Monday, January 28, 2008

The Death of a Patriarch

Patriarch Christodoulos, the "archbishop" of the Greek Orthodox Communion died today.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,

And let perpetual light shine upon him.

May Patriarch Christodoulos' soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sacrifice of the Mass

Although a convert, I've learned something about Mass that many cradle Catholics, even cradle Catholics who know and practice their faith, seem to be unaware of. Namely, you can have Masses said for living people as well as for the dead. At the last meeting of the COURAGE/EnCOURAGE* group I attend, our priest-chaplain suggested that we enter our families and friends into Mass Associations. Not only did most of the EnCOURAGE group not seem to know what a Mass Association is, they also were apparently not aware that one can have Mass said for living persons. I was surprised at their reaction because I've known for years about this.

Well, just in case you read my blog, and you were unaware of this: you can have Masses said for your loved ones, living or dead, or for yourself! Not only can you ask your local parish priest to say Mass for these intentions, you can enroll yourself, your friends, your family, etc. in a Mass Association. I will give you the information for one right here in this blog entry.

The Mariannhill Missionaries are a religious order with a Mass Association They call it the Mariannhill Mass League. Here's some information on it (taken from their pamphlet):

"Enroll yourself, your family, your friends, and your departed loved ones in the Mariannhill Mass League. [The League] was established in 1983 by Pope [Saint] Leo the XIII for the Trappist monks of Mariannhill Monastery in South Africa, the forefathers of the Mariannhill Missionaries. It has been recommended and blessed several times by successive popes, most recently by Pope Benedict XVI on May 25, 2006, when he wrote, 'To all the members of the Marianhill Mass League, who support the Church's indispensible task of spreading the Good News of Jesus a pledge of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.'"

Daily Holy Mass is offered for the members of the League every day. Here are the donations to enroll:

To enroll an individual (living or deceased) in membership for one year: $2.00 (Yes, only two dollars).

A one year Family Membership is $5.00. (Family consisting of husband, wife, their parents, their kids).

To enroll an individual (living or deceased) in membership forever: $10.00.

A perpetual Family Membership is $25.00. (Once more, Family consisting of husband, wife, their parents, their kids).

A perpetual membership for an entire family (husband, wife, their parents, their siblings and siblings' spouses and children, their children and childrens' spouses and children): $50.00.

To enroll a family, write only the names of the husband and wife.

The Mariannhill Missionaries will send you a certificate with the name of the person(s) enrolled. (Unless you specifically request "No Certificate.")

The monies go to support the missionary outreach of the Mariannhill Missionaries.

Now, the Mariannhill Missionaries don't say this on their pamphlet, but I'm going to: "The more individuals you enroll, the more money goes to the mission." I would encourage everyone to enroll every member of a family individually so that more money will go to the mission.

Oh, and here's the address:

The Mariannhill Fathers
P.O. Box 87
Dearborn, MI 48121-0087

Here are links to the Mariannhill Missionaries:

The U.S. page:

The International page:

Support the missions! Receive the blessings and graces of the Mass! Get the Pope's Apostolic Blessing!

Let the Marianhill Fathers know I sent you to them!

*So called because I'm the only member of COURAGE who actually attends the meetings every month. (Alas! We only meet once a month.) The EnCOURAGE group meets faithfully, so I usually meet with them, with their blessing.

I'm still alive.

Just wanted all of you to know that. And I'm doing good in the chastity area. Masturbation is a bad problem for me, indeed, it's a daily habit :-(

But in the last six days, I've only had one episode of masturbation! Thanks be to God!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Greetings to all...

...This is a late post. That is, on January 18th, the Octave for Christian Unity began, and I should have posted then. Click here for the prayers.

Please note, the above web site takes you to a site run by the Confraternity of Saints Peter and Paul. The prayers are pre-Vatican II, I think, using the old breviary. But they're in English.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Another conversation I had with a co-worker:

Dave and I are waiting for an elevator. One is coming down the shaft, and we can hear people talking in it. One of them sounded a little peeved.

Dave: "Voices!"

Me: "They sound angry."

Dave: "I don't listen to the Voices when they're angry!"

Archaeology, sort of

This is a conversation I had with one of my co-workers:

Mike: "At my last job I had a friend who was studying to be an archaeologist. She got to take us to the museum once after hours for a special tour."

Me: "I bet that was pretty cool!"

Mike: "Uh-huh. She used to go to Egypt, too. Once, she was over by that...uh...I can't remember. What's the name of that big cat that sits over there in the desert?"

Me: "The Sphinx?"

Mike: "Yeah."

Me: "You just called the Sphinx, one of the most ancient constructs in the world, 'that big cat that sits over there in the desert?'"

Mike (sheepishly): "Uh, yeah."

Me: "All rightey, then."

Disturbing dreams

I have pains in my legs. They ache during the day, but it's worse at night. On Friday, December 28th (Twila Paris' birthday, by the way), I went to the doctor about them because they disrupt my sleep quite often. I can be in the middle of deep sleep, and my legs will hurt so bad they wake me up. Anyway, I went to the doctor and she gave me some medicine that has helped immensely. I can sleep the whole night through, now. But I've been having disturbing dreams lately. A side-effect of the medication? I don’t know. It could be coincidence.

In the first dream, I was a prisoner in a Nazi prison. This dream and the next one are rather vague to me, so I don’t remember a lot of the details. A Nazi captain was interrogating (but not torturing) me because I was hiding Jews. It was a little frightening, but I think I realized I was dreaming so it wasn't a nightmare-ish dream. Just disturbing. And I got to meet the ten Boom family! That part was actually nice!

Before I tell you my next dream, also disturbing but not a nightmare, I acknowledge the fact that I am a geek.

So I'm walking down a hall in some large building in the middle of some large city (Chicago, I think), surrounded by hundreds of people, when all of a sudden, dozens of these little floating laser turret thingies break through a wall and start shooting people. They're flying everywhere, killing everyone in sight. I run, of course. And I hear a maniacal, grating voice behind me saying "Exterminate!" (Jeron, that'a a link to a video.) Yes, this was a Doctor Who dream! And I knew I had to find the TARDIS, and a Dalek was chasing me. Disturbing.

But the most disturbing dream of all was the one I had two nights ago. I was making out with a blond chick. That's only partially disturbing. The dream went like this: Marcus (see my last post) and I were lovers. He took me to meet some lady friends of his who were models. For some reason in the dream we were both "in the closet". (I don’t know why I was in the closet, I don’t hide it in real life. If it comes up in conversation, I tell people. For example, while I was still a new employee at the company I work for, the guys were talking about what they look for in women. They asked me, too, and I tried to avoid the question but couldn't. At work they think of me as a gay Catholic who's not looking for sex.) Anyway, we were both "closeted". He didn’t want anyone to know about our sexual orientation or relationship. He, the models, and I went out to a restaurant. One of the models, the blond one, liked me. She flirted with me and I flirted back. Then she kissed me. I didn't know what to do, so I kissed her back. Then she gave me some tongue. Indeed, at this point in my dream we were, as my grandmother would say, "wallerin' all over each other." We were being kind of rude, making out in the restaurant. People were staring. She placed her hand on my groin where I did not have an erection! I remember thinking, "I hope she doesn’t get mad because she's not doing anything for me down there." And I glimpsed Marcus out of the corner of my eye. He was ignoring us. I felt bad. I wanted to tell him I was going along with this girl as "cover". She was my "beard". Then I felt bad because I was using her. Then I woke up.

That dream has haunted me these last few days.

Friday, January 4, 2008

I'm so confused!

High rambling alert!

I don't have it all together. I have times of intense commitment to a chaste lifestyle, and times when I almost throw it away. I'm in one of those "throw it away" cycles, right now.

Two or three weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine (we'll call him Marcus) in which I shared with him my desire to have a boyfriend with whom I can have a chaste relationship (like Jay the "Christian Collegian". Although I'm afraid I would not have the ability to keep such a relationship chaste). He asked me if there's anyone I'm seeing now, or if I had anyone in mind. I told him no, but later I sent him a MySpace message telling him I thought that if he hadn't been married when he lived down here, he and I could have had something together, "something" meaning that we would have been lovers. He agreed. When he lived here, we had a friendship that became sexual, this in spite of the fact that he was married at the time! Shamefully, I committed adultery with him. We would probably have been lovers had he stayed whether he were married or not. (And to add more confusion to this situation: his wife left him for another woman a few years ago. All three of us are a mess!)

He was a fun friend. I really liked him. I also think of him in a sexual way. I want him. I'm afraid that if he lived near me or I near him, I would drop the already-tenuous hold I have on a commitment to chastity and pursue a relationship with him. It scares me that I'm this close to such a grave sin. It scares me that my commitment to chastity is unstable. I want to be chaste. I really do. Until I'm tempted. Or, sometimes, lonely. Then I want to have a lover and loads of sex. I was very encouraged after the COURAGE conference. It energized me, renewed my desire to be a loyal son of the Church and a loyal member of COURAGE. I love this organization! I love the Church! I love Christ! I'm so confused! Is this Romans 7? God help me!

I want to go to Confession on Saturday, but I'm not sure I can because I'm not sure I'm repentant. If I'm not repentant, but I want to be, will the grace of the sacrament make me repentant? Does anyone know what the Church teaches about this? Should I go to Confession soon, or wait for repentance?

I'm in an uncomfortable spot: my head believes the Church teaches truly in all areas of Christian belief and behavior. I'm not sure my heart believes this in regards to sex, but I want it to. If I really believed with conviction that the Church teaches correctly, wouldn't I mend my ways? What does it mean that I keep falling into sin regarding my sexuality? That I don't really believe the Church?

Ravi Zacharias says, and I'm paraphrasing, that an opinion is something you hold, but a conviction is something that holds you. I should (as in "there exists a moral obligation") hold to and live by the conviction that homogenital acts are wrong. Why don’t I? How can I develop convictions? How can I get my heart to believe what my head does? Any thoughts from anyone?

I end with a prayer by Jeremy Taylor because I don't know what else to pray at this point: "Lord, do Thou turn me all into love, and all my love into obedience, and let my obedience be without interruption…"

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

This verse has always fascinated me. What power, what authority it shows! Nothing existed, but when God commanded, things that didn't even exist had to obey Him: the heaven and the earth came into being. A few years ago, I learned a little bit about some of the creation myths from other ancient cultures and how Genesis 1 is a response to them. Most of the ancient civilizations' stories of creation start out with the heaven and earth already existing, and gods and goddesses somehow are borne out of the already existing matter of the universe. Not so with the true God: He caused matter to exist. His existence did not come about spontaneously out of what existed before Him. No, everything that exists outside of Him comes to be as a direct result of His will and power.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Holy Scripture begins with these solemn words. The profession of faith takes them up when it confesses that God the Father almighty is "Creator of heaven and earth" (Apostles' Creed), "of all that is, seen and unseen" (Nicene Creed).

280 Creation is the foundation of "all God's saving plans," the "beginning of the history of salvation" that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the mystery of Christ casts conclusive light on the mystery of creation and reveals the end for which "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": from the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ.

290 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": three things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal God gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is Creator (the verb "create"—Hebrew bara—always has God for its subject). The totality of what exists (expressed by the formula "the heavens and the earth") depends on the One who gives it being.

See also:
Haydock's Bible Commentary, 1859 edition

Happy 2008 to All!

I ended the Old Year and began the New Year sick :(

I'm still not over what I think is a pretty bad cold, but I feel well enough to sit up at the computer and type. I've set certain goals for the New Year, and my sickness has interfered with one of them already: daily exercise. As soon as I feel better, I will begin. The exercises I'm doing are simple, and to begin with, will be quite ineffective. They consist of 10 pushups, 10 stomach crunches, and 10 squats. Once I establish the habit of daily activity, I'll develop a more diverse and fat-burning/muscle-toning regimen. Baby steps...

Several other goals for this year:

Read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It's online here. (Link fixed).

Blog the Bible. But only a little bit each day, like a verse or two. (The next entry will be my first Bible blog post). I've never really wrestled with the Scriptures, or really let them speak to me or challenge me. I've never faced up to some of the more challenging aspects of the Bible. Why, for example, does God allow for genocide in the Old Testament, killing even innocent babies in the conquest of Canaan? Ultimately this is not a challenge for me because, like Abraham, I trust the the Judge of the of all the earth will do right. (Genesis 18, read the whole chapter, but see verse 25 especially). The text I'm using is the New Authorized Version of the Third Millennium Bible. It's not a Catholic Bible, but a revision of the King James Version with the Deuterocanonicals and Apocryphal books. Also, I'll be following The Great Adventure reading plan (for the second year in a row). See my last post for more information on TGA.

Do a daily examen using the format I found on this web site last month. "The Beginner's Guide to a Life of Faith" would have been quite useful to me when I first joined the Church a few years ago. I hope many people find it helpful in their journey to the Church and in their walk with Christ.

And my last goal: write a little in my journal every day. I don't spend enough time reflecting on my life an dmy emotional states. Journaling will help correct some of that, I think.