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Blatant Romanism « Ted's Polish-Mexican Page

Leroy Dyson

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Published on: April 2, 2015

One of my earliest friendships I made in the Democratic Party was Leroy Dyson. I’d say I knew him since I was sixteen or so. He passed away last week, and his funeral mass was on Friday.

One of the readers at the mass was former state legislator Larry Bahill, who was a long time friend of Leroy from both of their times at Pima County. He read a passage from the Book of Wisdom. If you haven’t heard of the Book of Wisdom, it might be because it is part of the Catholic version of the Old Testament, but not the Jewish or Protestant ones. It all came down to a dispute between Jerome and Augustine that boiled over again a dozen centuries later.

I asked St. Pius X Church for a copy of the passage. It was from chapter 4:

The just man, though he die early,
shall be at rest.
For the age that is honorable comes not
with the passing of time,
nor can it be measured in terms of years.
Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.
He who pleased God was loved;
he who lived among sinners was transported—
Snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind
or deceit beguile his soul;
For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right
and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind. Having become perfect in a short while,
he reached the fullness of a long career;
for his soul was pleasing to the LORD,
therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand,
nor did they take this into account.

I checked my own Bible, and in that translation “hoary crown” is “gray hair.” Anyone that knew Leroy remembers that perfect white halo of hair he had, and that near permanent smile. I’ll miss saying hi to him at party events.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Ash Wednesday

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Published on: February 18, 2015

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means we get to hear a reading from Matthew chapter 6 that warns about outward expressions of piety. I know that the reason why it is read today is that the chapter gives advice on fasting, which is important to hear before Lent. Still, I find it ironic that it gets read just moments before a priest marks your forehead so everyone knows that you’ve been to church.

Years ago, I wrote something similar and got a reply from a Lutheran (unsure of the synod, but by his tone, unlikely ELCA) who decided it was a good opportunity to school a Catholic on what the ashes really mean. I would have appreciated the dialogue, but the smugness bothered me and showed that he really didn’t get what I was writing about.

When I worked at Tork’s, my Muslim boss gave me a break to run off and get ashes. Scratch that, he insisted on it. I’ve had a lot of bosses who claim all sorts of flavors of Christianity, but the first one I had that gave me room to get ashes was a very devout Muslim.

I take this seriously enough that I know the ashes are not a crass marketing gimmick, but if it were, it would seem to work well. Priests have told me that attendance at masses on Ash Wednesday is only outdone by Easter and Christmas Eve. The funny part about it is that it is not a day of obligation.

Since it isn’t a day of obligation, many churches offer, for lack of a better word, “quickie” ashes. Our local Episcopal diocese is offering “Ashes To Go” at Ronstadt Center and Starbucks.

I am not a member of St. Pius X, but I make a point of heading over there to get ashes because it is only a few blocks from work. They have a “to go” offered in the parking lot, but you are obliged to write a sin or intention on a piece of paper and put it in a fire they have going.

Usually, it is a lay minister that gives the ashes. This time, I got them from Fr. Harry Ledwith. Ledwith gave a rosary at the service for Ruben Nuñez years ago that still sticks with me. He gave ashes to a group of four of us. He knew the other three but did not know me.

He made a point of asking my name. I anticipated him asking why he never sees me at mass, so I told him that I go to the Benedictine Monastery, but his church was near my work. He saw a woman approaching with a cane and said, “I am going to need to go to her.”

I saw he was busy so I walked back to the car.

“I hope we see more of you Ted,” he said as I opened my door.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

St. Chad

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Published on: November 13, 2014

This is my second political-esque post on here in a row. I am not making this into a political blog.

Note to Chad Campbell: despite the title, this is not about you.

Given the current recount in our congressional election here, it made me wonder, is there a patron saint of such things?

The answer is yes and no. Spolier alert: I lean towards yes.

St_Chad_Church_(5)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1592962After the 2000 presidential election, a writer for the Baltimore Sun noted that there was a Saint Chad in seventh century Britain. Given that the disputes in that election centered on dangling chads, hanging chads and pregnant chads, it only made sense to declare that this particular Chad was the go to saint.

What also helped was that St. Chad’s holding the office of Bishop of the Mercians and Lindsey People was disputed. He was removed from office after his predecessor, St. Wilfrid, reclaimed his position after being away so long that people thought he had died in a plague.

St. Chad’s manner was to walk everywhere rather than ride a horse, which is why he is sometimes called St. Chad the Pedestrian. This humble style caused a bit of controversy among his fellow church leaders, which goes to show that some things don’t change.

So, is St. Chad as patron of disputed elections official? No.

Snopes has an entry “debunking” the claim and it’s something addressed in other places too (including this nice post about St. Chad’s life).

The trouble is that relying only on the “official” line on St. Chad or any saint fails to recognize that much of the veneration of the saints is populist. Even the process of canonization acknowledges this: popular veneration comes before the church officially recognizes, not declares, sainthood.

Take Father Kino, for example. He is likely a generation, at least, from canonization. Still, he is venerated in parts of northern Mexico and his remains in Magdalena are a shrine. This is despite official recognition. In fact, his eventual canonization would be impossible without his current veneration.

It’s one of the few places where the church has historically followed the lead of the laity.

The same applies to patronages. The church saying that one saint or another is the one to pray for the intercession of in one situation or another means nothing unless people feel that there is a connection, which is why the church grants a patronage recognition. By the same token, if a worshipper invokes the name of a saint in an “unrecognized” situation, do we really think that the saint says “not my department” like a bureaucrat?

Connections to a patronage can be made for all sorts of reasons. I think of the case of St. Fiacre. St. Fiacre was a seventh century Irish holy man (I’m unclear if he actually was a priest, monk or took any orders at all) who built a hospice in what is now France. Because of his popularity in France, things were named for him, including a hotel in Paris. The St. Fiacre Hotel rented carriages, which were eventually called “fiacres.” For that reason, Fiacre is the patron saint of taxi drivers.

It’s a connection made by the people and not the official church, but still valid and who is to say it won’t be officially recognized one day?

So, Ron and Martha, go ahead and invoke St. Chad. The church may agree with you someday.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

St. Gregory Decannonized

A little fact that even long time friends are surprised at when they find out is that I attended St. Gregory High School. I always try to throw in the fact that I was on scholarship there, which helps me maintain my lefty cred. I try to make that case, but the place was more elite at the time than it is now.

The school has made a big point of saying that they have no religious affiliation in their publicity as of late. Given this, the powers that be decided it’s a little weird to be named for a saint. They are removing the word “Saint” as well as the words “College Preparatory School” (which weren’t there when I went, I don’t think.) If you think it doesn’t leave much, you are right. The new name will be “The Gregory School.”

Of course, that still leaves the name “Gregory,” who wasn’t just a Doctor of the Church, but one of the four big time Doctors of the Church. Unless they can make the case that they are named for some other Gregory (Gregory Peck? Dick Gregory?), the school still has a religious name.

As Tom Beal pointed out in the Star, the school has never had a formal religious affiliation. Despite what Sigrid Just, our infamous local Bavarian protector of all things Catholic, tried to argue with me one day at the Newman Center, the school was not “High Anglican” or any other sort of Anglican. Whatever affiliation with the Episcopal Church it had was quite casual, almost coincidental. It was founded by an Episcopal Priest, Rev. Russell Ingersoll, and named by, of all people, a Jesuit Priest (not only a Papist, but one that happened to be my Mom’s boss), Fr. Charles Polzer.

There was a religious aspect to the school, but it wasn’t exactly heavy duty. There was a daily chapel that was pretty ecumenical when it veered into religion at all. Rev. Ingersoll or the school’s chaplain would preside at some. Rev. Ingersoll left the year I graduated, and from what I understand, whatever sectarian trappings of the place started to fade away pretty quickly. I heard from some younger friends that attended that even the three-foot stone St. Gregory statue (that may have actually been St. Brendan) disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Well, I guess the next time they call hitting me up for money, I have a ready made excuse. Gregory School? I didn’t go to any school by that name.

Beal’s article, I believe, has an error. The first chaplain of the school, Rev. Kevin Murphy, was an Episcopal priest. He left after my sophomore year and was planning to convert to Lutheranism. If that is in error, chalk it up to the the misunderstandings of my fifteen year old brain.

The late Pat Grace, who some may remember as a stalwart volunteer in the early days of the Tucson Aids Project, applied at the school before it opened. Rev. Ingersoll noted that his resume detailed experiences at many schools, but there was something missing.

“I see you have a lot of experience with Catholic schools. Have you ever worked at an Episcopal school?”

“You’re right; most of my work has been at Catholic schools. But, what’s an Episcopalian but a rich Catholic?”

He didn’t get a call back.

Pat had a pretty deep understanding of his faith and was willing to share it, and yes, make jokes about it. I understand that he went to a Jesuit seminary when he was younger, but it didn’t work out. It’s too bad because he would have been a fantastic priest. He passed away over two decades ago, but I still miss the guy sometimes.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Apostolic Exhortation

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Published on: November 27, 2013

Evangelii_Gaudium-255x390I was successfully out-geeked on Catholicism yesterday when I had to be corrected about Pope Francis’s letter, Evangelii Gaudium. It was not, I was told, an encyclical but an apostolic exhortation. My understanding, at least as gleaned in the last 24 hours, is that exhortations are not doctrinal but a call to the church community.

As such, it is written in relatively plain language, even using the term “sourpuss,” and last I checked, it has not yet been issued in Latin. This means we all have to wait a while to find out the Latin word for “sourpuss.”

Oddly enough, the uncomplicated vernacular turns off a few. This from Father Z’s Blog:

Half the time, when I review his daily sermons, I have a hard time figuring out what on earth he is talking about. I am finding that in this document too, but I still have a lot more to read.

The Holy Father has talked a lot about the troubles of regular folks out in the world. If that confuses a churchman like Fr. Z, perhaps a little more of that engagement with what Francis calls “the street” is needed?

Most of the commentary from the liberal side of politics has been about Francis’s critique of capitalism and of materialism in general. Conservatives have pointed out that this is not a new thing (although a part of church teaching that they’ve set aside. We are all cafeteria Catholics, aren’t we?). They are right: both John Paul and Benedict would often say the same sorts of things. It would be hard to find an example of either of them being as stark as Francis does on several occasions, like this:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?

The conservative-leaning National Catholic Register chooses save their commentary for the sections on evangelization and reaffirmation of church positions on women’s ordination and abortion. In some ways, this goes to show that there is room for people of all political persuasions to learn from church teachings. I also think, though, that setting aside the economic message misses what Francis was getting at: that engaging the day to day economic issues that people face is an important part of evangelization and that economic justice is part of respect for human life.

My favorite part has nothing to do with economic justice despite the media’s fixation on it. Here is paragraph 47:

The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament which is itself “the door”: baptism. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.

There’s been too much talk the past few decades about a smaller, purer church, and too many church leaders who want to use the Eucharist as a political weapon. My hope is that this letter ends that.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Habemus Papam

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Published on: March 14, 2013

I’m hopeful about the selection of Francis I. Maybe I am being naïve given that he had to, at the very least, cut a deal with one of the more brutal governments in this hemisphere to keep his job and his life.

It is worth noting that no less than Adolfo Pérez Esquivel has come to Francis’s defense on that matter. Still, his silence during that time, when so many in the Church and among his Jesuit brothers chose not to be quiet, makes his record murky at best.

Two important facts make me hopeful. One is that he is a Jesuit. It makes him an outsider, despite his status as a cardinal. Yes, he no doubt had to get the votes of insiders to get elected, but there are plenty on the inside who have been embarrassed by the rot at the heart of the Church. He is a member of an order that was founded by a man and his companions that knew that the way to grow and strengthen the Church was to widen its horizons.

A side note to that: the Jesuits have historically been involved with the sciences, and Francis himself is a chemist. The last few popes have embraced science, but to have one that is a scientist and comes out of the Jesuit tradition is an important sign that religion and science can coexist. This guy won’t be visiting the Creation Museum anytime soon.

The other is the selection of the name: Francis. This has been written about to death, but it is an important signal. The guy didn’t seem to have much time for the trappings of his previous office. Reports I’ve read are that former cardinal would have rather ridden on the bus and discuss his beloved San Lorenzo than ride in the limousine provided by the archdiocese.

Yes, despite his advocacy on behalf of the poor, he has the same retrograde views on homosexuality and women’s rights that the church has had for decades. But, I wonder if the humility of St. Francis will allow him to at least get a discussion going on the topics. Maybe he’ll know to work to make those of us who disagree feel more welcome. His clash with his country’s president over gay marriage, where his tactics helped him lose the fight, may have taught him a few lessons too.

So many of the troubles in the Church right now can be traced back to arrogance: the burgeoning financial imbroglio, the alienation of younger Catholics and, worst of all, the sex abuse scandals. Maybe putting on that brown robe and wandering the countryside and learning from ordinary folks is what these guys need.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Sullivan on God

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Published on: November 16, 2011

The best thing Andrew Sullivan has done since his blog moved over to the Daily Beast is a series of short video features called “Ask Andrew Anything.” Anything means anything; the commentaries have covered every subject from the British parliamentary system to Dr. Who. Here he is talking about his personal experiences with God:

I’d rather he lost the Scanner Darkly/Charles Schwab rotoscoping. Something about it makes him look like a Civil War general.

I haven’t had an experience like Andrew’s. My mother has, and my grandmother seemed to on an almost daily basis. Maybe I’ve over-intellectualized my faith.

Years ago, I was on a jury. It was a horrible incident in my community: a man ran a stop sign at high speed, slamming into a family’s van, killing or maiming a dozen people. One of the constant courtroom fixtures was the family matriarch, who came up from Mexico to watch the trial. The trial took three weeks, and several of those days were full of excruciating details of the injuries inflicted upon various members of the family.

The culpability of the defendant was never disputed even by his own attorney. Still, after we came to our decision, one local paper talked to the mother. After reliving the annihilation of her family, bitterness and anger would have been justified. What was her reaction?

She said it was too bad that no member of the defendant’s family was there to help him. After going through something so horrible, she was reaching out and feeling for him.

Not quite what Andrew experienced, but I think I saw a little bit of God that day.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Local Church Makes CNN Blog

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Published on: August 24, 2011

I was checking an article on CNN’s “Belief Blog” and was surprised to see that their sidebar feature on funny church signs featured Tucson’s St. Francis in the Foothills. It’s not the only Arizona church featured, by the way. A few clicks forward and you’ll find Calvary Community Church, a Phoenix area megachurch that drivers on I-17 have a hard time missing.

The image of St. Francis in the Foothills was sent in by a woman calling herself Kimbertee. According to the short profile on CNN’s site, she also contributes to a blog called “Milking ‘Got Milk'”, a chronicle of various takeoffs of what they call “the ad campaign that won’t go away.”

I poked around Calvary Community Church’s website. They have a “frequently asked questions” page. One question deals with whether it is okay to do business with a non believer. Their answer?

If you’re in a business partnership with an unbeliever that would certainly be considered being bound or yoked together. The warning is a good one because believers and unbelievers don’t view life through the same grid. As with any relationship, conflict will arise and conflict resolution will be very difficult. My suggestion would be to not get involved.

Lovely.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Good Friday Message

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Published on: April 22, 2011

Andrew Sullivan has a wonderful article that starts as a review of the play Book of Mormon but ends with a meditaion on truth and belief.

Have a blessed Good Friday.

My Kind of Catholics

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Published on: December 21, 2010

I stopped by Father Kino’s Corner, a Catholic bookstore over on Kolb and Golf Links:

Man at store: Can I help you find something?

Me: I was looking for a biography of Dorothy Day.

Woman at store: I don’t think we have anything in stock.

Man: Don’t we have that book on American saints?

Woman: I think we don’t have that one right now. And she isn’t a saint.

Man: Yes she is.

Woman: No, she’s not. She hasn’t been canonized.

Man: She is a saint. Rome just hasn’t recognized her yet.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

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