So, how long do you want to be married? We can do that...

Really, you didn't see this coming?  From a mile away?  Really?

Moral Authority and the gay marriage agenda

The new intiative, Faith in America, is quite specific in urging the use of this tool to create a crisis in moral authority among believers: "Being bigoted or prejudiced conflicts with a person of faith's core principles of love, compassion and respect. So making them aware that they are causing harm to others increases the chances that they will stop using religion-based bigotry."
I have pondered on the hatred I have generated, as a symbol of resistance to this new morality, in the gay community.
I do not think of gay people as my enemies, but as my fellow citizens, neighbors and sometimes friends, with whom I agree on many things and disagree on others, including the nature, meaning and public purpose of marriage.
I walked into the heart of the gay marriage debate to defend one great principle of truth: Marriage is the union of husband and wife because children long for their mother and father.
But this the gay elites cannot tolerate -- not the idea that anyone can see our Christian moral tradition as good.
To the gay rights movement, a strong moral confidence in the goodness of our marriage tradition is in itself the core moral offense, which requires disciplining, punishing, silencing, shunning.

From Maggie Gallagher, National Organization for Marriage

Sacred Place of the Day

Milk Grotto, Bethlehem

So named because legend has it that Mary nursed the Christ Child in this spot.

Slogging through blogging

Generally slow blogging this week.  I don't have much original material to add, as I've got a HUGE work project to get off the ground in less than a week.  Bear with me, dear readers.....

Feast of the Archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

"We are to honor the angels because it is they who bear our souls up to heaven...." - The Golden Legend



Sacred Place of the Day

New Synagogue, Berlin

Jewish High Holy Days

Tonight, at sundown, begins the Jewish High Holy days, starting with Rosh Hashana:


Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game.
There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. More on this concept at Days of Awe.
The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.
Shofar: Click to hear it blow!The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Click the shofar above to hear an approximation of the sound of Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat.
No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayerbook called the machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.
Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. This was the second Jewish religious practice I was ever exposed to (the first one: lighting Chanukkah candles), and I highly recommend it. It's yummy. We also dip bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.
Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services. When the first day occurs on Shabbat, many synagogues observe Tashlikh on Sunday afternoon, to avoid carrying (the bread) on Shabbat.
Religious services for the holiday focus on the concept of G-d's sovereignty.
The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." More on that concept at Days of Awe.
You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why, then, does the Jewish "new year" occur in Tishri, the seventh month?
Judaism has several different "new years," a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time). 

http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday2.htm

Cannonball Victories go to:

Best Blog by a Religious; Fr. Longenecker's Standing on My Head

Best Political Blog; Adrienne's Catholic Corner

More Catholic Than the Pope; Real Catholic TV

Best Armchair Theologian; Little Catholic Bubble

Best Visual Treat; Betty Beguiles

Most Church Militant; It's a tie! Defend Us in Battle, and Cleansing Fire

Best New Kid on the Block; Heart For God

Best Blog by a Heretic; Bad Vestments

Best Under Appreciated Blog; Barefoot & Pregnant

Best Spiritual Treat; Blessed is the Kingdom

Bat Shit Crazy; I Have to Sit Down

Best Potpourri of Popery; Shoved to Them

Snarkiest Catholic Blog; Acts of the Apostasy

Most Hifreakinlarious; another tie! Acts of the Apostasy and The Ironic Catholic

Blog that Needs to be Updated More Often; Recovery Dissident Catholic


You will notice that "Kissing the Leper" did not win the category of "Best Under Appreciated Blog", and there's a certain irony in that to enjoy....I guess.  Do check out the winners - there's some good stuff in all of 'em!

Leading cause of death in African-Americans??

Total rip-off Tuesday

Today I went big, and ripped off the Pope:

Pope’s meeting with representatives of the Jewish Community
Reichstag Building, Berlin


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I am truly glad to be taking part in this meeting with you here in Berlin. I warmly thank President Dr Dieter Graumann for his kind and thoughtful words. They make it very clear to me how much trust has grown between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church, who hold in common a not insignificant part of their essential traditions, as you emphasized. At the same time it is clear to us all that a loving relationship of mutual understanding between Israel and the Church, each respecting the essence of the other, still has further to grow and needs to be built into the heart of our proclamation of the faith.

On my visit to the Synagogue in Cologne six years ago, Rabbi Teitelbaum spoke of remembrance as one of the supporting pillars that are needed if a future of peace is to be built. And today I find myself in a central place of remembrance, the appalling remembrance that it was from here that the Shoah, the annihilation of our Jewish fellow citizens in Europe, was planned and organized. Before the Nazi terror, there were about half a million Jews living in Germany, and they formed a stable component of German society. After the Second World War, Germany was considered the “Land of the Shoah” where, for a Jew, it had become virtually impossible to live. Initially there were hardly any efforts to re-establish the old Jewish communities, even though Jewish individuals and families were constantly arriving from the East. Many of them wanted to emigrate and build a new life, especially in the United States or Israel.

In this place, remembrance must also be made of the Kristallnacht that took place from 9 to 10 November 1938. Only a few could see the full extent of this act of contempt for humanity, like the Berlin Cathedral Provost, Bernhard Lichtenberg, who cried out from the pulpit of Saint Hedwig’s Cathedral: “Outside, the Temple is burning – that too is the house of God”. The Nazi reign of terror was based on a racist myth, part of which was the rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ and of all who believe in him. The supposedly “almighty” Adolf Hitler was a pagan idol, who wanted to take the place of the biblical God, the Creator and Father of all men. Refusal to heed this one God always makes people heedless of human dignity as well. What man is capable of when he rejects God, and what the face of a people can look like when it denies this God, the terrible images from the concentration camps at the end of the war showed.

In the light of this remembrance, it is to be acknowledged with thankfulness that a new development has been seen in recent decades, which makes it possible to speak of a real blossoming of Jewish life in Germany. It should be stressed that the Jewish community during this time has made particularly laudable efforts to integrate the Eastern European immigrants.

I would also like to express my gratitude for the deepening dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism. The Church feels a great closeness to the Jewish people...

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/full-text-of-popes-address-to-seminarians-in-freiburg/#ixzz1Z6mJyZD9

A good prayer

Dear Lord,
Thank you for this day.
Hold my hand and give me courage
to carry the cross You have chosen for me.
Let me never complain.
Let me smile and give strength
to my family and friends
and to all I come in contact with.

I accept what I have and will not ask, "Why me?"

I will fight until You take me
because it is my belief that I was made
to serve You on earth - and death is my final reward.
my daily prayer - Betty Mcelwee - 1984

Top of the reading list:

A new book by Andreas Widmer, entrepreneur and former Swiss Guard to Pope John Paul the Great!

The weight of your sin should lead you back to Christ

We are frequently tempted to censor difficulties, to hide them even from ourselves.  When we do that, we are diverging radically from the way that God acts with us:  every detail is a matter of importance for him.  This kind of censorship is a diabolical act, which is often born of fear of another's judgment, of the fear of losing the positive image that others have of us.  But our stature before Christ has nothing to do with this image, nor can it be measured in terms of the mistakes that we may make or avoid making.  Rather, it is decided by Christ himself and by our belonging to him. - Monsignor Massimo Camisasca

Mary Cassatt Monday

Mother and child before a pool, 1898

Taking a break

Blogging break!  I'm taking the weekend off to enjoy ArtPrize, have a glass of wine with some girlfriends and relax!

Parenting a child with mental illness

A few prayers please:  I'm speaking this weekend at a conference, and my topic is parenting a child with mental illness.  I hope that whatever I say is a blessing to those who hear.

The Thought Police are gonna get ya....

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/22/texas-school-punishes-boy-for-opposing-homosexuality/

Honors student gets suspended for telling another student that "homosexuality  is wrong".

Are you one of these women?


Wow, I really AM under-appreciated....


There is still time to vote in the Crescat Cannonball Awards.  "Kissing the Leper" is up for most under-appreciated blog, and I'm losing.  Not sure what to make of that.....

Update:  "Kissing the Leper" is currently in 4th place!

Feast of St. Matthew


Humility

Beatrice Billard, artist
God, I am far too often influenced by what others think of me.  I am always pretending to be either richer or smarter or nicer than I really am.  Please prevent me from trying to attract attention.  Don’t let me gloat over praise on one hand or be discouraged by criticism on the other.  Nor let me waste time weaving imaginary situations in which the most heroic, charming, witty person present is myself. Show me how to be humble of heart, like you.

Total rip-off Tuesday

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the web.  Today's choice is intriguingly titled "Murder by Gossip" from Melanie Baker:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (cf. 2476-7) names three offenses against respect for the reputation of another: rash judgment, detraction, and calumny. The pervasiveness and consequences of these sins are clear enough.

Rash judgment leads to prejudices, suspicions, inappropriate reactions and a number of other avoidable problems. If these are not checked, families can be ruptured, friendships broken, grudges solidified. Feuds can develop, and in some cases, war.

There are many factors that create a culture of mistrust and conflict, especially in those regions where centuries-old racial, ethnic or religious resentments are deeply embedded in the society. It is easy to see how such ancient prejudices foster the rash judgment that plays a part in seemingly endless strife riddling the Middle East, Sudan, and all war-torn regions. The continual plea from the Church for peace and forgiveness in these tragic situations is not a plea for one party or the other to be a doormat or to be na├»ve, but it is a plea, in part, to keep emotions in check, and to bring not only reason, but more importantly, a good and merciful heart, to the judgments that must be made. In practice, such a mindset evokes questions such as: How does God see the person before me? Are there pieces of the puzzle I do not know? If I am to err, which is likely, shouldn’t I err on the side of mercy and the benefit of the doubt? And then the “measure we have measured will be measured in turn to us” (cf. Lk 6:38).
Detraction and calumny derive from rash judgment. From the treasure of the heart the mouth speaks (cf. Lk 6:45). To detract is to needlessly spread the dirty laundry of my neighbor – it is to speak the truth, but to reveal the truth without reason, thus inducing others to dislike or shun the person in question. It is one thing to reveal a fault so as to stop injustice, or prevent an innocent person from being harmed. But if the revelation serves only to cause sensationalism, to provide a fleeting moment of feeling better than the other person, or perhaps even to get back at someone… how does it lead to anything good? How does it build? How does it encourage that person, myself, and those listening to me to continue fighting the good fight? It of course goes without saying that calumny is an even greater sin, for it is to spread a lie, and so becomes also a sin of injustice.

Sacred Place of the Day

St. Augustine of Canterbury's well, Cerne Abbas, Dorset, England

I'm taking this VERY personallly....

Sperm Bank Turns Away Redheads

Historically, red hair was thought to be a mark of moral degeneration....

 Idiots.  Red-headed girls are gorgeous - and you are losers.  So there!

Art: a truly good thing

Here in West Michigan, we are gearing up for ArtPrize, a unique artistic experience like none other anywhere in the world (that's not hyperbole - check out the website).

Art is not just something we humans do to fill empty hours or to have pretty stuff to look at.  It fulfills a deep, human need.  Check out what John Paul the Great said about art in his "Letter to Artists" in 1999:

Society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians, workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers, fathers and mothers, who ensure the growth of the person and the development of the community by means of that supreme art form which is “the art of education”. Within the vast cultural panorama of each nation, artists have their unique place. Obedient to their inspiration in creating works both worthwhile and beautiful, they not only enrich the cultural heritage of each nation and of all humanity, but they also render an exceptional social service in favour of the common good.

The particular vocation of individual artists decides the arena in which they serve and points as well to the tasks they must assume, the hard work they must endure and the responsibility they must accept. Artists who are conscious of all this know too that they must labour without allowing themselves to be driven by the search for empty glory or the craving for cheap popularity, and still less by the calculation of some possible profit for themselves. There is therefore an ethic, even a “spirituality” of artistic service, which contributes in its way to the life and renewal of a people. It is precisely this to which Cyprian Norwid seems to allude in declaring that “beauty is to enthuse us for work, and work is to raise us up”.

Mary Cassat Monday

Portrait of Alexander J. Cassat and his son Robert

Vote Now!

That's right!  It's time for the 6th annual Cannonball Catholic Blog anti-Awards And yes, I want you to vote for "Kissing the Leper": category of Best Under-appreciated Blog!  


What's in it for me??  Bragging rights and a really cool button for my blog for the next year.  Plus, you can purvey the competition - you will probably run across at least one other blog that you enjoy.  We all win!


Vote early, vote often! 

I'm probably going to Hell for this, but...

it made me laugh!  I think Benedict looks kinda cute like this.


Here's to you, Mr. Robertson.

I've never been a fan of Pat Robertson.  He is a couple sandwiches short of a picnic, as far as I'm concerned, and his theology is off-kilter.  However, this week, he proved he was just plain dumb.

This past week on his show "The 700 Club", he answered a viewer's question about dating other women now that his wife's dementia was at the point where she didn't recognize him any longer.  Pat, in a moment of deep theological and compassionate idiocy, remarked that it was okay to divorce one's spouse in this situation. 

Robertson explained, "If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part.' This is a kind of death." He went on to say (apparently because his foot wasn't wedged deeply enough into his mouth):  "I know it sounds cruel," Robertson responded, "but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her." 

I hope when Pat got home that day, Mrs. Robertson said, "Come here, honey, and I'll give you a 'kind of death'....."

Actually, what I thought of was my mom and dad.  My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's in his later years, and he eventually developed dementia.  He was easy to care for, but it was still a very hard situation, and we kids sort of strong-armed my mom into moving him into a residential care facility.

Here's the thing.  If my mom opened up her back door and flung a rock, she could hit the care facility my dad was living in.  Literally:  that's how close it was.

And yet, she could not stand it.  He was too far away from  her, after 50+ years of marriage.  She couldn't care for him herself, and that didn't sit well with her.  Being, the stubborn Irish soul that she is, AND BEING CONCERNED WITH HER WEDDING VOWS - MR. ROBERTSON, LISTEN UP - she brought him home and cared for him 24/7 for the final years of his life.

What good is a marriage vow if there is an escape clause?  "Well, the sickness and health thing?  It couldn't possibly have meant THIS.  I mean, THIS is hard, so...."  I realize that not everyone in this situation can do what my mom did.  She's in vigorously good health for an 86 year old, she's a registered nurse, and she could afford to bring in supplemental help to do some of the heavy lifting.  I am not suggesting that every spouse has to personally attend to the daily needs of an ill partner. 

I do wish Mr. Robertson could have spent a day or two with my folks during those years, though.  Their home was like a little monastery - a place of prayer and work, dedicated vows, peace and heartache.  My mom and dad exemplified the vows that they took in front of God, family and friends in November of 1947:  "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."  No escape clause, Mr. Robertson - just a covenantal promise that God would bless and provide for these two people who promised to love.

Still working on this....

Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart. - Blessed Teresa of Calcutta



Further proof that our society is getting dumber...

Can you imagine trying to remember all this????

Total rip-off redux

Totally ripping this off from Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report: 

Stop the Dietocracy!

First Lady Michelle Obama will announce today the headway she and the Obama dietocracy have made in strong arming restaurants to reduce portion sizes as part of her “Let’s Move’ campaign against obesity.
“The Childhood Obesity Task Force Report”–commissioned as part of Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” project, “specifically calls on restaurants to, “consider their portion sizes, improve children’s menus, and make healthy options the default choice whenever possible."
The "or else" is implied.

I always find it a bit ironic the interest the Obamas take in regulating stomachs while completely ignoring wombs. So much for personal choice, huh? In fact, the womb seems to be the one place on earth immune from Nanny State overreach.

But as someone who doesn't think it's the government's business what I throw down my gullet I've come up with a few handy catchphrases to ward off the dietocracy:

Keep your administration out of my abdomen!
Every burger, a wanted burger!
Get your statutes off my stomach!
No directions for my digestion!
My cheese fries, My choice!
Don't like pie? Don't have pie.
Get your bureaucracy out of my belly.

If you've got any catchphrases that could really help my movement please put them in the combox. It's kind of a grassroots thing at this point. We meet at Sizzler. A few times a week.

So proud of this young man!



As a former Starr Commonwealth student, Michael Reygaert
knows the benefits of being at Starr and can attest to the ways
it forever changes a youth’s life for the best.
 

Michael was at Starr Commonwealth’s residential program in Albion
from 2003-2005. After successfully completing the program, Michael
attended all four years of high school in western Michigan. During
his senior year, Michael served as captain of the cross country team,
and his hobby has turned into a passion. He continues to run
marathons and helps others train as well.
 

Upon high school graduation, Michael was given a John Seita Scholarship, an award named for a former Starr youth that is given to former foster care youth and young adults in transition. It assists with tuition expenses for undergraduate courses at Western Michigan University. The Seita Scholars Program aims to increase the number of youth from foster care earning bachelor’s degrees, to assist former foster youth with the transition to adulthood through achieving undergraduate education, and to create a community of former foster youth scholars among WMU students. Additionally, Michael is the recipient of a Starr Scholarship that helps him pay for the room and board expenses of living on WMU campus that are not covered by the Seita Scholarship.
 

As a junior, Michael is currently pursuing two separate bachelor’s degrees,
one in psychology and another in human resource management.
 

Michael was interested in giving back to Starr for all it has done for him.He was looking for a lasting investment that he could make over time. A named endowment seemed like a wise way to invest that would also give back over his lifetime and many more. He plans on sending a modest amount each month to fund the Michael Reygaert Endowment. Named endowments are considered fully-funded at $2,500, but can continue to grow to any amount the donor wishes. When funded, Starr will use the interest earned to fund campus improvements and other board-designated activities.
 

If you would like more information on how you can start a named endowment, or ways in which you
can become a friend of the organization, please contact Gary Tester, Chief Development Officer
at testerg@starr.org or 800.837.5591, ext. 2425.





I happen to know Michael, and the Starr Commonwealth program very well.  He took full advantage of the help offered to him there by their excellent staff, and he's made such tremendous progress in his life.  I just wanted to shine the spotlight on a young man who is doing good!

(article from Starr News Summer 2011)

Into the Foggy Dew

If you've ever driven through a thick fog, you know what fear is. You can't see anything. You're not sure if you're stil...