Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Why can't the Catholics teach their children how to sing?

This is really ridiculous. I customarily am in the choir loft of a Sunday morning, and have little opportunity to observe my fellow Mass-goers. However, this Sunday I was sitting in a pew like a real Catholic, and was appalled to see how few, how very few, mouths were moving during the procession, at offertory, and at the close of Mass. Why? WHY WHY WHY? It has always been my greatest gripe about choirs that they make a grand show of singing, or that they turn what should be a beautiful mode of worship into a production for everyone to applaud (horror!) at the end of Mass.

Now, I've dicovered a bigger gripe. Wny aren't the people sitting out there singing? I'm been labouring under the delusion for a year and a half that the choir sits in the loft and leads the singing, and that everyone in the pews follows the singing. If anything, we're there for backup. Not so, I've found, and I'm so very upset. I should look into this. It seems to me that there should be no one on earth more enthusiastic about singing in church, given the numerous biblical recommendations for such activity, especially in the psalms. Why aren't we singing?

I will wager every A I got this semester (okay, and every B-minus) that there are as many Catholics out there not singing at Mass, as there are Protestants who are singing in their own churches on Sunday. The argument has been posited to me in the past, of course, that the Protestants have stripped so much from their worship, especially as regards the liturgy, that they have nothing left to do but sing, so why wouldn't they? I think there's a fallacy in that argument someplace. Just because we've still got the glory and the majesty and the wonder and the awe and the amazingness of the Catholic Church and all her teachings and liturgical traditions doesn't mean we should clam up. It doesn't mean we ought to use the offertory hymn as a brief period of organized noise, which conveniently masks a conversation with out neighbor about the lucidity of the homliy just delivered. No! I won't have it.

I'm typing too fast--there are probably mistakes all in this. More later...must run away and write more papers.

Friday, November 25, 2005


People read my blog? They leave comments on my blog?

Oh, my, goodness. Hey, everyone who read my blog! How are you?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Flying Solo

So, my friend Joseph spent yesterday morning walking around campus and saying, "Happy eucharist!" to everyone he met. Only the Greek scholars got the joke and smiled. Everyone else gave him the same blank, slightly puzzled look that I did.

Thanksgiving is being spent differently for me this year--I'm spending it with myself. Well, myself and about a dozen or so other students, but the main point is that I'm not spending it with my family. It's a holiday about gathering and cooking and eating and eating, doing things with your family, and setting aside everything else to just get along for a day. For my own family, it usually means doing a lot more eating than is probably healthy, seeing as how there are two complete sets of family to visit on The Day, each with it's own turkey, dressing, corn, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, dressing, stuffing, potatoes, bread, olives, salad, ham, slaw, onions, carrots, fruit salad, and pies of various denominations. (You never know.) This year, however, my family stayed at home. I stayed at school.

A friend of my mom's said, "Well, you know, we've not spent Thanksgiving with our oldest daughter in three years. It makes Christmastime that much more special." I've realy thought about that a lot in the past 24 hours, and I'll most likely think about it a bit more as the next four days go by. It makes the idea of being by oneself (meaning witout family--I've got an oddly talkative roommate and several other refugees in my room all the time) easier to bear. Christmas is my favorite time of year, something to look forward to starting in February at the latest, and I have a feeling that this one will be extra special. Advent is supposed to be a time of penance and preparation anyway, not one of partying, and this added sacrifice seems like an especially poignant way to start the season.

There's no huge shopping spree ahead for me. There's no Macy's Parade. There's not frantic drive over the hills and through the woods. There's not even the minor concern of making sure the dishes got washed and the cat litter gone clean out. There is only myself and the bowl I used to eat cereal this morning.

I like it.

I miss everyone, though, don't get me wrong. I miss my family and the stress-filled fun we have making dishes and precariously carting them over sundry mountains. I miss my classmates and their tales of home, of thanksgivings past. I miss the opportunity to have a turkey, and to name him Dilbert. Alone is not the preferred way to be on a major holiday whose focus is, according to Hallmark anyway, togetherness.

Time to go back the other direction. I like it. I think that spending this holiday by myself, as I probably will not ever do again in the entire course of my life, will teach me something about it. I also think that it will teach me something about Christmas, and looking forward to it with anticipation that has been flavored by a wait bereft of the teaser-show of Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping and decorating a tree.

All that said, I will admit that I've been listening to Christmas music for three days straight now, but then again most of it is in a foreign language so that doesn't count.

Eucharist is the greek word for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

That's it for this hour, folks, but before the break...

In this circumstance we turn our gaze in particular to the suffering and risen Christ. In taking on the human condition, the Son of God accepted to five it in all its aspects, including pain and death, fulfilling in his person the words he spoke at the Last Supper: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' (Jn 15:13). In celebrating the Eucharist, Christians proclaim and share in the sacrifice of Christ, for "by his wounds [we] have been healed' (cf. 1 Pt 2:24) and uniting themselves with him, "preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world's redemption, and can share this treasure with others" (Salvifici doloris, n. 27).

The imitation of Jesus, the suffering Servant, has led great saints and simple believers to turn their illnesses and pain into a source of purification and salvation for themselves and for others. What great prospects of personal sanctification and cooperation for the salvation of the world does the path marked out by Christ and by so many of his disciples open to our sick brothers and sisters! It is a difficult path, because the human being does not discover the meaning of suffering and death on his own, but it is always a possible path with the help of Jesus, interior Master and Guide (cf. Salvifici doloris, nn. 26-27).

Just as the Resurrection transformed Christ's wounds into a source of healing and salvation, so for every sick person the light of the risen Christ is a confirmation that the way of fidelity to God can triumph in the gift of self until the Cross and can transform illness itself into a source of joy and resurrection. Is not this the proclamation that echoes in hearts at every Eucharistic celebration when the people proclaim: "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again"? The sick, also sent out as labourers into the Lord's vineyard (cf. Christifideles laici, n. 53), by their example can make an effective contribution to the evangelization of a culture that tries to remove the experience of suffering by striving to grasp its deep meaning with its intrinsic incentives to human and Christian growth.

~Joannes Paulus II
From Castel Gandolfo, 6 August 1999, the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Taken from:

L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
25 August 1999

Friday, November 18, 2005

Now what, God?

A listener to the show has written in, telling us of a dear family friend who is dying of cancer. Diagnosed as skin cancer in August, futher study soon revealed that the extent of the disease was much more widespread. After only three months the cancer has spread to the brain and every method of treatment has so far proved unaffected. What, says the listener, are we supposed to think, to say, or to do? Why is this happening, and how on earth are we going to deal with it? I went to the producer with the letter and shared it with him. His comment was the following:

"Our Blessed Lord was proving himself to be the only one who ever came into
the world to die. The cross was not something that came at the end of his life;
it was something that hung over him since the very beginning."
(Life of

Hmm. He's enigmatic that way sometimes. But, I think I understand where he was going. We come into this world to live, says the Producer, and the purpose of that life is to know, love, and serve God, and to be then happy with Him in heaven. However, we are also called to enter into the spirit of suffering of Jesus Christ, to take up His cross in our own lives by taking up our own 'crosses,' be they roommates, directors, marketing people, or the guy in the truck next to you whose music is really a bit much. Some are called to embrace that cross more fully than others, in the sense that their cross is much more intimately tied up with the death of the cross, rather than the life of it. There are those who teach us great lessons abour grace and about faith, but they do so in their deaths rather than in their lives. Those are the ones whose deaths are visible, prepared for, and agonizingly real for all those involved with it. It's an experience to learn from.

However, I remain at a loss as to what I can really tell the listener. This all sounds nice, but at the end of the day you are still left with a dying friend, a grieving family, and a fist one can but shake at God in frustration. Does theological babble really help? Does knowing that redemptive suffering exists really help? No. You're stuck here, you don't know what to do or say, and you can only watch. I feel for the listener, I reach out to them, but I'm helpless.

This is oddly familiar to me, though. It was exactly this time a year ago that another listener, from an older show of ours, went through this very thing. His friend was diagnosed with cancer, dying barely two months later. What could I say? Nothing. What could I do? Nothing. One can pray, and wait, and be patient, and do a lot of listening.

Good luck, listener. We're praying for you.

China Arrests Priests and Seminarians


Chinese authorities have arrested a priest and 10 seminarians from that nation's underground Roman Catholic Church, a Vatican-affiliated news agency said Friday.

President Bush, who is due to visit China as part of an eight-day trip to Asia, called on China's leadership this week to give the public more religious freedom and other liberties.

The Rev. Yang Jianwei and the seminarians were detained Nov. 12 in Xushui City in Hebei province, a traditional stronghold of Catholic sentiment in northern China, AsiaNews reported.
Six of the seminarians were released later, but Yang and the four others remain in police custody, it said.

Calls to local police seeking confirmation of the report went unanswered late Friday.
The latest arrests apparently came shortly after security forces detained Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, 70, from the non-government controlled Catholic church for the eighth time in two years, a U.S.- based monitoring group said Nov. 10.

Government agents took the elderly bishop from his home in the northern city of Zhengding on Wednesday, according to the Cardinal Kung Foundation.

A day earlier, police also detained two other priests from Jia's diocese, the Rev. Li Suchuan and the Rev. Yang Ermeng, it said.

Religious groups say Jia has been repeatedly detained over his refusal to affiliate himself with the Communist Party-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association, which rejects Vatican authority over issues such as the naming of bishops.

China broke ties with the Vatican in 1951 and demands that Catholics worship only in churches approved by a state-controlled church group that does not recognize the pope's authority.
Worship is allowed only in government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops.

Many Chinese Catholics, however, remain loyal to the Vatican and risk arrest by worshipping in unofficial churches and private homes. They are frequently harassed, fined and sometimes sent to labor camps.

The government's Catholic church claims 4 million believers. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, a U.S.-based religious monitoring group, says the unofficial church of Chinese loyal to Rome has 12 million followers.

Pope Benedict XVI has been reaching out to Beijing in a bid to bring all Chinese Catholics under Rome's wing. China has said it would like better relations with the Holy See, but it wants the Vatican to cut its diplomatic ties to Taiwan.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Tempest

At least, I think it's fun. See what happens when a little wind invades your office....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

some thoughts...

* For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. (H L Mencken)

* Every decision you make is a mistake. (Edward Dahlberg)

* Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits. (Robert Louis Stephenson)

* Only one thing is certain - that is, nothing is certain. If this statement is true, it is also false. (AncientParadox)

* Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. (Will Rogers)

* There is nothing more requisite in business than dispatch. (Joseph Addison)

* There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.(Goethe)

* A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

* Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. (Henry Ford)

* If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking. (George Patton)

* Those who agree with us may not be right, but we admire their astuteness. (Cullen Hightower)

* Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. (SunTzu)

* Planning without action is futile; action without planning is fatal. (Unknown)

* The general who wins the battle makes many calculations inhis temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations before hand. (Sun Tzu)

* Confidence is what you feel before you comprehend the situation. (Proverb)

* A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. (Mitch Ratliffe)

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Around the world, final preparations are being made for the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. The annual celebration on the 10th of November is an integral part of the customs and traditions of one of the elite military organizations in the world. However, this was not always the case. Before 1921, the birthday of the Marine Corps was celebrated on July 11. During the American Revolution, American Marines had distinguished themselves, but at the close of the war the Marine Corps was all but disbanded.

On July 11, 1798, President John Adams approved legislation that created the U.S. Marine Corps. It was against this backdrop that a Marine historian, Major Edwin McClellan and Major General John A. Lejeune, one of the Corps' greatest Commandants, set in motion the annual birthday observances that Marines have grown to cherish over the past 84 years. On October 21, 1921, Major McClellan, then the Corps' chief historian, sent a memorandum to General Lejeune that would forever change the way Marines celebrate their proud heritage. McClellan suggested that the original birthday of the Corps, the date the Continental Congress authorized raising two battalions of Marines in 1775, be celebrated throughout the Corps. The suggestion made sense to General Lejeune and, on November 1, 1921, he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 21.

The order summarized the history, mission, and traditions of the Corps. The Commandant directed that it be read to every command each subsequent year on November 10 in memory of that resolution of the Continental Congress. On October 28, 1952, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Lemuel C. Shephard, Jr., directed the celebration of the Marine Corps birthday be formalized throughout the Corps, and provided an outline for a cake-cutting ceremony.

This outline was incorporated in the Marine Corps Drill Manual approved January 26, 1956. Thus, on November 10 each year around the world where U.S. Marines are serving, there will be a commemoration including the reading of Marine Corps Order No. 47 and an annual message from the current Commandant.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Joy is not the same as pleasure or happiness. A wicked and evil man may have pleasure, while any ordinary mortal is capable of being happy. Pleasure generally comes from things, and always through the senses; happiness comes from humans through fellowship. Joy comes from loving God and neighbor. Pleasure is quick and violent, like a flash of lightning. Joy is steady and abiding, like a fixed star. Pleasure depends on external circumstances, such as money, food, travel, etc. Joy is independent of them, for it comes from a good conscience and love of God. (Fulton J. Sheen)

Monday, November 07, 2005

The director speaks...

I've decided that a little work needed to be done on this radio show, so here it is. Below are two rather self-explanatory posts, which I suggest you read, as they are most interesting.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is now the official 'mascot' of the show, and under the title "Servant of God" is our patron. Hopefully I'll be able to legally post some excerpts from his writings at a later date. However, legality must be adhered to above all--of all the people in the world, that wonderful man knew how the publishing world worked, and he'll understand.

Until then, buy the books. They're all really good. Really.

Director, Midnight Radio Productions

Prayer for the Cause of Bishop Sheen's Canonization

Heavenly Father, source of all good and all holiness, You reward those who love and serve You faithfully as Your sons and daughters. If it pleases You, I ask You to glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen. He touched countless lives by his ministry of evangelization, especially through the media. His clear and courageous teachings about Jesus and the truths of the Catholic Church seemed to possess a special power of the Holy Spirit that strengthened the faithful and inspired many converts to embrace the Faith. He supported the needs of missionaries all over the world through his work in the National Office for the Propagation of the Faith. He also labored zealously for the renewal of the Priesthood by preaching retreats to his brother priests and by encouraging them with the good example of his daily Eucharistic Holy Hour. His deep personal love of Our Lady moved many others to go to Jesus through His Mother.
Heavenly Father, if it be according to Your Divine Will, I ask You to move Your Church to glorify Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen. I ask this prayer confidently in Jesus' Name. Amen.

The Producer is introduced...

1895–Born on May 8th in El Paso, Illinois, the oldest of four sons of Newton and Delia Fulton Sheen though he was baptized Peter John, throughout his life he was known by his mother’s maiden name, Fulton. After his baptism, his mother dedicated him to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a dedication he himself renewed at his First Holy Communion. He lived with his family for a time on a farm outside Peoria, Illinois.

1900–His family moved to Peoria in order that young Fulton could enroll in St. Mary’s Cathedral [Parochial] School. He often served Mass at the Cathedral.

1909–He attended High School at the Spalding Institute in Peoria staffed by the Brothers of Mary.

1917–He attended St. Viator’s College, Bourbonnais, Illinois, and later St. Paul’s Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

1919–On September 20th, Fulton Sheen was ordained a “Priest forever” for the Diocese of Peoria. At the time of his Priestly Ordination, he made his famous promise to make a “Eucharistic Holy Hour” which he kept faithfully for the rest of his life.

1920–After ordination he began two years of postgraduate studies in Theology at Catholic University in Washington D.C., and another year at the University of Louvain in Belgium.

1923–He attended further theological classes at the Sorbonne in Paris and the Angelicum in Rome.

1923–He returned to the University of Louvain where he became the first American to receive the Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy as well as attain-ing the “Aggrage” degree with outstanding distinction.

1925–He spent 9 months working in St. Patrick’s, an inner city parish in Peoria.

1926–He began teaching Theology, then Philosophy and Religion at Catholic University in Washington DC. He was to remain there till 1950. He also began local radio broadcasting in the New York area.

1930–He began his national radio broadcast, “The Catholic Hour” which continued for some 22 years, reaching an estimated four million listeners.

1934–He became a Very Rev. Monsignor.

1935–He is made Right Rev. Monsignor.

1950–He become the National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith supervising 129 diocesan directors throughout the country. He held this position till 1966.

1951–He was consecrated a Bishop in Rome by Cardinal Piazza in the Church of Sts. John & Paul on June 11, 1951.In the Fall of 1951 he began his famous television series entitled, “Life is Worth Living”. It eventually reached an estimated 30 million viewers each week. He won an Emmy Award for “Most Outstanding Television Personality” in 1952. His series ran with great success till 1957.

1962–He attended all of the Vatican Council sessions in Rome, ending in 1965.

1966–He was named Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, New York on October 26th.

1969–He resigned as Bishop of Rochester. As he said, “I am not retiring, only retreading”. Pope Paul VI named him Archbishop of the Titular See of Newport (Wales). The Archbishop remained relatively active, spending last years of his life chiefly in writing and preaching.

1979–On October 3rd, the Archbishop experienced one of the greatest moments of his life when Pope John Paul II embraced him in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, The Holy Father said to him, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You are a loyal son of the Church!”. On December 9th God called the Archbishop from this life to his eternal reward.

2000–On September 14th, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints officially opened the Cause of Archbishop Sheen, and conferred on him the title “Servant of God”.


Because of a minor infraction, a shipmate of mine aboard the USS Reeves, bound for Japan, was busted one rank, fined and given extra duty for three weeks. Looking forward tocelebrating his 21st birthday on July 22, he consoled himself every night during his extra duty by reciting, "They can bust me, they can fine me -- but they can't take away my birthday."

As July 22 approached, his excitement increased. When he went to bed on July 21, he happily repeated,"They can bust me, they can fine me -- but they can't take away my birthday."

The next morning, he found out that the ship had crossed the international date line -- and it was July 23.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Saturday, November 05, 2005

...wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.

So, I've gone and joined the Chess Ladder here at school. If you've heard of one, skip this paragraph. If you haven't heard of one, you might need to skip this paragraph anyway, because my explanations of things are worth about as much as a necktie in a herpetologist's office. A chess ladder is a thing where you sign up, play other people, and win or lose points based on whether you win or lose the game. You move up or down the ladder according to how many points you have.

I'm at the bottom.

Well, that's not strictly true. I'm fourth from the bottom, but that's only because there are three people who have lost more games than I have. I had one win to my name. And one almost win. And one total shocker of a loss, seeing as how the winner nearly had a heart attack when he realized that I had one. It was funny.

The problem with me playing chess, though, is that I can't. My ability to strategize and be crafty is worth about as much as a...well, never mind. Besides, I can't even tell how many innings there are, and there is not a quarterback to be found among my pieces. How do they expect me to play any game without a quarterback? Anyway, I'm on a quest to find someone who is even worse at chess than I am.

This could take a while.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

See Hamlet run. Run, Hamlet, run.

Oh, my word. This really is funny. Kudos to Mark at TPT for finding it first...