Friday, November 27, 2009

I just read Fr. Dietzen's column in the paper.

Here's the reader's question:
I recently received a New International Version New Testament Bible as a gift. When I stopped at a bookstore to exchange it for a Catholic Bible, I was assured this is a “universal” Bible. The clerk said there is no longer a difference in the New Testament, only in the Old.

I was not aware there is a Bible approved by Catholics and Protestants. Please clarify this. I know there is a Catholic version of the NIV. Doesn’t it differ from the Protestant translation? (Nebraska)
I wasn't aware of a difference in the New Testament unless one argues parts of books? (Mk. 16:9-20; Lk. 22:43-44; John 7:53-8:11. Catholic Encyc.)

Neither was I aware of a Catholic version of the NIV, but this preacher is certain that the NIV is Catholic. I haven't viewed the entire clip, so caveat lector.

I found The Psalms but nothing else. An NIV translation of the deuterocanonicals doesn't appear to be available, although someone here says there is "a Catholic version of the NIV NT only." I haven't found one.

Clearly, Fr. Dietzen has a different translation in mind, maybe the REB, but the rest of his answer is worth reading.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Recently, I found an old video camera in the basement, a Canon Optura 300 and, more essentially, its power adapter and firewire computer interface cable.

So I had a quiet moment today with Ella, eating and then sorting mixed nuts.

I'm still learning with iMovie.

I heard this song on the way to church this morning:

And what you don't know is that my older sister put together a live production based on this song when we were in high school. Well, I was in junior high school. But I was allowed to be an extra. I probably died in battle. Martyred. Yeah, that sounds right.

My weekday missal let me down because the readings weren't included. Too many options to choose from. I should have printed out the bishops' site. The Gospel reading actually fits the holiday pretty well (Luke 17:11-19).

Lots of families together this morning. I couldn't get any of my kids to come along. A former classmate of Kenny's was serving. The songs were Table of Plenty, For the Beauty of the Earth, which I know only because of Little Women, Servant Song (note: Buddy Christ Bobble-head across the keys) and I Sing the Mighty Power of God. No Gloria, no Creed. A typical weekday.

The Preface set very well with me, so I searched for it online and found it here, with commentary. Not everyone cares for it:
it is easy to understand how worshipers could mistake the People whom the Lord delivered from bondage (¶2) for the Pilgrims.
Not at all. Maybe I'm just too steeped in Genesis at the moment, but I had no question of the promise to Abraham, that all people would be blessed through him.

The homily flirted with proclaiming the gospel. He touched on the Incarnation as a manifestation of God's love but nothing of Christ's death. With such a possibility of "guests," I think he should have revealed a bit more of the mystery, especially because we didn't profess the Creed.

And the great thing about being Catholic are all the Italian restaurant owners who treat the Church on such occasions: brought home a loaf of Italian bread from Vesuvio's.

So, in general, I felt as if I was wasting my time this morning. But as the day wore on, I found that I was able to enjoy it more than in years past. And the meal turned out very well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Plainsboro study enjoyed a week off for some parish-wide "Living Faith" event that it seems japhy lectured at. But it isn't my parish, so I didn't attend. Instead, with the week off, I went over to Janet's study of Esther.

I had kept up, despite some cramming at the last minute, even though I wasn't attending weekly. She'd given me the book free of charge, so the least I could do was make good use of it. I was unaware of some of the themes she was promoting due to my general absence. But I wasn't dense: when she made me aware of them, I could readily agree with them. And the big theme is that God is with them in the Exile. He isn't just Israel's god. He is the only God and he isn't trapped in the Temple which, anyway, is destroyed.

The question that got me into trouble with everyone was #6. It'd be easy to just type it in here because I'm looking at it in the book. But I'll paraphrase. Mordecai's decree is tit-for-tat of Haman's decree but Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you [Mt. 5:44]. Luke goes further with "do good to them."

On my own I thought of some others:1
  • Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good
  • Do not repay evil with evil
  • Feed your hungry enemy, in doing so you will heap burning coals on his head
  • Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else
  • Do not repay evil but with blessing, for to this you were called, that you may inherit a blessing
So the point of the study guide's question was whether God's message has changed. Someone said, "Yes" without hesitation.

And I saw this more clearly then than maybe I do now, at this moment. But the next question took us to Deut. 9:4-5 in which God promises to fight on Israel's behalf and assure the victory against those wicked nations in the Promised Land. So I said that God's message hasn't changed, that he fights our battles for us. We don't have to go on the offensive ... or the defensive. And, of course, the study leader's point was that God does that because the people aren't capable of doing it for themselves. OK, whatever.

Since they finished the study last week, I don't know what they are planning in the spring. Janet likes to use her own study guides, maybe to field test them a bit. However, she also likes to bounce back and forth between the Testaments but we already did Hebrews. I don't think she has any other NT guides, except Revelation. I don't even know what she's working on right now. Oh, well, my commitment at Plainsboro takes me through May with only a couple of weeks off for the "Living Faith" programs.

Someone mentioned a book that they had recently read. I just read the preview pages at Amazon. It seems like a dreadful book. The author has written a number of books for Moody so he must be alright. Well, anyway, I'm not a Baptist.

In preparation, I attended the early service there the Sunday before. I hadn't been there since Easter Sunday, quite a while ago. He talked about "separation:" how religious leaders criticized Jesus for not practicing it. And that we need to be approachable. "Jesus is the most tender with the people who are the most lost." I don't think I am.

1 Scripture references
Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly meme hosted by RAnn at This That and the Other Thing.

You can find out more about this meme at the link above.

Sunday Snippets gives bloggers the chance to share some of their favorite posts with others.

This week I would like to share this post:
Two well-said things, here and here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

For the past week, the conversation has been that Chris wanted to attend church with us in order to visit Dunkin' Donuts afterwards.

As we drove past the former church building, in demolished rubble, Chris reasoned aloud that the building was torn down because "church is so bad."

Apparently the last acceptable prejudice is innate.

Kenny asked whether the old cemetery would be moved and I said it would be quite an undertaking to do it right. That comment took us intentionally to Spielberg's Poltergeist for an instance where relocating a cemetery was done wrong.

We happened to arrive at the active church building at same time as a classmate of Chris's, another kindergartner. I think he found that interesting. On the way into the building, my first communion candidate cautioned Chris about the service: "It's a little weird at first but you'll get used to it."

My boys have no qualms about weaving in and out of crowds so I'm quickly left behind. Kenny even maneuvered around two girls with their mother in order to get ahead of them to hold the door for them. He wasn't even aware of how he got in front of them.

During the singing, Chris followed along in the hymnal. He may find musical notation interesting or simply likes singing.

The Gospel reading was Mark's mini-apocalypse1, so the homilist said "hell" a number of times. My first communion candidate was scandalized and objected to me on the priest's use of "bad words." As this was a children's mass, the younger kids had been ushered out before the readings to the church basement for, presumably activities on the readings suited for children. I reminded Tim that he could have gone downstairs with them if he wanted an easier time of it but that perhaps Father presumed only adults remained in the sanctuary. There was one other time I remember the homily digressing into violent descriptions of crime but, then again, the children were supposedly all downstairs.

I tend to look out the windows during the sermon and saw a large group of well-dressed people entering with an infant in a carrier. I didn't expect them to join us upstairs but they did, even though there were seats downstairs. And it happened that they made for a pew that appeared vacant only to discover two small boys ducked down, sitting on the kneelers. The group of them entered the pew from both ends and my two boys had no way to escape. I was pretty embarrassed but it was also very funny. You think they learned their lesson?

So, in order to accommodate everyone, Kenny had to scooch out of our pew into another pew by himself with another family. He wasn't too happy about that but I told him to make room for the other people.

And then during communion there was quite a bottleneck on the stairs from so many people. I found myself saying in response to my kids' complaints about the crowd: You should be happy church is so packed. But it wasn't very convincing, even to me.

1 cf. iMonk's sermon on Mark 13, via.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

His talk cracks me up. Eatontown was my church, then. And my theater.

No, I don't recognize any protesters.

via View Askew

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mom: Kenny, what are you guys doing?

Kenny: Riding.

Dad: What day is it?

Kenny: It's a beautiful day.

Mom: It is a beautiful day. It's gonna be a nice night.

Dad: Is it a holiday?

Kenny: Um-hum.

Dad: Is it a kids' holiday?

Kenny: Um-hum. It's Halloween? It's Halloween now?

Mom: Is it? Um-hum. So what are you doing?

Kenny: Riding.

Dad: What do you do on Halloween?

Kenny: Get candy.

Dad: What do you say when you go up to the door?

Kenny: 'Trick or treat' and I push the ding-dong bell.

Mom: And then after they give you the candy, what do you say?

Kenny: 'Trick or treat' and 'Thank you.'

Mom: What are you?

Kenny: A dinosaur.

Mom: Are you a friendly or a scary dinosaur?

Kenny: Friendly.

Mom: Uh-huh. What's your brother?

Kenny: A hunny pot.

Mom: That's sweet, isn't it?

Dad: What's a friendly dinosaur say?

Kenny: Roar.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I made up this week's homework with a vengeance. First off, the Sunday Gospel was from the chapter so I distributed Dr. Koch's reflection to everyone during lunch. The first question in the homework was to look up "blessed" in a dictionary. So I made copies of Kittel for everyone, because I'm a geek with too much time on my hands. Sometimes. And they actually showed interest in reading it. God bless them.

The next homework question went something like this: "What did Jesus base our blessedness on?" And the first two answers given by ladies in the small group were along the lines of "upon the good things we do, upon our righteousness." I wanted to curl up and die, because my answer was the exact opposite: our emptiness. Not only that, but in response to posting a link to Dr. Koch's reflection on Facebook (because it mentions "virtue"), my friend, Rev. Searl, said the article "smacks of works-righteousness." Um-hum.

The first part of the video, I'd have to say, Cavins struck me as "anointed." It's hard for me to say that about anybody. But that was my impression. "Anointed" or not, it was at least clear to me that Cavins is passionate about the Beatitudes.

During lunch, I was very uncomfortable, of course. This isn't my parish ... or even my diocese. I was looking at my watch constantly because the kids had a half day. But the single fella in the group was asked about his Bible knowledge and he said he's been studying the Bible for a few years now and just started reading Revelation. I was interested in hearing him say more about that but the leader used that as a way to ask me about my studying. She knows I study at Princeton Alliance, so she asked me about their approach to the Bible. I demurred talking about them. But she persisted, "They are fundamentalists, aren't they?" and I said, "Sure. Sure, they are."

It was an unfair question, a loaded question and especially ironic because fundamentalism is a matter of degree. I almost reminded her of that. What she couldn't know is that, while I consider just about everyone a biblical fundamentalist, there's nothing pejorative 'bout it.

Alright, I should dig out Fr. Witherup's book and read it again.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The one year that I taught confirmation candidates, I wrote up worksheets for them to use for the readings at Sunday mass. Only a couple of students ever turned in the work. I used to reissue the worksheets to the ones that didn't with the Sunday Gospel reading reference scrawled across the top of the page for them to at least look up on their own after the service. Very few did.

So when a teenager arrived late to mass this morning with paperwork and during the sermon picked up a missal to fill it out, I had an idea of his task. But he hadn't mastered missals so I handed him mine, open at the ribbon marker and pointed out the readings on the page. He took it and worked from it. Then as the children took their envelopes downstairs - we were in the choir loft - he saw his graceful exit and left.

Kenny was fiddling with one of my rosaries during the homily and, as he has many times, he asked me what the initials stand for. So I told him. Then I picked up my missal and turned to the Palm Sunday Gospel readings, but none of them reported the complete expression. I thought to myself, "Wouldn't you know, we've taken the minority report and made it the norm." So I turned to the Good Friday liturgy and found the full expression in the Fourth Gospel:
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews."
The thing you're looking for is always in the last place you look.

And the NAB footnotes John 19:19 as follows:
The inscription differs with slightly different words in each of the four gospels. John's form is fullest and gives the equivalent of the Latin INRI = Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum. Only John mentions its polyglot character (John 19:20) and Pilate's role in keeping the title unchanged (John 19:21-22).
Did I catch much of the homily? Yeah, it was about love. God loving us enough to want us to be saints and us loving God enough to want to be what he made us to be. I guess it came from the second reading. In the first reading, I pointed out to Kenny that the heavenly worship of God has these seven attributes: "Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might."
I was doing my Precepts homework at the tennis center while the boys took their lesson. A woman I know from the boys' old school asked what I was reading and I told her Genesis. She puzzled so I clarified, "Genesis, from the Bible." She asked me whether I'd considered parochial school for the boys and I confessed, "Several times but the nearest schools are still too far." Her children attend one but her dilemma this year is that it's a sacrament year. "We aren't Catholic. Well, not practicing. We attend a non-denominational church." But her child is feeling left out and she wants to petition the school to allow the child to participate in the rite.

After I got over the initial shock of a non-Catholic wanting to make their First Holy Communion, I thought about the matter. As a mother, I understand the emotions involved. It may not matter much that other children in the grade are likewise affected. It's probably a moot point because the school has its policies. The mother is willing to re-baptize her children Catholic in order to qualify them for the sacrament. I wouldn't think their Christian baptism a hinderance.

I admit that if the shoe was on the other foot and I had my kids in, say, a Methodist day school, I would want them to participate in whatever rites the school observed. Most schools make families sign agreements saying they support the school's policies. But even so, it's inevitable that a family has little choice than to send their children to a school with which they aren't in complete agreement. And, as this mother said, the school accepted her non-Catholic children into the academic program and they receive religious instruction.

Well, I can't imagine she'll prevail. But I think I'll ask around and see what the outcome might be.