Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why We Celebrate



Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.

Give Thanks

To The Lord

   For He is GOOD, and his MERCY endures Forever.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

happy birthday

oldest living Hollocaust survivor turns 110 today- God Bless Her.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rest in Peace

And Help Us All

    As the nation commemorates the fifty years since the passing of John F. Kennedy as the first Catholic President of the US, a few thoughts come to mind as Clinton and Obama go to Arlington to pay respects.  There are a hundred or so Kennedy relatives, nieces, nephews, cousins, second cousins, who will commemorate in their own ways, and roll their eyes at other's efforts who feign a familiarity with the Camelot couple. The family knew him. We can only marvel at a distance. Some like myself were only born the year he was elected and so we lived our whole lives with the mythology and memories of others recounting.

  There are things that impress us. I am struck by in particular The Flame at Arlington which is eternally lit. The Flame-as if to say, you can kill the man but the light will always carry on. The causes that JKF seems to stand for never die but shout from his grave all the louder. Justice, Equality,  Fairness, Opportunity, the very bedrock of the American experiment found their expression in this President. He was smart, easy on the eyes, Harvard educated, and a decorated real war hero. All those things come to mind- but at the time of his death, what strikes me particularly are a few things aside from the obvious pain of his wife: the eternal flame, may his memory never cease, and the red shoes John Jr. and Caroline wore as they stood by their mother in front of Saint Matthews Cathedral in Washington, DC watching their father in a box be loaded onto a hearse. Red is the color of martyrs. JFK was a martyr. The motivation for his killing came from a purely evil place even if we do not know for certain the magnitude of circumstances surrounding his killer or killers. One thing we do know, it was pure evil.

   So it was fitting for his children to wear the red shoes of Martyrdom in honor of their father.
And like all Martyrs, people who died directly or indirectly for standing tall and firm for what they believed in, and got shot down in the process, there is a very special place in heaven for him. So he is still with us but from a place with a better view.

John F. Kennedy, pray for us all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Takes a Big Man

To Check Himself.

  Apology accepted Martin Bashir, who retracts as follows:

But if I could add something to the public record it would be this: That I deeply regret what I said, and that I have learned a sober lesson in these last few days. THAT THE POLITICS OF VITRIOL AND DESTRUCTION IS A MISERABLE PLACE TO BE AND A MISERABLE PERSON TO BECOME.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Petit Announce

The Catholic Church of Saint Paul the Apostle in New York City has been selected as the church to host the annual Christmas in New York CBS special.
It will air Christmas Eve- and you can watch it while last minute present wrapping.
They pre-record it on Friday, December 6. It features celebrities and The Muppets (which is from my perspective the main attraction:-)

They want to pack the house for the show- it will feature a lessons and carrolls sort of genre so if you have a particularly good Christmas Carroll singing voice please come. Check out the website for Saint Paul the Apostle in New York (its a historical beautiful church right off Columbus Circle) for more details.

They have incredible acoustics. Its a singers heaven in there.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holy Water

LOURDES Should be understood as that place in a bedrock grotto where the Blessed Mother wanted to demonstrate the existence of a Mikveh. or instruct the creation of one in an ideal spot. It was widely rumored she visited southern France while on earth. One of her instructions to Bernadette was -start digging- Here a real Jerusalem Mikveh from the 2nd Temple period illustrates:

So Open Minded

Your Brains Fell Out.

   That was my mother's cautioning- tolerance to a point of lacking completely moral discernment. You are so open minded your brains fall out. Usually I rebuffed her cautioning - like when it was applied to my dating a dark skinned guy because i dismissed it as racist generational nonsense.
   Recently in other contexts I have revisited the phrase from my very wise mother.
I viewed a youtube video anyone can google on 'animism' in which it was disclosed that there is now a society of people who are so attracted to inatimate objects that they want to have sexual experiences with them. Not Kidding. Close your eyes kids.
There are people so fond of the Eiffel Tower, or the Statute of Liberty or a ferris wheel that they want to 'marry' these objects in the romantic sense. I thought- OK, there we go- clearly a line has been crossed somewhere into mental ill-health and someone needs to call the exorcist when an attractive young woman wants to french kiss the Eiffel Tower. Embroider it on pillows, fine, emboss it on notecards, also fine, but get naked with it and conduct a commitment ceremony? If  you are not at this point yelling -are you nuts! there is something wrong with you. Because we appreciate that a line has been crossed from fondness or admiration (granted the Eiffel Tower is largely Phallic) into pure wierdness beyond the realm. We want to give that person a warm bath and a glass of wine to rethink their attraction and if that doesn't work- where's the lithium!
    There are people who love forrests- feel so 'connected' to nature that they want to 'connect' with nature and get naked with trees. Tree- hugger has new meaning when the knot in a tree becomes a substitute for something a woman has. Most of society would agree that is too wierd for words and the behavior deviant- off the hook-- call the guys with the white jacket and long sleeves. A line has been crossed from fondness for forrests to being 'one' with nature that is a little too close for comfort.  Not many people have a problem with noting that there is in fact a line and it has in fact been crossed.

   For the last several thousand years we have had a line, in which fondness and admiration, respect and even love goes but not further, and that is in the romantic realm of sexual expression between adults. The line has been gender. Love, admire, be fond of someone of your same gender, but don't cross over into the sexual romantic realm. That was considered the norm, as much as people felt attracted to same gender people and until about ten years ago the people who did cross over were loved but pitied, because they could not control or contain themselves from the crossing over this line.

  People who know and follow scripture understand that about two thousand years ago, it was prophesied that there would be what Robin Thicke calls 'Blurred Lines' and men would want to have sex with men and women with women. Lines would be crossed and the people who held to the line were castigated as 'traditionalists', 'moralists', 'prudes' or just meanspirited. Some in fact are. Some wear it as a badge of courage like a red martyrs cape.

    In the last ten years social and public policy has changed to change the line. The people who don't want it changed are biblically literate people who know that two thousand years ago a prophetic writing
codified in the New Testament told us that this would happen in the 'end times.' ---with a vengeance.
And that appears to be exactly what is happening.

    This isn't a comparison to the Santorumesque slippery slope of- now are we going to make bestiality legal?  Its just a comment that the people who are trying to advise people that the line is moving are right, and it was predicted to move, and the question should be- is that something we view as positive or not as a country routed in Judeo-Christian values.  It isn't to say people crossing the line aren't nice wonderful, talented people who contribute to others lives meaningfully, it is to say however that a line has been crossed. And it bears attention.


Monday, November 11, 2013

The Bishops Burden.

And a Call For Prayer .

    The Bishops meet today and start with a prayer at the beautiful classic historic first cathedral in the US, the Baltimore Cathedral. I recall fondly a pilgrimmage i took to see it.

     They need wisdom and strength to combat the forces that would corrupt them which are heavy. They need to follow Jesus not the RNC leaders, not the business communities wealthiest contributors, not the nation's leading ideological right wingnuttery gallery. They need the Holy Spirit.

On the issue of this contraception fight against HHS on 'religious freedom' grounds- the issues are not simplistically the feminazis versus the holy women of God, and people shouting 'you don't speak for me'
don't speak for me either, nor lots of women. Women's voices, even catholic ones are not  monolithic. All women don't have to follow other women's life choices. A woman with several kids who has a career and a husband who supports it and doesn't want any more children does not have to have any, and does not have to sacrifice her marriage for an ideological insistence by bishops.

    The NY times has an interesting piece on the Gilardi case.


     The issue of whether corporations as opposed to individuals possessing a first amendment right for Freedom of Religion is not a trivial one without consequence.
The Roberts court has once already upheld Obamacare by calling a tax penalty the same as a tax and valid under the taxing power given to Congress. Congress may clearly pass health related laws. Congress believes by passage of this law that contraception is vital to the mental or psychological well being of women (does psychologically a lot less damage than abortions that result when one does not use contraception). Clearly condoms prevent AIDS, it is folly to suggest that people who don't use them
have less risk of disease than people who do.

     Congres is allowed to make health laws that affect all businesses. Does a corporation have a 'Freedom of Religion' right- under the US Constitution even when it is non-profit corporation, incorporated under corporate laws as a non profit? One could argue that if it is tax exempt then the taxing power doesn't apply so all these should be exempted as well.  But would that rationale hold when Congress wanted to make non profits accountable to OSHA health laws? Could a non profit
not be held accountable for making people sit in asbestos laden toxic air and drink toxic water and coffee at work because it is against someone's religion to have to clean air vents? Could any Congressional health mandate get trumped by a religious objection because the founding people have religious beliefs against it? Suppose Congress said no smoking inside buildings- but the peyote smokers
insisted they had to inside structures as a matter of their belief? Congress can't outlaw smoking inside enclosures?
     The Supreme Court should take all the cases up which address whether corporations have a Freedom of Religion right or not. They also should address whether individual business owners can opt out of some of them on conscience grounds when Congress at large says it is a public health concern. That's why we have a Congress in part- to investigate all angles, hold hearings and determine by a majority of opinion what is considered the best course for the country in the best interest of the country as a whole.
We don't allow any individual to say he doesn't want to provide workplace safety on religious grounds, or not put in a health accommodation like a ramp for the disabled, or not provide non-FDA approved foods in the cafeteria, like expired meats or dairy products. Laws are for everybody or they don't work. They become optional suggestions instead.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

The singing friar.

I saw him tonight at the church of Saint Paul the Apostle in NYC. AMAZING doesn't do him justice.
He did the best version of Panis Angelicus i have heard anywhere on any medium. If you are in DC when he comes to the Franciscan Monestary of the Holy Land you have to hear/see him sing.
Just breathtakingly beautiful and moving.

must see tv-are really interested in healing?

Cancer the Forbidden Cures - Full Documentary

Contraception and the Bishops Conference

The Audacity of Duplicity.

     The Wuerlwind: 43 lawsuits. Thats lots of litigation for a body that is supposed to represent the Prince of Peace.
The Archdiocese of Washington prided itself on picking a fight with the President over not wanting to provide contraceptive coverage in para-church organizations run by religious organizations as non profit corporations on 'freedom of religion' grounds. No, that mis-states the issue- the fight is over whether they have to make it available through a third party insurance coverage. They are not being asked to dispense it through soda vending machines. They are asked to make it available on policies they offer that is paid for by insurance companies essentially. If no one wants it, no one has to pay for it. If all the people the church hires follow church teachings then no one will order it, no one will pay for it.

     This fight has embarassingly gone from the sublime to the ridiculous to the fairly unconscionable.
I think the faithful are entitled to an accounting of what was spent and to whom on this fight. Many including myself believe it was widely misdirected resources to pad the pockets of the republican elite who support this particular Cardinal who turned a Religious Freedom Rally with perfect timing into a
Romney Rally in all but name. To even suggest that got one run off of pilgrimmages.

   First, the issue of contraception in the abstract is clear in terms of the church teaching (from all men) - its out of the question unless, as Benedict clarified about five years ago when the issue of AIDS in Africa surfaced over his trip, you are trying to prevent death by using a condom. Then it is the lesser of evils. Otherwise its just intrinsically evil, say all men.

  Anything in the abstract that contravenes or contracepts life is definitionally anti life and thus not of the giver of life, goes the argument. Its the mentality that also rebukes gay lifestyles because they don't naturally procreate (never mind that they save lives that are already here time and time again)-

    When one looks at the reality of the fact that contraception saves not having to have an abortion, the arguments get less theologically clear because clearly using contraception when you don't want to be pregnant precludes you from having to abort when you are generally speaking as a rule. It doesn't take a woman to figure that out. Sure there are accidents and slip ups and failures of method, but that is the general idea.

   Other harms of contraception are physical-because any sort of foreign substance one regularly takes to alter a natural cycle is bound to have other bad physiological repercussions- and the pill has been blamed on everything from breast and uterine cancer increases to infertility. There have even been massive lawsuits about it and better public education about it would be wise. Choices must be informed or they are not choices. Fair is Fair.
From a women's health perspective the pill is not something you should eat with your morning cereal for kicks. They cause physiological changes, some irreparable. If the pill in various formulas is intrinsically unsafe for womens health it should be banned quicker than transfats- but that is not the issue at hand. The feared health consequences of it is why I, for one, was not on it- the second reason was I never needed to be because I generally by default follow church teaching on sexuality.  The church believes no one should ever need to be - because sex is for procreation and married people should be open to as many children as God wants to bless them with. Unmarried people, like me, shouldn't need it because they shouldn't be having sex to begin with.

   The issue is whether it is Religious Freedom constitutionally to deprive people of something determined to be a medical or psychological necessity by some people and is not an easy slam dunk issue.
Women psychologically believe it is their responsibility to assist in providing for the household and thus have jobs outside a household which they believe precludes their having children.   These are social pressures, they are pressures born of women's desire to be relevant in the world, and also to use their minds to the fullest capacities that God Gave them as a form of worshipping God with all their minds, hearts, souls, etc. Women have talents, brains, genius even and they have a right to express them in the world.  From a practical perspective being open to as many children as God wants to give one means being available to raise them, or having the resources to hire people to help. Some married women, a large number of them, even Catholic women, use birth control. If every family in a parish does not have ten kids and the couple married in their twenties or early thirties chances are someone is on birth control. If you took a poll in any parish I would guess at least half the married women would raise their hands.

  The old Catholic model was that men were entitled to have mistresses because their fertile wives were not on any birth control and they couldn't afford more kids, so they had sex elsewhere- there was a winking duplicity about this- and good catholic women were supposed to just suck it up and tolerate that their husbands had affairs. It destroyed good marriages from a woman's perspective- and killed love under clouds of adultery.  Look at the great catholic political heros- I don't need to name them. Its scandal their infidelities were and are so tolerated.

     Back to the US Constitution where Congress shall make no law abridging the Freedom of Religion or the Free Exercise thereof. The question is - can a non profit corporation attached to a church, run by religious people, but not a church per se, claim to have 'Religious Freedom'- In this century , in particular the Roberts Court, we have seen the Supreme Court define a corporation as a 'person' -some think rather absurdly in other contexts and it has been widely lampooned for it. It has freedom of Speech apparently. It has widespread implications for election finance even-

  But can and does it, as a legal fiction have freedom of religion ever? It goes to the fundamental structure and purpose of a corporation. Individuals wishing to insulate themselves from liability when they form corporations look at various structures to do that, and  raise money in stock issuance. Lawyers tell them the best way they can put their idea and production into the market in a manner that protects them as a sword and shield personally from any downside or risk of failure. So they create an entity that is not them- cannot be taxed personally to them, cannot be traceable to them in a corporate limited liability context. A board is required to have a corporation. Corporations have shareholders often that have powers to vote out directors, founders even. The corporate entity on purpose is not supposed to be merely a veiled individual. Piercing the Corporate veil is what happens when someone sues a corporation that pleads poverty or tries to make itself judgment proof so the litigant can get money from the individual who set up the sham corporation to try to hide their assets. But we are not talking about sham corporations when we talk about parachurch organizations. We are not supposed to be talking about an individual or even a group that sets up a non profit to run an ecclesiastically motivated organization. There is supposed to be accountability to a Board, they are supposed to have voting control over directors.

     Corporations of course do not have souls, do not procreate children, do not have emotional bonds like marriages, and do not go to heaven or hell, although bankruptcy court might feel like it. Corporations don't cry, don't send their kids to school with a lunchbox and a handwritten napkin note, don't wipe tears from kids booboos and don't bake christmas cookies. People Do.

   What is the social benefit of creating such a legal fiction then in the context of Religious Freedom.
That is the constitutional question likely to go to the Supreme Court when the Hobby Lobby case gets there. Hobby Lobby is a craft-toy store run by a deeply christian family who don't want to provide contraceptive coverage for employees. It is not a para church organization- and has a better argument than a para church organization because employment labor laws exempt religious non profits from discriminating in hiring people who don't subscribe to their beliefs- so technically parachurch orgs can get away with not hiring people who would use contraception in the first place. They could even put it on a hire application questionaire and couldn't be sued for it. So there is no reason to think it would cost anyone a penny to merely in the abstract provide it for parachurch outfits if no one orders or uses it.

     The Supreme Court needs to seriously think about what the social benefits at large are to giving all corporations all the rights of individuals when the purpose of establishing corporations is to insulate the individual from personal liabilities and create a distinctly non-personal entity.

  Before I even knew it was catholic teaching, before I was even catholic technically, I followed that great catholic teaching of my presbyterian mother under the chapter of the book titled "Why Buy the Cow if The Milk Is Free." So I am not ranting from any desire to see contraception cheaper than it already is. I am ranting because I have an obligation as an attorney, and every attorney does, to defend and uphold the Constitution. When it is undermined or watered down it becomes not a cohesive social instrument that allows us to call ourselves Americans but something that perverts justice.

   I worked in Wuerl's Cathedral for years as an unpaid volunteer joyfully. I also volunteered in assisting particularly their homeless ministries or social justice ministries or fundraising in several other parishes in Washington DC including Saint Stephens, Holy Trinity, and Saint Louis de France- for all total over a decade.  I know that most of the workers at these churches are volunteers, not paid any benefits. The people actually hired by the churches or parachurch organizations have to follow church teachings on sexuality and contraception (and marriage, and gay non-rights, etc.) So no one has ever shown one case of any person who is complaining that they are going to be given the choice of getting contraception on any policy offered by the church. Who is complaining? Who has standing to complain? That is why I believe there should be a full accounting regarding all this litigation. Who is getting paid, why, and shouldn't those resources be better spent on things like developing affordable non-exploitative housing for people in one of the toughest residential rental markets in the country in homeless ministries? Or feeding programs, or after school programs for kids to learn other skills in the inner city, or sports programs or almost anything else.

    I do believe it completely appropriate for the church to have church teaching about women taught by women who believe in it at churches, and I am all for empowering women attorneys to do it- like Helen Alvare who will be speaking at Our Lady of Lourdes to the Ladies of Lourdes. That is perfectly appropriate, and she has views on where she wants the Constitution to turn. But the Supreme Court has to look at the wider implications of what will happen if the corporate veil is pierced for every civil right and liberty granted to individuals when the point of establishing a real corporation, even non profit ones, is to exempt it from individualism.











Friday, November 08, 2013

It may seem to you
to go without saying
but it bears repeating
all the same
when you seek first glory and fame
you take the Lords name in vain.

Now it may appear
that your zeal is real
while your positions intemperate
with shouting extremes
get you attention and esteem
while lacking in love
the most basic sincerity
while ginning up polarity
that makes you so mean.

From where does it say
condemnation is a virtue
or judgment a blessing
or cursing won't hurt you
you curse those who love you
and wonder why they oppose you

The Lords embrace is such a grace
so penetrating your insolent face
He even gives you space to
not reciprocate.

whatever religion you are-this is important history-

Love this man.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Amazing Rabbis Singing Simon and Garfunkel!

CLICK below

If you are in NYC on Sunday


  Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Louis of France (one of a handful of Saint Monarchs), both Third Order /Secular Franciscans  will be honored at the church of Saint Francis of Assisi in New York City just down the street from Penn Station on 31st St. this Sunday at the  11:00 am Mass.
   The Franciscan order is particularly well known for its care of the poor.  Reception to follow in the Claire Room.

Note to Doug Maynard, head Lawyer for the New York City Police Department.

Stop the Program anyway- the quota system has to go.

Le fossé qui se creuse entre riches et pauvres... by KTOTV

This is the new head of the French Bishops Conference. It is much more important
to worry about issues of poverty than gayness (as was the obsession of the previous
head of the Bishops Conference) because poverty can mean the difference between
life and death, gayness means the difference between good or bad interior decoration.

You Are A Star

La prochaine exposition photo à l'Hôtel de Ville