Tuesday, August 6

Short, but nice piece on the restoration of St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe

It opened in 1884. By 1930, it was sinking. A massive restoration rescued its foundation then. A lesser restoration, Martinez says, one that does not siphon money from the church's social programs, can rescue the rest of it now. "Even the poor need beautiful churches," he says. They find one at St. Francis Cathedral, which he says is "soaked in prayer" and stocked with art - balms to the soul now, in the past and in the future. Who knows how much time might pass before those balms are renewed. The rose window alone needs a year. Asked to estimate a schedule, Martinez only shrugs. "Great cathedrals are never finished," he says. "Each generation adds to it. We're in it for the long haul."

Well, I haven't been able to blog much today, but what I've got now is a good one. It's from the land of Michigan, forwarded to me by a reader who spotted this on a Free Republic thread.

Today's primary day all over the place, including Michigan. One of the candidates for the Democratic nomination is one Jennifer Granholm, who is pro-"choice" and a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, Michigan. Here's a link to an article about her position.

Here is what the associate pastor, Fr. Doc Ortman, had to say in this week's bulletin:

Many people have come to me in the two weeks just past to ask about television ads which point out that Mrs. Granholm, our sister, is pro-choice. The concern has come from a mistaken notion that pro choice is equal to being pro abortion. However, choice is part of the very foundation of our Catholic Christian Community. There are some who would gloss over theological reflection for the sake of emotion; these people often end up persecuting other brothers and sisters because of their ignorance. As disciples of the Lord Jesus, we are required to pray for their good, and their enlightenment.

[Blood boiling yet? No? Simmering maybe?]

The Lord God has created all people in absolute freedom.Every action we take, each word we utter, is a matter of choice. As Catholic Christians, we understand this Awesome freedom carries with it a grave responsibility. In the light of the teaching of Jesus, we make choices according to a well formed conscience - a conscience which is founded in the gospel which proclaims the blessedness of all people in any circumstances.

[What does that mean, exactly?]

Scripture tells us that when God was finished creating, everything was very good. The correct response to that good is a life which reverences and cares for all that God has made. This is our faith, and I know full well that this is also Ms. Granholm's faith as a Roman Catholic person.

To say that one is pro choice, is, for the Christian Community, an admission that we are created in freedom.This is a freedom that no state or government can grant or take away; it is a gift from the Creator. By the same understanding, it is a grave error to assume that the ability to freely choose actions and words is sinful.

[Umm....I think the state can take away your Creator-granted freedom to choose. If it takes away your right to life first.]

For the past several weeks we have been persecuted by people who are living with a misguided notion of the freedom in which we are created. [folks have been picketing the church]These people, signs in hand, are not interested in the reverence of God's gift of life; they are concerned only with the threat of abortion. [HUH? Wha...?] This is one small part of the reverence we are called to have for all that the Lord has created. These people would have the state legislate the freedom that only God can give or take. The reverence of all life is a choice we make according to our discipleship. It is a response to the love of God, in Jesus, which leads us to reverence the unborn, the challenged, the elderly, the sick, the brilliant, the talented, the humble, the simple, the peacemakers...you get the idea.

[Um...yeah, but how can you reverence the brilliant if they're not allowed to be born?]

Those who regard Ms. Granholm as a "heretic" do not understand, nor do they wish to understand, that choice in itself is a blessed gift. As with many other things, this blessing can be used for evil rather than for blessing.

Make no mistake, Christians are pro choice in the purest understanding of the term. We are free to choose between the Lord and the evil one. We are free to choose the Lord's abundant and awesome love, and we are free to choose to deny it. The ability to choose is neither good nor evil. The choice may be either. Many persecute because they choose not to hear or understand the depth of God's gift of freedom. The freedom to choose is a gift in which to revel. [PAR - TEEEE! Sorry.]It is not a heavy burden. The Lord has given us direction, and asks that we CHOOSE according to what he says and does.

Church Website

Doc's email.

Please understand that in the post below about St. Paul's, I was neither

a) assuming that there are not differences between those we conveniently lump under the label "Hispanic."

b)Assuming that all of any type of "Hispanic" ancestry are interested in attending a predominantly "Hispanic" parish.

or c) approving the balkanization of the Church.

What I was saying is that over the past decade, the Latin community of this town has grown by leaps and bounds. Recent immigrants continue to pour into the area. Many of them benefit from ties with family already present in the area, but it just seems to be that these folks - because so many of them are recent immigrants, in transition - would benefit from a parish directly ministering to their needs. Am I wrong?

Hey! I wrote this!
As you may have noticed, I've been busy. Wrote two columns and interviewed Rosalind Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees.

As I said, thank God (literally) for the babysitter, who not only cares for Joseph, but has children with whom he plays all morning to the point of exhaustion, which means a thoroughly excellent afternoon nap.

This ticks me off.

Granted, there is an overabundance of Catholic churches in our downtown area. Within about a fifteen block radius, there are probably 5 or 6, reflecting a past era in which there were lots more Catholics living in these downtown neighborhoods, and ethnic parishes were much more defined than they are now - an Irish parish five blocks east of the German parish, and so on.

Over the years, one of those parish's, St. Paul's has been transformed in the predominantly Hispanic parish in town. Numbers are declining in several of these parishes, so, it's felt, something's got to give. This morning we read that it's probably going to be the Hispanic parish, which the diocese is considering merging with the historically Irish parish down the road. What is said in the article is true: St. Paul's (the Hispanic parish) is a beautiful, rather unusual church, that must be a nightmare to keep up, especially with a congregation that is as poor as it is. (And it is - I've attended Mass there, read the bulletin, and seen the collection figure).

But it also seems to me that in a time in which the Hispanic population of this town is exploding, and at the same time as it is, evangelical ministries to Hispanics are growing as well, it is a deeply stupid and cold idea to close down the predominantly Hispanic parish. This is where I just don't understand diocesan workings. This should obviously be a priority. Why can't the diocese, in order to help this parish, make some sort of special appeal to the huge, very wealthy parishes scattered around this town to help out? Adopting a parish in the Dominican Republic is great, but why not adopt a parish ministering to the poor right in your own town? I hope and pray that they find a way around this, and keep that parish open. A year ago, we sat in their parking lot to watch fireworks on some occasion, and were surrounded by their parishioners, celebrating a block party, and watching the fireworks themselves. It was clearly a community, and a close one. It's unthinkable that this parish should be closed. I just don't get it.

Good morning. Praise be to God, the babysitter's back from vacation. That three hours of day makes a world of difference to my work, believe me. I have two columns, one long article, a short article and book revisions to do this week. Plus ...writing that other book? Yeah.

Made a good start on the Catholic pacifism article yesterday, thanks to the kindness of a long-time reader (BB - Before Blog, even) who put me in touch with Daniel Berrigan, whom I interviewed yesterday afternoon.

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