Jul 8, 2006

Lucy and Kipling

Lucy was my spiritual Godmother. I adopted her in my late 20's because she quickly led me to a much fuller understanding of what a militant Catholic ought to be and do. She introduced me to The Wanderer and many other Catholic periodicals. She paid for me to attend a Catholic conference out of state. She sponsored several days of recollection led by good priests. She held a free banquet to celebrate Cardinal Mindszenty's anniversary. Lucy served the Church in ways too numerous to mention--many of which occurred after she turned 65.

Shortly before she died in her 80s, I knocked at her door. When she opened it, I gave her a bouquet of red roses. She looked puzzled and asked "Why?" I responded that she should receive roses before she died, not afterwards!

Lucy was the first one who spoke to me of the devilment coming to the Church after Vatican II. She knew her Church history and contemporary Churchmen, and predicted that a catastrophe was in the making. She said she would never see the restoration of the Church, and she was not sure that I would see it in my lifetime. Her death in the late 1970s was a great loss to Kansas City Catholics.

Lucy particularly liked the poems of Rudyard Kipling, an English poet of the early 20th century. One time we talked about the problem of "sexual freedom." She told me of The Ladies, a poem that continues to be remembered whenever I read or hear about men and women living together in sin.

Kipling's poem describes a British soldier who goes from woman to woman as he is stationed to different posts. The poem ends with the warning:

've taken my fun where I've found it,
An' now I must pay for my fun,
For the more you 'ave known o' the others
The less will you settle to one...

Jul 6, 2006

Hope, Hope, Even More Hope!

Fellow KC blogger, WolfTracker at http://kansascitycatholic.blogspot.com/, has quoted parts of a June 25 interview with the Sri Lanka Archbishop who was appointed late last year as secretary for the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship. As a member of the Roman Curia, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don supports a new reform of the post Vatican II liturgy which he admits had "negative results." In a supplementary news article at Catholic Exchange, the Archbishop states the Pope "is reflecting and we are waiting for his indications" regarding the expanded use of the pre-conciliar liturgy [i.e., the old Latin Mass].

It is no secret the indult Latin Mass communities are growing in Kansas City. A 6-page report recently distributed by the Kansas City, Kansas community documents the well-attended and very reverent daily Masses, 15+ hours of confessions offered each week, weekly Benediction, frequent processions, three recent vocations, almost three infant Baptisms per month, Catholic action in multiple ways, and regular community social events. Most importantly the Latin Mass Community of St. Philippine Duchesne served by the Fraternity of St. Peter has now grown to 374 children and 357 adult members. Think of that! More children than adults in a Catholic church! See their web site at www.latin-mass.org.

Great things are also happening in Kansas City, Missouri where Bishop Robert Finn has assumed the role of pastor of the Latin Mass community in his diocese. The Institute of Christ the King assists the Bishop in serving Old St. Patrick Oratory. This downtown church is now being rebuilt at some expense and hopes to reopen in early 2007. See http://www.oldstpatrick.org/ for a lot more information on their lively parish life. In particular, their color bulletins published before March of this year were the most beautiful I've seen and are still available on their web site.

Jul 3, 2006

Soup and Slop

Growing up on a small farm has given insights into much of life. For example, my siblings and I learned the difference between soup and slop.

We kept a slop bucket on the back porch. If we couldn't finish our meal, the remainder went into the slop bucket. By the time the slop bucket was full, it contained potato peelings, greens from carrot tops, cabbage leaves with worm holes, leftovers from three days ago, and old milk from the cow. Quite nutritious for pigs, but none of us kids would dare to eat it.

My grandmother prepared very tasty soups for her grandchildren. Soups are very nutritious. They can have most colorful and tantalizing ingredients. Almost everyone likes to eat at a restaurant with a chef who can make delicious soups. A good soup is one of the joys of this world.

So what is the difference between slop and soup? Really not much as far as ingredients goes--a little bit of water, vegetables, cheese, a small amount of meat. But there is a big, big dissimilarity!

Here are some examples of soups and slops in the modern world. Remember, they all consist of the same ingredients. A good book versus a pornographic one. An intelligent opinion versus a stupid statement. A virtuous woman versus a promiscuous one. Yes, some people can't tell the difference between soup and slop.


Many years ago, a man in Lawrence used to pay children one penny each for fireflys. He wanted to find out what made a firefly blink. Fortunately, fireflies were not exterminated and we still have them. This evening after it stopped raining, I worked to stack wood branches. In the glade between the trees, the fireflys blinked and blinked.

A firefly blink is somewhat like a turn signal on a car, or a flashing light on your phone. Even though it is very faint and some distance away, the blink of a small firefly attracts attention. Who can ignore fireflies?

Over the past 60 years, I've known a few good Catholic fireflies. They're shy individuals who don't shine very strongly or for very long, but their humble faith turns their light on regularly--like a firefly.

Faces of Men - Part III

I met Mr. P. on Highway W several years ago. I said to him without thinking, "God wants you in heaven." [Seriously, I've never done anything like this before or since.] Whether Mr. P. was surprised or not is not clear. We talked a lot after that and somehow I believed (and still do) that God has destined Mr. P. for great things--and I told him so.

Mr. P. revealed he had no faith because he had been raised a communist. He described his Christian heritage, but it was from several generations ago. His great grandmother wanted her son to become an orthodox priest, and the son was ready to leave for the seminary when he changed his mind. Eventually he became Mr. P.'s grandfather.

Mr. P. said he became acquainted with the Catholic faith while living in Washington, D.C. and attending the Catholic University. He became good friends with one of priests who had a nearby office. Occasionally he would be very lonely and would go into the large Shrine dedicated to Mary. Mr. P. then moved to Kansas City with his wife.

Once Mr. P. saw me scrubbing stains from the carpet and said I reminded him of his mother. We became friends and talked almost daily. One day he told me he and his wife were extremely concerned over their daughter who was losing her hearing. He asked me to pray for her which I did. Then the other daughter, slightly older, began to lose her sight, and Mr. P. became frantic with worry.

After one weekend, Mr. P. revealed he had taken his two girls to an open Catholic church. There they lit candles. The younger daughter's hearing improved, but the older girl's eyesight became worse. Medical costs to identify and treat the problem reached thousands of dollars.

Mr. P. and I talked frequently because he was so distraught. One day the older daughter told her father she had promised to give up her eyesight if her younger sister's hearing was restored. Who the promise was made to was never discussed, but I assumed it was to God. When Mr. P. told me this, I immediately responded "Your daughters will both be fine. That kind of sacrifice will never be forgotten by God." And both daughters completely recovered their hearing and eyesight.

Mr. P. came to me crying one morning about four years ago. His wife had just told him she was going to divorce him. He had not observed certain signals that she was involved with another man. Mr. P. stayed with us for the first night after his wife got a court order preventing him from approaching their house.

The divorce was messy and expensive, much more so than others I've heard about. The two girls were quickly turned against their father by their mother, who had become pregnant with the other man's child. [No, this is NOT a soap opera!]

Mr. P. cried frequently and told me he thought he had lost his precious daughters forever. I assured him that his daughters, within a few years, would be very close to him. Young girls always love their father if he really cares for them, and Mr. P. cared very much for his two daughters.

Mr. P. kept asking why God was punishing him when he was really a good man. Even though I explained to him that he was a sinner like all men, he kept insisting he was a good man. His giant pride was also expressed in his relationships with others. This pride seemed to prevent Mr. P. from humbling himself and believing in God.

God took away almost all of Mr. P.'s pride over the next three years. About a year ago, I told him how much he had changed for the better. He now had a certain, very likable humility about himself. Mr. P. agreed that his personality had improved. He seemed to understand that the divorce and temporary loss of the affections of his children might have been God's way to change him. His daughters frequently tell Mr. P. they love him, which he relates to me with pride and joy.

Mr. P. has accepted a Bible (actually several, because a couple of other Christian people support him, too). I gave him a painting of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, that he seemed to like because it reminded him of his orthodox heritage. One day he came to church and was introduced to Fr. DM, but suddenly left before Mass began. I am not sure of the reason. Within the past couple of years, he has alternately attended Mass with a good friend of mind or alone (but not consistently). At times, he continues to argue with me that he is not a believer! Then he says something that indicates he does have a spark of faith.

Mr. P. looks for a new wife, but even though very handsome has not found one. Another friend and I tell him he is looking for a wife in the wrong places. He never takes his girls to church when he has custody of them. The mother is descended from Abraham and forbids the girls from entering a Catholic church.

What is Mr. P.'s destiny? Surely, God has plans for the great talents of Mr. P. More prayers are needed for Mr. P.'s future Christian life. Please pray now for the grace of full union of Mr. P. with the Triune God.

Jul 2, 2006

Faces of Men - Part II

I met Mr. S on Highway G several years ago. With the large crucifix around his neck I assumed Mr. S. was a Catholic. When we neared the end of Highway G, I asked him which parish he attended. He responded negatively. I sensed almost a horror in his response because I had mistakenly thought him to be a Catholic.

I explained that Catholics typically wore crucifixes, while Protestants wore crosses without the figure of Christ. He was eager to tell me why he was a Protestant who wore a crucifix. Mr. S. said he could not relate to the cross without the suffering Jesus. He said he too had suffered much pain in his life because of his sinful actions, and only after twenty years was trying to live a good life.

Our discussions continued for at least a half hour. We found common ground on a host of moral and faith issues. Mr. S. had many misconceptions about Catholicism, and virtually all of these misunderstandings were resolved. We were not to see each other again, but Mr. S. seemed well-disposed to future contacts with Catholics.

Faces of Men - Part I

I met Bill several months ago on Highway N when I was visiting Mrs. M. This week Bill seemed to be approaching death. He seemed thinner, his voice was difficult to hear, and his blue eyes had a hint of pearl in them. The room was very hot with the door closed, and no one seemed assigned to the other bed. Usually we talk about his hobby, butterflies, or other things, as I attempted to get to know him better.

Bill reads a lot, still using his mind as long as possible before his past life takes its ultimate revenge. He's always been honest, several times reminding me of the reason he has been reduced to such a condition. Perhaps he wants to make sure I know so that if I want to leave, I can.

This time I asked him about the one-piece wooden cross on the wall. His sister had given it to him. Further discussion led quickly to whether he was baptized. He had. To other questions, he added that a Protestant lady brought him communion. I explained that Catholics receive Jesus' body and blood in substance, but he could make a spiritual communion and that Jesus would hear him.

Dear Jesus, Who promised Dismas a place in heaven, please hear the prayers of Bill.

Pastoral Advice for Difficult Times

Many years ago I attended a Catholic conference in St. Louis. At that time, many of the parents in attendance were very concerned and even angry because their children in Catholic schools were receiving poor Christian instruction. Moreover, many of their parishes had poor liturgies and sponsored endeavors that were less than Catholic.

A Chancery official from the St. Louis Archdiocese was on the podium when a woman asked what people should do when they felt the Catholic faith of their family was in jeopardy. The Chancery official obviously was very leary of answering this question in the liberal heyday following Vatican II.

The priest hem-hawed around the question for several minutes--never answering it. The woman kept repeating her question, finally saying that she would not sit down until he answered her question. At this point, he reluctantly said to "Weigh all things and choose that which is good." That was very good pastoral advice and prepared me well to live through the next 35 years.

Curmudgeon's Controversies

I agree with Curmudgeon (see sidebar) when he says that everyone should play it straight with the Latin Mass people. Why NOT treat them in the same way as other churches in Wyandotte County?

The spiritual favors they have received surely results from God’s blessing on these good people and their chaplain. Are the originators of the anonymous posts criticizing Curmudgeon because he dares to defend his people? Or are they critical because they may have less to offer Kansas City Catholics than the priests who offer the Latin Mass?

Curmudgeon deleted some posts that included ad hominem attacks on past and current chaplains. The post-ers claimed that members of the the Latin Mass community are not entitled to be heard because the complaint file in the Chancery is so large. I’d like to know if the complainers that generated the file include the hundreds of people who attend the two Sunday Latin Masses and six weekday Masses? Or are they outsiders (both ultra-traditionalists and liberals) who are envious of the growth and vitality of the Latin Mass Community.

I understand Curmudgeon’s reasons for deleting the posts, but I think he should have left them for later readers. First, ad hominen posts give traditionalists a great opportunity to defend their own, and also to explain why this type of argument is fallacious. Second, blemished comments offer readers an insight into the minds of post-ers, information which is valuable.

For example, the originators of the deleted posts seem to believe the Latin Mass Community is a threat, if not their enemy. The originators of the deleted posts must want to avoid comparisons of church communities in Wyandotte County. Can they really ignore the well-developed sacramental and social life, daily opportunities for confessions, sermons based on the Gospel and especially lives of the saints, that have resulted in the high growth rate of the Community? Maybe they don't want to deal with their own problems. It’s always easier to focus on the perceived defects of someone else!

Curmudgeon, you charged ahead into the line of fire. (Are you sure you want to do this again?)