Monday, May 20

Go here if you're not afraid of getting trapped in a fascinating website this evening

Thanks to Michael Inman who wrote to me about LifeTeen (more on that later) and directed to me to one of the essays on this site, which also concerned a LifeTeen Mass. But once you start reading, you probably won't be able to stop. From the site's author:

Around October of 1998, somebody in my parish decided that, before Sunday Mass, we should introduce ourselves to someone we didn't know. Since I am hopelessly shy, I simply could not bring myself to do this, so I decided to attend Sunday Mass elsewhere until they got tired of it. They haven't tired of it yet, sad to say. I've been attending a different parish each week, and I have found it to be a very enlightening experience. I am learning quite a bit about the great diversity that can be found in the Catholic Church today, and in the long run, I will likely benefit greatly.

The articles below originally appeared on CompuServe's Catholic Online forum and in the Catholic Online discussion area on Internet. They were favorably received, so I have collected them here for convenience and reference.

I offer one important tip for the reader: I take God very seriously. I take the Church very seriously. I take the Mass and the sacraments very seriously. I take myself not at all seriously. Consider your tour guide on this journey as comic relief.

What one reader says:

"Actually, the entire series should be captured and recorded as a rare, first-person snapshot of real-life Catholic worship in the US at century's end. It is exactly the sort of historical observation that is most ephemeral and yet most revealing. And, for inveterate 'church-hoppers' like me, it's also endlessly fascinating (although sometimes morbidly so-- I admire your courage more than that of a restaurant critic, sir!)."

Ditto. Go visit. You may not agree with the writer's assessments of the liturgies nor with his aesthetic preferences, but what he experiences is interesting enough on its own. (Don't start with the pieces near the top, though. Most of them don't seem to be there. Go down to the bottom and work your way up.)

I'm getting a lot of LifeTeen feedback. All of it positive...until just now, with my last email check. I'll be thinking it all over and posting on it tomorrow.
re:The Look of Life:

From The Cranky Professor:

[In Toronto] is the international headquarters of a wonderful,enormous pro-life group founded by a perky Toronto housewife whose perky and well-dressed professional daughters are now the co-presidents (along with her slightly less perky-looking but very pleasant eldest daughter, who DOES look a tad dowdy in the picture here.

Birthright was woman-founded and is still woman-led. We don't demonstrate and we don't write letters. I say 'we' because I spent my last 5 years in
Atlanta working between 5 and 20 hours a week on the 24 hour 800 line, which is run out of the Atlanta office. From long personal experience waking up center directors with emergency calls (I tended to work late night shifts) I can say that far less than 10% of the contact names on our lists were male.

Now I'll admit that the USA director is a big woman - Terry Weaver is not George Carlin's dream princess, but she is sharp as a tack, funny as all get out, and one of my best friends. Most of the women who worked on the 800 line were pretty stylin', though - including a nice stream of pretty Protestant college girls getting certified in Christian counseling.

Poster girls for the job of working with women in trouble!

THIS is the pro-life movement. There are lots of anti-abortion campaigners, but Birthright is aimed only at helping women and their children. The basic

"It is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth, and the right of every child to be born."

There are other abortion alternative agencies besides Birthright, of course. You can find a lot of them here.

I've asked some questions about Lifeteen over here. I have some reader comments in the safe, from the past two weeks, but I'd like to hear more, to be posted here, there, and everywhere, if need be.
A thought before I go off to do some errands.

It's something I've said before, something about which I've written columns, but it comes to my mind again, after reading Rod Dreher's account of Mass as posted in Mark Shea's joint

I agree with Mark - language is not the issue. I also refer way, way back to a discussion between Emily, Louder Fenn and, I think, the Goliard Blog about music. Musical instruments are not, in my mind, the issue. I am not a huge organ fan, to be blunt. I prefer either a capella or the sound of (I'm prejudiced since piano is my instrument) really simple piano/guitar/a couple of woodwinds.

The issue is, at root - prayer.

Here's the question to ask about liturgy: Are the people "leading" the congregation at Mass praying, or are they doing something else? Is the presider praying? Or is he reciting words, doing a job, grandstanding, drawing attention to himself or showing either how pious, friendly, amusing or _______ (fill in the blank) he is? Are the musicians ministering? Are they worshipping? Or are they performing? Are they trying to prove to the congregation how talented they are and how backwards the congregation is?

And what about the directors of the whole show? That might be the priest, it might be the parish liturgist, or it might be the liturgy committee. Are they about prayer? Or are they about "building community" (Uh...that's what Christ does in Eucharist, bozos. You don't have to do anything, least of all plaster nametags on everyone or ask about visitors or sing Happy Birthday)? Or they about their own ideological agenda?

Everything else will fit into that - the question of prayer. Our prayer can be many things. It can be solemn. It can be joyful. It can be low-key. It can be energetic. Human beings can pray within the context of liturgy - the prayer of Christ - using any number of cultural forms and expression. Some are not appropriate. How can you tell? Generally, you can tell when whatever it is - the musical form or the words - draw attention to themselves or the talents and personalities of the human beings engaged in it. (These issues are not new. Showy liturgical music was a subject of episcopal and papal edicts from the post-Reformation years)

And I think that's the cri de coeur we're hearing from all over in regard to liturgy: Just pray. Just lead us in prayer. Stop standing in the way of our prayer. Just pray.

Gets it? Doesn't get it? Yes? No?

Strong disagreement on Archbishop Brunett:

I'd like to respectfully disagree with the readers who've suggested
Alex Brunett be added to a "Bishops Who Get It" list. Although the archdiocesan PR machine has been able to placate the secular press, it is not without its
kinks. Start with Brunett's Easter message that the root cause of sexual abuse lies in heterosexual pornography. Or his pastoral" sermon to Cornelius parish which served to downplay recent allegations and offer solidarity with the accused Or the
recent admission that there were concerns regarding Cornelius in 1996 .

Although he publicly rebukes those with "attitudes of denial, arrogance, and secrecy," he refuses to disclose the number of priests accused of sexual misconduct or money paid out in settlements. At least twice since he's been bishop here, victims were required to sign gag orders as a condition of settlement.

I wrote an overview of how this archdiocese has handled sexual abuse in the past here.

Secual music fiesta continued:

But this time, from a Protestant perspective. A reader recounts what he heard in an evangelical church in Southern Californiaa church that was evidently way too close to Disneyland, not only geographically, but in spirit. It's all about the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which features a song with the following lyrics:

"Yo, ho. Yo, ho. The pirates life for me..." the merry Disney pirates sang incessantly, as we watched from our boats the Caribbean town being burned
and destroyed. (Dead men tell no tales.) As I said, anyone who's been on that ride will know instantly what tune I'm talking about.

Now, some dear soul at church, decided to "christianize" the Disney pirate tune, and we used it in the service on more occasions than I wish to
recall.But before I give out the christianized lyrics, I would warn anyone who's ever heard the Disney pirate tune, NOT to read the lyrics, lest their
brains somehow connect the words with the tune, and they be mentally scarred the rest of their natural lives. With that warning aside, here are the
lyrics,or very close to it:

Yo, ho. Yo, ho. The christian life for me:/To tell of His Love and the power He has shown/And the End that soon shall be./Oh, the trials may come, and the trials may go,/But a christian I will be./Yo, ho. Yo, ho. The christian life for me.

I will bet you money that somwhere, some time, in some church in this great land, "It's a Small World" has been sung in a worship service. You think?

Mona Charen's son improving.
More parts of the Body at St. Blog's

A theology professor to lead another adult formation class and our very own seminarian!

The Cranky Professor writes:

as I was leaving church today - St Francis de Sales, Geneva, New York
the electronic carillon began to play "On the Street Where You Live". Try to allegorize that - not to mention get it out of your head!

Heads up on an excellent article in the June/July issue of First Things. No, it's not even close to being up on the website yet (the April issue is the one currently up), but look for it on the newsstand or in your mailbox if you're a subscriber. The article is by Ronald Rychlak, author of Hitler, The War, and the Pope, and it's a point-by-point refutation of Daniel Goldhagen's January New Republic article on Pius XII. Very illuminating.
Excellent news from Chicago: Cardinal George intends to sell his mansion.

Karl of Summa Contra Mundum was there when the announcement was made - at this year's priestly ordinations.

Here 'tis:

HMS Blog!

Or...Heart, Mind and Strength Weblog, the newest production of Greg Popcak's Pastoral Solutions Institute and a direct outgrowth of his daily, hourlong radio program.

The format's similar to The Corner at NRO in that there will be a number of contributers, most of whom are regular guests on the radio program: Besides Greg, there's Mary Beth Bonnacci, Deal Hudson, Mark Shea and others. Should be fun..check it out!

Here's an article from the Boston Globe about Cardinal Law's claims to Know Nothing about Shanley before 1993. I don't know. It just doesn't hang together.

In addition, I think the Cardinal's statement misses the point. It is centered on the rather trivial question of what he knew and when he says he knew it, which, in the end, is an issue related to little but the Cardinal's own ego. The issue is that under the Cardinal's watch, these things happened. The archdiocese is a wreck, with no discernible end in sight. How does Cardinal Law's continued leadership of the Church in Boston help the Church in Boston? That I don't understand.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is re-evaluating its clergy abuse victims program.

An interesting point:

Project Benjamin was born in 1989 after remarks by Weakland in a column on pedophilia published a year earlier in the Catholic Herald, the archdiocesan newspaper. Weakland had written that not all adolescent victims of sexual abuse were completely "innocent."

Weakland said the ensuing criticism made him aware of the need for a church program dealing with sexual abuse.

Talk about a disconnect. Didn't the "ensuing criticism" make him aware of the need for him to do something about his own denseness, willfull blindness (or possibly both)?


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