Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Red Rose Analogy

Receptionist:   Hello, Welcome to ACA Flowers, My name is Trina. How can I help you?

Customer :  Hello.  I received an email from Professional Flowers stating that my flower order has been canceled and I should go to your exchange to reorder it. I tried your website, but it seems like it is not working. So I am calling the 800 number.

Receptionist :  Yes!  I am sorry about the website. It should be fixed by the end of November. But I can help you.

Customer :  Thanks, I ordered a "Spring Bouquet" for our anniversary, and wanted it  delivered to my wife.

Receptionist :  Interrupting, Sir, "Spring Bouquets" do not meet our  minimum standards, I will  be happy to provide you with Red Roses.

Customer :  But I have always ordered "Spring Bouquets", done it  for years, my wife likes them.

Receptionist:   Roses are better, sir, I am sure your wife will love them.

Customer : Well, how much are  they?

Receptionist: It depends sir, do you want our Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum package.

Customer: What's the difference?

Receptionist: 6, 12,18 or 24 Red Roses.

Customer: The Silver package may be okay, how much is it?

Receptionist: It depends sir, what is your monthly income?

Customer: What does that have to do with anything?

Receptionist: I need that to determine your government flower subsidy, then I can determine how much your out-of-pocket cost will be. But if your income is below our minimums for a subsidy, then I can refer you to our FlowerAid department.

Customer: FlowerAid?

Receptionist: Yes, Flowers are a right.  Everyone has a right to flowers. So, if you can't afford them, then the government will supply them free of charge.

Customer: Who said they were a right?

Receptionist: Congress passed it, the President signed it and the Supreme Court found it constitutional.

Customer: Whoa!  I don't remember seeing anything in the Constitution regarding flowers as a right .

Receptionist: It is not really a “Right in  the Constitution,” but ObamaFlowers is Constitutional because the Supreme Court  Ruled it a "Tax". Taxes are Constitutional. But we feel it is a right.

Customer: I don't believe this.

Receptionist: It's the law of the land sir. Now, we anticipated most people would go for the Silver Package, so what is your monthly income sir?

Customer: Forget it, I think I will forgo the flowers this year.

Receptionist: In that case sir, I will still need your monthly income.

Customer: Why?

Receptionist: To determine what your 'non-participation' cost would be.

Customer: WHAT?  You can't charge me for NOT buying flowers!

Receptionist: It's the law of the land, sir, approved by the Supreme Court. It's $9.50 or 1% of your monthly income.

Customer interrupting: This is ridiculous, I'll pay the $9.50.

Receptionist: Sir, it is $9.50 or 1% of your monthly income, whichever is greater.

Customer: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What a rip-off!

Receptionist: Actually sir, it is a good deal. Next year it will be 2%.

Customer: Look, I'm going to call my Congressman to find out what's going on here. This is ridiculous. I'm not going  to pay it.

 Receptionist: Sorry to hear that sir.  That's why I had the NSA track this call and obtain the make and model of the cell phone you are using.

 Customer: Why does the NSA need to know what kind of CELL PHONE I AM USING?

 Receptionist: So they get your GPS coordinates sir.

 Door Bell rings followed immediately by a loud knock on the door

Receptionist: That would be the IRS sir.  Thanks for calling ObamaFlowers.  Have a nice day and God Bless America

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Eric #11107 - part 3

Dear Eric #11107 - part 3
I have this exercise derived from an RCIA class I taught.  I think it might make a good basis for discussion.

I am posting each question as a sub thread to avoid having nine threads.
1.     We have all heard the term “my people.” We may have even used it. Consider using this term personally. When you do consider it personally, who is included in your personal “my people?” There may be more than one group this applies to. They may be groups within groups. Name all the groups you can!
2.     It is said that the Church is "one." What does this mean to you? Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is "one?"
3.     Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is not “one?”
The church does not consist of people of only one color, of only one race, of only one culture.
It does not use just one liturgy -- each of the "Rites" of the Catholic Church has its own ancient form of liturgy.
4.     It is said that the Church is “holy.” What does this mean to you? Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is “holy?”
5.     Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is not “holy?”
6.     It is said that the Church is “catholic” with a small “c.” That means universal. What does this mean to you? Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is “catholic?”
7.     Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is not “catholic?”
8.     It is said that the Church is “apostolic.” What does this mean to you? Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is “apostolic?”

9.     Can you name one or more specific ways in which the Church is not “apostolic?”

Eric #11107 - part 2

Dear Eric #11107 - part 2

The second issue that arises from your post is the tendency of some people to seek darkness.

Just about everyone understands the light/darkness dichotomy -- it is found in pop culture such as Star Wars.  It was recently the basis of the Gospel reading of the wise and foolish virgins -- a story rooted in real life even to the 20th century (see Barclay's Commentary on Matthew).

But a recent event in my life showed me a new insight into this image.  I was on a 2.5 day retreat at a Jesuit retreat House (Ignatius House in Atlanta).  There was light everywhere:  in the Word, in the retreat master, in the glow in the sky from a major city, in the halls 24x7 for security.  Then on Saturday, while it was still light out, a storm went through, knocking out the power.  Dinner and the last conference were done with no electric lights, just as night was falling.  There was a scramble to find candles to allow us to navigate the dark halls, the emergency power system having been exhausted.

Just as we were retiring, the power came back.  But the next morning, just as the morning bell sounded, out again went the power.  Breakfast with no power was more limited than would otherwise be the case.  This time the power returned in time for the final Eucharist.  At that time we shared our experiences of the retreat.

It seems that when the storm came through on Saturday, a number of people were in the nearby woods.  Those woods have a number of old large tall trees, not the place to be in the storm.  Several stories included the sound of limbs crashing to the ground as the winds blew through.  All escaped unharmed but not untouched.  Prayer on the occasion of danger burns deeper into our heart.

I am presently in the Washington DC area.  The residents are still recovering and remembering the events here associated with the snipers.  Last light, at dinner, it was pointed our that, on the way to the restaurant, we passed the site of one of the shootings.

Where I am staying is close to the Pentagon.  When I passed through last August, it was pointed out the side that is renewed and rebuilt after the events of September 11, 2001.

Two cases of darkness visiting and passing away, but the memories and therefore emotions, linger.

I have seen on StR's since I have been a member a tendency of some to focus on the dark side of things, specifically the church.  In view of the ongoing scandals and their painful resolutions, it is somewhat understandable.

But on that retreat I came to a new appreciation of light and darkness.

We are so bathed in light that we have lost our appreciation of light and darkness.  We use light to drive away fear, loneliness, and boredom.  The shiny is now mundane.

But when electricity is shut off, we are left with not just darkness but quiet.  Then it is when we can disconnect from the world, and connect with God.  For as the prophet said, the Lord comes not in the wind and thunder, but in the gentle breeze.  We find it difficult to experience it without being still.

Christ is indeed the light of the world.  But for his light to be seen, we must remove the glitter that blinds us.  For us to sense the Spirit of God, the breathe of God, the gentle breeze that blows through our souls if we let it, we must build a windbreak against the hurricane of Hollywood.

And so we frame a new paradox.  We shut off the light of the world that we may be warmed by the Light of the world.  We accept the absence of electric light so we may open the window of our hearts to the quiet Presence.

So Eric if you must be a crusader, be a Knight who accepts the responsibility to lift up the light of Christ in the world.  You might start where you are going to school.  Your bishop, Donald Wuerl, is one of the most influential and respected bishops in the US and in the world (he used to work in the Vatican and is respected there).  He is a great communicator.  He is also a soft spoken gentleman.  Get to know him.

Richard (formerly of Northside Pgh)

Eric #11107 - part 1

Dear Eric #11107 - part 1

I am sorry I did not get to post in your thread now placed in the forbidden zone under pain of excommunication.  I am on vacation and a bit out of touch.  But it seems to me that the topic you were wishing to address is mission and evangelization.  You gave us your take on your personal mission and suggested evangelization approach -- you wish to preach a crusade, this time against other Catholics.  Would that this were a novel approach.

It is good that you are thinking about mission, about the journey and meaning of your personal life in God.  One of my passions is the communion of the saints, what Pius XII called the Body of Christ.  JPII shares this passion.  He has held up many models for us to ponder, who invite us into relationship with them.
At the moment I would like to consider one of my favorites, St Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  First you may wish to object that I call her a saint.  While her name is not yet in the canon (Latin for list), I have never met a Catholic who did not consider her a saint in their heart of hearts.  Her cultus is approved.  So calling her a saint is to recognize her heroic virtues -- as did the Hindus of her adopted country India, who gave her a state funeral.

Many saints experience a conversion experience -- not a flash of light or a vision, but a turning in one's life to a new mission.  SMToC's was different in that she was already a vowed religious when her conversion experience occurred.

The nature of her conversion experience was also special with respect to its goal -- its sense of mission.  Here in the United States most Catholics have experienced the mission of vowed women religious.  For persons of my certain age, it was typically as an educator or healer or contemplative intercessor.  They taught in schools, worked in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes, they prayed and worked in enclosure.

SMToC chose to be in the world.  She chose to minister in the streets.  She was called to minister to those rejected by the world.  And she chose not to teach them or heal them -- merely to be present to them as an alter Christus -- to wipe their brow as they died, to share a meager meal as they struggled for life.  As she herself said, she was not called to be effective but to be faithful -- faithful to the call of Christ.  To paraphrase Francis of Assisi, she preached always, but seldom used words.

Which, Eric, gets us back to your post.  You appear to be concerned with a lack of faithfulness in the Church.  You call us to orthodoxy and orthopraxy (as Casey Stengel said, you could look it up).

What I think you are doing is rejecting the call of the Spirit to be in, not to be of, but to minister to the world today.  You present to us the paradigm of crusade as the way of lifting up Christ.  I would submit that the witness (Greek martyrion) of the saints of the twentieth century shows us the two paths indicated by the comments on vow religious women above -- ministry of service and ministry of presence.

Service was modeled to us by Jesus when he washed the feet of the Apostles, when he listened to all, when he preached conversion by love -- of God and of our neighbors all, when he healed the sick.

Presence he modeled to us when he hung on the cross, dying, for us, yet be present to those who shared his fate.  He was present to them as brother irrespective of who they were and what they had done.

The opportunities are many;  many are called;  less than many heed the call;  fewer still answer the call.

But if you feel you are called to preach a crusade, then you must be trained and formed.  You have many choices -- diaconate, priesthood, vowed religious.  Gird your loins and prepare to do battle.  Seek the Lord where he may be found.

Eric #11107 - part 0

Eric #11107 was on an old dating site called I think St Raphael's.  I found an old stick and there is a file on it from 2002Dec2.  I am posting in in three parts.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Jerome and me

the touchy feely parts of the ordinary form [of the Mass]

I’m a recent convert with Asperger’s. I have a REAL problem with the touchy feely parts of the “ordinary” form [of the Mass]...
Before addressing the question in the original post, I want to say I also have been diagnosed by my own daughter w/Asperger's syndrome.  I grew up in a relatively non-touchy non-feely environment.  And I have been thinking about my posture @ Mass for some time.

My first awakening experience was being an EM in a hospital in Pgh and then in a nursing home in MN.  You can't directly touch some patients in the hospital because of infection control.  You must wear rubber gloves, and sometimes face masks, and for a few patients, head coverings and gowns.

But the patients wanted us to come.  They were joyful that we came.  I shook their hands to let them express their gratitude, to let their joy run loose.

I had been a member of a parish in Oak Ridge TN for three years.  There was a couple with many children.  It was a running joke that they held hands during Mass.

So let's look at the sign of peace systematically.  We can start with married couples.  They have shared more than spit in their lifetime together.  It is totally appropriate for them to have a public display of affection on the occasion of joining with other part of the body of Christ to celebrate their "bodyness" and the one who makes them one.  They can touch in public in recognition and remembrance.  A kiss is totally appropriate.

Then there are their children, the fruit of their joining in love.  They honor their source by honoring their source, by touching the ones responsible for their being alive.

It can be hard to be a sibling.  Grievances and grudges happen.  What better time and place to put that aside than in a celebration of unity with their parents.  Touching and even a kiss is appropriate.

What is true of children can be extended to all of one's family, both by blood and by marriage.  Touching and even a kiss is appropriate.

Some are on the journey to being united in matrimony.  Public recognition of desires can be a chance to tell the world of where the relationship might head, could head, is wanted to head.

Then their are our neighbors in faith.  The ones we know are our friends.  Can we deny in public before God and our companions in faith, what we show in  public and private outside the gathering in faith?  Is that not hypocrisy?

As for our neighbors in faith, who are not our friends.  Does not Paul say, following Jesus, that we are one Body with them?  If our faith has meaning to us, can we deny to them what we give to others?

And then there are those who are not one in faith with us.  We are called to give witness to them.  By treating them as if we are already one with them in Christ, we show them who we want to be and who we want them to be.


One of the questions that has occupied people for years is "How far should we go?"  For the Sign of Peace, Ok for the people in the pew in front; and behind; and on either side.  But whose responsibility are those standing in the aisles, in the back of the church?  If they are part of the gathered People of God, they are the responsibility of the gathered People of God.

There is a limit, though.  Which is why the narthex is important - a place to sign peace as preparation.

We like to think Mass has boundaries.  Decades ago (and in a few nostalgic places today) there was a bell to announce the beginning of Mass..  But is that when it begins?  Is not the act and process of gathering part of the gathering?  Is the celebration of the feast of Thanksgiving just a banquet, or is the preparation included?  The cleaning, preparing the table, the greeting at the door.  And also the purchase of the food, the choosing of the recipes, ....

So celebrations begin when the thought of the celebration enters the mind.  So let it be with the gsthering of the People of God to celebrate the Eucharistic Feast.

At the other end, there has always been controversy.  Some say Mass ends as soon as they receive Communion.  Others hold the moment is when the last hymn begins.  A few even wait until that song is fully sung.

But the words "Ite missa est" - Therefore you are sent - means the celebration and its fruits do not end at the walls of the gathering place.  The final charge is to continue outside what was begun inside.  The walls keep out the weather;  they should not be a barrier.


original link: “Is it a rule that you have to give the sign of peace…?”