Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain - Palin

"Senator Obama does not understand." Repeat this several times and you get a grumpy old man raining disdain down upon a younger one. The further ahead John McCain went into the exercise of disparagement that was the presidential debate of September 26, 2008, I could only shake my head and play some interesting scenarios in my mind.
McCain to Putin: "Y'know, Vlad, I don't think you understand just how much the United States cares about Georgia."
McCain to Ahmadinejad: "You really don't understand what could happen to your country if you continue to be so hard-headed."
McCain to Pelosi: You don't understand what it means when I say that single-payer health care in the United States is not an option."
McCain to Reid: "You don't understand that the minimum wage will not be increased by one thin dime."
Palin to Governor Richardson: "You don't understand how to deal with the Mexican Government because there is no maritime border of any consequence between New Mexico and Mexico."
Palin to Katie Curic: "Ma'am, I got those papers you were asking about."
McCain to Gordon Brown: "You don't understand the negative economic impact that it would have if the United States imported all those French Fries fom your neighbor across the Channel."
McCain to the Pope: "You don't understand the good will that you could cause between the United States and Italy if you bought your car from General Motors rather than FIAT."
McCain to "Our Dear Leader": "You don't understand how fast your 2 million man army could be vaporized by China."
McCain to Stephen Harper: "What part of '54 / 40 or fight!' don't you understand?"
McCain to Calderon: "You don't understand that the 'Great Texan River' belongs to the United States, south bank, water and all the fish and people that it contains and north bank. Take it or leave it."

Mr. McCain: You don't understand the basic rules of civility. That's why you're going to lose. As a true son of the South, you spent 90 minutes disparaging a Black Man. That Black Man will come back to haunt you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the Catholic Church is a source of great happiness and consolation as well as of deep frustration.  At its base, the rite is meant to emulate the journey that Jesus took with His disciples for three years,  He teaching them the true meaning of discipleship in the light of the Scriptures and they absorbing the way of life that He was showing to them.  The moral conversion of their lives was not an easy one to make.  They were not really spiritual people, they were simple Jews.  They did not come from the Temple, they came from the secular working class.  Surely they knew their basic Scriptural lessons from the Old Testament, but Jesus was there to show them how He meant for these same lessons to be lived.  
Slowly, daily contact and daily exchange of ideas began to have an effect on them.  Slowly, he came to understand what He meant and where He wanted them to go.  Slowly, they came to appreciate the difference between Jesus, themselves, the Temple people and the people on the street.  That is the goal of the Church: to teach those who would be Catholic the meaning of true discipleship with Jesus.  The goal of the Church is not to prepare people to received the sacrament of Baptism.  Although Baptism is essential to Christian life, the living of the grace infused into the soul through this essential sacrament is, after all a lifetime calling.  To live this calling dynamically on a daily basis is where our eternal salvation is crafted in the company of Jesus, in and through the Church.  This life is not fulfilled by the mechanical reception of sacrament after sacrament; it is not fulfilled by getting to accumulate more and more intellectual information about God and His Church;  it is fulfilled by living the Mission given to us all, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, etc.  
It brings me to other points:  The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is not a catechism program to prepare candidates for Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation.  
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is not a seasonal program that lasts from the second week of September to the third week of May, gloriously cranking out newly baptized Catholics after 8 months of text book preparation.  Ever stop to think if that's the way the Baptists do it? I'd bet that a caller who would be told in July to get back to us in September would resolve the problem by finding someone who would solve the problem NOW.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a hard row to hoe.  It requires a deep commitment by deeply spiritual people.  These people do exist.  Note to pastors:  These people do exist.  The pastor is not in a position to "pity" the volunteers  who dedicate themselves to the Rite by giving them the Summer off.  It is not up to him to create a revolving group of "teachers" or "presenters" so that no one will have to be up and ready for 52 weeks per years.  This does not create the community that Christ created with His disciples because of His constant presence among them.  The Rite is based on creating Community so that people can convert to the Community of the Church, the Communion of Saints.  

That's the bottom line.  It all leads to walking with Jesus and learning to work at doing what He told us to do.  That's what true Catholics do.  The pastors should facilitate this process through the priesthood of all faithful by humbly accepting that their are lay people in this world who are more zealous that those who are sent to lead them.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I am going to let it all hang out here for a moment. I go to church every single Sunday. Most Sundays I go to the same church and I hear the priests assigned to that church expound their spiritual views from the pulpit of that church almost every Sunday. The problem that I have is that these guys think that they are fooling me into thinking that the reflections that they put forth come from the depths of their own souls. Most times, they do a fair job of assimilating the material. There are times when they really give themselves away. Last Sunday was one of those times.
It was a Sunday when the celebration was really special. It was in honor of the saint who was the patron of the Missionary Congregation to which the preacher is attached. It was a well organized celebration. This individual came to the pulpit and started off by looking for the right words to open his oration. He finally almost got his mind around it, but then had to drop his gaze down to the crib notes that he had prepared for the occasion. This went on for 15 minutes. This missionary who has been dedicating his life for nearly 25 years to the same community didn't have enough personal conviction to communicate the core of his vocation to the parishioners in the pews without crib notes. He came to the pulpit unprepared and staggered through a miserable 15 minute display of searching for his place on his crib-note sheet.
You may think that this was a one-time occurrence. Wrong. About a year ago one of the missionaries from this parish came to the pulpit and intoned that the gospel for the day made him think of his relationship wih his father. He then proceeded to struggle his way through his notes trying to impress us that he was sharing a deeply moving episode in his life and that of his father. For all that I cared, this story could have been written by Ernest Hemingway. If there was a connection between it and the gospel story of the day, it got lost in the feeling of insult that was conveyed by the fact that this individual could not testify honestly to a meaningful event between him and his father in relation to the Gospel.

If this type of ignorance doesn't impress you, let me ask you to consider the bozos who come to the pulpit and dig out a story that they have found on the Internet that they think is going to illustrate the point of the Gospel. You know the type...the cute little dog who is blind or the poor little cross-eyed boy who is bullied at school... They do this despite the wonderful stories that come from the Old Testament readings of the very same day. They ignore these because they are too ignorant to understand what the Church wants to teach through the structure of the Sunday readings.

This is wrong. The people in the pews deserve to be informed about the revelation of God through the Sacred Scripture. This can only be done through priests who are sincere, honest and impregnated with the spirituality of the Liturgy as it is intended by the Church. The instruction of the faithful cannot be accomplished on a steady diet of "canned" presentations.