Tuesday, March 26

Part the Sixth of How to Cope (with The Scandal):

Go to the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening.

Watch the fire bringing light to the darkness. Listen to the chant "Christ our Light." Listen to the Exultet. Yes, listen to the words:

The power of this holy night dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy; it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.

And after the constancy of God's love and mercy is proclaimed through the Scriptures, watch.

Some men and women, and maybe some children will come forth. They will stand in front of the rest of us, a little nervous, but resolute and starting to overflow with what is called joy. They will answer questions about what they believe with a firm "I do." They will willingly plunge into cleansing waters or they will gladly present their heads for anointing. And a bit later, barely able to believe that the gift and the privilege is theirs, they will move with the rest of us, hands outstretched, hearts open, newly clad in faith, to receive Him. To be joined with Him and with the rest of us.

They will be Catholics.

Brand new, happy Catholics, with no regrets or anger, only hope. Freshly-minted Catholics who do not have time to gripe or seethe, even with righteous anger, not here, not now, because they are so blessed and they know it. Blessed to be part of the Body of Christ. Blessed to belong. Blessed to be.

Catholic.

Yes. At this moment, I can think of no better antitode to our weariness and our wariness, our shattered trust, our doubts about the future, our arguments about solutions, and our suspicions.

Go to the Easter Vigil. See happy, grateful Catholics. And try to make their joy yours. Again.

Did I mention that there was no school again today? After going through practically the whole winter with no days off and no delays, here we are, almost a week into spring, with six inches of snow on the ground and kids at home.

It's okay. Katie's gotten some good sledding in (with Joseph on her lap a couple of those times), David shoveled, not only the driveway, but his closet as well. They've already announced a two-hour delay for tomorrow, but I suspect that will be the extent of it - there's no new snow predicted to fall, so the school day will probably proceed apace from there, and Joseph and I will have the house to ourselves again.

Quick. What's this coming Friday called? Do you know? Of course you do. It's called Good Friday.

Not if you work for Tampa Bay city government, though. Oh, no. This announcement (look to the left of the page) helpfully lets the public know that city offices will be closed on Friday, but not because it's Good Friday -

It's Spring Friday.

Here's what I say. If you object to Good Friday being a holiday of sorts, then go on in to work. Be my guest. In the same way, perhaps we should set up alternative schedules for those who object to references to Christmas or Easter breaks - let them go to school and work if they're so offended. If you're offended by the name, then you're probably deeply offended by the whole concept as well, so maybe you just go ahead and stay at the office.

Will money talk? A big- time fundraiser in the Palm Beach Diocese threatens to put his checkbook away unless the diocese gets its act together -for real - not just on paper.
The limits of treatment for clerical sexual predators. See, it just doesn't work when a) the clients aren't honest about their past offenses b) the dioceses or religious orders are eager to get the bodies back in albs n' chasubles, saying Mass and c) the treatment facility doesn't want to cross the Church and lose income.
Reformed Protestant Blogger Mark Byron has invited Catholic bloggers to defend their faith as Christian. I'd love to, but you know, there is someone out there who says what I have to say much better than I ever could - the smartest Catholic apologist I know of - Dave Armstrong. Dave has a page devoted to issues of justification and salvation on his Biblical Evidence for Catholicism website,and it covers just about everything you can think of.
Massive snowflakes are falling. Huge puffs of whiteness showering down on us. It would be even more gorgeous if it weren't almost April.
See what I mean? In an article about the reaction of NY's religious community to a proposed child-abuse reporting bill, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League says:

"It's Lent, and Christ is giving the Church a big cross to bear - one that it has earned," said Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League.


Unlovely details of the accusations against Bishop O'Connell. (NY Times, requires registration, blah blah blah)
"How can this kind of thing happen? part 164:

Parishioners stand by their pastor after revelations of sexual misconduct. Yes, the incident occurred many years ago, but they also happened to involve (at the time) a girl whom the priest started molesting when she was 10.The priest denies the allegations, but the diocese reached a settlement with the alleged victim, which we are safe to assume implies some truth to the accusations. And If dioceses are going to start settling false accusations, we're in worse trouble than we thought.

So what do parishioners say?

I'm kind of angry because the media has made it into an overblown situation," said churchgoer Bill Tinges, who lives at Sun City Lincoln Hills. "As far as the father is concerned, I can't believe it for one thing and don't want to believe it for another."
Other parishioners accused Hoey Lees of trying to capitalize on a string of scandals nationwide that recently has rocked the Catholic Church.

She came forth with the accusations in 1999 - late, to be sure, not exactlly capitalizing on the current situation.

My husband Michael has some fascinating insights into Matthew's account of the Passion today in his weblog.
Part the Fifth of How to Cope:

Offer it up. Do penance. Yeah, I know. Lent's almost over, and you thought your penitential stance was about to end as well. Maybe not. We've got until Friday. There's still time.

Do some penance. It's what all the saints did. And do - probably right now, there's someone out there - some Poor Clare in singing Lauds in the Phillipines, a Third Order Franciscan in North Dakota, or maybe even the Holy Father himself - offering up a bit of suffering for the sins of the world, and that means us. Our world. Our sins. Us.

Perhaps we could join them. A bit of Lenten-ending penance for the times the Church (hey - that means us, too) fails to live out the Gospel.

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