Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has just won its 11th Oscar, for Best Picture. I have to say that I'm very pleased that for once the Academy did the right thing instead of backing away from supporting what was, to me, clearly the best film of the year in so very many ways.

Frodo lives!

Happy Leap Day!

My chosen fast for this Lenten season is hamburgers. Eeep! It's only been a few days and already it's been quite difficult. I guess that means it was a good choice.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Statistics are in for the Diocese of Tucson -- 2% of priests had credible accusations of sexual abuse against them since 1950; a total of 96 reported victims. Most of the cases occurred between 1970 and 1989.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Phew! It's been a busy few days. I flew to Lansing, Michigan on Tuesday for work, had meetings Wed. morning, and flew home Wednesday night, getting home very late indeed. Today was a catch-up day at work, very busy indeed.

I'd never been to Lansing before. It's a pretty little town, actually. The weather was cold (at least by Tucson standards!) but clear and sunny. I had some time Wed. afternoon to go on the tour of the state capitol. Very interesting -- it's a beautiful building that has been lovingly restored.

I managed to make it to Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral, just a block from the capitol. I didn't get to see when it was built, but it looks like either it was built or "renovated" in the late 60s -- it has some beautiful stained glass, but other than that it's very plain inside. I got my ashes but had to leave before communion (only the 2nd or 3rd time in my life, I think, that I recall leaving early) as I had to dash back to the hotel to catch the shuttle to the airport :-(. Bleah!

Monday, February 23, 2004

Today was a very long and hectic day at work, so I was glad to finally get out of the office and get to choir rehearsal. One of the grad students working with us now is a Canadian woman with a very thick Scottish accent. She's a good conductor, but I have to say we just love to listen to her talk! Her turns of phrase are very whimsical.

An amusing quote for today from one of my fellow choir members:

Koreans are the Irish of the Orient. -- Cara

By which she means that "they were oppressed, and they're feisty!" There's something to that.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Today was the first of our diocese's two Rite of Election liturgies. I attended since it's the one our parish participates in, and sang in the choir as I usually do. I've always found it to be an uplifting experience to see so many (270 or so) people anxious to join the Church. It is encouraging. This year's celebration seemed to go quite nicely. Unfortunately it was (as usual) marred by the inappropriate liturgical dancers. I just realized that I was working on a complaint about last year's but of course between job changes and general laziness I never finished it. Shame on me!
Last night I went to see Arizona Opera's production of "Sweeney Todd." I still find it a bit odd that an opera company is doing Sondheim. It was a pretty good production, though. One of the tenors (Todd Strange) from The University of Arizona® had the role of Tobias, and he was excellent! It was a great role for him. I'm really glad he got the exposure.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

In the "not at all surprising" department -- CNN reports that Catholic high school religion texts stink. Here's a good quote on a "pattern of deficiencies" in many current texts:

  • Tentative language that depicts Catholic doctrine as a matter of opinion, not fact.
  • Weak explanations of the importance of church hierarchy and the church's ban on female priests.
  • References to "partners" rather than husbands and wives.
  • The depiction of the Bible as a historical document, only briefly mentioning its spiritual value.
  • Presenting premarital abstinence as a way to avoid pregnancy or AIDS, rather than necessary to avoid committing a sin.

"AmChurch" strikes again. Thank God the bishops are finally starting to DO something.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Here are my Friday Five:

When was the last time you...

1. ...went to the doctor?

December 8th.

2. ...went to the dentist?


3. ...filled your gas tank?

last week?

4. enough sleep?

Monday, I think. I was off.

5. ...backed up your computer?

Hmm. I backed up my laptop a couple of weeks ago when I installed the new hard drive. I've not backed up my home machine in a while, but most things of importance are on my file server's RAID-5 partition so they're pretty safe.
Just a quick update -- my sister's surgery went very well. She had a great anesthesiologist who was able to vary her mix so that she didn't have the nausea that has plagued her in the past. Her doctor was very pleased with the outcome and she already is feeling some relief. I forgot to mention that besides her back/neck surgery she also had her right wrist done (carpal tunnel).

I stayed at her house last night to watch the animals etc. I'd forgotten how homey it can be to be sleeping with a dog next to you and a cat perched on your hip :-).

Kathy got to come home from the hospital today. I will be out to see her tonight after work.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

My sister Kathy is having her back surgery tomorrow. Please pray for her, it's been a tough year. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Sad news, Phoenix Bishop Thomas O'Brien has been convicted of hit-and-run. CNN says that O'Brien is the first American Catholic bishop ever convicted of a felony. Not a good "first" for the Church, I'm afraid.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Music for Mass
SSPP Latin Schola
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Prelude: Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty (Traditional Gaelic)
Sicut Cervus (Palestrina)
Gathering Song: All Creatures of Our God and King (LASST UNS ERFREUEN)
Penitential Rite: Kyrie (Chant Mass)
Gloria: (Chant Mass)
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1 (Domincan tone 8)
Gospel Acclamation: (Chant Mass w/verse of the day)
Preparation of the Gifts: How Can I Keep From Singing (Quaker Hymn)
Holy,Holy: Sanctus (Chant Mass)
Memorial Acclamation: (Chant Mass)
Great Amen: (Chant Mass)
Our Father: (Traditional Chant)
Lamb of God: Agnus Dei (Chant Mass)
Communion: Tantum Ergo
Meditation: Ecce Panis Angelorum (St. Gregory Hymnal #317)
Recessional: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (HYFRYDOL)
Compromise Achieved
I'm glad to report that we worked out a compromise on the standing issue. After the Sanctus I went and knelt in the side pews next to the choir, and returned during the Kiss of Peace. I was happy and it seems like a workable solution. Thanks for all your prayers and feedback.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day!
I don't have a valentine, but it's okay. I hope all y'all out there have a nice V-Day.

This is a copy of a letter I sent to a priest-friend asking for advice on the situation in my parish.

I need some advice, or at least feedback anyway. Just between you and I, okay? As I think I've mentioned to you, my parish (Ss. Peter and Paul) has a Latin Schola that sings once a month at the 11 a.m. Mass. We sing the Mass responses in Latin, and general do some traditional English hymns for opening, closing and communion and some Renaissance motets in Latin for Offertory as well as preludes and communion meditation. It's been a great joy to sing in this group and it's been my hope that this would help encourage more reverence in the Liturgy and more acceptance of Latin in the parish and Church in general.

My pastor told our choir director in November that we were not allowed to kneel during the Eucharistic prayer. His reasoning was that a) there are no kneelers where we are, and b) it was distracting to the congregation to see us kneel, then stand to sing the memorial acclamation, then kneel again. Needless to say this bothers me a great deal. After praying about it for over a month I went and talked to him about it and asked him to reconsider, for a number of reasons (most of which I'm sure you can imagine) -- no one else in the church is standing at the time, it's not fair to keep us from kneeling, it didn't suddenly become distracting this year (we've been doing this for some time), it's distracting to the congregation to see us standing, etc. I talked with him 12/31 and he said he'd give it some thought.

I had not heard back from him, so I asked him about it again today in email, and got this response:

What I thought I said for at least the present would be that if one was a cantor and wanted to knell [sic] fine, but I did think and I still do not think that have the schola singing while knelling[sic] or getting up and down during the Eucharistic prayer would be appropriate as so it is I have been told with the choir at saint peters. Fr. XX I will see prior to Mass on Sunday.

I'm torn up as to what to do. From the reading that I've done it seems to me that he is within his rights to do this, and I am bound by obedience to follow his direction. As I see it, I can either 1) obey, or 2) resign from the group.

On the one hand, some people whom I respect (orthodox Catholics) have said that since I'm being directed to do this I'm not being irreverent. I believe them.

On the other hand, my reflection says that resigning might be viewed as disrespectful, counterproductive, and perhaps petulant or arrogant or prideful (i.e. that I didn't get my way).

On the 3rd hand ( :-)) my bottom line is that having had to do this 3 times now (Nov, Christmas Mass and January) and being faced with it again this Sunday, I can honestly say that it really, really bothers me. It is painful. It hurts, and obviously it distracts me from the Mass, especially if my pastor is saying Mass and I'm shooting him dirty looks (or trying not to) during the Eucharistic Prayer when I should be focused on Jesus and the Miracle that is taking place.

I'd appreciate any feedback you can give, and your prayers. Thanks.


Friday, February 13, 2004

Here are my Friday Five:

1. Are you superstitious?

No. Although my mother did die on a Friday the 13th.

2. What extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition?

Well, any number of people act weird on days like today. I'm not sure I've heard any particularly good stories though.

3. Believer or not, what's your favorite superstition?

The rabbit's foot. What's lucky about that? Doesn't seem to be too lucky for the rabbit!

4. Do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual?

I don't believe in luck as such. I don't really believe in coincidences either. I believe in a loving God who is intimately connected to His creation and active in my life.

5. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?

No. I think it's absurd to believe that the stars influence our fate. That doesn't mean that what time of year one is born at might not have some kind of influence on how we develop, but I don't see any mechanism for the stars influencing us.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I'm home at last. Tuesday night I had dinner with an old friend and his wife in the lovely Queen Anne section of Seattle. Wednesday I spent the day at the King County Department of Health, working with their folks. Left for the airport at 3 and got home at 10:30, very tired and very glad to be home.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I'm in Seattle today and tomorrow for work; I flew in last night.

As I was waiting to board the plane in Tucson I was looking out the big windows they have in the departure lounge, looking north toward the Catalina mountains. They are so beautiful! Sometimes we forget about the beauty all around us. It's good to take some time to enjoy the beauty God created.

After a long and tiring flight, including sitting across the aisle from a tipsy woman who insisted on talking nonsense at me for quite some time, I finally arrived in Seattle with my colleagues. We drove from SeaTac airport to the hotel in downtown Seattle and had a beautiful view of the Space Needle, all lit up and looking gorgeous.

Today we drove down to the capital, Olympia, to meet with various folks there. The weather has been absolutely beautiful (and, apparently, atypical) -- dry and sunny, lows in the low 30s and highs in the low 50s. On the way back we had a beautiful view of Mount Rainier. It was truly stunning.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Today's parish bulletin has a letter from our pastor announcing (as expected) that they are proceeding with fingerprinting and background checks on parish volunteers, starting 2/21. The following people will be checked:

CCD teachers and aides
hospital eucharistic ministers
Life Teen instructors
RCIA instructors
St. Vincent de Paul volunteers

lunch room monitors
playground monitors
classroom helpers
library helpers
hot lunch helpers
sports volunteers

Since I'm an RCIA instructor I guess I will be going in for fingerprinting. It doesn't really bother me, it's the price we pay to keep children safe. I'm a little curious why lectors are included but not commentators, unless "lectors" includes them.

Update: I checked, and the commentators will also be fingerprinted.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Here are my Friday Five:

1. What's the most daring thing you've ever done?

Hmm. The obvious answer seems to be, step onto the ice for the first time. Or maybe a couple of women that I asked out. I'm not really that daring a person, I don't think.

2. What one thing would you like to try that your mother/friend/significant other would never approve of?

Nothing comes to mind, sad to say.

3. On a scale of 1-10, what's your risk factor? (1=never take risks, 10=it's a lifestyle)

I take risks in my skating, all the time. It's essential. Other than that I'm not much of a risk taker. Interestingly I've never really thought of it that way before.

4. What's the best thing that's ever happened to you as a result of being bold/risky?

My relationships with a couple of ex-girlfriends come to mind.

5. ... and what's the worst?

Hmm. I broke my arm rollerblading in 2002, so maybe that's it.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Yesterday evening I went to see Arizona Theater Company's production of Tennessee Williams's play, "A Streetcar Named Desire." It was a terrific production. I had never seen the play before, and I and my companion found it very moving, disturbing, and thought-provoking. It's a powerful play.
Apologies for not posting more lately. Life has been quite busy (if unexciting) lately. I'll try to improve.

Today I was in Phoenix for a meeting at work, and afterwards I went shopping with my beautiful nieces Cori and Chelsea. For Christmas I had promised them I'd take them shopping (rather than give gift certificates). So tonight we went shopping -- for Chelsea some Etnies shoes she wanted, and for Cori a belt and some sandals. Afterward we had a nice dinner along with Cori's bf. It's really nice to spend time with the girls... they have grown up into fine women who are a joy to be around.