Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More than my Waist Line has Inflated Since 1979

Here are some things I pay for today that weren't on my tab when I first moved out of the parental home all those years ago:

  • Internet 
  • Cable
  • Telephone  $160, a bundle of internet, cable and home phone
  • Cell phone  $65
  • iPod $200 +/-
Here's what those things cost me in 1979:
  • Internet  $0
  • Cable - less than $10, I can't remember exactly; maybe I didn't have cable
  • Telephone $9.95 + long distance calls (rarely, and very short)
  • Cell phone $0.  Pay phones cost $.10 a call, maybe I spent a buck a year.
  • Stamps for letters and cards and bill payments I mailed - probably $30 a year tops
  • A Sony Walkman, first edition $350
    • Batteries for said Walkman - incalculable.  It chewed through two C cells for every 8-10 tapes, more if I used Fast Forward and Rewind
Of course I spent more on books and magazines, tapes and LPs, cigarettes and booze, and trouble in general in those days (mind you, I had to go out to find it.)   

Now trouble comes right into my home.  Aaah, the price of convenience.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Resting in the House of God

26th Sunday in Ordinary time, Year B
This week's Gospel is from Mark 9:30-37 in which the disciples learn a lesson in envy, humility and  faith.

In one telling scene outside of these important life lessons, Jesus asks his disciples as they walked through Galilee, "what were you arguing about?"  (The disciples were arguing about which of them was the greatest.)  They respond as many of us do when faced with a realization we have strayed from the teachings of Christ...dead silence.  Jesus doesn't judge, but he doesn't pull any punches when he confronts our sinfulness.

No wonder the disciples feared to answer.  When conscience catches up with us we want to go silent.  Perhaps we dread the Sacrament of Reconciliation with God for our sins.  Perhaps we dread confessing the same sin, again and again.

What is essential to the growth of our relationship with Christ is to look up from our feet and speak our truth.  We messed up, we strayed from the path, we forgot the teaching, we actually believed we were out of God's earshot or sight.

Jesus invites us to confront our sinfulness, regularly.  And like the disciples in this Gospel reading, we have the opportunity at Mass to take a break from the journey of life and rest for a while in the house of God; to learn at the feet of Jesus the rabbi.

We should take it.  See you next Sunday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Why Catholics shouldn’t put their faith in Paul Ryan - The Globe and Mail

His butchering of papal teaching on the doctrine of subsidiarity, his love affair with the rugged individualism of Ayn Rand (the very antithesis of Catholic communitarianism) although now forsworn, and his quirky recasting of the liberationist notion of the preferential option for the poor, amply demonstrate that his ready command of the minutiae of budget formulas and economic forecasting do not translate into a penetrating or even accurate appropriation of the more philosophical side of things.

Read more of Michael Higgins commentary here:

Why Catholics shouldn’t put their faith in Paul Ryan - The Globe and Mail:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'm Done on This Side

This week we celebrated the feast of St. Lawrence, who was famously reported to have said, while he was being tortured to death over a slow roasting pit of coals, "Turn me over, I'm done on one side already!"

Whether this be lore or legend, one can almost hear this most famous of deacons thumbing his nose at authority with these or similar words, as he did when asked to turn over all the riches of the church to the Emperor Valerian in 258 AD.  Deacon Lawrence gathered the poor and presented them to the Emperor.  "Here are the riches of the church."  The man who was to become a saint had a special place in his heart for the poor, and little use for unreasonable civil authority.

We, today, face the same command from society.  "Turn over the riches of your church!  Renounce your faith.  The Catholic church needs to get with the times!"  Litigating the church into receivership will not end the faith any more than it will end poverty, as history has proven.

Catholics are being slowly roasted on the gridiron of popular opinion because of our stand on the slaughter of the unborn to the culling of the human herd and the human condition between.  Get with the times?  No, it is the times that need to get with the Church.

When we are accused of being Catholic and our crimes against modern mores listed, we can start with a prayer to God in thanks for the opportunity to suffer for Him.

And as we weary of the incessant nattering, I for one, will be quoting St. Lawrence.

"Turn me over.  I'm done on this side."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Just One Side of Your Mouth at a Time, Please

If it's OK with everyone, let's just talk out of one side of our mouths for a moment.

Gay-Straight Alliances in Ontario schools
Far from being the champions, the homosexual agenda should be actively objecting to differentiation based on sexual orientation.  Separate boys and girls entrances to grade schools are quaint reminders of a time long past.  Now we divide and define by hetero or homosexual attraction?  The good work of the homosexual lobby of the last thirty odd years in ending discrimination will have been for naught when this happens.

The Most Loving Place for one who Suffers from Same Sex Attraction is the Catholic Church
...and anyone who suggests otherwise isn't paying attention, and yes, I said suffers.  It is not an easy life.  We hold to God's truth that we should love one another, and that homosexual orientation, in and of itself, is not a sin.  Neither is temptation a sin; however acting on it is another story.  We believe that God is the final judge, and we love each other in spite of our failings and differences, and because God commands us to.  Let me clarify - we are to love one another.  We frequently fail.  We should never stop trying.

Critics Claim Catholic Bishops are "Out of Step" with Society
Of course they are, thank God.  Pray that all Catholics are.  We must carefully consider each step, not blindly march to the current whim and changing fancy of modern society.  We are called to be in the world, not of the world.  Truth is, as the Bishops prayerfully consider our world and God's will, I suggest they are actually closer to feeling the true pulse of the people than are politicians. 

The End of Catholic Schools in Ontario?  Not Yet
It is suggested that Separate Schools should no longer be funded by the taxpayer because Catholics refuse to act against our tradtion and beliefs.  In fact the exact opposite is true.  A Catholic school system that goes against it's own beliefs and bends to public will is one that should have it's funding removed, it's union disbanded, it's administration dismissed and the crosses removed from the classroom.  When there is no longer any discernible difference between a Catholic school and a public school we're just going through the motions, aren't we?

A Public Accountability to be Catholic
An educated electorate of all faiths and beliefs should scream bloody murder, clamour, protest and object to funding a Catholic school system that isn't different, to bankrolling one that doesn't put the Catholic faith first, to footing the bill for a Catholic systtem that doesn't obey the local ordinary (the Bishop) or one that doesn't offer a religious objection to the practices of the secular world. 

Pray for the day, but don't hold your breath.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rise of Secularism Risks Making World Inhospitable, Warns Pope

"Unfortunately, it is God Himself who is excluded from the horizon of so many persons, and when the discourse on God does not meet with indifference, closure or rejection, it is nevertheless relegated to the subjective realm, reduced to an intimate and private event, marginalized from the public conscience." Pope Benedict XVI

Read more here: - Rise of Secularism Risks Making World Inhospitable, Warns Pope

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Actually, This is NOT the Beginning of the End

A column appeared in my local rag recently in which the columnist, no fan of Catholics, has begun a cogent discussion about the merging of administrative functions in the different Boards of Education in Ontario. Read more here

Actually, this is NOT the beginning of the end of a separate, publicly funded Catholic school system in Ontario.  The downward spiral started before this.

Some blame Archdiocese of Toronto Cardinal Carter and Premier Bill Davis, who struck a deal for full funding of the separate school system.  The argument goes that he who pays the piper calls the tune - when the funding came from general taxation we began to lose our independence.

I think it might be more subtle.  I wonder how strong can a religious school system possibly be when it's own students, parents and educators can't find their parish church without a map and a compass?  If a teacher in a Catholic school system does not regularly attend Mass, how can they teach math?

Teachers don't teach children reading, writing and arithmetic.  They form young minds and teach reading, writing and arithmetic.  Catholics can expect they will teach Gospel values, but when the teacher hasn't attended Mass regularly they can't possibly be in communion with the church, and by that I mean with Catholics; students, parents, trustees and other teachers.

Some would argue that it's no one's business who attends church and who doesn't.  That would suggest that it doesn't affect anyone else.  It does, and as a parent I would argue that my child be taught by a devout Catholic, or why even bother attending a separate school?

Make no mistake, there is nothing to fear from others outside our own Catholic system.  We're doing a good job of making it irrelevant every Sunday that students, parents, educators, administrators, support staff and trustees skip Mass.

Come Holy Spirit, Come

"God is our Father because He is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, desired by Him and known personally by Him. ... For Him we are not anonymous and impersonal, we have a name. The Holy Spirit, which speaks within us and says 'Abba! Father!', leads us to this truth, communicating it to the most intimate depths of our being and filling our prayer with serenity and joy".   Benedict XVI

As this Easter Season winds down, and we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit, we give thanks for the many blessings we experience, even those which come disguised as challenges and hardship; perhaps even and especially for our difficult times.

Pope Benedict XVI, referring to his own "dark nights", times when his soul was troubled, did so in thanks.  Without these difficult times in his life he would not know the joy of gratitude for the good things in life.

And so I wish, and pray for each of us, a blessed and full life of worship, thanksgiving, charity towards our fellow man, and a closer union with our God, through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Of Dandelions, and other Lessons in the Garden

My sister and I got into a bit of a debate on whether dandelions are flowers or weeds.  She contended that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, to paraphrase.  I maintain that it's not, when it comes to dandelions.  They are weeds, not flowers.  And so we are at an impasse, and thankfully not each other's neighbour.

This weekend's Gospel, "I am the vine, you are the branches" and my own untidy front lawn had me thinking about how easily weeds can creep into our lives; sometimes out of neglect.  Sometimes they've taken hold and it's just too hard to remove them; just too much work.  Other times, the worst of times, is when we rationalize and accept.  "They're not weeds, they're flowers." 

No they're not.  No they're not.  No they're not.  That's how weeds and sins take hold - they come looking innocuous and flowering.

A gardening enthusiast gave me some advice on how to beat the dandelion infestation, and it's good advice on how to beat the sin and apathy and rationalization infestation that keeps us from a nice lawn and a clean concious. 

He says, when you pull the dandelion out, using the proper tools and all the way to the root, you must immediately fill the hole with grass seed.  He contends that if you don't, something will grow in that spot and it'll be more weeds, bigger weeds.

The same is true of our bad and sinful habits.  Yank them out using the proper implements, like prayer and confession, retreats and praying over the scriptures, the works of the spiritual masters (and not one of the modern dandelions masquerading as spirituality).  But unless we fill the hole that's left behind with prayer and good works and a closeness to God, our sins and bad habits grow back even stronger.

We can't do this alone.  Fortunately we don't have to.  We are in God's garden.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Foregiveness of God, the Forgiveness Within

Later this afternoon a local politician will face the public, and face the music regarding his very foolish indiscretion with taxpayer's money.  Up from the original estimate of $3000 wrongly charged to the public credit card are new estimates of even as much as five times that amount.  Hi resignation is expected by some, hoped by others and gleefully anticipated by still others.  It's possible his political career is over.

I pray that he has made his way to confession at some point in the last few days in order to prepare for today.

When we sin against others, confessing through our priest does not make the hurt we have caused others magically go away.  It does not get us out of legal trouble, or even mitigate the consequences of law.  By fully confessing we come clean with God.  We hear the words of absolution.  We are at peace and ready to bear the judgement of man.

The inner peace of reconciliation with God allows us to understand, listen, and if necessary forgive the (over)reaction of others.  It can be a long road back, and it begins within.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We can (and should) Forgive Even Politicians

My town is experiencing a bit of a crisis as a politician has admitted to a lapse in judgement in using the Library credit card for his personal, quite prolific spending habits.  He has apologized and claims to have repaid all money owing, although new revelations are breathlessly reported in the mainstream media daily.

He's taking quite a hard knock in the social media.  He's young, ambitious and frankly, a nice guy.  Well connected and savvy, he's respected (or until now, he was.)

Elected officials have the expectation to intense scrutiny but no person should reasonably have to endure what this young man is going through.  Criticism, disappointment, even anger; these are understandable reactions on the part of his constituents.

Glee at his plight, unwarranted speculation borne of malice and nurtured by ignorance, and attacks on his character are not Christian, not helpful and certainly not what we would wish on ourselves or a family member.

The councilman will answer for his error and decide if he'd like to finish his term, provided he is not found guilty of a crime (at this point there do not appear to be charges pending).   After that, it's up to the electorate if his political career continues or ends, if he decides to run.

A little forgiveness and a whole lot of prayer on his behalf is what he needs from us in the meantime.  There but for the grace of God go any of us.  Christ knows how difficult it is to endure such public humiliation.

No really; Christ knows.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Judge Not

It happened one day in 1969 in West Germany, on a bus filled with boy scouts on a way to a jamboree, we happened into the middle of a protest that had all the signs of developing into a riot.  The hippies, as we knew them to be, surrounded our bus.  My father, the scout leader in charge, told us to press our Canadian flags against the windows.  Badges, sashes, small flags, whatever we had.  We passed in peace.  The prevailing and unsubstantiated wisdom of the day was that Canadians would never encounter harm in Europe not because of our home and native citizenship, but because we weren't American.

Be that as it may, recently in Canada we have had our share of riots first in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup final, and then on March 17 in London, Ontario during the celebration of the life and good works of an Irish saint.  A disquieting trend has emerged, and I speak not of the rioting itself nor of recognizing sainthood by exhibiting decidedly unsaintly behaviour.

In both instances the community has been quick to judge based on videos and pictures.  Alleged rioters are being threatened and hounded, as though merely being photographed taking a big-screen TV through a broken store window or taking a two-by-four to a police vehicle is proof of complicity.  It may well be, but that is for the court to decide.

There is no justice in rushing to judgement.  Offer the evidence if you have it, share the incriminating social media, and then let the system prove guilt and mete out punishment, correction and restitution.

"Vengeance is mine, says the Lord."  Romans 12:19  Vigilante retribution is as bad and perhaps worse than the alleged illegal behaviour it seeks to punish.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Catholic. Charity

Catholics should give to Catholic charities.  I guess I could have hidden that somewhere between the lines, but it needs to be said, aloud, outside of the lines.

The faith is being watered down by well-meaning Catholics, teachers in the Catholic system, Catholic affinity groups and Catholic community leaders who raise and give money to causes that are quite admirable and quite secular, and there are many of them.   But unless they are Catholic charities, or charities recommended by the local ordinary (our Bishop), we have no guarantee that every penny will be spent in support of Catholic values.  What guarantee have we that money given to a secular charity in support of the sick will not someday be directed towards euthanasia?  That giving to a charitable collective that supports many community charities will not include one that counsels abortion?

There are plenty of very generous people in the secular world with no allegiance except to their own conscience who support all sorts of worthy causes.  God bless them.

There are precious few dollars to support Catholic causes in support of the poor, the sick, the elderly, the unborn, the sorrowful woman who has aborted her child, the crumbling historic church, the faithful.  We must not allow charity inspired at the foot of the cross to be exploited by the secular world for it's own cause to the glory of it's own name.

Catholic dollars should be given, exclusively if possible, to support charity done in Christ's name in accordance with our faith, in accordance with what we believe.