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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The face that launched a thousand ships

And apparently kept them sailing.

Love is a Verb

an excerpt from a very good article on the Command to Love...

Are we fools? Probably not entirely. But we are often foolish, often believing and behaving in ways that give lie to Paul’s declaration, “Love never fails.” God never fails, but we often do. When we make the creature the Creator, giving thanks and praise to the bounty of our own wisdom, we reach down for the higher things and convince ourselves that we have grasped truth. We do this when we believe that it is not only sometimes necessary but also good to murder the innocent; when we believe that it is right to murder the inconveniently expensive, those whom the Nazis called “useless eaters,” the sick, the elderly, the disabled. We reach down for higher truths when we create markets for housing in order to exploit for profit the homelessness of the poor. We are foolish when we raise impregnable borders around the gifts we have been given , gifts given to us so that we might witness freely to God’s abundance. We do foolish things because we believe we are God, and so, we must be commanded by Love Himself to love. But surely this is no hardship. Difficult, yes. But not impossible. With Love all things are possible.

Read in entirety...

Domine, da mihi hanc aquam...: Reaching down for higher things

One Small Step for Baby...

Some Federal Judges can actually do good things for mankind.

Federal judge rules sixth grader can wear pro-life t-shirts to school

Saturday, October 25, 2008

O Say, Can You See?

At Mass tonight, I had the privilege of watching a newly baptized, uniform-clad marine receive his first Holy Communion. I kept wondering how he'd remember this moment as he serves out his tour in Afghanistan; one he leaves for in a few short days. He was obviously motivated to receive the sacraments now, rather than wait. He is wise.

This marine made choices based upon a real world and real issues that must be confronted. Vital in every way is our own call to be faithful citizens as is articulated yet again in another brilliant piece written by Cardinal Rigali ...

Throughout our history, Catholics have earned their right to call themselves patriotic Americans. Faithful citizenship not only includes dying for one’s country or working towards its prosperity, it also includes being faithful to a law which is higher than the expediency of the moment with the same generosity of body and heart, and the same courage that is given on the battlefield and in the workplace. We remind ourselves of this as we continue to be called to faithful citizenship and respect for life in the “earthly city” without forgetting that we are ultimately called to live as citizens of heaven forever.

Read the article in entirety,

The Catholic Standard & Times

Why Dogs Hate Halloween

Scripture Synod Concludes

Here's a little synopsis of the close of the Scripture synod that's been taking place over the last few weeks with the Pope and Synod Bishops in Vatican City. I found the following quote to be noteworthy given the exponential growth of technology and the way we receive our news...

“The Word of God must travel the roads of the world, which today also include those of electronic, televisual and virtual communication. The Bible must enter into families ... schools and all cultural environments. ... Its symbolic, poetic and narrative richness makes it a sign of beauty, both for the faith and for culture itself, in a world often disfigured by ugliness and brutality.”

Read the full article here...

Bishops close Synod with poetic message on the Word of God

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Psalm 92

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,

to sing praises to Thy Name, O Most High;

to declare Thy steadfast love in the morning,

and Thy faithfulness by night,

to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.

For thou, O Lord, hast made me glad by Thy work;

At the works of Thy hands, I sing for joy. Ps 92: 1-4

This Music Is Made in Heaven

A funny thing happened to me as I was prepping some funeral music. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Gregorian Chant and I listen to it with rapt attention and awe at its eloquence and spiritual clarity. Nonetheless, it is one thing to listen to chant and it is quite another to learn it. Not only is latin a foreign language to me, but the notes do not follow a standard rhythmic meter that we are used to in the likes of all other post 1974 liturgical works. This took some getting used to. After a rough go thru with my Music Director, I packed it up for homework. As I muddled through later on it I noticed that even though it did not make much original rhythmic sense, it started to make a profound poetic sense. The phrases are long and glorious. The breathing requires labor - it is quite aerobic! The text is rich and complex. The beauty of the melody is evident because it literally makes your heart soar. I noticed that anytime God or Christ is mentioned, the notes travel upwards. It is hard to articulate this very well because it is "sensate". There is an emotional quality in this type of music that draws you in and elevates you to the supernatural realm. A man who did articulate it well is noted in the below link which you should read. The last thing I'll say about this tonight is that this entire subject needs deeper drilling and therefore I will apply some effort in the subsequent posts about our "sensational" liturgy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oct 22, 1949

October 22, 1949 was the day that Jack Iles married Gwendolyn Phillips in Columbiaville, Michigan. My parents would have celebrated their 59th Wedding Anniversary. As it stands, Dad went on to his eternal reward on my Mom's Birthday in March of 2007. Suffice it to say, he was out of gift ideas? (Oh that was bad...but he would have loved it.) My parents are wonderful people. In mom's later trials with Altzheimer's, Dad completely took over as her caretaker. This was a complete role-reversal since it was always Mom who handled all of the domestic activity for our family. For a man who never diapered a baby, he more than made up for any lost time in helping his wife. [There is balance in the universe!] They took care of each other. I am so grateful for my folks; for giving me life and for sticking it out. What great examples you have been to me.

I love you both.

Let There Be Light

Church work makes for interesting a newly minted Liturgist, (not to mention a pretty "green" Catholic) I get to learn many things in my capacities working at our parish. Not the least of them are the things that demand a great deal of attention in a very short expanse of time.

I've learned that it's usually not good news that your pastor is going to deliver when he greets you at your car door at 7am. The last time it happened, the baptismal font had been overflowing for several hours causing a deluge the likes of which Noah would have been familiar. I figure God was up to something by blessing the church proper, not to mention the courtyard, with holy water. It took several weeks for Father to come round on that way of thinking.

This Sunday, the power was out. Father rightfully declared that the Mass must go on and that we would celebrate in 15th century style which was actually kind of cool. All of us that normally use microphones have big mouths anyways, so this presented no challenge. As a liturgist, I also have learned that simple is good. Less is more. After all, Mass will happen in spite of our best efforts to destroy it. We began the liturgy as scheduled and as I was comfy-ing into our candlelit prayer, Father wisecracked about how many Catholics it took to screw in a lightbulb (answer, none...Catholics use candles). We completed the Opening prayer and belted out the Gloria. Then, as the final note resonated, guess what? Power returned. Alleliuia! What amazing timing! Just like the Easter Vigil. Thanks God. Oh but wait, there's more. The prayer directly following goes something like this: "Lord, source of power and inspiration..." Needless to say, the church erupted with laughter and after most composure was regained, we carried on without incodent (except for that very unmistakeable part where Father says the words of consecration and the bread and wine become the body and blood of our Lord!)

We needed the little miracle? Maybe. We needed a laugh? Perhaps. We needed a reminder of What and Who God is? Absolutely. He IS the source of all power and inspiration. Nothing is possible without His power. We are creatures who are completely dependent upon His grace at every moment. And if that grace were withdrawn for one fraction of an instant, we would be snuffed out of existence quicker than you can say 'Bob's your uncle'.

There was also a subtext to the power restoration and this is my take on it: Sometimes we need to experience a bit of woe, to truly appreciate a blessing. We don't appreciate light so much, if we've never been in the dark (see prodigal son). We can't know the joy of finding something lost unless it's gone missing in the first place (see Mary and Joseph finding Jesus in the temple). We can't be grateful penitents unless we've been soul sick (see "he who is forgiven much, loves much" St. Mary Magdalene).

And not three minutes ago, my teenager reported that his long lost retainer had been found (yet again!) on the dirt road 200 yards from our driveway. The expensive little thing is thankfully like a bad penny.

Tony Tony please come 'round. Something's lost that must be found. (thanks-I owe you, big time).

God writes straight with crooked lines. I am grateful for all the little miracles He allows me to see even when I need to take a U-turn to see them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A theory on why we are stupid

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895? This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal. 8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS - 1895
Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas .
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour) [Do we even know what this is??]

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9 Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze,! raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacrit ical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco ..
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Gi ve the incl ination of the earth.
Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

All you discalced out there...

Happy Feast Day!
We celebrate our dear Saint and Friend in heaven...St. Teresa of Avila. I have great admiration for this true reformer:
A. She was feisty, tenacious & had an extraordinary sense of humor.
B. She didn't shy away from a good fight
C. She had her own share of trial and tribulation and rose to the occasion. Her virtue was heroic.
D. She was 'burdened' with good looks and had to weather the scandal of personal suitors even while in the convent
E. She would have fit in rather nicely here in 2008; ergo, her lessons bear a timeless quality that we can still learn from.
F. She loved the Lord with heart, mind and soul.

"If you want me to rest,
I desire it for love;
If to labor,
I will die working:
. . . Calvary or Tabor give me,
Desert of fruitful land;
As Job in suffering
Or John at Your breast;
Barren or fruited vine,
Whatever be Your will:
What do you want of me?"

And one for the road...

Everything obtains.
Who possesses God
Nothing wants.
God alone suffices."

St. Teresa, pray for us.

The point of all this...

If a society endeavors to kill off certain of its members because they are inconvenient...

What is the point of healthcare?
What is the point of renewable energy sources?
What is the point of lower taxes?
What is the point of education?
What is the point of gun control?
What is the point of understanding climate change?
What is the point of a bank bailout?
What is the point of bigger or smaller government?
What is the point of any of the amendments to the Constitution?
What is the point of litmus-testing justices
What is the point of clean elections, voting or even dangling chads?

If a society endeavors to kill any of its members - especially its most vulnerable...


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Voices lifted...

Prayer of the day...

I love you God, my strength. Glory to You, O Christ, my life, my consistency, origin of my friendship with all those you have me meet along the way.

And then there is this...

In times of happiness, enjoy faith;
In times of trial, exercise faith.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Scripture Synod for the Bible Student

Thank you Jeff Cavins for creating, a site dedicated to providing the latest news and information on the upcoming Synod: “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”

Synod of Bishops October 2008

The XII Ordinary General Assembly, THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH was convoked by Pope Benedict XVI on October 6, 2006. The synod will convene October 2008.
The Synod proposes to:

1. Reverently contemplate this mystery of the Word, God’s greatest gift, to render thanks for it, to meditate upon it and to proclaim it to all members of the Church and all people of good will.
2. Spread and strengthen encounters with the Word of God by thoroughly examining its doctrinal underpinnings and allowing them to show the manner in which this is to be done
3. Help the faithful understand what the Bible is, why it is there, how beneficial it is to the faith and how to use it properly and apply it to everyday life
4. Renew listening to the Word of God, in the liturgy and catechesis, specifically through lectio divina, duly adapted to various circumstances; and to offer a Word of consolation and hope to the poor of the world.
5. Set forth the intrinsic connection between the Eucharist and the Word of God, since the Church must receive nourishment from the one “bread of life from the table of both God's word and Christ's body.”

This is the Synod’s underlying purpose and primary goal, namely, to fully encounter the Word of God in Jesus the Lord, present in the Sacred Scriptures and the Eucharist. ~Lineamenta

What is a Synod?
A "synod" is a ecclesiastical gatherings under hierarchical authority of the clergy, with or without the laity, for the discussion and decision of matters relating to faith, morals, or discipline.Canon Law acknowledges two types of synods: the Synod of Bishops and the Diocesan Synod. Ecumenical and particular councils, although not called by the name, are also synods.

Who will attend this Synod of Bishops?
The Synod will be attended by:
Pope Benedict XVI
Over 250 Bishops chosen from different regions of the world
Those Bishops From the United States:
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the U.S. Episcopal Conference
Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, Vice President of the Conference
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, Texas
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C..
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, were named alternate delegates.
Auditors: Those men and women considered guests in addition to the bishops.

When will the synod take place?
October 5-26, 2008

What is the official language of the synod?
Latin is the official language of the Synod, but only a few talks are given in that language. The language used more frequently, however, is English. Yet since the not all of the bishops speak English, there will be many translators present and translating all the talks in the Synod simultaneously.

How will the public be informed about the synod?
The Vatican publishes daily bulletins in five languages (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish) which summarize all the talks of the Synod. There are also regular "Briefings" in all five languages which follow plenary meetings. Along with those areas of communication, different members of the Synod will conduct a press conference once a week.

What happens after a synod?
Following the Synod, Pope Benedict will be given a set of “propositions” which arose from all the talks in the Synod. The Pope will then write an Apostolic Letter with respect to all that which was discussed. It is typical to see that Apostolic Letter published a year after the conclusion of the Synod.


"Lord help me know what to do, then give me the courage to do it. "

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Many years ago, Indian youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees, bright with flowers. There he fasted. But on the third day, as he looked up at the surrounding mountains, he noticed one tall, rugged peak, capped with dazzling snow.

I will test myself against that mountain, he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders, and set off to climb the peak.

When he reached the top he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, he saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke:

"I am about to die,' said the snake. 'It is too cold for me up here and I am freezing. There is no food and I am starving. Put me under your shirt and take me down the valley."

"No,' said the youth. 'If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me."

"Not so,' said the snake. I will treat your differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you."

The youth rested awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake with beautiful markings. At last the youth tucked it under his shirt and carried it down to the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass, when suddenly the snake coiled, rattled, and leapt, biting him on the leg.

"But what about your promise?!", said the youth.

"You knew what I was when you picked me up," said the snake as it slithered away.

The legend above was conveyed to Norman Vincent Peale by old Iron Eyes Cody. You might remember Iron Eyes as the lone indian paddling a canoe down a polluted metropolitan river as part of the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign of the mid 1970s.

This story is a timeless illustration from an old indian legend. How often do I take the time to really explore my own conscience and if I do, what might I find there? Do I have one of those snakes with beautiful markings tucked away taking comfort in my pity, my seeming good nature, my addiction, or my laziness? Am I able to recognize the snake in the grass when I see it? And no, it probably will not go away if I ignore it.

Conscience, completely under-valued in our society, is a friend who is present not to rob us of our freedom, but to preserve it. Conscience is a clear reminder that snakes are snakes and if we pick them up and try to befriend them, they will bite us. True of our personal lives and truer still in the larger scheme of things in our nation. The polluted river may not be the only thing needing examination.

"You knew what I was when you picked me up..."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Biden Lies

In case you missed the Biden/Palin debate last night, here are the Biden lies:

Clarity is a good thing.

Dennis Prager : If There Is No God

Dennis Prager: Good for my soul.

Dennis Prager is one of America's most respected radio talk show hosts. He has been broadcasting on radio in Los Angeles since 1982. You can listen to him here on KKNT from 9-noon every day.

Dennis has engaged in interfaith dialogue with Catholics at the Vatican, Muslims in the Persian Gulf, Hindus in India, and Protestants at Christian seminaries throughout America. For ten years, he conducted a weekly interfaith dialogue on radio with representatives of virtually every religion in the world. New York's Jewish Week described Dennis Prager as "one of the three most interesting minds in American Jewish Life."

(Oh, he conducts symphonies too.) Here's a writing sample.

Dennis Prager :: :: If There Is No God

Tune in, you won't be disappointed.