Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Yin Church

This is a post that's been percolating for awhile. And, it's about SEX!

Now that I have you're attention, it's actually about the "masculine" and "feminine" in everyone and every organization. I believe each of us has masculine and feminine traits/principles/energies/aspects. (Each is "deemed" masculine or feminine, I suppose, because in one sweeping generality, a particular energy is more closely associated with males or females.) One set of traits is not better or worse than the other. In fact, viewed as a whole, they present a quite harmonious whole.

Of course, this is not a new idea. According to traditional Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are the two primal cosmic principles of the universe. Yin is the passive, female principle. Yang is the active, masculine principle. According to legend, the best state for everything in the universe is a state of harmony represented by a balance of yin and yang.

Identifying someone or something as "masculine" or "feminine" has nothing or little to do with actual gender. A team of women can have very masculine energies, and a team of men can bring feminine principles to their work. I've long been an advocate for bringing more "feminine" aspects to the very "masculine" methods of business planning, and that work is done by men and women.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Presbyterian worship service (Gasp!) and was impressed by how the pastor introduced this concept of "the feminine" in regard to the church. (Had I known I was going to ponder it for weeks, I would have taken notes!) He acknowledged that throughout its history, Christian churches are quite "masculine". He posed a question of how different these churches would be if they were more "feminine". That's a great question!

As I've read the pages of the book, I've started to ask this question about the Catholic Church: How would a more "feminine" Church look? One powerful example jumped off a page. It's a quote attributed to Call to Action's Linda Pieczynski. While making a case for women playing a more significant role in the church, (Another separate and very interesting topic.) she described an approach to the sexual abuse crisis (Yet another separate and very interesting topic.) that is decidedly "feminine":
We wouldn't have tried to save Father Bob's reputation. We would have protected the children.
See the Yin and the Yang?

That's just one example. Please toss in your own. Even if every Pope, cardinal, bishop and priest was still a man, (Remember, this has nothing to do with gender.) what would you see in a more "feminine" Catholic church?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Remembering Memorial Day

As this three-day holiday weekend draws to a close, I'm taking a break from the sun and fun of this "unofficial start of Summer" to reflect on the meaning of this very special holiday.

As I sit here and blog on about religion, I am so grateful that I am free to do such a thing. And, I know that freedom isn't free. It comes for a price that has been paid by members of our armed services, especially those who gave their lives for that freedom. To their friends and loved ones, I say thank you. To their departed souls, I pray a prayer of gratitude.

To learn more about the history and traditions of Memorial Day, check out USMemorialDay.org. The site claims the holiday has lost its meaning since it became a three-day weekend in 1971, and I concur. To counter that, there's an effort underway to restore the traditional observance of Memorial Day to May 30th, instead of the "last Monday in May."

The Memorial Day site includes poems and prayers to mark the day. Remember Me, by Jimmie Barlow, reminds us to never forget:
Remember me as your son
when you used to doctor my bumps
remember me playing in the dirt
remember me crying when i would get hurt
remember walking to get my diploma
remember arguing and saying I'm gonna
remember me as a man doing my job
remember me , and please don't sob.
I did what I had to do no matter what
I was heavily trained and I fought
no regrets as I am in a wonderful place
Remember me when you look at my purple heart in your glass case.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm a Pundit...

...when it comes to blogging, anyway, according to the quiz. Who knew?
You are a Pundit Blogger!
Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few.
Aw shucks.

Found it at Dappled Things, a fellow pundit.

What kind of blogger are you?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Talking Sense

I saw a bumper sticker this week that made me think about Sensus Fidelium. It said: When People Lead Leaders Will Follow. Sensus Fidelium, this "sense of the faithful", calls us to lead. It acknowledges that the Holy Spirit flows through the people of the Church, and not just its leaders. That gift of the Holy Spirit brings an important job of each of us: to believe, accept or reject.

This from ARCC, the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church :

A very important event in the Church today is the re-emergence of an understanding of the Sensus Fidelium, what the Christian people believe, accept, and reject. It is here, the Sensus Fidelium, wherein resides the promise of Christ to protect us from error with the guidance of the Spirit. Church hierarchy (the rulers) have taught what to believe, accept, and reject, but always with acceptance or a corrective response by theologian (experts) and the faithful even from the very beginning.

In an informative letter on the subject, attributed to Call To Action, the Jesus Our Shepherd Community offers some powerful conclusions about how sensus fidelium works:
Sensus fidelium is the collective wisdom, the collective experience, the collective voice of all the faithful. It is in part the Spirit manifesting itself through the voice of the laity and the call for the bishops and ordained clergy to listen attentively. Sensus fidelium is a gift and a challenge to the future of our church.
I'm beginning to see that challenging is a good thing, all by design.

The letter also cites the thoughts of Cardinal John Henry Newman from another time - the 1850s:
The sensus fidelium is a branch of evidence that is natural and necessary for the church to consult...because the body of the faithful is a witness to the fact of the tradition of revealed doctrine and because their consensus throughout Christendom is the voice of the Infallible church.
Many times I've said to myself (and others): "I'd like to slap some sense into the Catholic Church." Now, it seems, it's actually our job.

But how? How do the faithful make themselves heard? How do the leaders listen?

That's my next area of exploration. I'm starting with Voice of the Faithful. That might be one way. I'm going to check out a local meeting next month. Meanwhile, blogging certainly seems like a quite modern day way to tap into sensus fidelium, I suppose.

The Vatican has made it easy for the faithful to be heard. You can reach Pope Benedict via email at benedictxvi@vatican.va. In the spirit of sensus fidelium, what would you want our new Pope to hear?

Friday, May 27, 2005

Latin Lesson

Another theme in the book that has captured my attention is Sensus Fidelium. Thanks to disciplesnow.com for providing this concise (and easy-to-find) defininition:

Literally the "sense of the faithful." Just as the Spirit infallibly guides the magisterium so that it doesn't propose teachings that would lead the whole Church into error, so there is a flip side to the infallibility coin: The faithful, as a whole, have an instinct or "sense" about when a teaching is—or is not—in harmony with the true faith.

Boil that down, and what I read is "We have a voice." Yeah.

More on Sensus Fidelium to come. Finding that definition prompted me to do a bit more research. There was that word again: Magisterium. While I've seen it referred to on many a Catholic blog, it's time for me to confess. Despite 12 years of Catholic education, I didn't know what it meant. Now, again thanks to disciplesnow.com, I do:
The Catholic Church holds that the pope, and the bishops in union with the pope, are commissioned to teach authoritatively on faith and morals in a way no other teacher in the Church can claim to do. Catholic teaching holds that the supreme doctrinal authority in the Roman Catholic Church is all the bishops together with and under the pope. In ordinary use in the contemporary Church, this teaching authority is called the magisterium. Aided by the Holy Spirit, the magisterium helps protect the Church from needless errors and wrong turns. There are two types of magisterial teachings: ordinary and extraordinary.
If you want to know the difference between ordinary and extraordinary magisterial teachings, look it up.

So, Sensus Fidelium is "heads" and the Magisterium is "tails". Or, perhaps it's the other way around? Got it. When you see both sides, there's a nice symmetry to this coin.

There's one more term in that definition above that sent me researching: Infallability. It's a term that gets tossed around and misconstrued. I wanted to make sure I was clear. So, with one more definition from disciplesnow.com, here it is, for the record:
The Roman Catholic understanding that the power of divine grace (not the human strength of its members) cannot allow the Church as a whole to fall away from the truth of God. Infallibility does not mean that the Church will avoid all mistakes. The Church has certainly made its share of mistakes; history teaches that clearly. It does mean that the Church is not going to self-destruct, because the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the community will prevent this.

This conviction, of course, cannot be proved; it is a statement of faith. Rooted in the experience of the Church and expressed in the Scriptures in Jesus' promise to be with the Church, this conviction is validated again and again throughout the centuries in the life of the Christian community. The presence and action of the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church as a whole to turn away from God!

Vatican I and Vatican II specified the conditions necessary for an expression of an infallible pronouncement: 1) It must be a collegial act dealing with a revealed truth concerning faith or morals; 2) There must be an explicit call for absolute assent; 3) The pronouncement must be the unanimous teaching of all the bishops.

Infallibility is a characheristic of the Church, vested in those who have supreme authority (the college of bishops with the pope as the head of the college) over the whole Church; infallibility is not a characteristic of the pope's personal conduct or private views. Even when Vatican I (1869-1870) defined papal infallibility, it did so in terms of the Church. Vatican I stated that when the pope defines a dogma of faith (often described as speaking ex cathedra"— "from the chair"), he is gifted by the Holy Spirit with that infallibility which God wished the Church to be endowed in defining a doctrine of faith or morals. Vatican II reemphasized this point.

Infallible pronouncements are very rare. Since Vatican I, there has been only one: the definition of Mary's Assumption (1950).
Class dismissed.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

All Creatures Great and Small

Another confession: I'm an animal lover. I think it's perfectly normal to, as my husband says, "have livestock in the house." That's the bottom line: Pets are great.

Pat at No Claim to Sainthood celebrates the memory of golden retreiver Good Old Boy with 7 reasons why pets are great, and how that can apply to a relationship with God. From Unconditional Love to Stewardship, it's a delightful list.

What do you love best and learn most from your pets?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Much has been written about the Vatican ousting Thomas Reese as the Editor of America magazine. I can't say it any better than fellow bloggers In Today's News or Journey to Vatican III. Some say he was fired. Others say he was asked, pressured or simply decided to resign. No matter the catalyst for the change, it will be interesting to watch how the publication takes shape in the future.

The National Catholic Reporter covers the story extensively in this week's issue. The lead editorial celebrates Reese and sheds light on something about Reese's "departure" that I'd not yet read:
If America magazine is the kind of Catholic publication that Rome thinks deserves a board of censors, as was proposed during the hidden process that led to ReeseÂ’s ouster, then we are perilously close to becoming a fundamentalist sect where the proscribed subjects make discussion and debate meaningless.
A board of censors? Now, that's disturbing.
But, for an organization that's quite adept at silencing, I guess it comes as no surprise.

My prayer is that discussion and debate are welcome....always.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Honoring My Mother

I told my mom about my blog. And, being the computer savvy mom she is, she said she's stop by the Cafeteria for a visit. (And, I wanted to make sure she felt welcomed!) She may or may not comment here, but she will tell me what she thinks. I look forward to that.

Now, I'll admit that as I was telling her about the Cafeteria Catholic, I did do a quick review of my posts to date -- especially that first one, where I declared my disagreements with the church. (Mom, please be sure and read this early post, where I talked about some of the things I love about the Catholic church...and this one, where I proudly proclaim that being Catholic is just part of who I am - thanks in large part to you, Mom!) I didn't want to shock her (and I don't think I have) or dissappoint (and I hope not).

Of course, the reason I told her about it was she was relaying a story about her belief that priests should be allowed to marry, and in fact several priests actually are. I said, "Mom, you should read this post on my blog..." That was it. I had outed myself.

And, I was reminded I have a have a pretty cool mom! She leans farther to the left than I do, but not too far. And, she's more reverent than I am, but not too reverent. Wow, a reverent Catholic that leans to the left. In some circles, that's considered "bad". But, not here! In my opinion, she's a very good Catholic who has raised a family of good Catholics who are now raising their families of good Catholics...all pretty much cafeteria-style. Just the way I like it.

Welcome Mom, and thanks. I love you.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Deconstructing Star Wars 3

Saw it. Liked it enough. A fine accompaniment to popcorn and a soda.

So much for my review. What I find fascinating is all of the "deep inner meaning" many bloggers have found within the frames - Everything from hidden anti-Bush messages to warnings to the Catholic Church.

Punditguy has deciphered this warning: "Priests should remain celibate, and homosexuality is a threat to the future of the church."

Anyone with a ticket is certainly entitled to their unique perspective. (Although, I'm especially enjoying the perspective of bloggers who have not seen the movie!) That said, this is a stretch. If you've seen the movie, check out the warning for details. If not, save it for later (as there are "spoilers") and make note of the "stretchiest" part of his theory:

The Padme character, her pregnancy 'problem' and her neediness represent homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood.

Uh huh. (wink, wink)

Upon reflection, I vaguely remember Samuel L. Jackson's character making a comment about war being bad. If it was aimed at the President, I missed it. And, there was a scene where the Chancellor Palpatine was making a very dramatic speech to the Senate. Standing on his "throne" with the camera to his back and lots of dramatic backlighting, he held up both hands and (in my opinion) looked quite "papal". What, if anything, George Lucas intended with that is anybody's guess.

Pass the popcorn!

Sunday, May 22, 2005


News of a Bishop's ban on Angela Bonavoglia's May 11th appearance at a Voice of the Faithful meeting in Northern New Jersey is making the rounds. (What was I just saying about Silence as a survival strategy?) An article in the Herald News offers a recap of the event and some insights as to how Cafeteria Catholics view Cafeteria Catholics:
Catholics who challenge the traditional Catholic doctrines are sometimes referred to as "cafeteria Catholics," because they seemingly pick and choose the portions of Catholicism they like and discard the rest. But most say that assessment is not true, and that they are simply trying to urge the church to become more accessible, accountable and modern.
Accessible, accountable and modern. Exactly.

In its recap, the Herald News gave voice to Bonavoglia and several attendees, most of whom it said were receptive to the author's message, giving her a "rousing ovation." It also cited Bonavoglia's commitment to continue to speak out:
"A basic tenet of our church is the Primacy of Conscience - that we have an obligation to listen to our conscience - and our theology must reflect what people think and feel about church teachings," she said. "We need speech in our church. We need our church to end the silencing."
The article identified the author as "one of a growing chorus of U.S. Catholics who threaten to be a thorn in the side of the new pope, Benedict XVI, a strict theologian."

I kinda like the sound of that.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I'm Upbeat. How About You?

This is no run-of-the-mill online quiz. Beyond Red vs. Blue: The 2005 Political Typology is an effort by The Pew Center to take a multi-dimensional look at Americans, based on values, beliefs and party affiliation. The nine typology groups range from Enterprisers on one end to Bystanders on the other.

What I found most interesting about me fellow "Upbeats" is that we look a lot like a lot of Cafeteria Catholics I know!
Who They Are
Relatively young (26% are under 30) and well-educated. Upbeats are the second wealthiest group after Enterprisers (39% have household incomes of $75,000 or more.) The highest proportion of Catholics (30%) and white mainline Protestants (28%) of all groups, although fewer than half (46%) attend church weekly. Mostly white (87%), suburban, and married, they are evenly split between men and women.
Where do you fit? All types are welcome here!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Got Milk?

Amongst the jokes making the rounds these days in the blogosphere, I found one that was calling to be posted here. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I'm not exactly sure where it originated. It's been around a long time! A quick look at Technorati found a 217-day-old version at Stuff That Seemed Interesting To Me At The Time:
The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: "Take only ONE. God is watching." Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."
Even if it's old, I love a good Catholic cafeteria joke!

Thursday, May 19, 2005


While I'm turning the pages on the book as fast as I can, more than one theme has emerged. I'll start with this one.

Imagine you're a large, worldwide organization, with a billion members who contribute billions of dollars to you and your huge staff.

Got the picture?

If you could come up with one strategy to keep the peace, avoid conflict and keep things humming along, what would it be?


And, to what lengths might you go to keep people quiet?

I dunno. I'm just thinking....and reading...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

No Time for Blogging

It's here. It's here!
I've only read the jacket flaps, and I'm ready to launch into a reading marathon.

Already, I love this book. Much, much more to come. But, no time now. I have reading to do.

Meanwhile, it seems author Angela Bonavoglia is creating a bit of a stir. A scheduled appearance with Voice of the Faithful in Northern New Jersey was moved after the Diocese banned Ms. Bonavoglia's appearance:
The original meeting site, Loyola House of Retreats, had to be changed due to a diocesan communication to the Jesuit director that our scheduled speaker, Angela Bonavoglia, not be allowed to speak there due to the fact that she has taken public positions on abortion and women's ordination contrary to Church teaching.
More from the VOTF meeting minutes:
The content of Ms. Bonavoglia's speech has not been changed and remains as originally defined before the diocesan ban.
You can catch up on Angela's latest news at goodcatholicgirls.com.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

My New "Must Read"

How is it that with any trip to the bookstore (whether bricks or clicks) you end up looking at something that is about as far away as possible for the "thing" you originally walked in for? Such is the case this evening, as I was searching amazon.com for upcoming book club selections. Somehow, I found my way to this recent release -- Good Catholic Girls by Angela Bonavoglia. It's not a book club selection, but I've added it to my "must read" list.

The Publishers Weekly review grabbed my attention:
A seasoned journalist who writes on social and religious issues, Bonavoglia interviewed hundreds of Catholic women—some in their 20s, most middle-aged or older, some traditionalist, most progressive—in order to show "how the Church has tried to silence women through time... and how Catholic women, undaunted, have persevered."
But the thing that made me really want to read it were the reviews, which ranged from five stars to one. This one-star blast made me get out my credit card:
More feminist propaganda
It is interesting how Ms. Bonavoglia is writing so much misinformation regarding the Catholic Church. However, "good" Catholic women would know better than to read and listen to this misinformation. Hopefully other "good" christians and nonchrisitans will also get the point. This is the same, old, boring feminist information that has been spreading since the 60's. Luckily for real Catholics, these people are getting older and are quickly dying out while the young of the church are standing strong.

If you want to get my attention, all you need to do is tell me I "should know better" than to read something! Call it "feminist propaganda" and insinuate that I'm near death's door (and that's a good thing) and there's no stopping me!

While I await the arrival of my next read, I'm enjoying this quote from a 5-star review about the Good Catholic Girl stories:
Dignity Restored
The women we meet are not leaving the Church and yet they are not staying--they are changing the Church while their work moves and alters everything and everyone it passes. Write on, Angela!
Write on, indeed. Now, I wish I could remember what my next book club book is. Back to Amazon!

Monday, May 16, 2005

When All Are Welcome

In an effort to raise awareness of its mission "to bring the gifts, the witness and the challenge of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people into the heart of the church", the Rainbow Sash Movement made its annual Pentecost Sunday showing across the nation, which reportedly met with mixed results. According to Catholic World News, in St. Paul and Chicago, members of the movement attending mass were denied Communion. In Southern California, however, the Church's reaction was quite different:
A spokesman for Cardinal Roger Mahony issued a statement saying that members of the Rainbow Sash group would be welcomed into the cathedral. The archdiocesan statement did not directly address the question of whether protestors were welcome to receive Communion while wearing their sashes. The Rainbow Sash movement announced because of the "warm welcome" they had received from Cardinal Mahony, members chose not to wear their sashes during Mass at the cathedral there.
Perusing the blogosphere, it seems that this event has some people fired up...and quite judgemental. Me? I'm reminded once again of the power of a heartfelt welcome.

Three cheers for Cardinal Mahony.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Crowning Touch

All the kids and parents I know are counting down the final days of school. The dwindling school calendar is filled with field trips and field days.

This end-of-the-school year talk has refreshed a memory of an annual event that, for me, always marked the beginning of the end of the school year: The May Crowning.

My Catholic school made a very big deal about Mary and the Rosary throughout the year. So, for the month of May we pulled out the stops. By the 1st of May, every classroom featured an altar filled with colorful scented Spring flowers collected from our home gardens. They were stunning. Every day we gathered around the altar to say prayers. In the early years it was a Hail Mary or two. By the middle grades were were reciting the Angelus. Later, we were praying the rosary every day during the month.

The highlight of the month, hands down, was the May Crowning. In the first week of the month, an 8th grade girl was selected to be the May Queen. It was an elementary version of homecoming royalty. On that first Friday evening, parishioners filled the church for the May crowning. Every girl in the school participated in the ceremony: donning a white net veil, carrying a lighted candle and marching in the procession at the start of the ceremony. We lined the aisles of the church while we sang every song and said every prayer that mentions Mary. Standing there with my veil and candle, I felt so heavenly! Finally, the time would come when the Queen and her court (Yeah, she had a court!) would approach the statute of Mary and -- with much pomp and circumstance -- place a beautiful crown of roses on the Blessed Mother's head.

With the May Crowning behind us, we turned our attention to field trips, field days and the last few days of school.

While the month of May no longer means the end of school for me, I cherish the memories of the lovely rituals that were a part of it during my formative years. I think I'll find a bouquet of flowers tomorrow. And, I'm sure I have a little statue of Mary around here somewhere...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

One out of Three...Really?

I was thinking about married priests today, trying to recall when in the Catholic Church's history they were allowed to marry. A quick bit of research revealed there was a period of about 1000 years or so where priests, bishops and - reportedly - 39 popes were allowed to marry. Yep. That all sounded familiar.

Then, with the click of a mouse I read that one of three American priests are married....today!

Found it all at RentAPriest.com, which reported more interesting facts:
  • Jesus’ disciples were mostly married men.

  • Prior to the year 1139 when celibacy was made mandatory, popes, bishops and priests were allowed to marry.

  • In the past 25 years, over 20,000 priests have left the priesthood to marry--an average of 400 per state--and 110,000 throughout the world.

  • Since 1980, married Protestant ministers have converted to Catholicism and have been ordained into the Catholic priesthood.

  • Over 10% of U.S. parishes have no resident priest.

  • 40 or more churches are closing or have closed in Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and other cities.

  • 21 church laws allow married priests to provide Catholic ministry if invited by baptized Catholics.

  • Practice becomes custom; custom becomes law in the Catholic Church.*
  • (I searched and searched for the "legend" that explains that asterisk. I wish I knew!)

    Interesting perspective. Rather than waiting for an edict, these 20,000 men have chosen to simply practice what they believe. Imagine that!

    The site also features an article that reports that once priests are married, they tend to stay that way: Some 86% of married priests are married to the same person, compared to the national average of about 50%.

    I doubt that Archbishop Levada has yet to leave for Rome, but with a growing shortage of parish priests and an increasing divorce rates among its members, it seems a timely first order of business might be how to bring these 20,000 shepherds back to the flock.

    They are most definitely needed.

    Friday, May 13, 2005

    Lucky Day

    My Friday the 13th got off to a good start. On my way to work I heard the news that Pope Benedict had named an American to his old post. This from Archbishop William Levada's hometown paper:
    Levada goes to Rome with a keen understanding of Vatican politics, but also with decades of experience dealing with such explosive American issues as gay rights, the role of women in the church and the ongoing fallout from the sexual abuse crisis in the church.
    Wow! The "Rottweiler" names a bishop from the liberal center of the United States -- San Francisco. This just has to be good news. Don't you think?

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    We vs. They

    Spending time last weekend with a bunch of teenage Catholics, I started wondering what the average American teenage Catholic thinks about the Catholic Church these days.

    I've read recently, though I can't recall where, that teenage American Catholics are largely apathetic. I'm wondering if that's true. I'm really not sure. Granted, I was with a giddy Confirmation class of 13-year-olds. They spoke of attending "Life Teen" masses and activities at Church. (Sounds fun!) They seemed far from apathetic.

    After a rather exhaustive web search, the most recent info I could find on the topic was a rather dated article from the National Catholic Reporter, circa 2001. It was a review of Michael Carotta's book "Sometimes We Dance, Sometimes We Struggle", which reportedly chronicles the spirtual development of adolescents. Carotta reports that 40 percent of American Catholics are under 38, and half of those are teenagers or younger. (You do the math.)

    He offers an interesting view at what we (Catholic adults) think compared to what they (Catholic teens) think.

    We emphasize community; they value individual faith.

    We teach with words and books; they learn with slogans and visuals.

    We emphasize the knowing; they are interested in doing.

    We offer a moral map; they want a moral compass.

    We tell a story from start to finish; they see multiple plots with no resolution.

    We stress our uniqueness; they value diversity and commonality.

    We treasure our religion; they seek spirituality.

    We value counseling; they seek confession.

    We speak in theological language; they understand plain English.

    We observe feasts and holy days; they interact, participate, create.

    We value training and caution; they use delete.

    We refer to Vatican II; they invent Vatican new.

    Interesting perspective. What do you think?

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Hail to the Knights

    This Confirmation I attended is hanging with me. So, hang with me!

    One of the surprises of the evening was my reaction to an honor guard of the Knights of Columbus. As the conformate and their sponsors processed into the church, the aisle was lined with Knights in full regalia: tuxedos, gloves, capes, hats and plumes. (I don't think they had their swords.) They definitely added a touch of reverance and class to the evening. It was lovely.

    Though it's been years since I've seen a KofC in full dress, my reaction was surprising. I flashed back to the death of my grandfather. He was an active Knight, who achieved a noteworthy level of service. Growing up, to me the Knights of Columbus meant bus rides to professional baseball games on Sunday afternoons, bingo games, parish carnivals and pancake breakfasts. Just another part of my growing up Catholic. They represented lots of fun, and I knew there was serious service below the surface. At Grandpa's visitation, I will never forget the handful of Knights entering the church in their regalia, complete with the plumes. They proceeded to say the most lovely rosary I remember -- all in honor of my Grandpa and his service to the church.

    Seeing these bedecked Knights the other night, I was touched by their connection to my beloved Grandpa. I got teary, and my goddaughter wondered what was up. "The Knights remind me of my Grandpa," I said. "Oh," she replied with a sweet look in her eyes.

    To this young teenager, the Knights probably appeared as "weird old dudes with plumes". But, as she saw her godmother get teary-eyed at the sight of them, I hope she saw that there is something about them that is very special indeed.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    Sponsoring Claire

    My godchild asked me to be her Confirmation sponsor. We attended the ceremony last night, and it was a very special evening. I was quite proud to stand with my hand on the shoulder of this young woman and hear her say the words I said for her at her baptism some dozen years ago.

    I presented her to the Archbishop as Claire of Assisi, which was the confirmation name she chose. She learned much about St. Claire in her confirmation studies, most notably that St. Claire is the patroness of television. (Judging by the quality of the stuff the networks are churning out these days, I'm wondering if St. Claire has been on hiatus!) Being a curious sponsor, I surveyed the web to discover St. Claire is also the patron saint of needleworkers, sore eyes (those two go together), goldsmiths, telephones and good weather. Her name means bright and brilliant – two words that definitely describe my goddaughter.

    As the saintly legend goes, late in her life Claire of Assisi was too ill to attend Mass. While she missed the Mass, a vision of the sermon appeared on her wall: 13th century television!

    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Just When I Was Feeling Special

    This survey says I'm just somewhat normal!

    You Are 50% Normal
    (Somewhat Normal)
    While some of your behavior is quite normal...
    Other things you do are downright strange
    You've got a little of your freak going on
    But you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    The Virtue of Questioning

    Pioneering commenters Unapologetic Catholic and Talmida of Lesser of Two Weevils really got me thinking about the value of the questioning and choosing it takes to be a Cafeteria Catholic. It seems to me to be a much more conscious activity than following blindly.

    Along those lines, I stumbled across the Catholic Educator's Resource Center, which featured an article The Blind-Obedience Myth by Michael Novak. At statement at the top of the article proclaims: "There is nothing virtuous in unquestioned obedience." This, I had to read!

    After making a case that the Catholic Church does not arbitrarily punish (i.e., excommunicate) dissenters, Novak makes an interesting proposal for encouraging the Church's long term success:

    Those churches that have chosen to modernize and to be "with it," following the advice of their own progressives, have rapidly lost members, weakened conviction in many others, and become adjuncts of the morality of the secular culture. Churches that have resisted the currents of "the new morality" — whose initial guise is often the refrain "It's all just a matter of opinion, so just choose your own version" — have tended to gain in high morale, growing numbers in the pews, and strongly committed new vocations to the clergy.

    With our questioning and choosing, will Cafeteria Catholics be the key to a thriving Church?

    Saturday, May 07, 2005

    Welcome to My World View

    In addition to being a Cafeteria Catholic, I consider myself a Cultural Creative.
    But wait! Not so, says Quiz Farm:
    You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.
    Kinda sounds like a Cafeteria Catholic, doesn't it?

    The "What's Your World View?"quiz gives you a percentage score for eight different perspectives. For me, Cultural Creative was a close second. Fundamentalist, no surprise, was at the bottom of my list.

    What's your world view?

    Friday, May 06, 2005

    Signs of a Cafeteria Catholic?

    I did a Yahoo search on "cafeteria catholics" and found this from ConcernedCatholics.org: a definition of Cafeteria Catholics with which I beg to take issue:

    (Q): What is a Cafeteria Catholic?
    Cafeteria Catholics are those who pick and choose what doctrines they want to follow and what doctrines they want to ignore. They do not have any respect for the authority of the Catholic church. The guidelines of the church are meaningless. The sad part of the story is there are nuns and priests included in this category.

    The difference between a cafeteria Catholic and a lukewarm Catholic is that the cafeteria Catholic is ruled by pride. They believe that they do not have to follow the rules of anyone. They are in charge and they can believe what they want.

    (Q): What are signs of a Cafeteria Catholic?
    Here are some examples of a cafeteria Catholic:

    • They see no problem with artificial birth control
    • They see no problem with premarital sex
    • They see no problem with divorce and remarriage
    • They see no problem with abortion
    • They approve and promote the ordination of woman
    • They approve and promote the marriage of priests
    First of all, how Catholic is it to judge the opinions and beliefs of others?

    I'm not judging here. I'm simply stating.

    Let the record show, this Cafeteria Catholic picks and chooses and wrestles with the doctrine of the Catholic Church. This isn't easy! I do respect the authority of the Catholic Church, including the Pope. And, I don't agree with everything these men have to say. I find great meaning in the guidelines of the church, and see them as just that -- guidelines. That nuns and priests are like me is something I find comforting, not sad. While I am proud to be Catholic (Is that bad? I'm not sure.) I don't think I'm ruled by pride, whatever that means. True, I don't HAVE to follow any rules. However, I do find it wise to CHOOSE to follow many rules. When it comes to me, I realize I control very little, but I do believe I'm in charge. God gave me a brain and freewill to believe what I want.

    "See no problem"? What in the heck does that mean?

    Again, for the record, I believe artificial birth control is far more effective than "natural" birth control in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Better birth control than abortion, I say. I think premarital sex has its place, and I think divorce is a reality and remarriage should be welcome. I've already stated I believe abortion is a choice, and the church is entitled to its opinion. And, at a time when the priesthood crisis includes a shortage and a really bad image (to say the least) the idea of allowing women to follow this calling and allowing the men who follow it to marry, should they choose, is a good one. So, OK. I "approve" of those last two things. (As if my approval means anything.) And, beyond the words of this blog, I don't go out of my way to promote them.

    Concerned Catholics are entitled to their opinion. I'm free to have mine. There is room for both....and more.

    What's your definition? How do you spot a Cafeteria Catholic?

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    It's Who I Am

    I'm taking a quick break from all this fun and levity. It's time to get (not too) serious.

    Most of what I've had to say here so far has been about what I do or don't do as a Catholic: I go to Mass. I pray the rosary. I receive the sacraments. I believe this or don't believe that. While all that doing (or not doing) is certainly a part of how I show up as a Catholic, the bottom line is I just am. Being Catholic has has a huge impact on who I be in the world.

    Before I became a grown-up, being Catholic described me and most of the people I knew. It described all of the people I went to school with. (Wear something like that plaid number above for 12 of your most formative years and it will affect you. Guaranteed.) Being Catholic was just a part of my life, and it was never that big of a deal. In fact, I didn't think about it much. It seemed at times that other people thought about it more that I did: As a pre-teen, I remember being amazed that people would magically guess that I was Catholic...right after I told them I had half a dozen siblings.

    Now that I am a grown-up, I can see how growing up Catholic helped shape who I am. And, I love that! I learned faith and grace, patience and penance, songs and prayers, truth and consequences. I learned how to be open to the new, and how to love and appreciate what makes us all the same and different. One of the outcomes of my growing up Catholic is I've become a critical thinker who doesn't accept everything at face value, and prefers to look at things from different perspectives. (If that makes me a Cafeteria Catholic, then so be it!)

    When it comes to what Catholics "do", there are places where the differences between Catholic church doctrine and my beliefs are a pretty wide chasm. That said, being Catholic is such a part of my identity. (Even though it's been years since I've worn a plaid jumper.) I'm not sure I'll ever want to let that go.

    How much of your religion, whatever it is, is part of your identity? And how is the doing and the being of your faith the same or different?

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    From My In-Box

    Tell a friend you've created a new blog, and she might just send you some great material! This from my friend who describes herself as " a fallen away Catholic". (Perhaps she'll start a blog by that name!) Given all of the seriousness of the critiques of our new Pope's first days, this came as welcome comic relief:

    Ratzinger not first choice for Pope

    As I understand it, Ratzinger was not the Cardinals’ first choice. That was, interestingly, Cardinal Hans Grapje. Grapje was raised in a Catholic school in The Hague and, as a young man, aspired to become a priest, but was drafted into the Army during WWII and spent two years co-piloting B17s until his aircraft was shot down in 1943 and he lost his left arm. Captain Grapje spent the rest of the war as a chaplain, giving spiritual aid to soldiers, both Allied and enemy.

    After the war, he became a priest, serving as a missionary in
    Africa, piloting his own plane (in spite of his handicap) to villages across the continent. In 1997, Father Grapje was serving in Zimbabwe when an explosion in a silver mine caused a cave-in. Archbishop Grapje went down into the mine to administer last rights to those too severely injured to move. Another shaft collapsed, and he was buried for three days, suffering multiple injuries, including the loss of his right eye. The high silver content in the mine's air gave him purpura, a life-long condition characterized by purplish skin blotches.

    Although Cardinal Grapje devoted his life to the service of God as a scholar, mentor, and holy man, church leaders felt that he should never ascend to the Papacy. They felt that the Church would never accept
    a one-eyed, one-armed, flying purple Papal leader.

    It certainly made me smile. I hope it did the same for you.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    What the Pope Says Goes

    In In Today's News, JCecil3 poses a humorous (and thought-provoking) hypothetical: Imagine it's 2050 and Pope John Paul III just declared the moon is made of blue cheese.

    Definitely worth a read.

    Monday, May 02, 2005

    What if you could be detected?

    In his column in the Wednesday Journal, Jack Crowe declares himself a Cafeteria Catholic and makes a case for the Pope Benedict keeping the doors to the cafeteria open. He wrapped up the column with an interesting thought:
    Lucky for me, I am not running for public office and there is no official interdict - as Pope Benedict would have it - on my taking communion notwithstanding my relativist heresies. Unless the new Pope sets up theological metal detectors at the front doors of local parishes, in America at least, the cafeteria remains open.
    That lighthearted thought of theology detectors at the front door of my parish church made me smile.

    Then, I reflected back to a time not so very long ago when one could walk onto an airplane without passing through a metal detector. Hmm.

    What about theology detectors? Are you for or against? If they were installed, would you pass through or not?

    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    Fill-In-The-Blank Catholics

    For me, the word "Cafeteria" fills in the blank. I've recently discovered there are many other bloggers who fill in the blank with other words to describe their Catholic-ness in their corner of the blogosphere.

    Now, I realize there are hundreds or thousands of blogs created by Catholics. (Some of them are great reading!) Today, I want to recognize those blogs who, like Cafeteria Catholic, proudly proclaim their "fill-in-the-blank" in their name.

    While we may or may not agree on our views on the Church or the world, I'm proud to be in the company of Extreme Catholic, Relapsed Catholic, Classic Catholic, Cradle Catholic (the Classic and the Cradle appear to be sleeping), Unapologetic Catholic, Bad Catholic, Cyber Catholics, Wired Catholic, Happy Catholic, the "stately" Texas Catholic and Michigan Catholic, and the Mere Catholics, which is created by a Cajun Catholic and a Canadian Catholic. And, while not exactly a blog, Still Catholic definitely lives in the fill-in-the-blank cyber neighborhood.

    What a great neighborhood! And, I know this is probably just one of its many wonderful blocks. If and when I can figure out how to create a blogroll, I'll make a "Fill-In-The-Blank" Blogroll that lists my fellow fill-in-the-blank Catholic bloggers. If you're the author of (or visitor) to a fill-in-the-blank Catholic blog I haven't listed, please let me know.

    Meanwhile, how to you decribe your Catholic-ness? Whether you have a blog or not, what's your fill-in-the-blank?