Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Working Out

So, like I've said, I haven't been around the Cafeteria much lately.

Some have asked: "Where ya been, Cath?"

My answer: "Work, stuff, and I just haven't been inspired."

That's all true. But, wanna know the "real" truth?

I've been working out.

After a few months of blogging, I've realized one of the disadvantages of this interesting hobby. I call it TMTSOMA. (Too Much Time Sitting On My Ass.) As a result, I've felt slothful, uncomfortable and sluggish. My weight has headed, shall we say, the wrong way.

The good news is, I've done something about that: joined a gym steps away from work, met with a trainer who's designed an aggressive (read "HARD") program for me, and I've hit the cardio machines or weights just about every day.

While I feel better, I'm realizing something has had to give with my newfound commitment to fitness. And, that "something" is blogging. It's tough to find time to post now and then, much less make the rounds and comment amongst my friends in the blogosphere.

I'll do my best to stop by the Cafeteria as often as I can to serve up some Catholic food for thought. And, I'll spend much less time sitting on my ass.

Meanwhile, your tips to "fitness success" are welcome!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Show and Tell

One of my favorite "Faith Columnists" is the Kansas City Star's Bill Tammeus. This week's column (Registration may be required, but it's free.) has a "back to school" theme, and encourages us grownups who challenge our faith to show and tell.

Like eager students, members of faith communities should collect their hardest questions and throw them on the table. Keeping them secret won’t resolve them. Rather it will almost guarantee they won’t get resolved. That’s because if we don’t share our doubts and questions, they won’t get exposed to people who may have found a way through them.

Tammeus reminds us that a personal crisis in faith (Been there. Done that. Will most likely do it again.) is a great gift, and nothing to be ashamed of. As a big believer in the virtue of questioning, I especially loved a comment that welcomed such exploration, saying "that spending a life just defending one's beliefs means not growing intellectually or spiritually."

Many serious theological writers encourage people to share their doubts openly. Perhaps my favorite of these people in Christianity is Frederick Buechner, who says that any faith that doesn’t have room for doubts doesn’t have room for him.
I'm far from a serious theological writer, but I join these wise minds in encouraging you to share. This is a big cafeteria, with lots of room. What's your most curious question or deepest doubt about your faith?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Just Clicking Through

I'll admit I just haven't been tending to the Cafeteria much these days. Besides being busy, I just haven't been inspired to write much.

Without my muse, I've found myself perusing the "stats" here at the Cafeteria. Didn't you see that lady with the hairnet and the clicker in her hand as you came in? She's watching you! Actually, she's quite harmless. She just reports where you (or your ISP server) is located and how you got here. Nothing more.

The most entertaining info in the Cafeteria stats is what innocent passers-by type into their favorite search engine to get here.

Here is some of the most recent activity:
Cafeteria Catholics
I'm proud to pop up as #2 on that frequent search.
Catholic Seminarians
I can't figure out where that search leads!
archbishop san francisco subpeona
That's one way to find your way to a story about no ordinary Sunday
newsletter tears "Connie Morris"
I'm glad to see others are following the latest on the education debate in Kansas

This one takes the cake.
I'd like to know what school cafeteria workers do in a cafeteria.
Me, too!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

He's Only Human

I ran across this story on Yahoo News and smiled. It's so "human".
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that he was absent-minded after forgetting to bless the hundreds of pilgrims who attended his weekly audience at his Castel Gandolfo summer residence.

He said his mind was already in Cologne, where he was to travel Thursday to participate in the 20th World Youth jamboree.

The crowd gathered in the palace courtyard was surprised to see the Pope return to his window several moments after leaving after greeting pilgrims in several languages.

"I ask for your forgiveness, but I have forgotten the most important greeting, the greeting to the pilgrims in the Italian language," he told them.

He went back inside the palace, only to return again shortly.

"Today, I have forgotten the most important things. One can see that I am already in Cologne. I omitted the most important thing: the benediction," he said while smiling before giving his blessing.

The 78-year-old pontiff's voyage to his native Germany will be his first journey abroad since his election in April.

You know how it is....you're getting ready to make a big trip....so many to-dos...It's so easy to forget something.

To err is human -- even if you're the Holy Father.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Holy Noodle!

As promised, no more posts about the evolution vs. creationism debate. This isn't about that, really. Plus, it's funny.

I was catching up on the latest news from the Kansas Board of Education, when I discovered yet another school of thought: The universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Concerned citizen Bobby Henderson has crafted an open letter to the Kansas School Board to present his view on Intelligent Design. A good laugh, definitely worth a read.

Check out his site. It's a popular spot, with a reported 4 million hits so far. While you're there, you can buy t-shirts and mugs to promote his theory, including the depiction of His Holy Noodleness above.

Also featured on the site are email responses from two members of the Kansas School Board. They intend to vote against the proposed standards, and state that they are in the minority. Both thanked Mr. Henderson for the laugh.

At least they have a sense of humor.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Catholic Current Events

I just love the Sunday paper. Always have. Even though I get most of my news electronically during the week these days, I still love to linger over all the Sunday news that's fit to print. It's been a habit since I can remember. Mom and Dad always made reading the paper a priority, which encouraged me to do the same. And, my Catholic high school experience included a current events quiz every Monday. So, reading the Sunday paper was, for a time, homework.

Well, I see that Catholics have made the headlines quite a bit this week. So, class, it's time for a quiz.

Check out BeliefNet's current events quiz for the week. Report in with your score, if you'd like.

Me? I scored a 90% Big help that I've been reading the paper. Plus, while I think teaching creationism in schools has serious flaws, apparently Judge Roberts doesn't share my opinion.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Heavenly Brew

It's Friday! So, we're serving up suds here in the Cafeteria. Here's a good TGIF happy hour story with a Catholic bent, from Yahoo News:

Monks at a Belgian abbey have been forced to stop selling their famous beer after it was voted the best in the world and was promptly sold out.

The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in western Belgium is home to some 30 Cistercian and Trappist monks who lead a life of seclusion, prayer, manual labor -- and beer-brewing.

A survey of thousands of beer enthusiasts from 65 countries on the RateBeer Web site (www.ratebeer.com) in June rated the Westvleteren 12 beer as the world's best.

But the abbey only has a limited brewing capacity, and was not able to cope with the beer's sudden popularity.

"Our shop is closed because all our beer has been sold out," said a message on the abbey's answering machine, which it calls the "beer phone."

And the abbey has no intention of boosting its capacity to satisfy market demand.

"We are not brewers, we are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks," the father abbot said on the abbey's Web site.

Monk Mark Bode told De Morgen daily: "Outsiders don't understand why we are not raising production. But for us life in the abbey comes first, not the brewery."

Curious about this holy sold out brew, I checked out a few reviews. This one, from the Oxford Bottled Beer Database ,was my favorite:

The nose is chiefly of dark fruit, with rich spirit notes giving a fair idea of the strength. The richness continues onto the palate, with dark chocolate and raisiny, puddingy flavours, and hints of cheese, in the manner of a doppelbock. Despite its smoothness, it has a spirit-like mouthfeel and is almost reminiscent of a fortified wine. Finish is extended, warm and malty, fading into a rich caramel and vanilla aftertaste. A beer worth trying, if you can find it; rich and fruity. An ideal way to idle away a cold winter's evening.
Sounds heavenly, doesn't it?


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

No Ordinary Sunday

Adventures called me out of the cafeteria for a bit. It’s nice to be back.

Through the twists and turns of my most recent adventures, I found myself in the City of San Francisco on Sunday. So, I checked out the Mass Times site to see where and when I could attend Mass in the city by the bay. San Francisco’s stunning cathedral, Saint Mary of the Assumption, was nearby, with an 11:00 a.m. mass. Perfect, I thought. I would combine my weekly obligation with a bit of sightseeing!

I made my way to the cathedral only to find a group of protesters at the curb. I had seen headlines in the local paper of another Bay Area diocese’s settlement in a sex abuse case, so I suspected the protest might be related. And, it was. Here – in peaceful protest – were representatives from SNAP and Voice of the Faithful – wearing t-shirts with messages like “No More Silent Catholics.” My heart went out to these victims. They simply want to be heard. Filled with empathy and determined to help spread their word in my own little way, I snapped a photo for the blog, and proceeded toward the church.

It was 30 minutes or so before mass was scheduled to begin, and people were already streaming into the church. Back home, most of my fellow parishioners arrive within a minute or two of the start time. This was impressive! As I stepped inside, a red-coated greeter gave me a smile and a beautiful embossed program – much more impressive than the goldenrod photocopied song sheet we pass out at home.

The tourist in me immediately took in the amazing architecture of the place. It is beautiful! As I wandered toward a pew, I realized how many of the 3,000 or so seats were already filled. Several pews were reserved for deacons and concelebrating priests.

Concelebrating priests?

I knew then this was no ordinary Sunday mass. I opened my program. There, in beautiful script, were these words:
Mass of Thanksgiving
The Pastoral Ministry
Most Reverend William J. Levada
Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith
Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco
I had quite accidentally wandered into the farewell mass of the man who was taking our new Pope’s old job. I hadn’t given it much thought since the "lucky day" I heard the news of his appointment on the radio. Suddenly, I was one of 3,000 or so faithful who were sending him off to the Vatican.

It was one of the most memorable masses I have ever attended.The pageantry was spectacular. I felt like I was participating in something very significant. Sitting in this magnificent building in this beautiful city, listening to the highest ranking American at the Vatican, I was so proud to be a Catholic. And, in the next breath, I thought of the victims standing outside who had suffered at the hands of priests, and I felt betrayed by my church. Scanning the crowd of 30 or so celebrants and servers at the altar and finding only two women made me feel like I didn’t belong. There, in that beautiful 90-minute ceremony, I experienced the range of joy and conflict I know as a Cafeteria Catholic.

Archbishop Levada asked for our prayers. He can count on mine. He has an important job ahead of him. It was an honor to be a part of his sendoff.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Reading about our new Supreme Court nominee, it takes about a nanosecond to learn he's Catholic. Do a minute or two of research and you'll be treated to someone's opinion of what "kind" of Catholic he is. (I've yet to see him referred to as a cafeteria Catholic!) Many, from Barbara Walters to the Boston Globe, seem to think the fact that John Roberts is Catholic is an important fact. I find myself scratching my head, asking "Why does it matter?"

"Catholics and The Court", a piece in the New York Times by Robin Toner takes a closer look at that question. I especially appreciated a quote by Lisa Cahill, a professor of theology at Boston College.
Just as with any candidate, his track record is the key thing. People have a lot of communal identities and roles that go into their public stance - maybe a political party, maybe a religious tradition, maybe the Elks Club - and I don't think it's fair to pick out the religious tradition and suggest that will determine his views.
Does it matter? Maybe. Should it? I don't think so.

We'll see.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thank You, Claire

I received a Thank You card in the mail yesterday from my goddaughter, who was recently confirmed. The note came in a package that contained a beautifully framed photo of the two of us on her confirmation day. There we stand proudly, flanked by a bishop and a couple of priests. Her handwritten words were simple.

Thank you for being my sponsor at confirmation. I am very blessed to have you as my godmother so that you may lead me down the path to heaven.
My first thought was, "is that what I signed up for?" My second: Does she know who her godmother is?

Kidding aside, it was a touching note. And, while leading anyone down the path to heaven is a weighty responsibility, this is one I'll gladly take on. With her, it'll be easy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Messy Church

My mom is paying me a visit soon. And, it'll be time to return the book she loaned me a while back. So, I'm taking an opportunity to leaf through the pages once again for some of the passages I've really enjoyed.

Here's one.
The Church's DNA is all over the place.

Being Catholic is a way of looking at the world. It isn't simply church. It's music and art and architecture and literature and philosophy. It's a language all its own. Good God, it's even food and drink.

It's also community. I go to Mass to be with people. I never tire of watching them go to the altar to receive the Eucharist.

It's a messy church. Filled with faults because it's filled with people. It's a church that often puts barbed wire around its own charisms. But, as James Joyce said, being Catholic means "Here comes everybody!"

I love that.

- R. Timothy Unsworth,
columnist and author
Chicago, Illinois.
Me, too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Just Stir

I hear it all the time, from friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances: "Cath, you sure do know how to stir things up."

We're not talking about my ability to wield a whisk. I'm one of those people who -- when things are just a little too quiet or comfortable -- will get people to speak up and get out of their comfort zone. Yep, when God was handing out special gifts, this was in my pile of packages. And, I'll admit, I love it!

My little ol' "Rockin' the Boat" post has sparked quite a discussion over at From The Back Pew, thanks to Lee Strong, who stops by the cafeteria regularly. I haven't had time to post a comment myself. And, although many of the commenters are frequent visitors here, I just didn't want anyone to miss out on the fun. It's a great discussion!

Meanwhile, I'll just keep stirring!