Sunday, February 28, 2010

Devastation in Chile

At 3:34 a.m. local time, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile.  Centered off the coast of central Chile, the quake lasted for an incredible three minutes.   Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced that the death toll so far is 708, and has declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile.  Half a million homes have been devastated.  The tsunami touched off by the quake -- the seventh-largest ever recorded -- traveled as far as Japan and Russia, but did little damage.

2010 is turning out to be a very busy year for St. Emedius, patron against earthquakes.  May he intercede for the devastated Chileans, and may his intercession stave off any further such disasters.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Reason No. 3,438,872 for Abolishing Communion in the Hand

Is it possible to desecrate a Host after having received It on the tongue? Of course. Has it happened in history? Of course.

But who is seriously prepared to argue that Communion in the hand does not provide greater opportunity for desecration and make it a lot easier?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Those '70s Stations

Every Lent, for the last several years, I am reminded why I don't like to go to the Stations of the Cross anymore at my local neighborhood churches.  When I was a kid, the Stations of the Cross  booklet that we always prayed out of at my parochial school was distinctly lacking in power and majesty; yet Stations was still an oasis of Catholic sanity in the howling desert of the Spirit of Vatican II.

Not anymore.  Now, instead of following Jesus on the Way of the Cross, we are to swing into lockstep with the revolution on the march.  An outfit called Center of Concern runs a website called Education for Justice, allegedly dedicated to advancing Catholic social teaching.  You have to be a paid subscriber to access most of the site's content (which seems to be almost devoid of anything having to do with a real and pressing matter of social justice, namely, abortion).  But if the "Peace Stations of the Cross" held at one of the local parishes last Friday is any indication, that money would be better spent on something more worthwhile, like say a five-day drug run.

Some samples of the Center for Concern's commie crappola and downright heresy masquerading as a legitimate Catholic devotion, ranging from the nonsensical to the overtly pagan:

Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

Jesus knew in his own body the force of violence, the power of fear and the domination of those intent on destroying him.  All might, all evil, all hostility struck against him and he fell.  But he stood again, faced the power of violence, and absorbed it within himself.  Jesus' lifestyle of personal nonviolence was chosen long before he faced the cross and execution.  His first word, "repent," was the call to be nonviolent and obedient.

Every time we fall, giving in to hatred and revenge, we promise to rise again and recommit ourselves to the nonviolent Jesus.  We will strive to be peacemakers in our daily lives, offering an alternative to the violence that is so pervasive in our culture and world.

[Note the twisting and subversion of the well-known prayer:] We adore you, Christ, and we bless you.  By the power of your holy cross help us to change the world.

From the Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Mother.  Mary, who never sinned, stands in solidarity with unrepentant and public sinners:

From the beginning Mary shared the fate of her child, including his call to prophecy, his rejection and sufferings.  She prayed his call to prophecy, his rejection and sufferings.  She prayed what he prayed -- that the proud be overthrown in the conceit of their hearts, that the hungry be fed and the rich sent empty away, that the meek and lowly live with dignity and the powerful dethroned.  On the road to Calvary, Mary stood with her son and endured humiliation, mocking and ridicule.  She symbolizes all who stand in solidarity with those whose pain is public.  She stands with women who have illegitimate children, with those who contract AIDS, with men and women marginalized because of their sexuality.  And she stands with all who befriend them.

From the Seventh Station: Jesus Stumbles a Second Time.  Jesus wasn't just accomplishing our salvation: more importantly, He was stickin' it to The Man:
The violence of the system degrades, keeps down, rejects and never forgets failure and weakness.  So many in our society fall again and again under the burden.  We have names and categories for them: alcoholics, addicts, abusers.  It's so easy to see them as problems rather than persons with individual stories.  It's so easy to forget how many are victims of our failed educational, economic and legal systems, scapegoats of racism, sexism and intolerance.  Actually, it's a miracle that the journey continues at all and that anyone marginalized by the system gets up again.

From the Eighth Station: The Women of Jerusalem Weep for Jesus.  Another blow against American imperialism:
Let us be still and weep in our own hearts.  Let us weep for all those lost in our wars, in our armed conflicts, in our military maneuvers.  Let us weep for all who suffer because our country initiates and aids racial and national conflicts with arms, money and supplies.

From the Eleventh Station: Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross.  The Good Thief erred when he told the other thief that they were getting what they deserved:

Jesus is executed by being nailed to a piece of wood, hung naked, exposed to taunts, reduced to an object of ridicule.  Public crucifixions continue today, only in place of wooden beams there is a gas chamber, electric chair, injection, firing squad.  The death penalty is not our right.

O God, forgive us for we know not what we do.  Help us to work against the death penalty, to stand against legally sanctioned death.

From the Thirteenth Station: Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross.  Our lives are only worthwhile if the world smiles on us:

We all have the same reason for living.  How will we know if our lives have been worthwhile?  The criteria is [sic] clear.  Will others remember us for our mercy, our kindness, our truth-telling, our compassion, our faithfulness.  [Sic.]  Have we, in other words, done the will of God?
From the Fourteenth Station: Jesus Is Laid in the Womb of Mother Earth:

The body of Jesus was returned to the earth.  It was interred with the waste, the refuse of society.  The earth took back its creator and maker.  The womb of Mother the Earth received the flesh of the Sun of Justice, just as Father the Sky embraced his last cry and prayer.
Time to throw out the left-wing pabulum and go back to the authentic devotion of the Stations of the Cross.  Time to live again by the wisdom the Che-wannabes have thrown out:

I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 

1 Corinthians 2:2

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Memorial: Bl. Jacinta Marto

Today is the 90th anniversary of her death.

There are a number of child saints, but most of them are martyrs.   Until the pontificate of St. Pius X, children had been considered incapable of heroic virtue.  Bl. Jacinta and her brother, Bl. Francisco, may (if I am not mistaken) be the first children to be raised to the altar on the basis of heroic virtue since Ven. Pius XII canonized St. Dominic Savio in 1954.   

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Life Teen: Rooted in Filth

Time line:

1978: Dale Fushek is ordained a priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona.  He plans to focus his ministry on children and teenagers.

1981: Bishop Thomas O'Brien is appointed Bishop for the Diocese of Phoenix.

1985: As pastor of St. Timothy's Catholic Church in Mesa, Arizona, Fr. Fushek founds Life Teen along with Phil Baniewicz.

1995: The Diocese of Phoenix pays $45,000.00 to settle a sexual harassment claim against Fr. Fushek by a former employee of St. Timothy's.  Fr. Fushek announces this settlement to his parish in 2002, stating that although he did nothing wrong, the settlement was paid in order to avoid costly litigation in the future.

2000: Bishop Thomas O'Brien appoints Fr. Fushek Vicar General of the Diocese of Phoenix.

2002: Fr. Fushek is given the title of Monsignor.

2003: As part of a deal struck with the Maricopa County prosecutor to avoid indictment, Bishop Thomas O'Brien admits to having protected sexually abusive priests in his diocese.  Shortly afterward, the bishop is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident after striking and killing a pedestrian, then giving as his reason for not stopping that he thought he had only hit an animal.  He resigned as bishop four days later.

2004: More sex abuse allegations against Msgr. Fushek lead to the suspension of his faculties by the new Bishop of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas Olmsted.

2005: A man files a civil action is filed in the Maricopa County Superior Court alleging that in 1985, Fr. Mark Lehman (who afterwards served ten years after pleading no contest to attempted sex abuse) and Phil Baniewicz (co-founder of Life Teen) sexually assaulted him at Msgr. Fushek's parish, that the latter plied him with alcohol and masturbated while watching the abuse, and that all three made threats to prevent the plaintiff from reporting the abuse.  Also: Msgr. Fushek is indicted on several misdemeanor counts arising from alleged sexual contact with young boys.  Msgr. Fushek and Phil Baniewicz resign from Life Teen.


2008: Msgr. Fushek is excommunicated, together with Fr. Mark Dippre, for persistently participating in public ministry and holding non-denominational services, despite having been suspended and despite Bishop Olmsted's orders to cease and desist. 

February 16, 2010: The Diocese of Phoenix announces that in January of 2010, Dale Fushek was dismissed from the clerical state by order of Pope Benedict XVI.  Mr. Fushek incurred this penalty after the Diocese of Phoenix investigated allegations of sexual abuse against Mr. Fushek and forwarded its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The excommunication previously imposed remains in effect.

Yes, it's true, Life Teen is filled with well-intentioned people.  It's also true that Life Teen distances itself from Dale Fushek and protests its fidelity to Rome and to the magisterium (though this fidelity is not terribly conspicuous in Life Teen-controlled liturgies).  But is there some reason the above should not raise the same red flags with Life Teen that, say, the revelations about Fr. Maciel have raised about the Legionaries of Christ? 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Infant Jesus, Lost and Found

Today, I was scrounging for a lost file.  I could have sworn I had that file at one point; but now I couldn't find it, and I'm going to need it for court tomorrow.  I looked everywhere for it.  I went through my filing cabinet several times; no dice.  I looked in the stacks where we keep inactive files with outstanding bench warrants; no dice.  I sent out an email appeal to all the attorneys in my division; I got one response from one person to tell me he didn't have the file.  I sent the support staff on an all-out file-hunt.  They scoured the closed files, bench warrants, and even other lawyers' offices; but the elusive file was simply not to be found.  It had just disappeared off the face of the earth.

When I was in law school, an Ursuline sister taught me a prayer that she swore by.  Whenever she had lost something, she prayed it; and she declared that she had never been disappointed:

Infant Jesus, lost and found,
Please bring my lost _____ 'round.

Some time later, when I was a young rookie lawyer, I was getting out of court late one afternoon and was anxious to get home and relax.  I went back to the office and got ready to leave -- and couldn't find my keys.  I searched everywhere.  I ran back to the courthouse and, at five minutes to five, started all the bailiffs on a huge manhunt for my keys.  Nobody turned up my keys.  Near despair, I headed back to the office.  I remembered the little prayer.  

Infant Jesus, lost and found,
Please bring my lost keys 'round.

I got back into my office and heaved a sigh of resignation.  I took one more look in my briefcase, which I had already turned inside out several times...and there were the keys.  It was a long time before the bailiffs let me hear the end of that one.

Nor was this the last time this little prayer would save my bacon.  Over the years, I have had many occasions to offer it, and nearly always with positive (and often prompt) results.  Very often, as with the lost keys incident, the article will turn up in plain view in a place where I had already looked half a dozen times.  Admittedly, this may be due at least in part to my lousy powers of observation (for example, it took me five months to notice a sliding door on one end of my kitchen); but I doubt it.

Why does this prayer work so well?  It is certainly not magic: prayer is not a means of manipulating either God or nature.  And prayer is not a vending machine where you put in a dollar and automatically get what you want.  A very few times I have not found the lost article; and then I have to chalk the whole incident up to God's will, and figure that I must be better off with out the object; or else now it will go to someone else who needs it more than I do.  

I suspect this prayer is efficacious because (a) Jesus likes to be honored in His Infancy; (b) Jesus in turn honors the faith from which the prayer springs; and (c) Jesus has a sense of humor.  I think He also uses it as a way to kindle devotion.  Some years ago, one of my coworkers, a Seventh-Day Adventist, was searching frantically for a document.  I told her about the Infant Jesus prayer.  She looked at me like I was nuts, so I said the prayer aloud:

Infant Jesus, lost and found,
Please bring that lost document 'round.

"There," I said, "now you'll find it."  My co-worker started to laugh.  But the laughter died in her throat: there was the lost document, right in front of her.

After all these experiences with the Infant Jesus prayer, you can be sure I did not fail to deploy it this morning when I couldn't find that file.  As a matter of fact, I said it several times throughout the day.  As the day wore on, and the prospects looked bleaker and bleaker, I resigned myself to the idea of having to go to court without that file.

Just at that moment, one of the secretaries charged into my office, bearing the lost file in triumph.  It had been misfiled somewhere, and was discovered quite by chance.  Once again, the Infant Jesus has saved my bacon, and I do not have to look like an idiot in court tomorrow -- at least not on that account.

Infant Jesus, You are little, and so You do not disdain to help us with our little problems.  Thank you for turning up that file for me today.

(And thank You, too, for turning up my cell phone, which I also mislaid today...I can't think how it got where I found it.)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's Been One of Those Months

LEX NON ORITUR EX INJURIA
The law does not arise from a mere injury. 
...except in Idaho.

LEX NON FAVET DELICATORUM VOTIS
The law does not favor the wishes of the dainty.
...except in Idaho.

LEX NON PATITUR ABSURDUM
The law does not suffer an absurdity.
...except in Idaho.

LEX NEMINEM COGIT AD VANA SEU INUTILIA PERAGENDA

The law compels no one to do vain or useless things.
...except in Idaho.

LEX NON CURAT DE MINIMIS

The law does not care about trifles.
...except in Idaho.