31 August 2010

Cash for Clunkers, School Edition

I admit to giving a rueful chuckle when I read this story on STLToday. Not only do my taxes go to pay for schools that my children do not attend, and not only must I cover all the costs of the education they do receive, now other parents must be bribed to send their own children to the prison schools already paid for by tax dollars. Rich, indeed.

From the full story:

Big incentive for school attendance: Cash

by Elisa Crouch

Stacey Wright had more than a dozen choices when it came to enrolling three of her children in an elementary school, from charters to magnets to traditional public schools in every corner of the city.

She chose Jefferson Elementary School, the brick St. Louis public school across the street. And for that, she may get $900.

For the first time, a local organization is offering parents a cash incentive to enroll their children at Jefferson. The money is limited to students who didn't attend the school last year. To get it, the kids must finish this semester with near-perfect attendance and receive no out-of-school suspensions; the parent must attend three PTO meetings. The program is being offered to families in three mixed-income housing complexes surrounding the school, where most of the students live.


Paying families for their children's behavior and attendance is part of an ongoing debate in a half dozen cities. Kids themselves also have been paid for everything from grades on tests to the number of books they read. A Harvard University study in July showed that such incentives improve classroom behavior — but they don't necessarily raise test scores. The study looked at incentive programs offered to 38,000 students at 261 low-performing urban schools in four cities.

Proponents say the cash rewards are no different from offering college scholarships to top achievers at a high school, and that low-income families need the extra help. Critics counter that the cash prizes fail to address problems that lead to truancy and poor test scores, such as bad teaching or a dull curriculum.

"It's almost like bribing (the students) instead of correcting the core problems," said Garrett Duncan, an associate professor of education at Washington University.


Rewards in schools are nothing new. Suburban districts for years have offered pizza coupons, tickets to amusement parks and baseball games for those who make the honor roll or read a certain number of books over the summer.

In St. Louis Public Schools, the district has rewarded kids who attend the first day of school by entering them in drawings for tickets to sporting events. Until recently, Maritz Inc., the motivational and corporate travel company in Fenton, gave students at school the first week chances to win a big screen television, stereo equipment, T-shirts and rulers.

The $300 incentive at Jefferson shouldn't be troubling, said William Tate, professor of education at Washington University.

"What they're really saying to these kids is your presence on a regular basis is important," he said. "It's so important we're going to reward you for doing it."

Wright said she's going to do all she can to ensure that she and her three children at Jefferson do their part in earning the $900. Getting to the PTO meetings should be no problem, she said. The money would go a long way to help her family at Christmas, when finances are especially tight.


30 August 2010

Wherein It's All Teed Up...

The following letter to the editor appeared in last week's St. Louis Review, and since I have taken the paper to task a bit lately, I thought I would help out by answering the reader's letter in this space. The question, followed by my response:

Getting tired

Attending Mass lately has left me feeling very tired. I am tired of people sauntering into pews with no genuflection or even the popular bow. Where is the reverence for God's house and God's presence? I am tired of young people hunched over with hands on knees, heads down, not really paying attention. More attention is paid at a sporting event! I am tired of young children hanging on their parents, turning all around, not using books, and chewing gum and then going up to Communion.

Where is the respect or even awareness of what is really going on? I am tired of screamingly loud music and singing of songs that are anything but hymns. What are they doing in our Catholic church? Doesn't God hear our prayers in the silence of our hearts? Is louder really better?

What on earth will our faith be like 20 years down the road? Will my young grandchildren have a strong faith to see them through life's hard times? Singing and shaking hands will not do much when standing by a hospital bed. It all makes me sad and very tired.

P- D-

Dear P- D-,

Next Sunday, why not hit Mass at 2653 Ohio Ave., St. Louis, MO 63118?

In Christ,


The General Chapter of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is being held this week at the Institute's motherhouse in Gricigliano, Italy. Please remember the priests of the Institute in your prayers.

27 August 2010

NotAgain: JustFaith StillPromoted InReview

Following up last week's four-page, highly positive spread on the JustFaith group, the St. Louis Review has published another short article this week promoting this organization, whose founder has ties to the dissenter group Call to Action:

JustFaith listing

The Catholic Charities website now has a listing of the 10 groups offering JustFaith, JustSkills, JustMatters, Engaging Spirituality. See ccstl.org. Parishioners are welcome to attend at a neighboring parish if their parish is not offering one of these programs. JustFaith is an adult formation program for reading, praying, discussing, experiencing and being formed by Catholic social teachings, Scripture and Catholic faith tradition.

Though this short article does provide decent evidence that JustFaith does not produce any program called JustGrammar, I think the description in the last sentence is highly inaccurate. I covered some of the concerns about JustFaith and its founder, Jack Jezreel, in this recent post.

If Catholic Charities is continuing to promote this group, whose reading list includes works by authors inspired by the radical tactics of Saul Alinsky, and further whose founder frequently speaks at a group dedicated to promoting disobedience to Church teachings on priestly ordination and the sanctity of marriage, that is a sure sign that Catholic Charities is off the rails.

But why in the world is the official Catholic newspaper of the Archdiocese continuing to assist Catholic Charities in promoting such a group? Why is it promoting it to Catholics without giving any hint of the group's founder's questionable fidelity to the faith--a lack of fidelity that calls for great scrutiny of the content of the program itself? Why is there no discussion that the groups with which this man associates publicly dissent from the Church?

Either there has been no effort to investigate the group before promoting it in the paper, or else this is an intentional decision. Which is it?

This article, appearing in the same issue with a nice article by Jennifer Brinker on Catholic devotions, seems to show a schizophrenic understanding of Faith and Charity. They cannot be divorced.

I just don't get it. Why are Catholic parishioners in the Archdiocese being urged to participate in this group's programs as though they spring from the bosom of the Church? What's next? Will the Women's Ordination Conference get a spread, and will Catholics be encouraged to fill the pew(s) of Elsie and Rose's PlayChurch?

Of course not, I would have said.

Perhaps next week the Review might publish a third piece on JustFaith. I'll suggest a headline and article:


If you have been approached by the so-called JustFaith group, or if it is currently active in your parish, please contact the chancery immediately. The Archdiocese cannot endorse this group due to its ties with known dissenter groups.

"The Archdiocese certainly encourages Catholics to fulfill their duty of stewardship, charity and social justice through the many wonderful Catholic agencies and institutions, as well as through their own initiative," said Archdiocesan spokesman _______. However, we cannot encourage participation in JustFaith until we can thoroughly ensure that its programs do not misrepresent the Church's timeless teachings. After all, souls are at stake, and we don't want well-meaning Catholics to be misled."


26 August 2010

Summer at, for, and with the Oratory

A couple of quick updates from St. Francis de Sales Oratory via the Tradition for Tomorrow site:

The annual Summer at the Oratory event was a big success this year:

Weeks of planning culminated on a bright sunny day. By Sunday morning, the empty courtyard bounded by the rectory, the church and the convent had been transformed into a festive little piazza. A large covered tent provided a cozy outdoor room for visitors to share their meals and visit. Against the brick backdrop of the buildings were various booths set up for games and prizes, a country market, “cake walk,” silent auctions, live jazz band, and, most important of all: the Bar-B-Q stand and the refreshment station.

The crowd poured into this outdoor festival as soon as Mass ended, ready for lunch and an afternoon of family fun. Smiling faces of all vintages soon filled the festive scene. Until 7:00 PM, this celebration in honor of King Saint Louis, patron saint of the city of St. Louis, rolled through the summer heat, lubricated by live jazz music, plenty of cold beer, a full menu of quintessential summer foods, friendly conversations, and terrific deals from the country market and the auctions.

Friends of St. Francis de Sales Oratory is deeply indebted to many volunteers who organized and ran this great community-building event, especially to the young adults who helped in various ways throughout the day. We are also grateful for the many individuals and businesses who provided auction and raffle items and donated the proceeds to the restoration effort.

The TforT site also has some updates and photos of recent Oratory renovation projects:

In an on-going effort to beautify the exterior of the St. Francis de Sales campus, a few projects were completed at the Oratory this summer.

In June, thanks to the initiative of a dedicated family, the gardens around the church underwent a complete facelift. New plantings of perennials flourished over the summer months, bringing a new verdant liveliness to the landscaping around the Oratory.

In July, a new lighting system was installed to highlight the church tower at night, making the illuminated tower as prominent a part of St. Louis’ nightscape as it is during the day.

In August, the crumbling concrete steps leading up to the convent, unsightly and a potential safety hazard, were torn down and rebuilt.

Gainful Employment Update

I just wanted to apologize for the light blogging this week. I am still gainfully employed, and sometimes work intrudes. I have scheduled a meeting with my supervisor to try to get more blogging time soon.

P.S. Yes, that's me.

25 August 2010

Feast of St. Louis IX, King of France

The Feast day of St. Louis falls on August 25. Pray for our Archbishop and the faithful of the Archdiocese.

I quote below some excerpts from the oft-quoted advice of King Louis to his son; I offer these excerpts to the JustFaith community.

...3. Therefore, dear son, the first thing I advise is that you fix your whole heart upon God, and love Him with all your strength, for without this no one can be saved or be of any worth.

4. You should, with all your strength, shun everything which you believe to be displeasing to Him. And you ought especially to be resolved not to commit mortal sin, no matter what may happen and should permit all your limbs to be hewn off, and suffer every manner of torment, rather than fall knowingly into mortal sin.

...7. Dear son, I advise you that you accustom yourself to frequent confession, and that you choose always, as your confessors, men who are upright and sufficiently learned, and who can teach you what you should do and what you should avoid. You should so carry yourself that your confessors and other friends may dare confidently to reprove you and show you your faults.

8. Dear son, I advise you that you listen willingly and devoutly the services of Holy Church, and, when you are in church, avoid to frivolity and trifling, and do not look here and there; but pray to God with lips and heart alike, while entertaining sweet thoughts about Him, and especially at the mass, when the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are consecrated, and for a little time before.

9. Dear son, have a tender pitiful heart for the poor, and for all those whom you believe to be in misery of heart or body, and, according to your ability, comfort and aid them with some alms.

...13. Dear son, see to it that all your associates are upright, whether clerics or laymen, and have frequent good converse with them; and flee the society of the bad. And listen willingly to the word of God, both in open and in secret; and purchase freely prayers and pardons.

14. Love all good, and hate all evil, in whomsoever it may be.

15. Let no one be so bold as to say, in your presence, words which attract and lead to sin, and do not permit words of detraction to be spoken of another behind his back.

!6. Suffer it not that any ill be spoken of God or His saints in your presence, without taking prompt vengeance. But if the offender be a clerk or so great a person that you ought not to try him, report the matter to him who is entitled to judge it.

...23. Moreover, I advise you to love dearly the clergy, and, so far as you are able, do good to them in their necessities, and likewise love those by whom God is most honored and served, and by whom the Faith is preached and exalted.

...25. Love your brothers, and always wish their well-being and their good advancement, and also be to them in the place of a father, to instruct them in all good. But be watchful lest, for the love which you bear to one, you turn aside from right doing, and do to the others that which is not meet.

...31. Dear son, I advise you always to be devoted to the Church of Rome, and to the sovereign pontiff, our father, and to bear him the the reverence and honor which you owe to your spiritual father.

...36. In conclusion, dear son, I give you all the blessings which a good and tender father can give to a son, and I pray our Lord Jesus Christ, by His mercy, by the prayers and merits of His blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, and of angels and archangels and of all the saints, to guard and protect you from doing anything contrary to His will, and to give you grace to do it always, so that He may be honored and served by you. And this may He do to me as to you, by His great bounty, so that after this mortal life we may be able to be together with Him in the eternal life, and see Him, love Him, and praise Him without end. Amen. And glory, honor, and praise be to Him who is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit; without beginning and without end. Amen.

23 August 2010

JustFaith? NotReally.

This is my sixth attempt at writing this post. I have struggled with how best to cover this issue--which I think deserves scrutiny-- with charity and giving the benefit of the doubt. The St. Louis Review is a good source of Catholic information and is staffed with faithful Catholics who do a great job. But sometimes things can fall through the cracks, and this, in my opinion, is one of those times.

This week, the Review has given extensive and positive coverage to an organization that has questionable adherence to Catholic teachings. This group calls itself JustFaith. JustFaith was the subject of multi-article coverage in the "Living Our Faith" section of the Review, a pull-out section that takes a particular theme and provides several articles covering specifics related to that theme. In this section, under the theme of social justice ministry, JustFaith is presented in a positive light, and its activities in local parishes are favorably canvassed. The following is f
rom the main article:

JustFaith brings a life of love, justice

by Barbara Watkins

"JustFaith is not just another program," according to Pat Dougherty. "It changes lives. It calls out the best in us."

Dougherty, senior director of advocacy for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, called his participation in JustFaith Ministries — a formation program that seeks to help people transform themselves and their commitment to social justice — "one of the best things I've ever done."

Dougherty and Greg Rohde, director of parish social ministry for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, are inviting parishes to participate in the JustFaith programs. So far, approximately 300 people in the archdiocese have gone through at least one JustFaith program. Last year, 170 people from 24 parishes in five deaneries took part.


To Dougherty, "JustFaith is a faith journey, a justice journey. It's your journey. You're changing as you go along, how you look at things, what you are called to do. It's a journey in a prayerful small group setting, a challenge in the midst of other people."

JustFaith Ministries has grown into a national program led by Jezreel, now executive director. A Catholic ministry that has developed a faith component for other churches, JustFaith participants include more than 18,000 people from more than 1,000 churches nationwide. JustFaith Ministries has partnerships with several Catholic organizations, including Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Pax Christi USA, as well as the Christian anti-hunger group Bread for the World.


The group's mission statement is presented in the article, but in order to interpret it, one must really get to know the founder, Jack Jezreel, who was interviewed by the Review.

The article quotes JustFaith's mission statement as follows:

JustFaith Ministries forms, informs and transforms people of faith by offering programs and resources that sustain them in their compassionate commitment to build a more just and peaceful world.

This mission statement is precisely the kind of thing that is capable of differing interpretations, depending on the perspective of the reader. Who doesn't want a more just and peaceful world, after all?

JustFaith identifies certain "critical issues" for which it provides training in its "JustMatters" program. From the article:

Critical issues

The JustMatters modules cover critical social issues and/or justice issues.They include six to eight sessions, each about two to two-and-a-half hours long with an opening and closing prayer, and can include space for a guest speaker

-Faith Encounters the Ecological Crisis

-In the Footsteps of the Crucified

-Living Solidarity

-Crossing Borders

-God's Creation Cries for Justice

-Prison Reform

-New Wineskins

-Engaging Our Conflicts

Again, these modules are filled with buzz words which send a message of socialist political activism devoid of any necessary connection to the Catholic faith. Faith encounters in the ecological crisis? Come on. What does that mean? God's creation cries for justice? New Wineskins? My own take on this is that this is exactly the kind of "faith perspective" that has emptied out the pews for the last 45 years.

But forget what I think; what does the founder of JustFaith think?

To begin with, Jack Jezreel has been a featured speaker at several conferences of the dissenter group "Call to Action", to wit: 1996 CTA national conference; 1997 CTA national conference: “Spirituality of Commitment Making Promises, Friends and Justice”; The fourth West Coast CTA Conference, August 11-13, 2000: “Transformed People, Transformed Parish, Transformed World”; and the keynote at CTA-affiliated Pax Christi 2007 National Conference.

Stephanie Block of the Catholic Media Coalition has this to say about Jezreel and JustFaith:

JustFaith materials include reading lists of works by other problematic authors, including Cloud of Witness by Jim Wallis, an evangelical minister who edits the magazine Sojourners – originally founded to support the anti-war and sanctuary movements. Currently, Wallis is promoting the New Sanctuary Movement to support illegal immigration in the US and the Faith in Public Life network of “spiritual progressives”, many of whom advocate abortion and homosexual advocacy. JustFaith also recommends Selected Readings in Liberation Theology by Gustavo Gutierrez & others.3 Another recommended book is Doing Justice by Dennis A. Jacobsen, which promotes the organizing principles of Saul Alinsky. These are not Catholic materials.

Nor does Jack Jezreel, the founder and director of JustFaith, intend to support authentic Catholic social justice teaching. Jezreel is longtime speaker for the dissident Catholic organization Call to Action,4 which exists to change church doctrine and structure along liberationist lines. He sees JustFaith has a way to “transform parishes”, as he believes they ought to be “transformed,” with parishes holding all parishioners’ goods in common and having a “shared economics”.5

Since it doesn’t represent a Catholic perspective, JustFaith can be – and is – used ecumenically, as it has been in Louisville, Kentucky where the program originated. Little wonder that his program is flawed and the Catholics passing through it are confused about Church teaching.
(links to footnotes in the original)

Further analysis of JustFaith
can be found here.

JustFaith also touts its partnership with the much-criticized Catholic Campaign for Human Development (which was caught funding ACORN in the past) and Pax Christi USA, a similar social justice/sustainable earth type group.

In another piece in the "Living Our Faith" section, the Review ran a CNS article about the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C. earlier this year, sponsored in part by JustFaith. the headline reads "
Speakers suggest joining pro-life, social justice efforts". This is a great idea if that means that authentic Catholic teaching should be promoted in a consistent fashion; it isn't so great if it means that we should ignore abortion issues as long as we spend some money on social welfare programs. But what is even worse than either of these is if it means we should front for a liberation theology, Christ-as-Marx sort of socialist activism with a Catholic veneer.

Jack Jezreel himself wrote an article on his intentions with JustFaith called "
How to turn a lukewarm parish into a hotbed of social justice". I urge you to read it and ponder it. JustFaith may in fact create hotbeds of "social justice"; the problem is that they won't be Catholic parishes, lukewarm or otherwise.

We shouldn't be celebrating a program designed to create more dissident parishes, headed by a supporter of groups that dissent from Catholic teachings. We have enough of both already.

20 August 2010

Veils 4 U

A reader who has come to embrace the Church's immemorial custom of head covering for women at Mass and who now makes homemade mantillas and veils sent me a kind request to link to her website. She resides in the St. Louis area.

Veils by Lily

Prayer Request for Newborn Baby--UPDATE

Things are not going very well at the moment.  The little boy keeps having episodes of an extremely high heart rate and the doctors can't figure out a cause and thus are not sure of treatment.  He is still in the NICU.  Please keep his little boy (we'll call him Joseph) in your prayers.  Thank you!

19 August 2010

35 Years Later, It's Official: The Communists Beat Franco

Summer at the Oratory this Sunday

From the Tradition for Tomorrow blog:
Summer at the Oratory 2010 – August 22

In honor of King Saint Louis IX, patron saint of the city of St. Louis, the annual Summer at the Oratory celebration will take place on Sunday, August 22, from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm.

Come – one and all, and invite all your friends and family for a festive afternoon!

In addition to being a fun event for the whole family – with music, games, a quilt raffle, country market, and great food and drinks, there will be terrific auction items available to benefit the restoration effort at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. For more information, contact the Oratory at (314) 771-3100.

Address, map and directions here.

Me. Yesterday.

I need about 18 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

18 August 2010

Urgent Prayer Request

For a newborn son of some friends who is in medical distress. God bless you.

Update:  the baby, who was delivered via emergency c-section, is in the NICU with a still-elevated heart rate; doctors seem upbeat.  More as I get it.

17 August 2010

Novena for Archbishop Robert Carlson

Mark from the St. Louis Crusade blog emailed me and suggested that I post the following novena for continued strength, courage and perserverance for His Grace Archbishop Carlson, which I am very happy to do.  If you begin this novena today, it will end on the Feast of St. Louis, the patron of our fair city and Archdiocese.  That seems to be particularly fitting.

Irresistible Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O my Jesus, Thou didst say: "Amen, I say to you, ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." Hence I knock, I seek, and I ask for the grace of...

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

O my Jesus, Thou didst say: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give unto you.” Hence I ask the Father, in Thy name, for the grace of...

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

O my Jesus, Thou didst say: "Amen, I say to you, heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away." Encouraged by Thy infallible words, I now ask for the grace of...

Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!

Let us pray

Sacred Heart of Jesus, for Whom one thing alone is impossible, namely, not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace we ask of Thee, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy tender Mother and ours.

Hail Holy Queen...

Saint Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us!

Heart of Jesus, rich unto all that call upon Thee, have mercy on us!

Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us!

News in One Sentence, Yes!

I am starting a new feature today, as this post's title reveals:  News in One Sentence, Yes!, or, NOSY.

Who has time to read actual news articles anymore?  Why not take some news headlines and jump to conclusions?

But Timman, you say, these headlines are too confusing!  Who will tell us what it all means? Help!

Don't worry, I'm here for you.  Let's begin.  I'll reprint a headline from around the internets and give to you straight in one sentence:

Russian Scholar Warns Of 'Secret' U.S. Climate Change Weapon...

Al Gore sets his sights on ruining yet another country's economy with quirky, bogus claims. 


After 8 days, the U.S. will be bankrupt from fighting all the other unnecessary wars.

Terrorist tapes found under CIA desk...

Bin Laden assigned to new cubicle.

Iran says to unveil array of weapons next week...

The next headline gives a sneak peek of one of these.

Iranian fighter jet crashes near nuclear plant...  

To any possible attackers near nuclear plant, we say, "Look up!"

Civil War preservation group backs Gettysburg casino...

Group to celebrate Robert E. Lee going "all-in" at Pickett's Charge

16 August 2010

The Intersection of Faith and Persecution

The title of this post is intentionally dramatic, but I want to point to what I think is to be the next escalation of the tensions in Church/State/society relations as a result of the animosity of the homosexual political lobby when combined with the already hostile press and the unrestrained usurpation of judicial power.

The Post-Dispatch has run a story about the decision of Archbishop Carlson to not allow a man in a long-term, public, homosexual relationship to stand for President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Archbishop Carlson deserves a ton of credit in upholding the integrity of the Church's charitable institutions by upholding the totality of Catholic teaching and refusing to de-couple Charity from Truth.  Of course, this is his duty, and a friend of mine likes to often say a person shouldn't get credit for performing his duty.  I disagree in certain circumstances, and this is one of them.  Archbishop Carlson has no chance of getting fair treatment on this issue.  All of the public attention on this will be hostile, and the opposition has easy recourse to the most facile of superficially-pleasing arguments, namely, "Why does a person's lifestyle have anything to do with his ability to help the poor?"

This question is a no-brainer for the so-called progressive Catholic, as he has already de-coupled faith from charity (which he calls "justice").  To him, the St. Vincent de Paul Society is merely one of many non-profit organizations that conducts canned food drives, helps poor people fill out forms for the government dole, and gives the basics of life to its clients.

To the faithful Catholic, however, the question itself is misleading.  To him, the St. Vincent de Paul Society is one apostolate of the Catholic Church, whose first and primary mission is to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those it serves.  This entails preaching the Gospel truth to them, including the truth about the primary end of the procreative act, the duty to give alms to the poor, and all of the rest to boot.  The Church is not a local, or even a national, arm of the HHS.  A President of the St. Vincent de Paul Society who publicly and unapologetically lives a lifestyle of sodomy is a living contradiction to the mission of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and more importantly gives the opposite message of the one Christ Himself proclaimed.  It says, fear not Him who can cast body and soul into Gehenna, but rather fear him that can kill the body only. 

It is entirely laudable that this person has done so much good for the poor.  His dedication is also to be praised.  He may be a great President of the United Way.  But this is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that Christ founded.  Her mission is not hers to alter or deny.

I think the next playing field on which we as Catholics will fight the "long defeat" will be in the Courts of law and of public opinion, as homosexuals sue the Church over employment decisions like this.  And as these suits go against the Church, as I fear is likely, she will choose from two lousy alternatives, only one of which is possible: either change her doctrine, which she cannot, or else shut down the particular charitable institution.  St. Vincent de Paul Society: gone.  Hospitals: gone.  Catholic Charities: gone. Catholic schools: gone.

This diminution of the influence of the Catholic Church on souls is exactly what is desired by the enemies of the Church.  It is no less than an intentional persecution of the Church.

And then, like the Church in 16th Century England after the tyrant King Henry VIII took away the means of charity and the institutions of charity from the realm of the Church and usurped them to the crown, thus tearing away the poor from their mother and protectress, the body politic will find it expedient to destroy the Church for whom they no longer feel they have need.  And in the end, all will be left to the mercy of the Church's enemies, temporal and spiritual.

I am grateful for the Archbishop's steadfastness and pray that he be continually strengthened in the fight to come.

Rosary at choir camp.

15 August 2010

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Signum magnum apparuit in caelo: mulier amicta sole, et luna sub pedibus eius, et in capite eius corona stellarum duodecim.

(Ps.) Cantate Domino canticum novum: quia mirabilia fecit.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto: sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper; et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Signum magnum apparuit in caelo: mulier amicta sole, et luna sub pedibus eius, et in capite eius corona stellarum duodecim.


Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O most blessed and sweet Virgin Mary,
Mother of God, filled with all tenderness,
Daughter of the most high King,
Lady of the Angels,
Mother of all the faithful,
On this day and all the days of my life,
I entrust to your merciful heart my body and my soul,
all my acts, thoughts, choices,
desires, words, deeds,
my entire life and death,
So that, with your assistance,
all may be ordered to the good
according to the will of your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ....
From your beloved Son...
request for me the grace to resist firmly
the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil....
My most holy Lady,
I also beseech you to obtain for me
true obedience and true humility of heart
So that I may recognize myself truly
as a sinner--wretched and weak--
and powerless,
without the grace and help of my Creator
and without your holy prayers....
Obtain for me as well,
O most sweet Lady,
true charity with which from the depths of my heart
I may love your most holy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
and, after Him,
love you above all other things....
Grant, O Queen of Heaven,

that ever in my heart
I may have fear and love alike
for your most sweet Son....

I pray also that, at the end of my life,

Mother without compare,
Gate of Heaven and Advocate of sinners....
will protect me with your great piety and mercy....

and obtain for me, through the blessed and glorious Passion of your Son
and through your own intercession,
received in hope, the forgiveness of all my sins.
When I die in your love and His love,
may you direct me
into the way of salvation and blessedness.


14 August 2010

New York Times Fetes Bozek: Five Years Later, No New News Fit to Print

The above photo, which I won't hesitate to admit gives me the creeps, is from the New York Times story excerpted below. A basic rehash, but Bozek gets some publicity. One more for the schism scrapbook:

Renegade Priest Leads a Split St. Louis Parish

Published: August 13, 2010

ST. LOUIS — Some say he is on a mission from God. Others say he is the devil. But no matter whom you ask in this city’s tight-knit community of Polish Catholics, the name of Marek Bozek is seldom met with a shrug.

To supporters he is a holy man who has risked his soul’s damnation to rescue St. Stanislaus Kostka church during a long-running dispute over financial control with the Archdiocese of St. Louis. To detractors he is a charlatan — a disgraced priest who has wrested command of the parish and ushered in a vision of Roman Catholicism so progressive as to be unrecognizable to the faithful.

But one thing is clear: Last Sunday, parishioners rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended a lawsuit brought by the archdiocese and returned them to the archbishop’s good graces. Instead, they opted to yoke their church’s fate to the portly priest with thinning hair and a fashionable patch of whiskers just beneath his lower lip.

“They give the church to the devil,” fumed Mary Bach, 75, in heavily accented English after casting her vote to accept the settlement. “People are blind. They don’t see what he’s doing. This is belief in Bozek, not in God.”

The vote nearly brought some parishioners to blows. Nevertheless, it is but the latest chapter in the extraordinary history of St. Stanislaus, a cause célèbre for those with progressive leanings in this deeply Catholic city by the river, and a source of scandal for traditionalists.


“The people of St. Stanislaus had been abandoned for almost two years,” said Mr. Bozek, 35, who said his first Mass at the embattled church at a 2005 Christmas Eve service that attracted an estimated 2,000 people. “As a Catholic priest I felt responsible to provide the sacraments to people who have been spiritually starved by their shepherds.”

In anticipation of the renegade Mass, Archbishop Burke, a canon lawyer by training who now serves in the Vatican as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the church’s highest judicial authority, proclaimed in December 2005 that the actions of the board and Mr. Bozek constituted “schism,” which carries with it “the automatic penalty of excommunication.” The archbishop added that as an excommunicated priest celebrating Mass, Mr. Bozek would commit “a most grave sin.”

The Vatican has since affirmed Archbishop Burke’s order of excommunication, and last year Pope Benedict XVI formally laicized Mr. Bozek, prohibiting him from functioning as a Roman Catholic priest.

“His actions have caused great harm, scandal and sadness within the Church,” Bishop James V. Johnston of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, wrote in a statement announcing the Vatican’s decision. “While Marek Bozek no longer has the status of a priest, I continue to hope for his reconciliation with the Catholic Church.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Bozek continues to preside over the holy sacraments at St. Stanislaus. Dressed in gleaming green raiment, he baptized a child on a recent Sunday, and he boasts that under his stewardship the church’s membership has swelled to roughly 500 families.

“I just do not acknowledge the validity of the penalties,” Mr. Bozek said. “I was born Catholic. I am a Catholic priest, and I don’t believe that one piece of paper signed by one human being undoes my priesthood.”

In the subsequent years, Mr. Bozek has become an increasingly vocal advocate for a more progressive Catholic church. In 2008 he presented parishioners with what he called his “vision,” which included the right of priests to marry, and that of women and homosexuals to become priests.

“He has opened our eyes,” said Melissa Kirkiewicz, 35. “His vision is what we perceive as the future of the church. He’s going in the direction I want to go as a Catholic.”

For many others, however, Mr. Bozek’s progressive views, coupled with his excommunication, have become too much to tolerate.

“He has his own agenda,” Grzegorz Koltuniak, 53, said after the vote. “He’s not a priest anymore, but he’s fooled everyone. Why are we even talking about religion? This is about property, but he makes it about religion.”

Though Mr. Bozek says church membership has grown since his arrival, about 200 families have stopped attending the church since the dispute first arose. In 2008, Mr. Bozek cast the deciding vote to dissolve the board, which was later reconstituted with a majority of members who support him. Several former board members have now reconciled with the archdiocese and joined as plaintiffs in the lawsuit for control of St. Stanislaus.

“It’s been hellacious,” said Robert Zabielski, a former board member who is now a plaintiff with the archdiocese. He added that somewhere along the line the question had ceased to be about “power and money” and was now “about the man.”


“I don’t trust the archdiocese,” Patrick Schneider said. “I’ve witnessed how it’s closed other parishes. All they needed to do was bring somebody down to speak — instead they sent lawyers.”

Mr. Bozek said he was prepared to leave if the congregation had accepted the archdiocese’s offer.

“The only reason for my coming to this parish was because they were abandoned by their shepherds for almost two years without sacrament and without Mass,” Mr. Bozek said. “I have fulfilled my role, I believe.”

But congregants like John McCall said they were not willing to accept a settlement at this point that did not include Mr. Bozek.

“The man is the faith,” said Mr. McCall, 76, who voted against accepting the settlement. “I’ll follow Father Marek wherever he goes. I told him, ‘Don’t stop fast because I’ll run into you.’ ”


The willingness to follow any sort of person who confirms one's right to sin as one sees fit is the hallmark of many a heresy and schism before this one, and the trend continues. The quotes from Mister Bozek's minions are most informative.

Review Editorial Takes St. Schism's to Task

The St. Louis Review does a nice job this week staying ahead of the PR curve on the St. Stan's matter. This week's editorial:

St. Stanislaus: Who was denied a voice?

Ethnic heritage parishes, once a standard in the immigrant-rich United States, have been slowly disappearing as more generations of native-born Americans have released their cling to ethnic identity.

For many Catholics, combining cultural heritage with faith is still an important factor of life. Catholics of Polish heritage in St. Louis did this for more than 125 years at St. Stanislaus.

For almost seven years, some members and the board of St. Stanislaus have been at odds with the Catholic Church over control of the corporation formed for the parish by Archbishop Peter Kenrick when the present church was being built. The conflict has included a priest being removed from the clerical state, numerous Catholics in schism and a palpable pain among faithful Catholics of Polish heritage. It is unfortunate that this issue has been transformed into a question of whether those controlling St. Stanislaus want it to break away from the Catholic Church altogether.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson offered a solution. In a letter to the members of St. Stanislaus on July 29, the archbishop proposed what its board was wanting: A promise that the archdiocese would maintain St. Stanislaus as a Polish heritage parish — as long as there was interest and an effort to support it — and that the ownership of the material goods and property would remain in the hands of the corporation in perpetuity to be used for Polish religious and heritage purposes. The offer included a pastor for the first year and $10,000 to hire a consultant for a fund drive to secure the future of parish finances and the survival of the parish of St. Stanislaus.

In a vote of 257 to 185, members of St. Stanislaus rejected the archbishop's offer to reconcile St. Stanislaus with the Church. While this could be portrayed as a fair, democratic vote, the results beg the question: Who was denied a voice?

In 2005, when St. Stanislaus was still operating as an archdiocesan parish, there were 483 registered parishioners. That year, the Polish apostolate was moved to St. Agatha Church, which now has 290 registered Catholics, most of whom were members of St. Stanislaus. Many of these Catholics desire unity in the Polish apostolate and deserve a voice. But the current structure of St. Stanislaus has stricken them from the parish rolls and denied them the opportunity to be heard.

In a letter to the members and board of St. Stanislaus before the vote Aug. 8, the parishioners of St. Agatha urged the board "to make a right decision and vote for the approval of the Archbishop Carlson proposal."

Perhaps more troubling is the issue of the 257 who voted against the archbishop's offer. What is their real agenda? How many are Polish? How many attended St. Stanislaus prior to 2005? How many started attending the church after its Catholic status had been removed? How many would continue to attend a reconciled St. Stanislaus Polish Roman Catholic Church? How many are more interested making a statement through media-magnet theatrics than living the Gospel of the Lord?

St. Stanislaus and its board should have no hesitation with this offer. It is clear that the archbishop and fellow Catholics want to renew the bond of faith with the Polish Catholics of St. Stanislaus. A small group should not deter this important process. This is about faith, not property. If a group of people wish to start their own church, they have free will to do so. But they should not do it at the expense of the Catholics who continue their fidelity to Christ.

We must all pray with conviction that St. Stanislaus reconsider its rejection of this opportunity for reconciliation.

As their brethren from St. Agatha said in their letter, "... in your hands is the future of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Roman Catholic Parish, which was established by our ancestors for all Roman Catholics of Polish heritage in the St. Louis area."

Now is the chance to preserve that.

13 August 2010

HIde Your Kids, Hide Your Wives

Novena to St. Francis de Sales

Thanks to JJR for this great novena prayer to St. Francis de Sales. Begin today and it will conclude on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

O Blessed Francis de Sales, who in your mortal life did excel in all virtues, especially in love of God and of neighbor, I earnestly entreat you to take me under your immediate protection, to obtain from God my perfect conversion, and that of all sinners, especially of (the names of persons for whom you wish to pray should be mentioned here). Teach me, O Father, to fix my eyes on heaven, that I may generously trample under foot every obstacle that presents itself in my way, and attain that degree of glory which you in your mercy hold out to me. Obtain also that particular favor for which I now pray. (mention intention)

Assist us, O Lord, we beseech you, through the merits of St. Francis de Sales. That what our endeavors cannot obtain may be given us by his intercession. Let us pray: O God, who for the salvation of souls, did will that St. Francis de Sales, your confessor and bishop, should become all things to all men and women, mercifully grant that we, infused with the gentleness of his charity, guided by his teachings, and sharing in his merits, may obtain eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


A reflection from yesterday's Divine Intimacy quoted from St. Francis de Sales:

"O Lord Jesus, when You died on the Cross Your heart was so filled with kindness toward us and You loved us so tenderly, even though we ourselves were the cause of Your death, that You had but one thought: to obtain pardon for Your executioners, even while they tortured You and cruelly insulted You. Help me, I beg You, to endure my neighbors' faults and imperfections with kindness.

"To those who despise me or murmur against me, teach me to reply with humility, mildness, and a steadfast kindness of heart, never defending myself in any way. For love of You, I desire to let everyone say what he wishes, because words are not of value but love is, and he who loves more will be more loved and glorified. Help me, then, my Jesus, to love You; help me to love creatures for love of You, especially those who despise me, without letting myself be disturbed by their contempt, but applying myself to the practice of humility and mildness; then You will be my reward.

"Teach me to comport myself always with mildness and sweetness, and never to disrupt peace with anyone. All that I can do and obtain with love I will do, but what I cannot do or procure without a dispute, I will let be. Help me to make use of the repugnances and aversions I encounter in my contacts with others to practice the virtue of mildness, and to show myself loving with all, even with those who are opposed to me, or who are a cause of aversion.

"Finally, I purpose with Your help, O most lovable God, to apply myself to acquire kindness of heart toward my neighbor by thinking of him as Your creature, destined to enjoy You some day in Paradise. Those whom You tolerate, O Lord God, it is but just that I, too, tolerate them tenderly and with great compassion for their spiritual infirmities."

They're Snatching Your People Up

12 August 2010

Your World Frightens and Confuses Me

Thanks to the comments on my post about going to the movies, I did some soul-searching and decided to give readers a little closer look at my life...

10 August 2010

More from the Institute's Youth Choir Camp

St. Francis de Sales Oratory's email newsletter has a nice wrap-up of the recent Institute of Christ the King's Youth Choir Camp in Kentucky:

Huge Success: Children's Choir Camp in Kentucky

Now that the Institute’s first Children’s Choir Camp has ended, and all the children safely home – many gone back to other states, we are gratified to hear of the great experience that this endeavor has been for the children, and indeed, for all those involved. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Nick Botkins, our Director of Music and Choir Master, for his leadership in this endeavor, and to the other faculty members: Mr. Jacob Bancks for music and composition, Mr. Joseph Reidy for Latin, and Mr. Aristotle Esguerra for Gregorian Chant. We are also indebted to the counselors, Ashley Hayworth, Steven Hayworth, Sean Kenney and Marie Zivnuska and especially to the outstanding choir mothers Cherie Grahek and Catherine Unseth, for running the camp and making it a safe home away from home for all the camp participants.

The description of the climactic Solemn High Mass on the last day of choir camp, in the words of Mr. Bancks, encapsulates the fruit of the hard work:

After the schola chanted the Offertory, a chorus of noble, angelic voices began joyfully commanding the praise of God. “Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, laudate eum, omnes populi.” Hosted in the chapel of the Ursuline Sisters in the hills of western Kentucky, an eager choir of 33 young singers, ages 8 to 14, concluded a week of blissful yet strenuous preparation by assisting in a Missa Cantata on the Feast of the Transfiguration.

From rehearsal to rehearsal and leading up to the concluding Solemn High Mass, the growth demonstrated by these young singers was nothing short of remarkable. Led by Mr. Botkins, the choir slowly matured into a cohesive ensemble, singing the praises of Almighty God with deep understanding and ever-increasing proficiency. With their newfound skill, we also saw our choristers grow in their love of music. Camp counselor Marie Zivnuska recalled that on the first evening of camp, one young singer was ribbed a bit by his peers for vocalizing before turning in for the night. “By the end of the week,” Marie recalls, “the kids were all singing before they went to bed. The girls begged me to play classical music in the mornings.”

Music camp – singing, camaraderie, campfires, and s’mores to boot - is a lot of fun, and no doubt this year’s camp will be a cherished summer memory for many participants. Studying and performing sacred choral music is edifying in many respects, especially in the spiritual arena.

One of the Institute’s main missions is to show that Christ allows us to see harmony between nature and grace. Grace influences culture. In our world today in which this unity is less and less visible, it is very good for young people to understand that sacred music is a fruit of this unity between the Divine and the created.

Sacred Liturgy is a continuation of Christ’s presence on earth: seeing the liturgy is looking into the face of Christ. What is more important for us than looking into the face of God made man? The Church is the cradle and source of culture renewal. The Church and her liturgy is ever young, and this music camp provides us empirical evidence that when presented with sacred music in its liturgical context, young people will gravitate towards and cling to the freshness and beauty of the sacred music for the rest of their lives.

Another faculty member, Mr. Reidy, wrote in his evaluation of the choir camp:

“Truly, it is fitting and just.” A teary-eyed Ursuline nun whispered these words to me as the last of the children left the convent’s main chapel. Just moments before, the thirty-three choristers had finished singing a Missa Cantata in honor of the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Sister was right when she spoke those words to me, but perhaps she was unaware of something that those of us who were privileged to be a part of the whole experience knew. Namely, that the process was as beautiful as the product.”

Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

These and more great photos appear on the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest's U.S. site. The camp was a huge success and hopefully will be a regular event. I know my daughter had a great time and learned a lot.

09 August 2010

Reader Poll: Which Movie Would You Pay $80 to See?

One of the great privileges of being a blogger is the ability to post about things that make you look really bad. Join me now on this thrilling trip to yesteryear-- or, last weekend... (making Wayne and Garth "doodly-doop, doodly-doop" noises and waving hands vigorously)...

An ancient father of seven and his saintly bride decide to take their children to see a movie-- a talkie, as it were. Because they have seven children, and the father is so very ancient, the couple fails to realize the cost of going to the movies. The couple is none other than Sharon and me.

I think the last first-run movie I saw was Tron. That Bruce Boxleitner, what an actor!

Frugal in our frivolity, we take the children to a matinee showing of Toy Story 3: The Final Insult. Pretty smart, eh?

I approached the ticket window and saw that the theater charged for children ages 2 through 11, and that everyone else is considered an adult. Not yet smelling a rat, I answered the world-weary, Clearasil-decked, expectant face of the teen agent with a cheery request for four adults, four children (free infant!).

"That will be $55.00"

Silence. Like the tomb.

"Are you kidding me?!" (Frantically craning neck to reexamine the prices...)

"No, old timer."

OK, he may have said "Sir", but I heard "Old Timer".

Creaking open my wallet, clearing the cobwebs out, I scrape out the required amount. But just to make sure, I ask, "That's in American money?"

After being assured that it was, I staggered inside. The children, as usual, were oblivious. I make a mental note that the next child to whine or complain about anything will be sold off for medical experiments.

Next stop: the concession counter. Please don't start with your whole trad-Catholic-homeschool-super-smart-we-bring-a-hefty-bag-full-of-snacks-and-hide-it-under-mom's-blouse-because-she's-mostly-pregnant-anyway-so-who-would-know lecture. I've heard it.

After getting a forty gallon trash tub filled with popcorn and three five-gallon buckets of caramel colored bilge, I get to feel a feeling I've never felt before: I just got a bargain at the movie candy counter! Only $25. Yes, ONLY $25. After the assault at the ticket window, I feel like I'm on Antiques Roadshow and the aging hippie appraiser tells me my Fat Albert lunchbox is worth $3,000, but only because I didn't clean out the original mold colony from my first neglected ham sandwich in first grade.

Though slightly relieved, and though I am not a whiz with math, it then dawns on me that I just spent $80 to see Toy Story 3: The Final Insult. And that I am pretty much a moron. Because I have to admit, I would not pay $80 to see Citizen Kane, with Roger Ebert if it were shown in Orson Welles' mausoleum.

How was the movie, you ask?


08 August 2010

Schism Continues: St. Stanislaus Members Reject Archbishop's Offer

By a vote of 257 to 185, the former Catholic parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka voted, in effect, to reject the recent offer of reconciliation most generously made by Archbishop Carlson. The actual proposition voted on indicated the majority did "not agree with the direction the Board is pursuing toward settling a lawsuit."

There are so many things that could be said in an offhand manner, but the situation is so sad. It has taken nearly a thousand years and the Eastern schism is not yet healed, so perhaps it is not surprising that this one persists. And one has to wonder how many Catholics are still attending that church, even confused ones. A non-Catholic non-priest has a way of attracting fellow non-Catholics. Even the attorney for the excommunicated Board and Mr. Bozek belongs to a group that pretends to be "reformed Catholic".

The real problem with the St. Stan's group is that they don't realize that the window of opportunity will close in the near future. Not just the window of opportunity to reconcile with some shred of dignity, but even the opportunity to bask in the garish light of popular rebellion. They risk being old news; they are already old news.

The joke that is being played on them is one of the miracles of the faith. The only Person who still cares about them is Christ. The only group that cares is Christ's Church, the same Catholic Church they have cast off. In God's never-ending mercy, the Church still wants them. And praise God for that.

Because when Bozek has taken everything he wants, and when the Board has picked through the bones of its petty grievances, and when no one else cares, Christ and His Church will be there to pick up the pieces.

So, the saga continues, but the logic of its conclusion is inexorable.