Dec 28, 2007

Worldwide Interest in Local Priest

I am amazed at the places from which people have googled the name of "Msgr. Heliodore Mejak" of Holy Family Church in Kansas City, KS to reach a short biography of his life. Msgr. Mejak died just before midnight on Christmas Eve after becoming ill the previous Thursday. The 98-year old priest was the oldest active pastor in the U.S. and likely in the entire world. Here are some of the locations of computers that searched for news about Msgr. Mejak in the past 22 hours:
  1. Tokamaru, New Zealand
  2. Englewood, Colorado
  3. Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  4. Wallingford, Connecticut
  5. Lexington, Kentucky
  6. Silver Spring, Maryland
  7. Hermosa Beach, California
  8. Pueblo Nuevo, Chiriqui, Panama
  9. Mansfield, Ohio
  10. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  11. Flower Mound, Texas
  12. Pompano Beach, Florida
These "search from" computer locations are in addition to many local searches for Msgr. Mejak from Olathe, Shawnee, Lenexa, Prairie Village, Overland Park, Topeka, Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri.

The body of Msgr. Mejak will be able to be viewed and he can be prayed for in his parish, Holy Family Church, on Sunday afternoon, December 30, from 2 pm to 6 pm, with the rosary to be said at 5:00 pm. The funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 am on Monday, December 31, at the same church. Msgr. Mejak's body will be buried in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Kansas City, KS.

Kiddie, Kiddie, Bang, Bang!

One of our daughters contributed the idea for this post. She told me that families with more than four children evoke a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang reaction when people stare at their families. Some people look at the children with wide-open surprise, but other individuals continue to question large families with slightly raised eyebrows.

In the 1968 move, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang , there is a scene where the townspeople of Vulgaria stare wide eyed at Jeremy and Jemima Potts, who with their father are trying to find their kidnapped Grandpa. The people stare at the children because their town has no children, not one! Children are banned in Vulgaria because Baroness Bomburst finds children disgusting. The plot includes an evil Child-Catcher (China? Planned Parenthood?) and is relevant today.

Our children's large families have encountered similar stares. When one daughter takes all her well-disciplined (mostly!) young children with her to the grocery store, she is asked whether they are all hers. While visiting his wife in the maternity ward of a hospital, my son-in-law is questioned on whether the new baby is the last one. [He quickly answered that he might need more substitutes for his sports team!]

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stare should be called the Kiddie, Kiddie, Bang, Bang! stare, and it's even been encountered in Catholic churches. One of our children's family stopped for Sunday Mass while on vacation in another state. When they entered the large church, many of the congregation stared openly at them. As they looked around, they saw only one other person in church was less than five years old. So it was not surprising that the old people looked in wonder at all the little kids entering the church with their two parents.

The same situation happened to another daughter. The church was quite large and in a wealthy neighborhood, but there were extremely few children. My daughter actually felt somewhat uncomfortable because her large and young family stood out as so different from the rest of the older Mass-goers.

One local Catholic parish approaches death because the parishioners are mostly elderly. One large family visited this parish and easily stood out from the rest of the many much older Mass attendees. The family was eagerly approached after Mass with a specific invitation to become parishioners. The inviting parishioner was somewhat disappointed to hear that the visiting family was a member of a Kansas City community with the old Latin Mass.

The National Center for Health Statistics says the fertility rate in the U.S. has jumped to its highest level since 1962, when the " baby boom" ended. Many of the births are due to new young immigrants, but some appear to be the result of individual citizen concerns that our country and families will die without more children being born. I was surprised and elated that USA Today's article on the increasing birthrate correctly emphasizes:
A high fertility rate is important to industrialized nations. When birthrates are low, there are fewer people to fill jobs and support the elderly.
May these valid concerns increase and result in larger families.

Dec 27, 2007

Concert to Benefit Benedictines of Mary

The 14 nuns of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, will receive all the proceeds from two Kansas City/St. Joseph concerts by Carlos Ibay. The talented musical artist is described as:
Sings like Pavarotti.
Plays like Chopin.
Totally Blind.
The concert schedule is:
501 S 10TH ST.
ST. JOSEPH, MO 64501

Cost is $25 per person and checks should be made payable to the Benedictines of Mary to help them build their permanent Priory in Gower, MO. Read more about their activities and the two scheduled concerts in the sister's most recent newsletter. I'm impressed with their initiative; they also write a blog that has pictures of their new tractor, "Brother Phil."

Dec 26, 2007

Msgr. Heliodore Mejak

dustiam received an email this evening and is glad to comply.

Dear Wolftracker and dustiam,
Msgr. Mejak died on Christmas morning and I thought one of you might print a little of the history that is shown at the bottom of this page. He and his Holy Family school "kept the faith" during difficult times in the 1970's, and provided a refuge for many traditional Catholics in Kansas City. Funeral arrangements are not known at this time.
Mary Ann Grelinger

Fr. Heliodore N. Mejak

The longest serving pastor of an active parish in the world was Msgr. Heliodore Mejak (May’-yock), who died December 25, 2007. At age 98, he continued to say Mass seven days a week in the Slovenian parish of Kansas City, KS that he has served since 1944, six bishops ago[1]. Msgr. Mejak was a do-it-all pastor, and was very proud that his parish had no paid employees and was staffed entirely by volunteers.

Until shortly before his death, he prepared the weekly bulletin, managed the finances of the parish, and until injured several years ago while maintaining the church boilers, was the parish handyman and lawnkeeper. His mind seemed as sharp as it was when he graduated first in his Catholic High School class and subsequently first in his class at St. Benedict’s College. With advancing age, his poor eyesight required daily memorization of the changeable parts of the Mass.

Fr. Mejak (he disdained any title except Father) welcomed many families who sought an oasis during the rampages of Modernism, and wanted to avoid sex education in the Catholic schools, irregular and irreverent liturgies, and flawed Catholic education. These faithful families fled their old parishes to insure their children received an excellent Catholic education, including daily Mass, weekly Benediction, and at least four opportunities for monthly Confession.

Holy Family Church boasts a centered tabernacle, communion rail, statues, Stations of the Cross, and altar boys. A beautiful stained glass window of the Nativity of Jesus Christ was photographed to become a Hallmark® Christmas card. Fr. Mejak made no apologies for his traditional Catholicism. He was the last priest in the archdiocese to continue offering the old Latin Mass after Vatican II had installed the Novus Ordo. In the 1980s, he continued to hope that he would again be allowed to offer the old Latin Mass again at Holy Family church.

Our children attended Holy Family School (that he built during his time as pastor) and said Fr. Mejak carefully reviewed each report card before giving it to a student. Poor grades would make his deep voice even more impressively somber, and good grades would receive favorable comments that students knew were deserved. Fr. Mejak’s commitment and donations kept the elementary school tuition one of the lowest in the diocese.

Holy Family Elementary School was one of the last Catholic grade schools in the Archdiocese to be staffed with Catholic nuns in full habits (School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King, Lemont, IL). The school was integrated with St. John the Baptist School in the 1990s and Fr. Mejak worked diligently to keep the small school open until Fall 2007 when St. John/Holy Family School was integrated with and moved to St. Peter Cathedral School.

This deep voiced and gruff speaking priest with a slight stutter was a super Grand Father whose special delight was small children—searching for them, talking to them, playing with them, and laughing with them. At the communion rail, babies and small children always appeared for Father’s blessing and wide smile.

When we joined Holy Family parish, Fr. Mejak took us to his basement to show our five children his replicas of old trains and all his tools. He explained that he constructed his trains by hand using old photographs and drawings. Once, a thief broke into the rectory and stole the trains; needless to say, the police quickly recovered them, much to Fr. Mejak’s relief—as he had spent years constructing the individual gears, wheels, and engines.

Born in Rijeka along the Adriatic coast in 1909, Fr. Mejak immigrated to the U.S. as a 3-year old. Bad luck began in New York when all their belongings were either lost or stolen. His tailor father died when Fr. Mejak was 9, and his mother worked as a seamstress in their home to support the four children. The backyard had chickens and a vegetable garden, but the Mejak home had no electricity. So 15-year old Fr. Mejak installed electrical wire and fixtures throughout the house, and helped his Mother to paper and paint the walls and enlarge the basement.

The young priest-to-be attracted the attention of Father Koch, who arranged for Fr. Mejak to attend Catholic High tuition-free with used, donated books. One of the jobs of the young student was to work after school until 9 p.m. in a dental laboratory. Then he attended late classes at a public high school to study architectural drawing, after which he walked a couple of miles hom--after eleven at night. In one of his last sermons, Fr. Mejak remembered one of his summer jobs when he took a cheese sandwich to work. His employer saw the cheese sandwich and asked the young boy if he was a Catholic. When the reply was yes, the young student was fired. In spite of a rigorous schedule of learning and working, Fr. Mejak garnered yearly gold medals for academic performance and graduated from Catholic high in Kansas City, KS as Valedictorian in 1927. A scholarship is now presented in Msgr. Heliodore Mejak’s name at the renamed Bishop Ward High School.

His four years at St. Benedict’s College again showed his intelligence and zeal. His roommate was a Croatian student from Kansas City, KS, who also became a priest, Rev. Msgr. Stanley J. Loncaric (1909-2006). Fr. Loncaric would be sent to the rural parishes of Miami County, KS, while Rev. Msgr. Mejak would serve Kansas City, KS.

Ordinarily, the first ranked graduating student to enter the seminary would be sent to Rome for study, but because Fr. Mejak was not yet an American citizen, Bishop Johannes feared he would be drafted into the Italian Army (Rijeka was now occupied by Italy). So he was sent to study at the Sulpician seminary at the Catholic University of America where Fr. Mejak was ordained a priest on June 8, 1935. When Holy Family Church needed a new pastor, Bishop Schulte asked him to quickly learn Slovenian (Fr. Mejak’s native language was German) and Fr. Mejak was appointed pastor on August 1, 1944. He has remained the active pastor of Holy Family Church for a total of 63 + years of continuous service in a single parish.

The people of Holy Family parish learned to love their priest, and Fr. Mejak unabashedly admitted to loving his parishioners in an interview with the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Leaven. One example of that love was shown by Victor Macek of Shawnee who cut short a trip several years ago in order to be an altar boy for Fr. Macek’s Mass as he celebrated 60 years at Holy Family Church in Kansas City, KS. Victor and Michael Macek are twins who as 12-year old boys had served Fr. Mejak's first Mass at Holy Family in 1944.

The parishioners of Holy Family parish knew they had a special priest in Msgr. Mejak. Anita Montez graduated from Holy Family School in 1979 and had moved away but knew her old pastor was very aged and decided to return for his last few Sunday Masses. She said she knew Fr. Mejak’s time on earth was limited and she would always regret it if she did not come to his last offerings of the Eucharist at Holy Family.

Another graduate of Holy Family School, Ann Sanders of Asbury, MO, was informed on December 24 that Fr. Mejak was in the hospital and would not be able to offer Christmas Mass. This Mass that begins with candles in the dark church was clearly Fr. Mejak’s favorite feast of the year. Mrs. Sanders mused to her sisters that perhaps this year he would be blessed with enjoying Christmas in heaven with the baby Jesus. Fr. Heliodore Mejak died Christmas morning. May God eternally bless Fr. Mejak with His choicest blessings.

[1] Francis Johannes (20 Apr 1929 - 13 Mar 1937)

Paul Clarence Schulte (29 May 1937 - 20 Jul 1946)

George Joseph Donnelly (9 Nov 1946 - 13 Dec 1950)

Edward Joseph Hunkeler (31 Mar 1951 - 10 Sep 1969)

Ignatius Jerome Strecker (10 Sep 1969 - 28 Jun 1993)

James Patrick Keleher (28 Jun 1993 - 15 Jan 2005)

Joseph Fred Naumann (15 Jan 2005 - Current)

Dec 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

One more pie is still in the oven for tomorrow's Christmas dinner, the counter top is full of dirty pots and pans, and I'm beat! Yet being tired doesn't make Christmas Eve less special. Even an old Granny knows when to sit back and enjoy remembering what God did for us when He sent His only begotten Son to save us from our sins.

There's many, many things for which to be thankful in this past year, too. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's celebration when our family gets together to share gifts and eat a wonderful banquet. On Thanksgiving, we had 26 different dishes and I suspect our Christmas meal will be similarly blessed with everyone contributing a little.

I'm especially pleased that some of our grandchildren have been prodded by their parents to fix and bring some dinner items. Some of the littlest ones are delighted to be helping with the meal and it is excellent training. Young grandsons are bringing jello (they like the green and purple kinds). One granddaughter is making the potato casserole, and another is baking two pumpkin pies. One of the four-year-olds says she will help her mother make a chocolate dessert! Last Thanksgiving, one of the two-year olds separated bakery rolls and placed them on the cookie sheet, but tomorrow morning I am making homemade rolls. It should take about three batches in the oven before all 70 are done!

Then we'll take the rolls, five pies, a cake, and presents now stacked by the dining room wall to one of our children's houses. We'll first go to an early Mass where the stable will be lit and statues of Mary, Joseph, and the Child Jesus will remind us of when He lay in a manger 2,000 years ago. It's time to be a child again, with complete trust in God as we approach the new year.

Merry Christmas! May God give each of you His choicest blessings.

Dec 23, 2007

The Devil, Gravity, "Homeless Minds", and New Religions

Is there a force the devil loves best? Personally, I think it is gravity.
  • He pulls people down when they want to go up.
  • When the Church tries to escape an error, the devil drags the pendulum down so that it swings rapidly beyond the center point and a new and opposite extreme (error) is reached.
Following the example of many Protestant churches, the Catholic Church became a barren place during the past 40 years. Beautiful Latin liturgies, prayers, statues, artwork, and sacramental elements were replaced with a sparse and more human-centered worship. New architecture and music forgot their roles to lift people to God and pulled them to Earth. Consequently, new religions continue to appear in reaction to the loss of spiritual and physical elements in the Church that reminded us of death, judgment, and heaven and hell.

Several people I know (and am praying for) have adopted new religions that emphasize self and the physical world. Adherents to new paganism develop a strong social feeling of connectedness to others who also have rejected the Christian faith of their fathers and adopted unrestricted self-expression. In reaction to the abandonment of Christian liturgy, these new religions color their ceremonies with strong physical and pseudo-spiritual elements because they believe occultic symbols haness powerful energies. For example, see one Christian's description of Burning Man that he describes as Satan's birthday celebration, with lots of rituals and symbolic ceremonies. [And please, please remember to tell our Saviour how sorry we are for the terrible sins of blasphemy that have been committed at these pagan ceremonies.]

Nature-based spiritualities, such as Neo-Paganism and Wicca, are what happens to "homeless minds" who lose confidence in the Christian faith--usually because they haven't been taught it, embrace self-gratification, and because they see a weak and decaying Church.

A previous post on super-environmentalism dealt with a form of new paganism that worships nature rather than the God of Abraham--the Father of Jesus Christ. New paganism also features drugs, nudism, mystic stories, seances, and eastern spiritualities that fill the voids left by the modern Church. The new paganism turns people inward to rely on their subjective selves without any controlling institutions, and to experiment according to their own personal desires.

While there are new laws that replace the ten commandments, new pagans most often rely on the empty promises of the devil to give pleasure. "If it feels good, do it" is the new commandment. The joy of the soul is forgotten when the pleasure of the senses is practiced.

How can the Church counter paganism's new spiritual outlet in what appears to be a post-Christendom world? One Protestant writer says that "cults are the unpaid bills of the church." I believe it is more realistic to say that new religions are the maggots that were hatched from eggs laid by the Lord of the Flies in the wounded flesh of the bride of Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI and many new and faithful Bishops are paying past due bills. They are also removing dead tissue so that the remaining living tissue can adequately heal and grow. It may take almost 20-25 years before the Church can be sufficiently strengthened with (1) charity, (2) truth, and (3) beauty to attract and serve the next generation--the children of the New Pagans.

Dec 22, 2007

Christmas Gift for Jesus

The Curt Jester says the hardest person to buy a Christmas gift for is Jesus. "What do you buy for the person who made everything?" Seriously, it's the most important gift of the whole Christmas season. All gifts result in Jesus being more generous than the givers. A previous gift that gave the most back to me was my New Year's resolution to stay in church after Mass ended for a more adequate thanksgiving. Highly recommended!

This year my Christmas gift to Jesus will be to promise to imitate St. Alphonsus Liguori who vowed never to waste time. The saint kept his vow until he died at the age of ninety-one. I've been practicing for the past two weeks in preparation for the new year, but the effort is much more difficult than expected and it's not going too well. Yet even a little bit of success will result in more prayers offered, more spiritual works performed, more good books read, and more consistency in writing this blog.

Dec 17, 2007

Skewering PP on the Christmas Hearth

The Curt Jester skewers Planned Parenthood with his recommendations for Choice on Earth Holiday cards.

Dec 15, 2007

Pope Benedict: Prudent Assessment of Environmental Issues

Pope Benedict XVI appears to be challenging environmentalists to base solutions to global warming on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. For World Day of Peace on January 1, 2008, the Pontiff is advising the international community that environmental policies must be based on science rather than dogma. Some of the news media have interpreted the Pope's forthcoming remarks as suggesting that "fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering." The Pope's actual words are less dramatic.
Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. Full message here
The new message repeats Benedict's previous observations that human beings must choose an environmental way of life beneficial to their descendants. The created world is a great gift of God but is presently "exposed to serious risks by life choices and lifestyles that can degrade it... " In particular, environmental degradation makes poor people's existence intolerable." The Pope emphasized that it is the poor people in slums who suffer the greatest environmental problems. He is obviously concerned about clean water and air, as well as nutritional food not contaminated by pesticides that can harm human health. [Some of the worse environmental conditions are in China because of water pollution due to intense fish farming and air pollution due to many new uncontrolled fossil-fueled power plants.]

I totally agree, and believe good environmental science naturally adheres to proverbs I learned as a child.
  1. Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  2. Waste not, want not.
  3. Haste makes waste.
  4. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  5. A place for everything and everything in its place.
  6. A stitch in time saves nine.
  7. One man's junk is another man's treasure.
  8. One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.
  9. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  10. Better safe than sorry
  11. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
In his current address prepared for the 2008 World Day of Peace, Benedict XVI is advising us to avoid "hasty conclusions" through "prudent assessment" in the absence of "ideological pressure." This advice is needed to find truth and unfrock charlatans that wear the mantle of science to pursue political agendas.The most appropriate proverb and its corollary might be:
  • A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
  • A little knowledge selected from a large body of knowledge can be used to prove anything.
Over the past 30 years, what I call super-environmentalists have brought science into servitude to political goals. Quite a few "environmental problems" that were [and some continue to be] claimed to cause enormous harm to human populations have now been proven to be "duds." [BTW, scientists are easily swayed by grant money to fund studies of politically-charged subjects such as the ones below. They almost always conclude there is a likely serious problem and they need more funds to study it.]
  1. Nuclear winter
  2. Acid rain (here, here, and here)
  3. Nuclear power plant accidents
  4. Radon gas (low levels)
  5. Mercury tooth fillings
  6. Cell phones
  7. Second-hand smoke
  8. Population bomb
  • [Above links give only a snapshot of the actual scientific work performed to disprove these catastrophes. Notice that a repeat of the New Madrid earthquake is NOT listed.]
Global warming and GMOs may be the next duds added to the list. I'll try to address in a future post whether global warming actually exists, the models that say it does, and if it does, two possible causes (human versus natural).

Halleluja for Vatican Summaries!

Rorate Caeli points readers to a summary of the Doctrinal Note on Evangelization, as well as the full document. A SUMMARY! Halleluja! Executive summaries and abstracts have long been used for busy readers. For example, search engines shorten whole articles by extracting only key words. Scientific articles are preceded by Abstracts with key findings. Business reports are outlined in Executive Summaries. But I've never before seen a long Vatican document summarized!

Finally, FINALLY, the Vatican has caught on to the needs of readers who have too little time to digest the entire meal contained in an encyclical or other document. These readers can now review and appreciate the essentials of lengthy new Church documents in short Vatican-prepared summaries.

Pope Benedict XVI: What's He Doing?

I was amazed at the many different things the Pope is involved in when I entered "Pope Benedict" into Google's News search engine. Here are some of the topics showing what he has said and done just in the past few days.
  1. Evangelization is a means to restore a tired society--his address to Japanese Bishops during their ad limina visit.
  2. Nuclear- arms proliferation, environmental pollution and economic inequality are threats to world peace - but so are abortion, birth control and same-sex marriage--his address for January 1 World Day of Peace.
  3. Consumerism and materialism leads to the victimization of children through sexual abuse and prostitution.
  4. Christians "must preserve" the spiritual heritage of the decorated tree and Christmas creche.
  5. University students must uphold the faith in a European culture whose thoughts have been "disengaged from God", an address to Rome's university students. [Curmudgeon references a sad article on Italian culture.]
  6. Cancelled a meeting with the Dalai Lama, reportedly to facilitate the ordination of a new Papally approved bishop in Guangdong, southern China.
  7. Papal travel confirmed to the U.S, France, and Australia in 2008.
  8. Emphasized the importance of education and the need for negotiated settlement of international disputes, in a December 13 meeting with 7 new ambassadors to the Holy See.
  9. Supported Jorge Cardinal Urosa Savino, showing Pope's solidarity in the face of the attacks the Venezuelan Catholic leader suffered recently.
Not too bad for a week's worth of work from an 80-year old Pontiff. So what does the opposition say? [Only read this if you can stand the venomous language that shows how much St. Peter's successor is hated--a good thing! I've linked the associated websites for documentation, but please spare yourself the hateful harangues and your own extreme righteous indignation.]
  1. "The Pope Sucks"
  2. "A hate-mongering bigot"
  3. Homosexuals "hold their nose[s] in disgust" at the Pope claiming gay families are a threat.
  4. The Muslims are worried because the Pope wants to evangelize those not yet Christian
  5. "Nothing but a vile, cruel and nasty bunch of bigots who wouldn't recognise Jesus Christ if they tried." See Roberto's comments at Pink News.
  6. "Darth Ratzinger strikes another blow for the forces of darkness and evil."
  7. "Infallible Pope Benedict Releases Bigoted Encyclical Vilifying Atheism."

Ice Storms--Beautiful and Bad

Alison commented on my earlier photos that her ice storm was much more severe than ours, but even we had two tree limbs strike our house. My husband has spread out the fallen limbs for cutting once the weather improves. Yesterday he was able to clear and cut up most of the limbs that had fallen in Mother's yard. Now we have a new snow storm and the roads are quite slick.

Our electricity was out five times during the storm, but each time electrical servicemen were able to restore power within six hours. Yesterday evening, I followed a tall man in line at the grocery store, and he was wearing an IBEW jacket with a lightning strike pictured on the sleeve. He looked a little tired and so I guessed he was one of the men who had worked to restore our power. I enthusiastically told him "Thank you for being one of those who helped to restore our power five different times!"

The electrical worker was clearly elated at being thanked, asked where I lived, and yes, he had been in our neighborhood working to restore power. So far he had worked a 26-hour shift, an 18.5 hour shift, and a 20-hour shift. He said many people came outdoors to thank him, one gave him hot chocolate and another gave him a thermos of coffee.

However, he was disgusted that the electrical contractor hired to support his fellow workers had sent all their trucks and servicemen to Springfield, MO, which left the local servicemen to handle all the power outages in our area. I explained that southwest Missouri had been hit much harder than Kansas City, and even emergency vehicles could not get through on impassable roads covered with ice, downed trees, and fallen power lines. [Unfortunately, Alison lived through the same situation.]

I couldn't mollify the serviceman for his complaint that he had to pay $107 to retrieve his dog. Apparently the dog got loose during one of his long shift duties, was picked up by the dogcatcher, and was kept in the pound for only one day. When the man tried to explain his work situation, no quarter was given. Frankly, I thought the fee was excessive.

The man said he often saw dogs running in poorer neighborhoods while on duty, and claimed that the dogcatchers don't pick up those dogs because owners have no money to retrieve them. So the man concluded it's a good financial scenario only to pick up loose dogs in neighborhoods with better paying "customers."

Our situation in the ice storm was far better than that of a daughter whose electricity was restored only after more than six days of outage. Lack of hot showers was a main complaint, but a good fireplace kept the house mostly heated. Everyone went to bed earlier and slept longer than usual. The oldest boy helped his dad split firewood that was needed to keep the house warm. Yesterday they had to cut more wood and bring it home on the trailer.

The youngest grandkids played hide-and-seek in the dark house. An older one had a lot of practice time on the piano. The oldest boy pretended to be a monster to find and chase the littlest ones in the dark. The grandkids won't remember the difficulties; they'll remember they had a grand time in a big house without electricity.

Dec 13, 2007

The Most Important Christmas Gift We Should Give

The Curt Jester says the hardest person to buy a Christmas gift for is Jesus. "What do you buy for the person who made everything?" Seriously, it's the most important gift to select for the whole Christmas season.

This year I'm thinking seriously about promising Jesus to imitate St. Alphonsus Liguori who vowed never to waste time. The saint kept his vow until he died at the age of ninety-one. Even though my promise will not be a solemn vow, less time reading junk and being a "couch potato" will result in more prayers offered, more good spiritual and temporal works performed, and more consistency in writing this blog.

Dec 10, 2007

Economics for the Future

I'm far from being an economist and so tend to read and listen to people I trust. Pat Buchanan's recent columns on "Sinking Dollar, Sinking Country" and the "Crash of 2008" can be compared to the advice of market timing giants such as Bob Brinker who believe that this is a bull market. Real assets on the market will rise simply because they are priced by the declining dollar--over 50 percent in the past seven years in comparison with the Euro, and a similar decline with respect to other currencies not tied to the dollar. People who live on a week-to-week paycheck and month-to-month payments are going to be affected by a loss of purchasing power that is associated with a less valuable dollar.

Buchanan summarizes two ways that the Fed can partially deal with U.S. economic problems:
If a recession is generally a sign the Fed should loosen up, a run on the dollar is a sign the Fed should tighten by raising interest rates to make dollars and dollar-denominated assets more attractive.
This is contradictory advice if there is a simultaneous recession and a run on the dollar, right? And how do you think this will affect how Americans will live in the future? Not to mention health care rationing.

Dec 9, 2007

New Chinese Bishops and Bibles

Things are changing in China, even though they have a very long way to go over a very rocky path. ChinaDaily reports that a new Catholic Bishop was ordained for the Guangzhou diocese (formerly Canton) to fill the vacancy caused by the death of his predecessor six years ago. The Vatican approved of this ordination, as well as that of another bishop who was consecrated in Yichang, Hubei Province.

An official of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association says that other ordinations will be forthcoming as the process of selection and ordination of young bishops is sped up. Many dioceses of the Patriotic church have been without bishops for a long time and other dioceses are led by very old bishops.

Apparently, the new Bishops will not be selected by the Vatican, which can only hope that new and good Bishops are elected by Chinese priests, nuns, and "representatives of church followers." The Vatican seems to be able to only accede or not accede to an elected Bishop, who may or may not publicly declare his solidarity with the Pope. It remains to be seen how the Patriotic church and the faithful underground Catholic church can be reconciled.

In apparent response to the recent news that China will restrict visitors to the China Olympics to bringing in only one Bible, the same ChinaDaily article goes on to say that the government has renewed a contract with the Amity Foundation to print millions of Bibles.
The number of Bibles - with both the old and the new testaments - printed in the country is set to exceed 50 million this month, according to Zhang Liwei, deputy general secretary of the Nanjing-based Christian Amity Foundation which operates the country's sole Bible printing house.

The Chinese Christian Society prints the largest number of Bibles in the world, Rev Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council, said earlier.

The Amity Printing House had printed about 43 million Bibles in Chinese and eight ethnic minority languages to serve the country's 16 million Christians by November.

Doubts About Medjugorje

A recent email that recommended a news item published on the Spirit Daily website of Michael Brown has caused me concern, and so this post reprints a private but pertinent letter sent to some good friends almost twenty years ago. My letter dealt with my doubts about Medjugorje and was based primarily on a 1988 pamphlet written by the late Michael Davies, Medjugorje, A Warning, originally published by THE REMNANT PRESS. [A much more detailed document was later published by Davies in 2004, shortly before his death.] Davies noted that:

Since the Second Vatican Council there has been a grave crisis of authority within the Catholic church. The ordinary faithful have not received the firm and unequivocal teaching and guidance from their ecclesiastical superiors…Rome itself has sometimes appeared to speak with an uncertain voice.

But certainty is what the faithful seek, and when they do not receive it from the Magisterium, they will seek it elsewhere. Some have sought certainty in the charismatic movement which, if examined objectively, renders the Magisterium unnecessary, for what need is there of a teaching authority when each individual Christian can communicate directly with the Holy Ghost?

Other Catholics have put their faith in one of the numerous apparitions which are allegedly taking place in many countries. Once again, if heavenly guidance can be communicated directly through the sect which is witnessing the alleged apparitions, then what need is there of a Magisterium.

My 1989 letter to my friends asked: Is the seeking after signs and wonders a sign of health in the people of the Church? And do the following details of the Medjugorje apparitions appear to contradict their authenticity?

1. The local bishop of the diocese in which Medjugorje is located has condemned the apparitions. Bishop Zanic based his judgment on his own experience with the seers and their advisors and on an investigation by a diocesan commission. Almost all other bishops of Yugoslavia stand with Bishop Zanic, with the exception of the Archbishop of Split.

2. The supposed apparition of the Blessed Virgin opposed Bishop Zanic in 1981 by saying that two priests who had been suspended should resist the Bishop. The apparition is quoted by the visionary, Vicka, in her diary as saying, "the one most to blame in these disorders was Bishop Zanic. She said that Father Vego wasn't to blame and that the bishop had all power. She told him [i.e., Father Vego] to remain in Mostar and not to go elsewhere." In 1982, the two priests were expelled from the Franciscans by the Franciscans themselves, but continued to celebrate the sacraments illicitly. Recently it became known that one of the two priests made a nun associated with Medjugorje pregnant. In addition, another priest who came to Medjugorje has founded a new religious community without the Bishop's approval.

3. The first "apparition" occurred when the six seers were going to have a smoking party, but they told the bishop that they were going to watch the sheep, and later said they went to pick flowers. The seers stated they were seized by panic, one ran away in great terror and one simply fainted. In contrast, at the first vision at Lourdes, companions of St. Bernadette saw her on her knees while gazing in ecstasy at the Blessed Virgin Mary.

4. The "signs" given at Medjugorje have included watch hands turning backwards, colored balloons dancing around the sun and the apparition of Mary, and rosaries turning into gold. This last phenomenon is reminiscent of alchemy, the black art from Egypt that devoted itself in the Middle Ages to attempting to transmute base metals into gold or silver and to discover the secret of indefinitely prolonging human life.

5. At Fatima, Mary foretold in advance that on October 13, 1917 a public miracle of such magnitude that more than 50,000 people assembled to see it and actually did observe the miracle. The sun at Fatima did not damage eyes, while at Medjugorje, the sun has scarred the retinas of people who looked at the sun. Unlike Fatima, promised miracles have not materialized at Medjugorje.

6. The woman in the apparitions at Medugerje is an extremely chatty, even garrulous person—speaking day after day, year after year. On occasions the seers have seen the apparition in a police car and bursting out in laughter when the seers were sadly talking about the two suspended priests of Herzogovina. During the approved Lourdes and Fatima apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary was humble, somber, brief, and to the point.

7. The message of ”Peace, peace, peace, nothing else than peace!” at Medjugorje is not the peace of Christ that refers to the inner peace of a soul in harmony with God. Peace can also refer to the “peace of the grave” or the “peace of the knave.”

8. It is known that Sister Lucia, the seer of Fatima, forbade one of her relatives to go to Medjugorje.

9. When the children first asked the vision how long she would remain with them, the answer was "three days". The vision has now been appearing many years. [While women have always reserved the right to change their mind, it is (hopefully) restricted to our imperfect state in this world!]

10. After the seers asked for a public, incontrovertible sign from the apparition, the vision kept urging patience, finally saying a sign would come on December 8, 1981, then on Christmas, then on January 1....After that the seers declared: "We never told this."

11. A false ecumenism is taught by the apparition: "You are not faithful if you do not respect the other religions, the Mohammedan and the Serbian [schismatic]. You are not a Christian if you do not esteem them." [We can and should respect other people, but cannot esteem false religions.]

12. On December 23, 1985, followers of Medjugorje reported that one of the visionaries "acted silly, teasing Marija during the Mass. He's only 14, but even for 14 he seems immature. He wore his scarf on his head like a turban, just to be funny and in general cut up at Mass." Is this the way someone would act who had just seen the Blessed Virgin?

13. The description of heaven given by Vicka on ABC-TV seems simplistic and trite with everyone exactly “33 years old. And they're all dressed in only three colors. That's grey, pink and yellow, and above their heads there are little angels flying." St. Paul could only describe heaven in negatives: "Eye has not seen or ear heard..."

14. Marijana, another seer, has said the apparition asks people to pray four hours a day. In response to whether this applied to families with children, she replied "Of course". In contrast, the Virgin at Fatima requested a rosary be prayed each day.

16. One of the visionaries, Vicka, kept a diary from the beginning. Later she hid it by the order of Father Vlasic, who then swore before Bishop Zanic that he did not have any knowledge of it. Bishop Zanic has stated, "If the Holy Virgin appears in Medjugorje, she does not want lies, perjury and distortions of the truth."

16. In a September 4, 1981 diary entry, Vicka writes about a vision of Mary in which a bloody hankerchief is given to a conductor by a bleeding Jesus who asks the conductor to throw it in the river. The blessed Virgin Mary requests the bloody handkerchief but the conductor offers Mary his own handkerchief. When the conductor finally gives her the bloody handkerchief, Mary is quoted as saying, “If you hadn’t given it to me, that would have been the end of the world.” Bishop Zanic believes the Blessed Mother would not appear on this earth only to speak absurdities.

17. There is too much of a similarity with what has happened at Palmar de Troya in Spain and at Puruaran in Mexico. In both places, pilgrims came by the tens of thousands to visit the sites of the “apparitions.” Eventually the priests in charge removed themselves little by little from all Church authority and made new “Popes.” The Blessed Virgin Mary cannot divide the Body of Christ, the Church.

18. A video tape of the seers shows one of them moving backward to avoid a simulated blow. The strike was meant to test if they, as they claimed, were completely oblivious to everything while having an apparition. The visionary claimed afterward that, at that exact time, she had seen the baby Jesus appear to fall from the arms of Mary, and had reached out to help. This explanation was difficult to understand since the seer's movement was backward, not forward, and Mary is now in a perfected state and unable to drop Jesus.

19. An April 1983 prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary composed by the apparition has erroneous doctrine: "...give me the grace to love all men as you loved Jesus Christ...give me the grace to be merciful towards you...if by chance, I should lose your grace, I ask you to restore it to me." Objections to this prayer are: 1) Jesus, who is God incarnate, must be loved above all men; 2) the Blessed Virgin, who is full of grace, has no need of our mercy: and 3) grace is never lost by chance, but only through sin.

If Medjugorje is not a genuine apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary (and in the last 60 years the Church has dismissed 240 bogus Marian apparitions), the long active strife between the secular clergy and the Franciscans in Bosnia and Hercegovina may have helped to build a massive hoax-perhaps abetted by the devil himself.

St. John of the Cross reminds us that "the devil rejoices greatly when a person desires to receive revelations." It is clear that the devil always plays both sides of the table-for the weak Christian, he offers sins of the flesh, lying, anger, etc.; for the pious, he offers scrupulosity, intellectual pride, signs and wonders, etc. "This generation seeks for a sign," but Matthew 12:39 reminds us that "It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign."

P and C, Fixer-Uppers of Society

The people I most admire are those who work to fix our decaying society. Mr. & Mrs. PC are one example and theirs is a very inspiring story, especially because of their backgrounds and former lives.

P's parents were divorced when he was entering his teenage years. He admits to leaving home to become a "street kid." The young man became involved in the drug culture, and in his instability found and left numerous jobs. At the urging of his Dad, he obtained a GED and entered the Navy, but was quickly discharged because of drug use. During this time, I remember writing several times to P and encouraging him to change his life, but P continued to make mistakes. Nevertheless, he was prayed for as one of our fallen-away Catholics.

C's life was much worse as she was the daughter of a drug-addicted mother and did not really have a father. When C met P, she was easily attracted to the tall, dark and handsome young man whose wit and intelligence continued to be betrayed by irresponsible actions.

P and C, as many young people now do, began to live together and their relationship became more serious with time. C was goal-oriented and learned a skill that allowed her to support herself. C's external loveliness mimics her interior beauty, which is demonstrated by a special kindness and patience that may have come from the sensitivity she developed as an injured child.

P's life before the age of 30 alternated between good intentions and irresponsible actions. While promising C that someday they would marry, it took ten years for the event to occur. By then P had finally obtained a good job in which he was advancing. I was fortunate to be invited to attend their wedding. Even though only an "occasional" Catholic, P assured me that a real wedding was a "church wedding," and so the marriage ceremony in a University chapel was witnessed by a Dominican priest.

The reception was where I found out that P's life had dramatically changed. Toasts were presented to the bride and groom by their friends, and I have never heard such strong and fervent accolades. Several young people took the mike and explained, some tearfully, how P and C had changed their lives by drawing them away from the drug culture and helping them to restart their lives. Frankly, I was in tears as I heard their stories, including the one told by C's mother when she publicly admitted that she was raised and taken care of by C, rather than the reverse.

One young woman's story is illustrative of how P and C committed to fixing part of a society gone bad. This friend from the drug culture had numerous boyfriends and three children by some of them. P and C took the young woman into their home and helped her to go to school and raise their boys. The boys now consider P their Dad and C their alternate Mother. The boys' mother now has a good job and lives a couple of hours away with her sons, but they visit P and C frequently on weekends. Best of all, the boys have turned out to be well-behaved kids who volunteer and help others.

What are P and C doing today? Well, they've found that there are three more children to help and P and C have stepped into the void of another drug-addicted (crack cocaine) mother. Initially they agreed to back up the step-grandmother who was taking care of the children, but because of her poor health, she could not continue. P And C are now taking care of these three children and are likely to adopt them.

What's wrong with the world? Is it that there are so many thrower-downers, or is it that there are not enough picker-uppers? Dear reader, please become a picker-upper to change lives--to change them for the better, just like P and C are doing.

Nov 26, 2007

"Hybrid" Mass? An Analysis by the St. Joseph Foundation

Since July 7, 2007 when Summorum Pontificum was issued by Pope Benedict XVI, I've been mulling over the Holy Father's suggestion that the two forms of the Mass be adapted to "enrich" each other. Specific "enrichments" to the old Latin Mass are mentioned in the Pope's explanatory letter, yet specific "enrichments" to the new Mass of Paul VI are lacking:
For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. (from Explanatory letter to Summorum Pontificum)
The St. Joseph Foundation has published "The 1962 Mass with Post-1970 Innovations: Is It Likely?" in its Christifidelus newsletter. The Foundation was begun in 1984 by Charles Wilson "to defend Catholic truth and uphold Catholic rights." My husband and I believe their canon law work has been invaluable in keeping traditional Catholics, especially priests, from being massacred by their superior officers while manning the front lines of the battle against Modernism in the Church.

A November 9, 2007 article written by Wilson discusses the possibilities ( and dangers) of a "hybrid" Latin Mass that would incorporate "enrichments" from the Novus Ordo Mass:
  1. "two concerns.... The first is the issue of using various techniques to delay or, if possible, to entirely prevent celebrations of the Traditional Mass. The second is the possibility of vastly diminishing both its benefit to souls and its value as a of liturgical expression by introducing practices... that began as abuses but became accepted, such as altar girls.... some...threaten to become accepted, such as standing for the Eucharistic prayer."

  2. "It seemed that for almost forty years a campaign of annihilation was carried on against not only the Traditional Mass but any liturgical practices that even remotely reminded the faithful of it."

  3. "the practice [of the priest facing the people] has in North America become unwritten law, which diocesan authorities have not hesitated to enforce harshly whenever necessary. I am not able to discuss actual cases, except for one on the public record that is instructive..." [There follows an important review of the Birmingham's Bishop's prohibition of EWTN-televised Masses celebrated in the traditional way, ad orientem, the Vatican overturning of his decision, and the Bishop's rebutting action. A footnote states: "The Foundation provided extensive advice to EWTN in this matter."]

  4. Quoting favorably from Duane Galles, JD, JCD. "The experience of the last three decades does not give much hope for a two-way enrichment..."

  5. Wilson identifies a possible "hybrid" Mass, with "practices that would involve--but would not necessarily be limited to--(1) Communion received standing, (2) Communion received in the hand, (3) Communion under both species, and (4) female altar servers."

  6. He reminds readers. "If these practices should become part of the celebration of the Traditional Mass, will it still be the Traditional Mass?"

  7. He notes "universal ecclesiastical laws that are found outside of the Code of Canon Law. This is especially true of liturgical law...."

  8. He discusses the "many questions [that arise from Summorum Pontificum, including] "the proper interpretation of coetus and idoneus ['stable group' and 'qualified']....There is some concern that these terms as they appear in the 'unofficial' English translation of SP will make it possible to erect overly difficult barriers to the realization of the Holy Father's wishes."

  9. Wilson is concerned about the USCCB Committee submitting five dubia to the Holy See. "Recent news reports indicate that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is in the process of preparing a clarifying document...which would apply to the 1962 Missale Romanum."

  10. A reference to Fr. Z's website that discusses the 'can of worms' observations by Mr. Paul Inwood, the Liturgical Director of the Diocese of Portsmouth in England. "Some of the liturgical laws in force in 1962 have been abrogated or superceded....For example, a priest may not deny the reception of Holy Communion in the hand if someone requests it.... A community that wants to make use of girl altar servers... may do so, even though females were formerly prohibited from ministering in the sanctuary under the previous legislation."

Charles Wilson invited comments on Mr. Inwood's full statement, including two consulting canonists and members of his staff. Acknowledging that he rarely publishes in-house legal communications, he makes an exception by including comments on "enrichments' of the old Latin Mass by consulting canonists Philip Gray and Duane Galles. See Wilson's full article at Christifidelis.

After adding a historical overview of "theological tumult" from Philip Trower, Wilson concludes:
The title of this article asks if it is likely that problematic practices will occur in celebrations of the Traditional Mass. My answer is not only is it likely; it is certain. We will also need the assistance of our readers and other faithful Catholics in reporting specific abuses to us. Much hangs in the balance and the months ahead will be critical.

May St. Joseph be our guide, may Saint Michael the Archangel defend us in battle

Nov 24, 2007

Miracles for Mother

My Mother is a daily communicant who is preparing well for her death at an advanced age. She gives our family an excellent example of love, patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, good humor, and especially active and welcome interest in the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Her lengthy morning prayers, including two daily rosaries, are surely some of the reasons our family is so blessed.

With less than adequate eyesight, Mother regularly misplaces things--glasses, hearing aid, ring, cane, etc. When she loses something, Jesus and St. Anthony always are called on to help her find her lost possession.

About ten days ago, she lost her cane and was quite agitated about it. She continued to pray fervently that the lost object show up. Mother says Jesus and St. Anthony never fail, especially as was demonstrated rather profoundly early this past week.

Coming home from morning Mass, she entered her bedroom to leave her purse. Mother said she was carrying her purse in her left hand and the backup cane in the right hand. She set her purse on the bedroom rug, then looked down at her hands. Two canes were there, one in the right hand and one in the left where her purse had just been. Both she and I couldn't explain this by any "of nature" cause, so we conclude it was an "of super-nature" phenomenon.

This is at least the third time she has found things in a miraculous way. Several years ago, Mother lost her wedding ring. My Dad has been dead for many years, and his gift to Mother was cherished. When she lost the ring, she looked thoroughly through her bedroom and the rest of the house, and others helped to look too. No ring was found.

After many of Mother's prayers and several weeks later, she walked into her bedroom to see an arm reaching to her dresser table. The arm quickly disappeared, and Mother still remembers it vividly. When Mother looked at the dresser top, her wedding ring was in plain sight. Mother told us she had carefully examined her dresser (and hers is not a unkempt place like mine!) several times before, and it was not there!

A third incident was the loss of her hearing aide. Again, after her many prayers to Jesus and St. Anthony, the device showed up in the middle of the bedroom floor which she had vacuumed twice since she had lost it.

Why does God perform these little miracles for Mother? I believe these are small signs from God that He listens to and loves my Mother. They also show the rest of our family why we need to ask Jesus more faithfully and consistently for our own small miracles!

A Town that Raises Children

The Redmen of Smith Center won the Kansas State Football Championship today at Lewis Stadium on the Fort Hays State University campus, capping their season with a 40-14 victory over St. Mary’s-Colgan of Pittsburg, KS. The Panthers of St. Mary's-Colgan themselves outscored their opponents 524-87 before their only loss to the Redmen of Smith Center. Between them, The Panthers and Redmen have combined to win the last eight 2-1A state titles.

The Redmen attracted national attention in the New York Times, ESPN, ABCNews, and The Kansas City Star because of their record score of 72-0 score over one opponent--after only playing the first quarter! Over the past several years, the Redmen have won 53 games in a row. During 2007, they scored a whopping 844 points compared to 20 by their opponents.

So what is and who is Smith Center, KS and Pittsburg, KS? (Girard, KS, too, who lost to St. Mary's-Colgan in a 42-41 double-overtime victory--a fantastically exciting game that I saw on September 21) Why are these students from small Kansas towns so successful in football, and presumably other things as well? Especially, why do the young men of the small Smith Center senior high school of 154 students win so grandly?

Wikipedia describes Smith Center as having less than 2,000 population, with about a third who are 65 years of age or older. In fact, the small north central Kansas town is home to the largest proportion of people over 85 in the country, with only twenty percent of the population under the age of 18. It is a very stable community with most of the residents being married couples living together. Only 6.1% of the population consists of a female householder with no husband present. The residents are not rich in money; Smith Center males had a median income amounting to only $25,833 versus $20,667 for females.

What seems to distinguish Smith Center residents is their cohesiveness (they all know one another), their peer- and elder-encouraged discipline, and the town's purposeful and outspoken ambition to raise good children. The New York Times reporter notes that the town wholeheartedly supports their football players and encourages good behavior by issuing player trading cards to the younger students.
The trading cards, for example, are not about hero worship. Each player and cheerleader signs a contract pledging to remain alcohol-, drug- and tobacco-free. If they break that promise, they must go to the elementary school to explain to the children why they were kicked off their team, and their cards are revoked.
The Redmen coach is quoted:
“What we do around here real well is raise kids. “In fact, we do such a good job at it — and I’m talking about the parents and community — that they go away to school and succeed, and then pursue opportunities in the bigger cities....What I hope we’re doing is sending kids into life who know that every day means something.”
When I heard about the successful Redmen, I remembered another team of a few years ago. That softball team won the state championship with a record of 40-0. The coach explained that only one student lived in a home without a father and mother (or stable step-parent). Winning students are always developed and encouraged by dedicated support from the community, especially parents and grandparents--just like Smith Center, Pittsburg' Catholic St. Mary's--Colgan, and Girard, KS. These communities incubate and nourish the religious and cultural ties and forces that develop winning futures for their children.

Nov 19, 2007

Lisi's Theory of Everything

God loves and created exceptional beauty in this world, and so I am intrigued by the new "theory of everything" developed by Dr. A. Garrett Lisi. He begins his paper with this observation:
Although it is interesting to consider that the universe may be the physical instantiation of all mathematics, there is a classic principle for restricting the possibilities: The mathematics of the universe should be beautiful. A successful description of nature should be a concise, elegant, unified mathematical structure consistent with experience.
Even if you don't understand elementary particles, you should marvel at Lisi's use of the exquisite E8 lattice (a 120-year old puzzle solved early this year by MIT) to unify gravity with electromagnetism and the strong and weak forces. [Better yet, take about 20 min to first explore The Particle Adventure, an excellent web introduction to elementary particles.] The rotating E8 lattice makes a remarkable 2-min YouTube video.

Nov 18, 2007

China Embracing Confucian Values? makes a persuasive case that China is switching from Marxism-Leninism to Confucian values. The author from Hong Kong, Alberto Serna, appears to have good insights on how China is changing. Whether China becomes more favorable to Christianity is still a matter of conjecture, although it sounds more and more possible.

The rebirth of Confucian values is everywhere. The Chinese Government has fostered the creation of Confucius Institutes all over the world to promote Chinese language and culture; the curricula in schools and universities pay now more attention to the Chinese classics; it is becoming fashionable in the media to use expressions with Confucian undertones. One of the outstanding publishing success stories of the last few years has been the sale of almost four million copies of a simplified version of Confucius’s Analects.......

...Confucian ethics imposes reciprocal rights and duties on rulers and citizens. It demands obedience to authority, but imposes on the Government the duty of moral behaviour in favour of the people, to the point that it justifies rebellion against tyranny. They have begun a one-way trip away from Marxist ideology. Furthermore, the new generation of Chinese leaders believes that their first loyalty is to China and its people, not to the CPP. They have a deep sense of mission and responsibility rooted in the Confucian ideals of a good ruler -- even if the West views them as a despotic autocracy....

What lies ahead for China if it shrugs off its socialist ideology completely? It is difficult to say, but certainly 21st century China will be deeply influenced by more than 2,000 years of immersion in Confucian values. It will value strong authority; social hierarchies; political consensus; a political elite; and social meritocracy. Some of the forms of Western democracy, even universal suffrage, will exist, but it is likely that political power will continue in the hands of a political aristocracy that will still call itself Communist Party of China, at least for the next few decades.

Scavenger Hunt for Grandsons

The weather was great and we invited children and grandchildren over after Sunday Mass for smoked bacon, fried eggs, hash browns, waffles, fruit juice, and chocolate milk. Three women prepared the breakfast so that it was ready in less than half an hour. The family enjoys this time together--especially the young cousins.

After everyone had eaten, I found our metal detector and asked two of our sons-in-law to lead teams of grandsons on a scavenger hunt. The yard was divided into half--one side for one team of young boys and the other side reserved for the second team. Coin tosses were used to determine which team captain got to choose the first member and to select the half of the yard that was his.

At "Ready, get set, GO!," the first team was given 20 min to find the most interesting metal objects. Boys on the team took turns using the metal detector to find potential sites, while their teammates used shovels and trowels to unearth the treasure. The second team went next. The Dad team captains supervised the return of grass sod to its former positions, so no harm was done to the lawn.

Our grandsons had a great time as they found an old screwdriver, hammer head, spoon (as the years have gone by, my supply has dwindled), a rusty oven door, old barrel hoops, and various metal pieces.

Yes, the girls filmed the scavenger hunt. I hope someday this video will remind them of the fun they once had with their Dads and their boy cousins in Granddad's and Grandma's backyard.


Kansas Citians can easily go in all directions, 360 degrees, to find great places to vacation at low cost and within a short distance. Our family has done so frequently--especially when we used to camp with our children.

North: Omaha Zoo; eagles and geese at Swan Lake Refuge; St. Joseph historical sites; Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary at Denton, NB; the Strategic Air & Space Museum, and Indian Cave State Park--a favorite of my husband.

Southeast: The Ozark mountains with their beautiful fall-colored trees; Silver Dollar City; many great Branson shows; some of the nicest canoeing streams in the U.S., very large natural springs and fish hatcheries, and lots and lots of lakes and caves.

East: Small towns along the Missouri River; many hiking and biking trails; lakes and streams; and St. Louis and the Mississippi River.

West: Leavenworth and its historical Fort and frontier museum; KU's Natural History Museum--skip the fifth floor dedicated to the theory of evolution, but do see their collection of thousands of arrowheads, and don't miss their large panorama of animals and plants; the Flint Hills; and great fishing at several large Corps of Engineer impoundments.

This fall, our trip was to the southeast--to northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. I particularly enjoyed the fish hatchery and stream at Roaring River, the small state ferry across Norfolk Lake, seeing early morning canoers on the Buffalo River, finding a persimmon grove (see photo of large persimmons we picked and are eating daily), Blanchard Springs Caverns (discovered relatively recently, and well preserved and developed as a federal site), and an absolutely wonderful lunch buffet for $6.95 at Myrtie Mae's in Eureka Springs. Here are a few photos of our trip.

Pope is Moving Faster

Even though (or perhaps because) he is 80 years old, Pope Benedict is moving faster to implement his goals. The Telegraph's Damian Thompson describes how the Pope is "revealing his programme of reform. And it is breathtakingly ambitious."
The 80-year-old Pontiff is planning a purification of the Roman liturgy in which decades of trendy innovations will be swept away. This recovery of the sacred is intended to draw Catholics closer to the Orthodox and ultimately to heal the 1,000 year Great Schism. But it is also designed to attract vast numbers of conservative Anglicans, who will be offered the protection of the Holy Father if they covert en masse.

The liberal cardinals don't like the sound of it at all.

The full article is here.