Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fr. Dietzen's Question Corner:
Q. Where can one obtain a current list of the Church's Index of Forbidden Books? When I was growing up we heard much about this group of books Catholics were not supposed to read. But it's been a long time since I last heard anything about it. (Indiana)

A. Nearly from the beginning of Christianity, the Church has recognized that what people read can have enormous good or bad consequences for their faith. For example, this is one reason Christians were always so careful that translations and copies of sacred Scriptures were as accurate as humanly possible.

Among the most colorful and combative documents we possess from the early centuries of Christianity are letters exchanged between St. Augustine and St. Jerome arguing over the best appropriate translation of a word in the Bible. They realized how people's understanding of their faith could be malformed by a messed-up version.

By the fifth century this concern was already being expressed over other writings, including what later became the Index of Forbidden Books. It cited books relating to religion, Christian religion particularly, which members of the Church were not to read without sufficient preparation and background. The first general legislation, however, requiring permission to print certain books was in 1487.

The index continued in one form or another up to our own time. In 1966 the index was eliminated, and in 1975 the rules were significantly revised. These changes are reflected in the present Code of Canon Law.

Approval by proper Church authorities is still required for certain types of publications either before or after they are printed. These mainly include editions of the Bible, liturgical and devotional books, and religion textbooks.

While these provisions are considerably less restrictive than previous Church law, the Church retains the same concerns for the integrity of our faith as in the past. The shift is toward a different understanding of the purpose of Church laws.

As the Canon Law Society of America explains, "The purpose of this legislation has partially changed, from a rather paternalistic attempt to protect the faith and morals of the people by safeguarding them from harmful religious publications, to a more restrained and positive effort to assure that those writings which express the Church's prayers and beliefs do so accurately" ("Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary," [1985], 578).

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It dawned on me this morning that I'm low-church.

Not coining a phrase here at all.

Too many Newman Center services to blame, perhaps? Or too influenced by JPII's low-church pontificate, made all too clear with that of his successor?

It's many things, I'm sure: I've long dropped the genuflecting, the holy water font, that little gesture before the Gospel is read, the sign of the cross before and after private prayer.

And no ashes today:
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
On the way out, I overheard a woman say to no one in particular, "Hey, you wanna pray the rosary?" That's a thought; I had mine on me.

But ... the Glorious Mysteries ... on Ash Wednesday?!

This is how I learned them ... a simplified version? Or is it merely ultra-traditionalism that advocates the Sorrowful Mysteries from Ash Wednesday to Easter? I'd say there's latitude but, if one doesn't pray all 15 (20?!) today, the sorrowful ones might be most appropriate.

Other opinions?
"If you must go to excess on one or the other side, let it be towards indulgence, for no sauce was ever spoiled by sugar. The human mind is so constituted that it hardens itself against severity, but loving kindness makes it pliable." - St. Francis de Sales

More of his quotes.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

From Fr. Dietzen's Question Corner:
Q. At the start of Lent in our parish, the statues and pictures in church are covered with a purple cloth. Other churches in our area do not do this. Is there a rule about this, or is it up to each parish? (New York)

A. I've never heard of statues being covered during the whole of Lent. Before 1970, crosses and other images in Catholic churches were traditionally covered with purple veils during the final two weeks of Lent, during what was then called Passiontide. When the revised missal was [...] included a different regulation, which is found at the end of the Mass for Saturday of the fourth week of Lent.

"The practice of covering crosses and images in the church may be observed, if the episcopal conference decides." In that case, beginning on the second Sunday before Easter, "The crosses are to be covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord's passion on Good Friday. Images are to remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil."

These rubrics were repeated by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1988.

As of now, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not voted to continue the rule of covering images. Thus the practice has not been permitted in this country for 38 years. Individual parishes have no authority to reintroduce the practice on their own.
The service we attended was brief, so it was not the reading of the Passion. I remember a large, freestanding cross in front of the altar, in the sanctuary, covered with a huge dark cloth. I found it very strange. Frightening, in fact.

Somehow the gift shop was open and we browsed afterwards. Was it a converted crypt church, one of wrought iron railings around an ad orientum altar? I wish now I'd been more conscious of such things then.

The very idea of a gift shop in a church selling religious articles was so very strange to me. Naturally I bought nothing, to the astonishment of my companion. This was her church and she thought I would adore it, even if she didn't. Obviously I had given a false impression. Do I come across as being more traditional than I truly am?

Or simply compared to her, who'd duck in briefly on Sunday, pick up a bulletin from the back table and leave it around her apartment when her mother visited? That I also thought strange, very strange.
Spent four hours at FunTime America in Cliffwood this afternoon at a birthday party. And it's an hour over there and back. So, like almost six hours altogether.

Here they are, riding the helicopters:

Here they are getting ready for laser tag ... Kenny looks stoked and Tim is unsure:

They rode on some roller coaster simulator that did Tim in. We parents were able to watch them inside the simulator as well as see what they saw on the screen. Kenny did the bumper cars and the Himalaya but after the simulator, Tim was done with rides. I suppose I should have suggested to him that he not ride the simulator. They looked at some reptiles and touched a lizard and a snake, then entered the party room for pizza and cake. I helped pour drinks and supervise the kids at my table. A few of them really needed supervision, especially while waiting for cake.

After the party, we received some tokens for video games. Kenny manages to stretch his tokens into free games but Tim, even with my help, picked broken machines that only ate tokens. It's remarkable.

Friday, February 20, 2009

First there was a presentation on Caring at school which wrapped up about five minutes before the daily mass started. So I was a few minutes late, walking in during the penitential rite. The NET kids were there, done with a retreat for the confirmation group. I suppose those kids are Catholic; I've seen some groups that aren't.

The psalm spoke to me:
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
From his fixed throne he beholds
all who dwell on the earth,
He who fashioned the heart of each,
he who knows all their works.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
I prayed it for michele.

Then over to Jackson for an intensive eye exam involving reading, identifying backwards letters, numbers and words, matching images and drawing shapes. The tests lasted about 30 minutes and my eyes were tired and sore for the rest of the day.

I returned DVDs at the public library and got a book on James Baldwin for Kenny's "Famous Black American" project. Since I didn't have any kids with me, I tried to be less self-absorbed and more aware of others. After lunch I went to my MRI appointment on the hospital campus. I beat a rush of people coming in for their appointments or trying to retrieve their films. The facility didn't seem to be run too well as a couple of people had trouble picking up their films, the films couldn't be located for them.

The technician gave me a choice of music:
"I have classical, jazz, oldies ..." Classic rock?

"Eagles? I have the Eagles in. They alright for ya?" Sure. (Maybe I should have said 'Oldies.')

"Oh, wait, nope, it's Clapton. He's alright, right?" OK, sure, he's fine.
So I emptied my pockets into a small locker and followed him into the room. I had to set down my glasses on a nearby chair and he helped me onto the table. I couldn't see much but he gave me the earphones, the panic button and some helmet in which, if I opened my eyes, I saw ... my eyes. I suppose the mirror is supposed to be reassuring or soothing but I'm so myopic - literally, not necessarily figuratively - that it brought very little comfort.

The piped in music was almost for nought as well. The saving grace, I suppose, was knowing Clapton's songs well enough to imagine them, hear them in my mind, whenever the "knocking"1 drowned them out. And when the plugged version of "Layla" came on, it was all I could do to not jive along with my head.

He said it would take 20 minutes altogether and told me how long each scan would be just before kicking them off. "This one will be 30 seconds; this one is 4 minutes," etc. I had this strange thought that if I knew how long the particular Clapton songs were I could occupy my mind with that, like a countdown.

Towards the end, he told me, "OK, three scans left." Then after two scans, I was out. The staff came in talking but the music was still on and I couldn't get to the earphones, so that was awkward. I left the room with their assistance and encountered an ambulance stretcher in the hallway, attended by an EMT. The elderly woman on it looked completely bundled up cozy and quite comfortable but maybe looking a little scared. I wanted to tell her it was alright but I didn't know that for sure. So I prayed it was. I thought of the two car accidents I had seen on Route 9 that morning and wondered whether she had been in one of those. The staff retrieved my "valuables" from the locker and it dawned on me that safekeeping was an illusion as everyone on staff knew the locker combinations.

I was left to my own to find my way out of the facility and ended up exiting via an employee entrance on the side. The attending ambulance was out front. And I wondered whether my scans were cut short to get this woman in asap. I noted the earliest time and the latest time on the scans were only 15 minutes apart. I don't care; the scans won't turn anything up.

There was just enough time to pick up Chris at school, so I buzzed home to Jeff to intercept him. But didn't reach him and decided to let well enough alone. I wasn't quite ready to jump back in "being Mom" after being out of the loop for the better part of a day. He called me to say my films were ready and realizing how much trouble others had had retrieving their films, I doubled back to the facility to pick them up immediately. The woman at the counter remarked, "I don't know how I missed you exiting. You slipped past me" and I murmured something about not being able to find the waiting room after my exam so I slipped out a side exit.

And I looked at the films in the car. There's a brain in there - a reality that surprised my husband, so he said when I got home. But it is so small that 20 pictures of it can fit on a film.

So, that's where it stands - back to the neurologist sometime. Oh, wait, I do have an appointment already ... when is it? Sometime. I was just about to say that my symptoms aren't as bad as they've been but, you see, that's one of the symptoms. No breaks.

1 supreme, technical euphemism or understatement
I suppose it was inevitable:
Monachino was a pharmaceutical representative at Schering-Plough Corp., and was coming back from Newark on a business trip along with Jennifer Neill, also of Clarence, who also perished on Flight 3407.

In memoriam: The victims of Flight 3407 - The Buffalo News

via OACS Alumni Site.
Waiting on a long line for lunch earlier in the day, I lost my place to two businessmen because I stepped out of line to get Ella who had ran towards the door. It was just a matter of not being present when the counter staff asked for the next order.

But I could see, when I returned to my spot, that I was causing confusion for the staff by being out of order and the place was busy enough without that, so I simply stepped to the back of the line.

But the lady at the end insisted I go ahead of her, so I moved up a spot.

And the businessmen noticed and apologized.

But I actually was willing to let them go ahead because I know lunch hour can be short. So, on the one hand, I wasn't passive, letting this happen to me ... I was making active, deliberate choices - and following my own will and what I thought right and appropriate but yet this emotion of sadness wells up and I almost begin to cry ... not frustration, no, rather feeling sorry for myself.

Yes, that's right - pathetic, hungry me.

Fortunately, I got my emotion in check ... I was appalled at my fragility ... and humbled by the fact that my emotions can work so hard to derail my will. I definitely need a strong dose of mortification ... eh, JIT.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Instead of going to Chevys tonight ... a favorite restaurant ... I went to hear Jim on Philippians and to share some Olivers candies. With all consideration, I chose the better part. I was able to pray as we read portions of the letter aloud and offer to God whatever fit the circumstances.

Chapter 4 is very familiar because it is so quoted.

But 3:10 and 11 are words I feel very able to make my own:
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
So, when asked, I said that I could say those words with Paul, if he is in fact saying them of himself rather than giving those words to the Philippians. Jim thinks Paul is so confident in Christ that those words are for the Philippians and not for Paul, not personal. Well, that's fine but they are for me too.

In discussing the hymn, of course, Jim gave us a low christological interpretation that came across as Pelagian. And I told him as much. But the hymn says nothing of faith ... and Philippians says nothing of the atonement ... so we can't certainly take the hymn as self-contained, as a "gospel in a nut-shell" at all. Philippians is about humility and being like-minded (and having the mind of Christ).

There was a space-heater in the room, for which I was grateful except it made me cough somehow. Choke, even. So, I had to get water which meant by the end of our time I had to go out again. But that turned out well because some people wanted to get into the building. They were banging on the locked exterior doors. I heard the banging as I left the classroom and trotted down the hall to let them in. They hadn't been waiting long but in 30 degree night air, even a short while is too long.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The envelopes run January to January which is a good thing because December is just so busy.

Throughout the month of January, I looked for new envelopes on the table in the library. But found only leftovers from last year.

On the Sunday we turned in our last envelope, I asked the deacon whether he knew where the new batch could be. He said he'd heard a rumor that they had arrived but among the other staff members, he wasn't sure who had them. He suggested we cross out dates on unused envelopes and write the current date.

That sounded incredibly silly to me but we missed two weeks in December while we were in Florida and I still had those envelopes (12/21 and 12/28), so I was able to cross off the '1' and the '2' and submit those on 2/1 and 2/8.

Funny how that worked out.

Then I asked the DRE at CCD pick-up whether she knew where the new envelopes were. And next Sunday, they were available on the table in the library.

These are different in that they don't have exact dates but have, rather, generic 1st Sunday, 2nd Sunday, etc., with a bank of 5th Sunday at the end as needed. I suppose it would be too confusing to put the liturgical date on them.

I did "my thing" of pairing up each Sunday in the box and wrote the boys' name on their own numbered envelope. I might even run to the bank and get a bunch of fives to put in this year. The boys give me a hard time about putting the envelope in empty each week. It's just an attendance thing; the parish collects maybe only $50 a month in the kids' envelopes.

I don't want to stand out by being charitable.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Again, only of interest because the OB who delivered my first two is featured as an advocate ...

Low-tech medicine - Asbury Park Press, 2/15/09:
Dr. Robert Penney, an obstetrician and gynecologist with offices in Holmdel and Shrewsbury, said he had to lobby his colleagues five years ago before they agreed to spend $200,000 on an electronic system.

It required extensive training and the savings from productivity weren't immediate.

"It's much more complicated than people believe," said Penney, who has become a leading advocate on information technology.
I was thinking of going back to him because I haven't had any good experiences with Freehold doctors. They are all quacks.

Penney's good ... I didn't know it at the time but I know it now. And the occasional trip "east" won't be so bad as prenatal would have been, every week towards the end.
This is of interest because now my town is in it:

Park system offers bargain basement rent - Asbury Park Press, 2/15/09:
The monthly payments for 33 county-owned homes are between $346 and $691, a bargain compared with the $1,800 monthly median price for 21 rentals in the past week on the Web site of the Monmouth County Association of Realtors.

The county pays for utilities and repairs.
Jeff says our utilities are about $600/month.
I can see this lecture series ticking off alot of people:

I gotta find a way to get there!

I think it was the summer of 2002 when I heard him lecture there on Paul. He suggested that Paul probably didn't think of Jesus as divine. It was just never a consideration, never a thought Paul had.

Oh, what an uproar that caused!

The audience began calling out Scripture verses at him; he had an answer for them all, of course. Because, in their minds, they assumed that he was advocating conformity with Paul's thought ... and, of course, he wasn't. He wasn't doing that at all; he's principally a biblical scholar, not a theologian. But he's also a Christian.

College of St. Elizabeth - Summer Institute, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

"On Thursday, at about eleven o’clock in the morning the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw down of ah, ah, ah, money market accounts in the United States to the tune of five hundred and fifty billion dollars, was being drawn out in a matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its ah, ah, window to help, they pumped one hundred and five billion dollars into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks.

"They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per account so that there wouldn’t be further panic out there, and that’s what actually happened. If they had not done that their estimation was that by two o’clock that afternoon five and a half trillion dollars would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States and within twenty four hours the world economy would have collapsed.

"Now we talked at that time about what would happen if that would happen. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it and that’s why, when they made that point we’ve got to act and do things quickly we did."
"Noah, How Long Can You Tread Water? - First Things.
Plane crashes into suburban Buffalo home; 50 killed - CNN, 2/13/09:
A Continental Airlines plane crashed into a home near Buffalo, New York, late Thursday, killing all 49 passengers and crew members on board, according to New York state police.

The crash occurred about seven miles from Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Dave Bissonette, Clarence Center's natural disaster services coordinator, said it was "clearly a direct hit" on the house.

[O]ne of the crash victims, Beverly Eckert, was the widow of 9/11 terror attack victim Sean Rooney, a Buffalo native. Eckert was traveling to Buffalo for a weekend celebration of what would have been her husband's 58th birthday.

She also had planned to take part in presentation of a scholarship award at Canisius High School that she established in honor of her late husband, the Buffalo News newspaper reported.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Kenny as Thomas A. Edison ... looking more like Red Skelton.

Kenny's book report this month was a biography. He wanted to pick a president. Blech. Besides, someone was already doing Obama.

We browsed the biographies in the young readers section of the public library and got two decent-looking books on Edison. Well into reading them, he kept calling the inventor "Einstein."

But the book held his attention with enough personal trivia and tidbits, like the time Edison caused a chemical explosion in the baggage car of the train he worked on. Boys love such stories.

The written report involved some typical questions plus presenting a timeline with at least twelve1 significant dates/events. And dressing up as the person.

You think I can find a bowler that isn't Shamrock Green this time of year?! Or a pre-tied bow-tie that doesn't come with its own formalwear? IOW, for less than $25? Jeff's like, "Why didn't you just buy a black hat instead of trying to color this one with permanent marker?" And when I was young, you know how many satin bow-ties I owned (and wore!) in an assortment of colors?!

Jeff was useful, in a way, however, and not just critical. That is, as a prop, Kenny took in one of Jeff's framed patent certificates. Sure, we had to rummage through storage containers in the basement for it and, when we ultimately found it, we had to clean the thick layer of dust2 off it. But it's a fairly unique thing to have, to bring in with a book report. I also printed a couple of pictures from the Blizzard of 1977 1888 for him to show.

1: we got just twelve.
2: construction, remember? Everything went to the basement and everything got dusty.

Friday, February 06, 2009

He was saying that born agains have a harder time assuring themselves of salvation than Catholics who receive communion at mass each Sunday:
"They say that prayer and who knows if it worked. They don't have communion."
But there are "tells" ... for evangelicals.

For instance, Bible teacher Kay Arthur routinely quotes 2 Tim. 2:15, according to the King James, to impart that if one does one's homework and studies one's Bible, one has shown oneself to be approved (acceptable) unto God.1

However, look at 2 Tim. 2:15 in any modern English translation and you'll see Arthur makes convenient use of it. More than that, by relying on the King James only, she effectively masks a verse that affirms human effort to some degree: "Do your best ..." (NIV)

1 Like on the Matthean beatitudes, interpretation is inverted: it's not "Do this and be blessed," rather it's "The bless├Ęd do this (by the grace of God)."
Reading through the second half of Galatians, verse 29 brought everyone up short:
But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now.
What persecution? Ishmael and Isaac got along famously.

I was the only one to raise an objection, a vague memory from the Genesis study last year of the confrontation that precipitated the second kicking out of Hagar and Ishmael by Sarah.1
"There was some sort of rivalry," I stammered.
No one knew anything about it.
"They were 'playing,'" everyone else said.

So today I got around to picking up a Bible and going to Genesis.

21:9 reads like this:
"Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking."
This is the NASB. The NIV has the same. The ESV footnotes the verse. The NAB has "playing." Same with N/RSV. And the JPS, with Sarna's commentary saying this:
One rabbinic interpretation of the Hebrew metsahek has Ishmael ridiculing the fuss made of Isaac and asserting his own claim to first-born status ...
Anyway, I understand now the source of my confusion, as the NIV was used exclusively in the Genesis study last year.

But now I wonder whether this is an attempt by evangelical translators to harmonize Genesis to Galatians.

1 Later in that same chapter of Genesis.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

So, I logged on this morning to find a specialist and this "News Flash" caught my eye:

Horizon BCBSNJ and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Reach Agreement - good news. Let's just hope I don't need it anymore.