, but wishes some townsfolk would just get over it.“I think it is ridiculous, I mean he’s four years old,” she says.CBS 13 asked the Patterson Apricot Fiesta Board to comment, they would not, except to confirm the story. First runner-up Michael Montiel will now assume the role of Little Mr. Apricot. Matthew doesn't even know he's been stripped of the title. His mom and dad say he likely wouldn't understand, anyway.

Reminds me of when my cousin's 4-year old announced at his preschool program that he wanted to be, "a #$%-in Power Ranger," when he grew up.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Yes, I did give this to my former Bishop


While looking through old links, I found this. I actually gave one to my former bishop. (Any wonder I am not a Monsignor?)

Why I wear a cassock

We had some visitors from a neighboring parish at Mass today. At the community building event afterwards (coffee and doughnuts), they asked me why I wear a cassock. Not the first time I have been asked this question.

I have always liked them. I even tried to wear one at the seminary but only succeeded in getting them banned. (Too 'Pre-Vatican II' for the then administration.) Once I was ordained though, out of the closet it came. I have taken heat for it, almost exclusively from priests and women religious.

Why do I wear it?

1-By wearing it I let everyone know immediately who and what I am--a Roman Catholic priest. Clerical suits are worn by just about anyone these days, but a cassock--that is almost exclusively Catholic. (I was mistaken for an Orthodox once by an old lady at a nursing home. But that is ok, they have valid orders.) Many times people just come up to me in the airport or at a store and start talking. It is a great way to evangelize and be availible as a priest.

2-By wearing a cassock I am embracing a poverty of appearence. A cassock is not high fashion. It is just there. Like a religious habit, it submerges my personal identity in my vocational.

3-It is comfortable. I admit it. I hate suits. They rank with dental work on the scale of things I don't like. A cassock on the other hand is comfortable. It isn't tight. It is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And it is easy to throw on over sweats for those midnight sick calls.

False Advertizing

Diogenes at Off the Record has a chilling post on a group called Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom. (Caution! Only go to this link if you haven't eaten for a few hours.) You can read for yourself about these modern disciples of Moloch. But take a look at the picture of the scary looking redhead. Look at the white board. Evidently, her name is Marissa Valeri and she claims to be a Roman Catholic. Of course, she is holding forth on 'Primacy of Conscience' and conveniently forgeting about the 'well formed' part. Usual hetrodox garbage. The really strange stuff is in the following line, "Church does not teach the fetus is a person." Bovine feces. This is precisely what the Church does teach. Where do they get this stuff?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

If you have to ask...

Over at The Curt Jester, Jeff does his usual excellent job taking apart an article which asks the question, "Why can't I be a good Catholic and dissent?"

This is like asking why a circle can't have three sides. Being a good Catholic by definition entails believing all that the Church teaches to be true. Why be a Catholic if you don't believe in what the Church teaches.

A Blog of My Very Own

I have been commenting enough on other people's blogs, so I thought it was time to start my own.

And so I will start with a word about the title. Back at the seminary in the bad old Good Bye, Good Men days of the early 90s, we developed all sorts of code words to express our dissatisfaction, shall I even say anger, with the hetrodox atmosphere we found ourselves in. (Praise God, that particular seminary has improved markedly in the last decade or so.) Thus, the more traditional fellows refered to ourselves as bitter, short for pinched and bitter. We also developed a hypothetical device, the Orthometer. Think of a Geiger Counter for orthodoxy. One could ask, "How high does that class rate on the Orthometer?" Or, if a conversation was getting out of hand, one could say, "Careful, we are setting off the Orthometer in the rector's office." Anyway, it is as good a title for a blog as anything else I could come up with .