Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Reflections

On the Reflections   (of Christ in the Church)

     What would Christ find amusing if he were to return today? What would he find off putting and hideously out of step with his heart? Is the Church an Affair of His Heart or wed to various idolotries?
Having no priest marry has designed budget implications- no other family members to provide for, pay college for (they could go to Jesuit ones for free maybe), buy cars for, or feed or house. So magnificent church buildings through the ages have been constructed in Europe with towering stained glass and magnificent frescos and statuary and artisans, architects and building tradesmen were paid instead of family budgets. The poor need art, declared Priest Robert Barron in his 'catholicism' series. No disputing that this is some fine art.
   But in Europe lots of those cathedrals stand as tourist attractions, some paid for and maintained by the state without any active sustaining congregations because what was left wasn't the heart of Jesus in some cases, but a magnificent building. Some even now charge admission in italy.

What good is a glorious building if no worship is going on inside? What good is a building to God if God left the building?

The church has thrown babies out with its holy water. The church has thrown the baby Jesus out in some cases.

    It is a scandal and a sin that there are vast huge monestaries in parts of europe inhabited by a handful of clanking aged religious or monks when there are hurricane refugees in tents in Haiti or 40,000 Syrian refugees living in dismal tents in Turkey or even a few thousand poor in tent cities in Arizona, America.

     Jesus' whole message was Love your Neighbor as yourself as a manifestation of Loving God. That is the summation of ALL the law and ALL the prophets. That includes ALL Canon Law. Would the Pope or any Cardinal  live in a Tent?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"In Politics, it can be lethal to be too right too early"-Mitt Romney
In Religion it can be worse. Trust Me.

The controversy that won't die

Until they face it honestly, biblically and intelligently.

   The married priesthood option. There is a contingent of people who think they are doing the Lord's work by ridiculing, demonizing, demeaning, shunning, harassing, and abasing people who believe that Roman Catholic Priests should be given the same "right" to marry that Saint Paul said was a right "don't I have a RIGHT to travel with a wife like all the apostles?" which he declined,  and as Byzantine, Eastern Rite, Orthodox and all Protestants have.   Indeed Saint Peter on whom the church was founded had a wife, Jesus knew as much because he cured her mother--St. Peter's mother- in law.  As it flatly says in scripture that it is a commandment that any Bishop be married to one wife (not NONE or three) it is a fair assumption that Peter was given the keys precisely because he was a good married family guy.

This is a little like the Dominican Inquisition in which people thought mass slaughter of Jews was the Lord's work. The meanest most vicious people you ever want to run into hold the clerical celibacy close to them like someone were suggesting something immoral by proposing that they be given free will to decide if they want to marry.

Click HERE for

    When I posted that article on facebook I got a like from someone who wanted to be a priest but was torn because he also wanted to be a father and husband to one wife- like the bible says is a qualification to being a Bishop. These are good people who don't get to be priests because the pull is strong in both directions. In my lifetime I know about ten guys like this.  Its possibly a God given call in both directions. I am not God but they think so. The Roman Church excludes that, so my friend would have to be Episcopalian to answer his dual call or settle for Deacon. And guess what- an Episcopalian Priest with a family can after all become a Roman one with full conjugal rights to have a wife, and naturally bear children.  None of that is inconsistent with the priesthood in the protestant world. Neither was it inconsistent in Jesus' world. Its not a rule Jesus established and for the first 1,000 years of Christendom it wasn't the law in the catholic church either. When you remind people of this they think you are somehow trying to subvert the Spirit rather than strengthen it.

     The odd thing is the ignorant virulent older catholic women who ferociously hold to the myth of this non optional lifetime celibacy as virtue such that that somehow suggesting that this is the biblical norm is immoral or worse crazy talk from a demented mind. Even Catholic Melkite priests in the Middle East, closer to the biblical cultural norm are allowed to be married.

     The head shrinking job on congregations in the West is really a mind-F. Staggering the scriptural ignorance that some of the adherents display and general lack of cultural appreciation for the other half of Christendom. Do they really think that Jesus needs the continent sperm of a male priest to transubstantiate himself through the priest?  Who do they think would develop such a wierd theological fiction when JPII said celibacy is not ontologically necessary for the priesthood.

   But for these ladies don't confuse them with theology. They like the pray, pay and obey model when they can call upon a priest as their favorite pet for favors and keep them tied to their purse strings.
The vilification of the people who want reform is the real scandal. Like my friend who settles for people calling him "brother" until he can figure out whether he wants a wife or a job as a priest.

For the rest of the ladies who lunch- get a life honey, really.



Monday, August 27, 2012



The Funnest Fair for Families is at the French Parish House in Friendship Heights.

There are kiddies games, face painting, and a huge flea market, french language books. silent auction, and fantastic French foods.

    Its the best event of the season- SEPTEMBER 30th- all afternoon.
Official flier is below and you can see some photos from last year's event on the Gallery section of their webpage HERE

  Plan on coming with the whole family this year.

WHERE? Corner of  41st and Garrison Streets, NW, Washington, DC
                 Friendship Heights. Just a few blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro,
                       (right behind Fox Studios.)

WHEN?  Noon to 4:00ish Afternoon, September 30, 2012

HOW MUCH?  Tickets may be purchased at the place individually or in bundles for various games, food, etc... it's really reasonable and really fun.  Just come, you will see, you can buy as little or much as you want (French wines at a bargain also)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tastes of Tuscany

Right in DC.

   My new favorite restaurant is woman owned. Women's ownership rocks. Especially when teamed with a new celebrity chef who is bona fide Italian  from Tuscany with recipes that are traditional and expressively italian at the same time. i Ricchi is on 19th Street between M and N, NW. The owner who is attractive enough to be the next food channel star has had a long tradition cooking Tuscan from her italian mother in law and lived in italy for a few decades before owning her own DC eatery.

    Just for starters try the new Tuscan chef's hors d'oevres of dates covered in goat cheese drizzled in honey, or salmon mouse crustini or homemade mozzarella on basil, tomato and drizzled with olive oil.
Tuesdays tend to be half priced for females dining. You have to try it. The ambiance is decidedly italian country freshness, elegant and tasteful. No one paid me to say this- it's one of the happiest hours in the Dupont area.

click to see the new Master Chef!

but james

There is but one God, one Faith, One Camp.

    The first campers think the purity teaching is in the second camp.  The second campers think their love of neighbor is also in camp one.

What do you make of Carville's analysis below-you constitutional scholars?

What happened to purple statehood?

Tikkun reprints a Jesuit's amusing Anti-Social Gospel

Message- they title it 'What if Jesus Was a Republican'-
Social Justice would look like this:

The Lazy Paralytic
1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at his home. 2. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.  4. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5. When Jesus saw this he grew angry, “Why did you wreck my roof?  Do you have any idea how much that cost to install?  Do you know how many tables and chairs I had to make in my carpentry shop to pay for that roof?  The reeds alone cost five talents.  I had them carted in from Bethany.”  6. The disciples had never seen Jesus so angry about his possessions.  He continued, “This house is my life.  And the roof is the best part.”  The disciples fell silent.   7. “It’s bad enough that you trash my private property, now you want me to heal you?” said Jesus, “And did you not see the stone walls around this house?”  “Yes,” said the man’s friends.  “Are these not the stone walls common to the towns and villages of Galilee?”  8. “No,” Jesus answered.  “This is a gated community.  How did you get in?”  The man’s friends grew silent.  9. Then Jesus turned and said to the paralytic, “Besides, can’t you take care of your own health problems?  I’m sure that your family can care for you, or maybe the synagogue can help out.”  10. “No, Lord,” answered the man’s friends.  “There is no one.  His injuries are too severe.  To whom else can we go?”  11. “Well, not me,” said Jesus.  “What would happen if I provided access to free health care for everyone?  That would mean that people would not only get lazy and entitled, but they would take advantage of the system.  12. Besides, look at me: I’m healthy. And you know why?  Because I worked hard for my money, and took care of myself.”  The paralyzed man then grew sad and he addressed Jesus.  “But I did work, Lord,” said the paralytic.  “Until an accident rendered me paralyzed.”  “Yes,” said the man’s friends. “He worked very hard.”  13. “Well,” said Jesus, “That’s just part of life, isn’t it?”  “Then what am I to do, Lord?” said the paralytic.  “I don’t know.  Why don’t you sell your mat?”  14. All in the crowd then grew sad.  “Actually, you know what you can do?” said Jesus. “You can reimburse me for my roof.  Or I’ll sue you.” And all were amazed.  15. “We have never seen anything like this,” said the crowd.
The Very Poorly Prepared Crowd
1. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” 2 But Jesus said to them, “Why not give them something to eat?” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.”  3 For there were about five thousand men. And Jesus said to his disciples, “You know what?  You’re right.  Don’t waste your time and shekels.  It would be positively immoral for you to spend any of your hard-earned money for these people.  They knew full well that they were coming to a deserted place, and should have relied on themselves and brought more food.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s every five thousand men for themselves.”  4. The disciples were astonished by this teaching.  “But Lord,” said Thomas.  “The crowd will surely go hungry.”  Jesus was amazed at his hard-headedness.  “That’s not my problem, Thomas.  Better that their stomachs are empty than they become overly dependent on someone in authority to provide loaves and fishes for them on a regular basis.  Where will it end?  Will I have to feed them everyday?”  “No, Lord,” said Thomas, “Just today.  When they are without food.  After they have eaten their fill, they will be healthy, and so better able to listen to your word and learn from you.”  Jesus was grieved at Thomas’s answer.  Jesus answered, “It is written: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  So taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and took one loaf and one fish for himself, and gave the rest to the twelve, based on their previously agreed-upon contractual per diem.  But he distributed none to the crowd, because they needed to be taught a lesson.  So Jesus ate and he was satisfied.  The disciples somewhat less so.  “Delicious,” said Jesus.  What was left over was gathered up and saved for Jesus, should he grow hungry in a few hours.  The very poorly prepared crowd soon dispersed.
The Rich and Therefore Blessed Young Man
1. As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to him and knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  2. And Jesus said to him, “What have you done so far?” 3. And he said to Him, “Well I was born into a wealthy family, got into a good school in Galilee because my parents donated a few thousand talents for a building with a nice reed roof, and now I have a high-paying job in the Roman treasury managing risk.” 4. Looking at him, Jesus felt an admiration for him, and said to him, “Blessed are you!  For you are not far from being independently wealthy.” And the man was happy.  Then Jesus said, “But there is one thing you lack: A bigger house in a gated community in Tiberias. Buy that and you will have a treasure indeed.  And make sure you get a stone countertop for the kitchen.  Those are really nice.”  The disciples were amazed.  5. Peter asked him, “Lord, shouldn’t he sell all his possessions and give it to the poor?” Jesus grew angry.  “Get behind me, Satan!  He has earned it!”  Peter protested: “Lord,” he said, “Did this man not have an unjust advantage?  What about those who are not born into wealthy families, or who do not have the benefit of a good education, or who, despite all their toil, live in the poorer areas of Galilee, like Nazareth, your own home town?”  6. “Well,” said Jesus, “first of all, that’s why I left Nazareth.  There were too many poor people always asking me for charity.  They were as numerous as the stars in the sky, and they annoyed me.  Second, once people start spending again, like this rich young man, the Galilean economy will inevitably rebound, and eventually some of it will trickle down to the poor.  Blessed are the patient!  But giving the money away, especially if he can’t write it off, is a big fat waste.”  The disciples’ amazement knew no bounds.  “But Lord,” they said, “what about the passages in both the Law and the Prophets that tell us to care for widows and orphans, for the poor, for the sick, for the refugee?  What about the many passages in the Scriptures about justice?” 7. “Those are just metaphors,” said Jesus.  “Don’t take everything so literally.”
James Martin, SJ/America Magazine
Thank you to Tikkun for reprinting. Thank you James Martin, SJ Jesuit for the wit and wisdom.

The Public Debate- A Call for Civility

The public debate--Like the bulletspray of a machine gun We all need to pray for peace, hard. Especially in this election season where different views take on the lack of civility of a barroom brawl or four year olds bickering over the same toy, tugging and pulling until it breaks. Civility, civility, civility. Cardinals like McCarrick have called for it over and over again. There was a shooting at the Family Research Council. Who would want to shoot them-those nice family guys. Turns out someone's switch was flipped and they tried to go postal on the nice family guys getting as far as their security guard. Violence is what happens when people's discourse takes on a bulls eye -lets win and get them at all costs -mentality. I am reminded again of the bravest of Congressional souls who battled back from a shot to the head in Arizona after some disgruntled nut job felt his only solution was going postal in a parking lot. One prominent Republican politician was cited as having bulls eyes on various politicians on her website with a 'lock and load' bravado- as if that display of machismo was either necessary or cute for a woman politician. Disgusting. There are guys so out there they can actually speak about 'legitimate rape' in distinguishing why there should be no rape exception to abortion. Even Ann Coulter finds that stunningly ignorant. And they wonder why Democrats think there might be a 'war on women' sub-textually going on. Other name calling, like 'unpatriotic' or 'treasonous' (pick any title of a Coulter book) becomes slanderously uncivil and gives the reader in their minds justification for escalated verbal violence, to counter the hate-filed rhetoric of the other side. The downside of free speech guarantees is that vilest of verbal vomit can pass as political discourse. Next week the conventions take off. And the sarcasm and smirking mockery will escalate to an art form as the lowest common denominator of bile and vile epithets short of four letter words will be flung with bravado about the other side- unless we all pledge to rise above it. We are all Americans trying to find the best way forward for all, not just a privileged few. Not just the few who have been blessed and don't want to share, not just the few who look down on those less blessed- but ALL. There are some stark realities that the body politic has to grasp about each other. Romney is not a common man for the common man and he is a Mormon Bishop who finances hundreds of millions of dollars of mormon enterprises with the TAX DEDUCTIONS in contributions he generates. Deal with it. He apparently has found an ally in the segment of society that lives off Tax Deductions in religious contributions so a prominent Cardinal is giving a blessing and prayer at the Republican Convention. They agree on the 'religious liberty' of not having to pay for things the rest of the country thinks are beneficial to public health. By labeling it 'religious liberty' everyone who disagrees must not like God. There go the Republicans again trying to be the 'God Party.' They are against abortion, even in 'legitimate rape' situations, hence the other side must all be 'baby killers.' Nevermind that their running mate Ryan has been assailed by Jesuits far and wide for constructing a budget deemed directly harmful to the poor counter to scriptural mandates to take care of them. He's Catholic- lets see if we can recapture the lost Catholic vote Biden took. Lets see if we can also get loose canons and diaharrea mouths like Trump to call our Vice President names. Like any religious zealots, people who think they are on God's side feel free to blast the infidels into oblivion with verbal bombast, ridicule and contempt disguised as patriotism. Practical nuanced arguments are overtaken with arrogance and disdain by people wholly ignorant of the natural repercussions of their reckless actions. People feel justified in labeling people lowlifes and spreading slander to not have to hear their arguments. It becomes all about who controls the purse, whose money will flow where, who gets the power of wealth of the giant budget called the national treasury and who can order around the Joint Chiefs of Staff in foreign lands. The Conventions are a circus and there are the freak acts. This next week a cautioning is due: Keep the rhetoric civil, respectful, about issues, no bulls eyes, no ridicule snottiness, no inciting a riot. Republicans are widely predicted to lose, and if they win its by stealing another election (something they are expert at) so remember who you are going to have to answer to later.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Greatest of Men

Are the Humblest of Men

     It was once said to Socrates, reported the Carmelite Friar, that he is the humblest of all men. To which Socrates replied- then there are no humble men.

   Which might be the epitomy of humility. God hates pride-was the sermon, one that a few Cardinals might note.

  Without the snark allow me to cite to someone I believe one of the humblest of  men, and thus greatest of men I have met in my lifetime.

---Roland Celette.

  Who is he really, this guy feted now by the Washington Post and socialites from here to New York with portfolios to rank Soros? (they wish) He has been a discrete Washington fixture for a decade. And now, just as he is leaving everyone is taking sad notice and begging him to stay in some fashion or capacity. I expect someone to just give him a penthouse in New York just to have him around soon.

   Roland is a guy who you might think 'ordinary' to look at- like Jesus was reported to be. He was a classical scholar and professor in Paris, from a humble simple family in Clermont, France, a rather rural agrarian part of the country which he calls the "Pittsburgh of France." It has what we might call 'midwestern charm' and aversion to open displays of oppulence.

  And here Roland, the classical scholar found himself in Washington, DC, catering to the desires of four French Ambassadors fighting the anti-francophone vibe that flung from Midland Texas like a cow patty tossing carnival to 'in  your face' poor Chirac who was all along totally correct. Iraq was a fiasco. A dumb nightmare that we are still paying for in treasure and limbs.

   Roland is an educator who taught Peace through culture. More than that he taught kindness, acceptance, love and grace- of a kind that is uniquely french. I truly believe it is uniquely French. I attribute it to the fact that the Blessed Mother must have lived there or at least really and truly Mary Magdalene whose love of Jesus the saints know better than the scripture.

     Roland for a decade made the French Embassy in Washington as sort of oasis of special tender peace and kindness. After movies he treated to wine and cheese receptions. He kissed both cheeks with a hearty 'thank you so much for coming' as if you were Royalty or at least the Secretary of State (or something far more deserving of his double cheeked kissing than a little Washington lawyer.)

  He loves kids- and created a EuroKids festival - something that is the highlight of the year for a lot of people now in DC.  He brought us French movies before most French people saw them with their Directors and cast.

    I can't say enough how much Roland enriched the lives of Washingtonians.
I am just a "tres petite avocate"- and he treated me to events at the Embassy residence with their embroidered tapestried walls and golden orchestra chairs as if I was Madame La President de La Republic.

    The man who so humbles himself and treats every soul he sees as Royalty is a great  humble man. A sincere Prince of a man.  A giant of a man not just because he towers over 6 feet. Roland is French Royalty- a Treasure. And much of Washington is crying over their Chardonnay to see him go.

   I hope and trust he is not long for our shores again and wish him godspeed in his journey to visit with his parents and for the next chapter which I hope somehow includes his "tres petite avocate."





Monday, August 13, 2012

Saint Vincent de Paul, pray for us all

Wouldn't you love to see this in the middle of Manhattan.

 Guess what- you can- it is there. On 23rd street, at the church of Saint Vincent de Paul. But hurry because someone doesn't want a congregation chock full of vibrant Francophones from the "outre mer" and Africa french speakers singing their hearts out in the middle of Manhattan praising God in song and spirit. The photos are, from the top, Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower flanked by French and American flags, a stained glass image of Christ over the Bishops, a statue of Christ by the clock, and the stained glass image of Saint Vincent de Paul rescuing abandoned babies in the woods outside Paris. At this time, because there was no social 'safety net' if you were too poor to have children because you lived hand to mouth on the streets of Paris you abandoned your baby in the woods to die. And this, Saint Vincent de Paul found intolerable and insufferable, so started rescuing them and giving them to families who would take them in- in spite of the high society high brow crowd who thought these too low life bastard children not worth saving-they were sort of 'intouchables' to the higher regal courtier classes that financed him.  He is the greatest "Pro Life" saint I know.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

update on the Parish of Vincent de Paul

Named after one of my favorite saints whose body still lies in a plexiglass case in Rue Du Bac with Catherine Laboroure at the Miraculaous Metal shrine.

    Went to Mass and the visiting priest is from around Nice in the South of France. very Nice. Ever wonder where people from the South of France go on vacation in August? New York! (apparently)
   August is miss your favorite priest month because the French ones all go on about a month's vacation.
Actually Father Greenfield, an American priest from Washington even got to France this summer (in spite of repeated 'take me take me with you' begging I find myself now in New York not France at the moment but still hoping that changes soon:-)

Note to Dolan- you definately cannot close that Saint Vincent de Paul parish- first, the place was packed to the gills today in 'ordinary time'. It has a rockin' music ministry complete with a band and carribbean drums. The singing was energetic, vibrant, worshipful and whole-heartedly spirit-filled.

  The Congregation attending today were about 90% people of color darker than my collective freckles from the African French speaking and french Caribbean world. The music compositions had everyone swaying in their seats. They clapped at the end. I was transported musically into an african village somewhere in the Caribbean.

Note to Dolan:
   You need to do maintenance on that church. Paint, renovate, repair and plant geraniums out front in the dirt pits by the wilting trees. There is a little french community hanging around Chelsea. Every starbucks I sat in there were french speakers around me. There is a little Parisian macaroon shop across the street, a french style bistro next door titled "american bisto" but serving enough french fare not to fool anyone, and other shops pretending to be french all along there. All weekend there is a parisian style flea market in a garage about a block away. Its a fun hood. It is packed with people. Lots of street traffic of people who would wander into such a beautiful building with amazing paintings and stained glass if only it were open and repaired. It is in fact a well hidden gem in the city. It is on the same street just down the street from the Muhlenberg branch of the NY Public Library.
  The English Mass before the French one was not nearly as well attended as the French one- because French catholicism is thriving better than the English version??? (don't know).   In any event there could be a lot to raise revenue and the roof on that church. Here are just a few suggestions aside from the obvious:

1.  increase the curb value by planting flowers, painting the doors and stone washing the exterior. Like this week. Refurbish the paintings which once were likely not so soot covered or dark. Repair the roof.
2. Keep the church open all the time and have a sacristan or someone monitor so no one who doesn't come worshipfully (vandals, thieves, etc.) gets in.
3. Set up elaborate candle stands with donation boxes for people to put in dollars (suggested cost of candle lighting everywhere)
4. Set up a Prayer Intention box so people can put in prayer intentions with their name and phone number and a section to tick if they want a priest to call or visit.
5. Host dinners for a reasonable amount at the Parish or if there is not enough room in the church across the street at the unused old restaurant/bar of the Chelsea Savoy Hotel (they set up a breakfast until ten there but its empty for the rest of the day and could easily be used to host events of the church)
6. Get a full time priest from France in residence there at all times.
7. Host french music concerts for a price or donation.
8. Host French sacred art exhibitions (could also be in conjunction with the public library down the street)
9. Run Pilgrimmages to France to visit the French Saints and sites- set up a separate corporation, profits to benefit the maintenance of the historic church Saint Vincent de Paul- start by visiting Him (Vincent de Paul) in Rue du Bac in Paris- start to run pilgrimmages to Paris from the parish. Set it up as a non-profit pilgrimmage outfit- to benefit the church maintenance and repair/renovation.
10. Have 24 hour adoration in the church and a place for at least 20 people to stay on the property for perpetual adoration.   Overflow can stay at the Leo House  (after they fire their night manager)- or better yet, the Chelsea Savoy Hotel at a group discount rate.

Get help with a cultural itinerary from Roland Celette, cultural attache of the French Embassy on his way back to France.

Convents, Guest Houses and Schmotels

Travel on the Cheap in the Summer is generally my mission. Past experience reflections have me nostalgic.

   I love generally convents and their guest houses.  A convent room you can expect the most rudimentary clean metal cot, ikea style wardrobe vintage 1950 and a shower with the nozzle on a bended pipe dancing around the tiled square they call a shower.  My favorite is in Assisi where the Sisters of Saint Brigitta run a guest house with a decent dining room and pride themselves on being tuscan gourmet cooks. When I was last there is was about 25 Euros a night and if you wanted dinner another 7. Diner was a classic italian sit down four course deal- so 7 Euros was a bargain and a half. The sisters were happy friendly courteous and there was one who spoke english and five who suffered my rather pathetic  pidgeon italian efforts. I miss them. Google San Brigitta in Assisi.  I would go back in a heartbeat.

   I also love the Easter retreat I did at the Casa Maria in the Brookland -Catholic U section- where they showed a video of Santiago de Compostello walking pilgrimages. They have a house in walking distance to the National Shrine in Washington if you are interested in a praytreat (prayer retreat) - but generally only take women under 35 if traveling single- they host groups of choirs and other class groups. Sister Lena is generally a delight and will be happy to be tipped in a bottles of wine--for her heart of course.

    Also in Washington, the Franciscan sisters of the Atonement run a lovely guest house good for groups right next door to the JPII Center in 'little italy' on Catholic -U line- and they have a thrift store in the basement with an annual sidewalk sale. So donate your good condition slightly used clothing there.

  In Paris you can sing with the Benedictine Sisters and do 24 hour Adoration at the Sacre Coeur which I did for two intense days. Metal cot, shower down the hall, and enough room to put a suitcase next to your bed and trip over it on the way out. But it was in the heart of Monmartre attached to the famous 'wedding cake' Basillica of the Sacred Heart-Sacre Coeur. At night they lock the outside of the church at 10:00 pm and open the doors from the convent to the altar so you have free reign through the whole complex at night to sit and do evening Adoration, or pray in the church then go back and forth to your room. The sisters are also great cooks and the dining room is pleasant- (I think its impossible to have a bad meal in Paris) I translated for a few Americans from Florida visiting. They also host lecture discussions by clergy which you are welcome to attend by staying there. They sell some of the hauntingly beautiful music at the Sacre Coeur
convent, french liturgical chants and some of the most beautiful church music you ever heard (which you can also hear sung in the church most days).  I picked up a few CDs and even some sheet music.

    At the Leo House in New York, one of my worst experiences in terms of hospitality,  the cardboard on the carpet on the 8th floor looked like it must be covering a stained or moldy rug, the furniture  looked Salvation Army thrift shop retro model, not the Euro chic boho ascetic hair cloth shirt prayer closet variety and the tub was long enough for an elbow --at least they had a tub.  There was no visiting priest so no Mass while there was a Chapel and they advertised in the elevator to call the front desk for Mass times. The garden, a square the size of a large dining room table had weeds poking through the slate and had me wondering- how much work would it take to weed this tiny square of manhattan.  It should be the most spectacular garden in Chelsea. And then there was the incessant clunking vacuuming outside my door all morning. So much for my PrayTreat.

    Instead at the Hotel I checked into afterward I watched the American women spank the French women at Basketball in the Olympics. And am proud to be an American.

    God has his plan in spite of our inconveniences I discovered as it became clear to me why I landed in Chelsea after seeing the French church I had been reading about subject to closure by Dolan because they can't make the bills, the congregation is dwindling, and they didn't even repair the roof.

   This church is in the heart of a vibrant shopping area Chelsea, across and down the street a bit from the famous Chelsea Hotel where famous creativity flowed and people like Leonard Cohen, Arthur Miller and other famous artists, poets, writers and singers lived in the 50s and 60s. It has a white stone but badly dirty exterior with pale blue doors that need a paint  job. Seven or eight homeless looking wino guys were sitting on the steps on Saturday afternoon waiting for Mass which didn't happen because there is no noon Mass on Saturday. This church should be opened on Saturday- tons of street traffic. It should have candles where people put in money and tourists will come light a candle and pray all day Saturday lugging shopping bags from Best Buy and all the boutiques in the area. It should have a cafe section where people can pay a penny less than starbucks with wireless and it will raise revenue at a coffee shop where people can buy spiritual literature and sit and chat. It should be repaired, stone washed, and doors painted. And the two dirty squares should be planted with Geraniums which in this heat will grow as tall as bushes with bright red, pink and white flowers. It should be a cultural center, where French arts can be featured in tandem with the Alliance Francais and the French Embassy in Washington as a New York cultural center. Think the Catholic Information Center in the heart of Chelsea. Get Creative

     Then I thought I should have a meeting with Dolan where I would pledge not to start a Boycott of the Leo House if he pledged to renovate and rejuvenate the Church of Saint Vincent de Paul in Chelsea.


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Are You A Priest? Of the Roman Catholic Variety?

206 Tours Wants You They are offering FREE, totally FREE pilgrimages PLUS a stipend to Priests who can go on Pilgrimage to celebrate daily Mass with their groups in October to Italy, the Holy Land and France. Come on- you know you need another vacation. (tell them Cynthia sent you:-)

Monday, August 06, 2012


Sent me this, so I pass it on for your thoughtful consideration: We normally send out only one article per week, but this week we must send two. Below we are sending you an article that is not only important but urgent: The trial of Rudwan Dawod is set to reach a verdict on August 13. Please read this article and contact your member of Congress and senators, urging them to use whatever pressure is possible to free this champion of non-violence, inter-religious dialogue, and peace. We will be sending out our regular contribution to the Common Good Forum and our Must-Reads on Wednesday. TORTURED FOR HELPING REBUILD A CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL By John Zogby and Tom Prichard Rudwan Dawod, a Muslim from the Darfur region of Sudan and non-violent activist, is jailed in Khartoum on charges of terrorism awaiting a verdict on August 13. If convicted, Dawod could be sentenced to death. Dawod is a project director for the Washington, DC-based charity Sudan Sunrise, leading an initiative of Sudanese Muslims planning to rebuild the Catholic Cathedral in Torit, South Sudan. Since the independence of South Sudan, on July 9, 2011, the northern Sudanese regime of Omar al Bashir has been increasingly belligerent towards Sudan's Christian minority. In April three churches in Khartoum were burned by a mob as police and security officials looked on in tacit approval. Dawod, a Sudanese citizen married to an American and living in Springfield, Oregon, was grieved by the news of the burning of churches. He set his sights on rebuilding a church with Sudan Sunrise as a symbol for Sudanese Muslims who stand for peace. Passing through the Washington area on his way to Sudan, Dawod met with Imam Mohamed Magid, the President of the Islamic Society for North American, who is Sudanese by birth, who wholeheartedly endorsed the project. (See, Dawod met with Bishop Johnson Akio in Torit, South Sudan to present his vision. Bishop Akio enthusiastically responded, proposing that the best symbol for peace would be to rebuild the Cathedral in Torit. The Cathedral was twice destroyed by forces from the North, and more than 1,000 worshippers gather each Sunday under a makeshift roof near the Cathedral ruins. The Cathedral was first destroyed in the 1960’s, and then again in the 1990's in the second civil war, in which an estimated 2.4 million Southern Sudanese were killed and 4 million were displaced. Prior to meeting Bishop Akio, Dawod estimated that he had 200 volunteers. That number grew when Dawod presented his vision to the leaders of the mosque in Torit, when an elderly Imam recounted how the mosque was built in 1941 with help from Christians who contributed financially and with volunteer labor. Following their meeting, Bishop Akio traveled to the Vatican, where he spoke about the initiative on Vatican Radio. Dawod proceeded to present the vision to Muslim leaders in South Sudan, and South Sudan government officials, and to make it public by announcing it on radio and through Southern Sudanese newspapers. The initiative was enthusiastically received in the South by Muslims, Christians and by the government. During a lull in the project, Dawod traveled to Khartoum to visit his family and renew his Sudanese passport. This was Dawod's first return to Khartoum since he had been featured in an Al Jazeera English documentary about the growing Arab Spring youth movement Girifna (which means "fed up" in Arabic). When Dawod arrived in June, non-violent demonstrations against the government of Omar al Bashir were gaining momentum. Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur. While in Khartoum, Dawod helped organize a non-violent protest, a right protected by the Sudanese constitution. During the demonstration Dawod was abducted by government security agents and beaten until unconscious. His father, brother and others were abducted the same evening, and their house was ransacked by government security officials who stripped it of anything of value, even the earrings from his sister's ears. Held for several days in a "ghost house," Dawod was tortured by security who tried unsuccessfully to force a (false) confession that he was a CIA agent organizing a terror cell preparing to place bombs in Khartoum market places. Dawod was also beaten specifically for opposing the burning of churches. Dawod's trial has garnered coverage in national media in the US, although often he is described simply as an Arab spring activist with no reference to his leading a Muslim effort to rebuild a Catholic Cathedral. Also, news media seldom report what it was that Dawod found inspiring about his hero and friend, the late former NBA legend, Manute Bol. Manute lost 240 family members during the 22-year civil war in Sudan, yet he would say, "Muslims are not my enemies. They are my brothers. The problem is the government in Khartoum." When Manute, a Catholic, was asked why he would have such an attitude towards those he could consider his enemies, he would say simply, "God says we are to forgive." Manute repeatedly stood up for oppressed Muslim populations in the north of Sudan and dreamed of building schools across South Sudan that would welcome children of Christian, Muslim, animist families and from whatever tribe. It was through volunteering with Sudan Sunrise to help build Manute's school that Dawod not only came to know Manute, but also his future wife, Nancy. They were married in 2010. In 2011 Dawod lead a team of young Muslims from Khartoum who with Sudan Sunrise's help delivered a truck load of relief food to refugees and local needy in Turalei. Nancy and Rudwan's first child, a daughter, is due in September and will be named "Sudan". Nancy's prayer is that Rudwan will be safely home for Sudan's birth. The verdict and sentence, due on August 13, could range anywhere from acquittal to the death penalty. The US embassy has been sending personnel to Rudwan's trial, and the US House of Representatives Sudan Caucus has issued a call for Rudwan's release. Despite being beaten for opposing the burning of churches, Rudwan Dawod and his volunteers remain committed to rebuilding the Cathedral in Torit. The only obstacle that remains is funding. Rudwan's volunteers and Bishop Akio and his diocese see the strategic importance of this symbol of peace, but unfortunately they do not have the capacity to fund it. Bishop Akio and the volunteers hope is that one positive outcome of Dawod's ordeal is that the Torit Cathedral will be built as a strategic symbol of peace, as well as the schools of which Dawod and Manute Bol dreamed of building across South Sudan. For more information, go to and The Rev. Tom Pritchard, an Episcopalian priest, is one of the founders of Sudan Sunrise. Dr. John Zogby is a Senior Fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy research and Catholic Studies.

The Seikh Temple

And bold American ignorance. There are no words to describe how horrible, pointless, sad and mindless the Seikh Temple shootings are. Americans do not understand who Seikhs are. Seikhs are not Arabs. I know the name sounds like Sheiks, like they are some princely normadic arabic folk but that is silly. Seikhs are from the Punjab province of India and Pakistan. They are Indian (from India) and Pakistani, not remotely Arab. Not remotely Persian, not remotely Palestinian, and not remotely terrorists. The ones in America tend to be fantastically entrepreneurial, largely Republican in many areas and are great business people. There is no reason to shoot them or anyone just because they wear a turban. It is not enough to say 'our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family' - this sort of insanity has to be fought head on- and the American people need a lesson in Who Your Neighbors Are. Who Are Your Neighbors? Jesus said love them. No excuses.
Jubilee Campaign's Law of Life Project Calls on the UN to Protect Pregnant Women from Forced Abortion in China. Representing the "Coalition to End Violence Against Pregnant Women" JC-LOLP's Attorneys have received the United Nation's acknowledgement that their "Complaint & Request for an Investigation of State Violence & Discrimination Against Chinese Women & Children" has been received. As widely reported and documented by persecuted Chinese human rights leaders, like Liu Xiaobo and (most recently in his August 1 presentation to Congress) Chen Guangcheng, the totalitarian government of the "People's Republic of China" rules its people with an iron fist and is responsible for a multitude of human rights violations against its own people that violate China's own Constitution and laws with impunity, as well as the international human rights conventions to which China is a signatory. In Chen Guangcheng's telling words to Congress on August 1 (quoted in the Washington Post): "Currently the human rights situation is deteriorating. Great cruelty has resulted from efforts to maintain social stability, resulting in a situation in which there is no ethics, rule of law or justice," he said. "This has led to [an] increasing number of people whose rights have been violated, and these people have and will rise up in protest." Perhaps the most widely felt of these human rights abuses is the One-Child Policy. Chen himself was imprisoned for over four years for protesting against this policy which forbids Chinese citizens from becoming pregnant or giving birth without separate permissions of the government, and coercively punishes the people with confiscatory fines (used to pay informants and other corrupt practices not authorized by law), forced abortion and forced sterilization for failure to comply with this "family planning" policies and procedures enforced by the local apparatchiks of China's "National Population & Family Planning Commission (NPFPC)." There are numerous reports of pregnant women being kidnapped from their homes or off the streets by the NPFPC, to then be tortured and forced into 'family planning clinics' to have their children forcibly killed by means of dismemberment, decapitation, poisoning or vacuuming the child out of their womb unwillingly. This picture of Feng Jianmei , repeated daily in China, is a wake-up call to the world. As Jubilee Campaign's co-founder Lord Alton said at our Defending Life Luncheon a few weeks ago, "This is not a million years ago, this is [a picture of Feng Jianmei and her forcibly aborted third-term child taken] in June, this year!" Following the July 5 joint resolution of the European Parliament applauded by many NGOs condemning China's One-Child Policy and the July 9 Congressional Hearing on the Continued Human Rights Attacks on Families in China featuring the tearful, anguished testimony of Guo Yanling recounting her forced abortion, sterilization, confiscatory fines paid to get out of jail and flight from China seeking refugee status in Thailand, JC's Law of Life Project, along with ChinaAid, All Girls Allowed, Women for Life International, Canada Silent No More, and Endeavor Forum Inc. decided to form the "Coalition to End Violence Against Pregnant Women"and file a complaint in the United Nations documenting these human rights violations against Feng Jianmei, Guo Yanling and 15 other similar and just as egregious cases On July 31st, this Coalition submitted its very first "communication/complaint" to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women who acknowledged on August 3 its receipt of what it deemed to be our "Complaint & Request for an Investigation of State Violence & Discrimination Against Chinese Women & Children." Our dear friend and ally Reggie Littlejohn, from Women's Rights Without Frontiers (many of you may remember her from her tireless work on behalf of Chen Guangcheng), submitted her own complaint to the Commission on the Status of Women. She specifically noted that China failed to respond to 2011 complaint submitted by Women's Rights Without Frontiers. In light of the international outrage created by Feng Jianmei's case we hope that the People's Republic of China will respond to our complaints and ultimately change their unjust and corrupt policy. While we know from the testimony submitted by the Population Research Institute at the July 9 Congressional hearing that the United Nation's Population Fund (UNFPA) actively supports and funds forced abortion and other coercive human rights violations in China using federal funds provided to the U.N by the Obama Administration, we trust that the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women, will take its mandate to eliminate state-sponsored or condoned violence against women and their children seriously and investigate and report these violations as they ought according to their own procedure, consciences and international law. Our efforts in this matter, as well as all the other cases we are currently handling for the sake of the right to life and human dignity would be impossible without your prayers and continued financial support. Thank you. Donate to the Law of Life Project The Law of Life Project Jubilee Campaign USA 9689-C Main Street Fairfax, Virginia 22030 Jubilee Campaign USA 703-503-0791 Jubilee Campaign's Law of Life Project is a public interest legal organization dedicated to legally defending the right to life and dignity of the human being from biological conception until natural death in all matters worldwide where such a defense is required. Jubilee Campaign is an international charitable organization that seeks to be a "voice for the voiceless" promoting the human rights of all, particularly women and children in countries which imprison, terrorize or otherwise oppress them. The Law of Life Project is a part of Jubilee Campaign USA which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Donations are tax deductible. Click on one of the buttons below to donate online, or send a check to the address above. Checks should include the Law of Life Project in the memo line and can be made payable to Jubilee Campaign USA. If you choose to donate through Network for Good please add a note that says "The Law of Life Project" in the "Designation" text box. Thank you for your support.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

American Partisanship in the Church

Republican Prayer Clubs and the First Amendment

    If you are reading this and from another country it may shock you that America has a political power structure which is divided in two- we have a two party system, Republicans and Democrats, like a soccer match (Le Fut) and each is vying to gain political advantage and power over the other, and put enough of their team players in both houses of Congress that they have the 'leadership' locked up. If their guy gets in the White House then they get Supreme Court appointments that rule in their favor (they think).  Its not like in Europe where there are many parties in any given election, with two or three representing what might be considered 'the left' and another few on 'the right.' We have One Right party and One Left party which the One Right party always maintains is the Wrong Party. If I were writing the "American Politics for Idiots" primer I would say that the Left generally has rhetoric that cares about the poor, the right cares about parading as more morally superior. So the Left tries to put things through like universal health care coverage legislation, legislation protecting kids school food programs, legislation against oppressive exploitative practices in the real estate and lending industries, etc. The Right is Hell bent on stopping gay marriage and abortions (while not actually giving money to anyone pregnant to help legislatively while that sometimes happens in church run programs or understanding the connection between poverty and abortion). To oversimplify Jesuits tend to be on the social justice left camp and the Cardinal tends to be on the right- lets get rid of Obama camp.So he hires
yes-people that tend to reflect the right philosophy and masque political power struggles in veneers of religious piety.

    The unfortunate thing about the catholic church in Washington, DC is that the power structure is on the Republican side. They use 'culture war' issues to tilt elections. For example, they use things like gay marriage to bludgeon people who think the 'lets help poor people' agenda is going to tax businesses too much. They bewail the over-secularization of the culture. They, during the last decade, wholeheartedly supported war and profited from it, amassing fortunes for the Industrial Military complex in crony defense contracts that padded pews from Bethesda to McLean. Catholics fight catholics, some getting dirty and nasty calling the others non -catholics or 'Catholiks' or 'cafeteria catholics' or - one I am particularly proud of "presbyterians!" They are para-church lobbying outfits staffed with some of the more virulent bloggers and you know who you are.

   I lay this backdrop to demonstrate the furious wrong-headedness of the so called "Religious Liberty" litigation against the HHS mandates. Two recent cases came up with rulings: one in Colorado where a catholic business was granted a temporary injunction while a permanent one imposing the HHS mandates on individual businesses is deliberated upon. That is not a decision 'on the merits' because it makes no final ruling regarding the First Amendment issues and basically freezes in place the current status quo until it can be evaluated by a Judge.  But it is significant because to even get one of those you have to demonstrate a 'likelihood' of prevailing on the merits once it is fully analyzed. The second 'not on the merits' decision that was handed down involved an outright dismissal of the Belford (excuse me BELMONT)  Abbey case- because it was not considered timely enough to create standing- meaning in that case, that until there is an actual 'injury' there is no right to make the claim (yet).  It's a -come back and talk to me when you really have a problem- sort of ruling . This is because the mandate had not kicked into effect yet, there was found a 'good faith' effort on Obama's people's part in giving the one year extension to work out the fine kinks negotiating resolution and compromise which no Archdiocese is willing to do, and no one had been penalized in any fashion yet.

    Now lets get to the real -behind the curtain- issue. The Republicans, like the Chancellor , are trying to scandalize Obama anyway they can. They thought this First Amendment assault was going to blow him out of the water. How come no one is paying attention to 43 religious entities suing Obama? bemoaned the Washington Cardinal in so many words.

  Because it is OBVIOUSLY political. It is OBVIOUSLY timed to create discord in an election year. It is OBVIOUSLY motivated by the virulent hatred of all things Democratic and the loss of the White House and fear it will appoint more  Supreme Court judges of its ilk the next term where a lot of the old guys are expected to retire.

     There are and were a thousand ways to compromise on this HHS and negotiate in good faith. The Archdiocese is not negotiating in good faith. They could have said- OK, the kind of contraception that stops diseases we are fine with the abortofascients- no way. Non elective versus elective has to be discussed. Someone who needs a hysterectomy because otherwise their uterine cancer will cause them to bleed to death and kill them should get one covered by insurance, but someone who just wants their tubes tied for fun should not. There are ways to negotiate and compromise.

     People, I have to say, are sick and tired of this crap. So sick and tired it's hard to stay and even watch it, it is so disturbing that political agendas can be forced down the sheeples throats under the guise of moral piety.

   If a married family has five kids and the husband just lost his job and they are looking at how they can afford to put food on the table much less send anyone to college is contraception an evil? Apparently the MAJORITY report that issued when the Humana Vitae encyclical dictate issued said NO. Contraception is not in all cases a moral evil. But the party line went with the MINORITY report at the time. And we are stuck with the arrogance of it ever since.

     The one bright spot on the horizon is that the Catholic Information Center actually invited in a Kennedy family member to discuss his new book. A Democrat in the Catholic Information Center, what is the world coming to.