Monday, December 31, 2012
Seated in a warm pizzeria at the corner of 79th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, I shot through the window and the back of the bus stop to capture this woman waiting for the bus in the snow. On December 29, 2012.
Urban street scenes bring out the black-and-white in me.
|Dad at one of St. Brendan's New Year's Eve parties, mid-1960's|
Happy New Year, y'all. In 2013, remember there are just two things to remember each day: choose to be happy and choose to do the right thing. All those resolutions will follow.
Fine, let's not call that particular pairing "normal." Let us instead call it "regenerative survival" because ultimately in the big picture, it is what will save the species whereas all others will doom it. Man and a woman in a social bond to each other - what, can I call it marriage? - is what will produce both the next generation to ensure that the species of homo sapiens survives into the future and also engenders the notion of sacrifice, bond, loyalty, and love . . . to ensure the species of homo sapiens survives into the future. The other letters serve to allow people to define themselves by physical urges. They are marked by being self-serving and self-centered.
Man has traditionally entered into marriage with an eye to the future, some sort of legacy to the union. The others are about getting laid.
I am sorry, but when you take the position that everything has worth, and everyone is entitled to whatever identity they wish to claim, you introduce entropy and that simply does nothing except threaten the species with the associated behavior.
So, go ahead, be "proud" of your disorder. Because the exception seems to be the person whose chosen lifestyle - let's be clear here, chosen lifestyle; not orientation, obsession, or compulsion - against the "heteronormative" is one who is beset with psychological and health issues.
As he opined in today's New York Times.
AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.
What's evil in it? He offers this:
Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?
As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?
But . . .
This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.
So "evil" is a system of government - as codified in the document known as the Constitution of the United States - that calls for checks and balances rather than allowing one individual - say, the President of the United States - of whom it is assumed his "considered judgement" is "best for the country" (trust him!) without any chance for the American people to examine and address with their elected officials this considered judgment (because, after all, they have to pass a bill before they can see what is in it). Because it was developed by people long dead, a logic which extends to the idea that each and every new generation should just scrap the existing form Constitution and re-write a new one.
And for not earlier recognizing the fallacy of the Constitution - and thereby sending out into the world trained lawyers who, at each of their bar admissions, raised their right hand and swore an oath to uphold this downright evil document - he is ashamed.
Perhaps then, the Jesuits should realize the fool they have set in place and demand his resignation. Because as a constitutional scholar, what is left for him to teach? If the document is archaic, idiosyncratic, and downright evil, then all that is left for Seidman is spouting agitprop for its destruction.
Except, of course, what he considers the worthwhile parts, the freedom of speech and religion, etc. - but only then, not to be followed out of obligation. No, they serve their purpose until "they" - as if such tenets were living entities - no longer serve to command our respect. Which will happen when they no longer serve our agenda. So, if all that is left is a moral obligation and, under the law, such duties are personally defined but not legally mandated, the freedoms mentioned become victims of meaningless relativism.
I lifted my right hand three times - as a US soldier, a California attorney, and a Tennessee attorney - and swore to uphold the Constitution. This astounds me.
The Jesuits have voluntarily assumed a moral duty, which is binding as an order within the Catholic church, to educate young minds. I understand allowing voices of dissent to develop critical thinking in its students, but seditious and anarchist teaching in its university is dangerous.
But . . . expect no action. To use a quote of Timothy Cardinal Dolan when the Jesuits posted an editorial in their America magazine in support of the HHS mandates, failure to address this would be "hardly surprising but terribly unfortunate."
Saturday, December 29, 2012
"I have some concerns about the church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose," Pelosi responds. "I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith."
"I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she continues. "And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will."
I note that a common trait among dissenting Catholics is the insistence that "free will" equals "free rein." Women, in fact, do have the opportunity to exercise free will when it comes to abortion, just as they have in ANY situation when faced with a choice of action. Either that, or Nancy feels she is helping Catholic women by legislating an occasion of sin so that they have the opportunity to exercise their free will; following that logic, strike down criminal laws, then.
In the article linked above, I note how Nancy differentiates when she speaks to her Bishop she understands it is his pastoral duty to try to change her mind on abortion but does not appreciate it when she is lobbied on the subject as a public official. What, no "free will" in that case, to support life? And more so, it seems she wants to keep the moral argument out of abortion legislation . . . while inserting the mandates of the State into the practice of the faith.
Is it not time for His Excellency, Archbishop Cordileone, to issue a Bull of Excommunication when Nancy uses her bully pulpit not only to promote abortion but to catechize on what she considers the Catholic faith? Yes, I realize that for someone like her, it would be used as an opportunity to cry how women are persecuted by the Church but whether or not there would be "bad PR" should not be a factor in this case. When Nancy says that she is a practicing Catholic and then adds that "they" - and it is reasonable to infer she means the Magisterium - are "probably not too happy about that," she means that she can receive the Sacraments and use her Catholic identity as a campaign point without having to follow the Church's teachings. Worse, she defines those teachings as she feels is suitable for her agenda. I realize that excommunication is a grave thing and to be used for egregious cases, but when public officials act to legislate against the Church, it's time.
Bishops! Who do you want catechizing your flock? Devout priests and ministers . . . or Nancy Pelosi?
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Courtesy of St. Augustine:
Our message is the Word of life. We announce what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have touched with our own hands. Who could touch the Word with his hands unless the Word was made flesh and lived among us?
-- from John's first letter
Now this Word, whose flesh was so real that he could be touched by human hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary’s womb; but he did not begin to exist at that moment. We know this from what John says: What existed from the beginning. Notice how John’s letter bears witness to his Gospel, which you just heard a moment ago: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.
Someone might interpret the phrase the Word of life to mean a word about Christ, rather than Christ’s body itself which was touched by human hands. But consider what comes next: and life itself was revealed. Christ therefore is himself the Word of life.
And how was this life revealed? It existed from the beginning, but was not revealed to men, only to angels, who looked upon it and feasted upon it as their own spiritual bread. But what does Scripture say? Mankind ate the bread of angels.
Life itself was therefore revealed in the flesh. In this way what was visible to the heart alone could become visible also to the eye, and so heal men’s hearts. For the Word is visible to the heart alone, while flesh is visible to bodily eyes as well. We already possessed the means to see the flesh, but we had no means of seeing the Word. The Word was made flesh so that we could see it, to heal the part of us by which we could see the Word.
John continues: And we are witnesses and we proclaim to you that eternal life which was with the Father and has been revealed among us—one might say more simply “revealed to us.”
We proclaim to you what we have heard and seen. Make sure that you grasp the meaning of these words. The disciples saw our Lord in the flesh, face to face; they heard the words he spoke, and in turn they proclaimed the message to us. So we also have heard, although we have not seen.
Are we then less favored than those who both saw and heard? If that were so, why should John add: so that you too may have fellowship with us? They saw, and we have not seen; yet we have fellowship with them, because we and they share the same faith.
And our fellowship is with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And we write this to you to make your joy complete—complete in that fellowship, in that love and in that unity.
Can I get a witness?
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Maybe my bias is because I am a native Noo Yawker, but Dog Day Afternoon remains one of my favorite films, and Durning as the police lieutenant is wonderful:
Monday, December 24, 2012
And yet, after showing Scrooge various scenes, he opens his robe to reveal two figures hidden beneath - two dirty, emaciated children, a boy and a girl. The boy's name is Ignorance. The girl's name is Want. The Ghost warns Scrooge: "Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased."
The Ghost of Christmas Present exists only in the now - but he carries with him the past and the hopes for the future. So, as I see Christmas turn into a season of charity that seemingly ends on December 26th (nothing, nothing, is sadder than to see a Christmas tree discarded by the curb on the 26th - sorry, it should remain up until January 6th), this year I am making a promise to myself - Christmas will remain in the present throughout the year. And I will engage in Christmas gift giving throughout the year, even something as simple as holding open a door or tipping 20% instead of 15% or making a habit of removing "stuff" every time I buy more "stuff."
Because Dickens was wrong when he set the Ghost of Christmas Present as lasting only one day. Christmas is eternal because it is Christ's Mass - and His Incarnation, His Death, and His Resurrection were not single moments in time but last forever. It is always Christmas - perhaps not in a shopping mall (thank God!) but it certainly can be in our hearts.
So, let me be the new Ghost of Christmas Present - at every moment. And let the greatest gift lay in my heart so that Christmas does not "sneak" up on me, but I am prepared each December 24th as December 25th never ended.
Merry Christmas, y'all. I do not know if I will get a chance to blog tomorrow and on Boxing Day I am heading up to New York with Dolly Girl to visit a friend, so blogging will be light. I know some families are in great pain this Christmas, some I know personally and some I know from news stories, and so prayers on Christmas Day should be ones of both petition and thanksgiving for those families, like mine, that are healthy and happy this year.
Best to sum it up with the words of another character from A Christmas Carol - "God bless us, everyone!"
Now I know where to stage a home invasion robbery in Westchester and Rockland counties in New York - thank you, Gannett Newspapers!
The map indicates the addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties. Each dot represents an individual permit holder licensed to own a handgun — a pistol or revolver. The data does not include owners of long guns — rifles or shotguns — which can be purchased without a permit. Being included in this map does not mean the individual at a specific location owns a weapon, just that they are licensed to do so.
Data for all permit categories, unrestricted carry, premises, business, employment, target and hunting, is included, but permit information is not available on an individual basis.
To create the map, The Journal News submitted Freedom of Information requests for the names and addresses of all pistol permit holders in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam. By state law, the information is public record.
Wow, how cool is this! Now, looky here . . .
See? I go to Joseph Tocco's home at 14 Leatherstocking Lane in Scarsdale, NY . . . and I target his neighbor who has no registered permit. Oh, sure, his neighbor might just have an unregistered gun, but in an upscale and liberal neighborhood like Scarsdale, the chances of that are slim. In fact, I know to move a few houses down from the Tocco residence just in case Mr. Tocco is feeling neighborly and might come to his neighbor's defense.
Of course, living in a state where gun laws are favorable to owners - and where the Castle Doctrine is established - y'all can pretty much assume that breaking into someone's house here is dangerous.
So I took it down. Not only was it an un-Christian to do, but I would have led others into like behavior by cruelly laughing with me. So, no . . .
|Although, I confess, Jack Chick glurge makes me laugh.|
Anything overly sappy, corny, or kitchy used to incite an emotional reaction. It is usually fictional, absurd and over-exaggerated and therefore fails at its intended task.
Often used to describe chain e-mails.
"That story about the boy with no eyes or ears or skin who got run over by a steamroller the day before he was supposed to get the puppy that his baseball team had saved up to buy him for his ninth birthday is total bullshit. It's just glurge."
So, I read this email, and I thought, "Naw, this just makes sense whether or not a 90-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio, wrote it or not." Turns out she did, and yes, Virginia, along with Santa Claus there is a Regina Brett. And no, she isn't 90. But what she wrote is worth reading:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don't ask, you don't get.
50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.
Is it glurge? Nah. Because it is not overly sappy - although I bet that at least one of these will invoke an emotional reaction in you. And maybe, like me, you will go delete something you should not have said.
After spending nearly a half-century as husband and wife, Bob and Norma Clark are finally married.
The couple from Redlands, an inland California city halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, celebrated their 48th anniversary in August, and in November they were getting their end-of-life documents in order and sought a copy of their marriage license for Social Security purposes.
The Clarks, who met in college, took their vows at a church south of San Francisco in August 1964, shortly after Bob had served in the Army during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
But when clerks at the Hall of Records in San Mateo County tried to pull the license last month, they came up empty.
Take it from me, a California attorney, a marriage is lawful in the state if there is (1) licensure; (2) solemnization; and (3) registration. So one out of three won't cut it. And no, in case you are about to ask, California does not have common law marriage so the fact they lived together as husband and wife for 48 years is irrelevant - they are still single.
But good for them - it's never too late. I just hope some bastard from the IRS does not read this and decide to audit their taxes for filing status after all these years.
This does make me think: at what point will Catholic couples be willing to be legally unmarried in the eyes of the State, but married in the Church? In California, if a priest bestows the Sacrament of Marriage on a couple without a license from the local county, their marriage is valid in the Church . . . but non-existent to the state. While I would still want to see the State get out of the marriage business (and I will be following with interest the Prop 8 and DOMA case in the US Supreme Court, although I think DOMA should be overturned simply because federal legislation has no business in domestic relations under Article 1 of the Constitution), if same-sex marriage becomes the norm, I think the USCCB should consider making any marriage in a church purely sacramental - no priest will sign any government form. And let the faithful know, in the eyes of the Church, they are husband and wife. Whether they wish to be seen as the State as a married couple is up to them. Heck, for many couples, they will benefit on taxes "just living together" while enjoying the grace of the Sacraments.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
While assisting at a music video shoot in Nashville, I also took some stills. Rock on!
Man, I love shooting my Canon. Photography - and now, as it develops, videography - really allow me to relax and love the world and its people.
The Senate passed a resolution Thursday night that calls on the newspaper Village Voice “to act as a responsible global citizen” by taking down its “adult entertainment” section of its classified advertising website.
Lawmakers said that website, Backpage.com, ends up promoting child sex trafficking in the United States.
“The numbers are rising, in part because it has become frighteningly simple to order a child prostitute on the Internet. One merely needs to look at the classified ads on Backpage.com, the leading Web site for prostitution advertising in the United States according to the Advanced Interactive Media, AIM, Group,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said when the resolution was adopted by the Senate. “Just a few clicks on this site easily enables ‘johns’ to purchase children for sex. Law enforcement believes that the existence of Backpage encourages the recruitment of victims for sexual exploitation because it allows traffickers to operate out of sight from police patrols.”
Whoa, wait a sec. If it is that "frighteningly simple" to go on Backpage.com and within "just a few clicks" manage to procure a child for sex, then why is the Village Voice not being named as an accessory to a crime and appropriately prosecuted? Or, if it is that easy, would not their Backpage.com be a great service to law enforcement as a means of finding these monsters? It would seem to me that prosecutors should be partnering with the Village Voice.
|Backpage.com - the Craigslist of sex|
It is hardly equitable in how it compromises the constitutional right involved. As an example, Backpage.com of the Village Voice? Bad. Hollywood films glorifying sex and violence? Political donors - good!
And it becomes a mold, giving politicians the audacity to reach further in stifling things that they do not like in the name of "equality" or "fairness" - like the implementation of the HHS mandates and the intrusion they have on a person's 1st Amendment right for the exercise of religion.
So, while we teeter on a fiscal cliff, while the President makes a gift of fighter jets to Egypt which just voted in a shari'a-based constitution, the Senate chooses to use its time and resources to ask a weekly alternative newspaper in New York City "to act as a responsible global citizen."
For years, my husband made butter cookies at Christmas, using the cookie dough presses that belonged to his mother (of blessed memory).
This year, he is kvelling with pride - because this year our own Dolly Girl is the one who is baking the cookies. And rather expertly, too, I might add.
Our sweet little baby girl is growing up . . .
See more pictures here.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The words above are the text of the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which is part of the United States Constitution. The highest law of the land.
There are many calling for "gun control" in the wake of the massacre in Sandy Hook, tossing around words like "assault weapon" or "semi-automatic" without having any clue as to what they are talking about. Like the dietary laws of Islamic halal, malice per se is being attributed to inanimate objects. Guns kill, you know.
And they support their position by arguing that the 2nd Amendment was not meant by the Founding Father to apply to ordinary citizens. Rather, it was aimed at the need for a militia that, at the time, was necessary to secure our freedom - notwithstanding the case District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 in which the US Supreme Court held that the 2nd Amendment does indeed apply to private individuals.
Ah, the National Guard. You know, liberals love to point out how progressive they are in Europe. And in thinking about that, it occurred to me - why not make every able-bodied citizen with a clean record a member of their state militia, just as they do in Switzerland?
I lived for two years in Switzerland. Every male is a member of the country's military and in he keeps in his home his rifle and his gas mask, ready to respond to a call for action when his country needs him. Those who may be infirm and unable to serve in that capacity are members of a civil defense force and are trained to do things such as set up field phone systems.
So, take a state like my own, Tennessee. And now, let every qualified adult, male and female, be a member of the state militia. After all, according to the 2nd Amendment, they are necessary. Each member must maintain in his or her home at least one firearm, ready to respond to the call for action. And I stress the word qualified - no criminal record, psychological evaluation, training and qualification in the use of a firearm, minimum physical ability, legal status in the United States.
Oh, some people won't be qualified. Some may even want a conscientious objector status. That is fine, other jobs can be found for them in some sort of capacity. But for most people, they will have to serve since a "well regulated militia" is "necessary for the security of a free state." Firearm qualification at least once a year. Mandatory monthly range hours. Weekend training once a quarter, organized by the National Guard. During which they get room and board and the going rate for jury duty service. The cost of their firearm and ammo would be tax deductible. Members would be allowed greater leeway in carry, that is to say, places that are normally off-limits for firearms - such as schools and courthouses - would be permitted for them.
What do you think would happen if that were put into place? I would imagine that any "bad guy" walking into a public place would be deterred knowing that he is outgunned by people who may be packing and, if so, receive regular training and practice. Home robberies would drop, as robbers would be reluctant to take a chance on who in the home may be members of the state militia, or who even have neighbors who are and ready to respond. Would you chance a carjacking if the odds were likely that the driver was carrying?
It would not stop everyone. You will still have the Adam Lanzas and James Holmes and Jared Loughners succumbing to their madness and engaging in violent actions. But how would those situations have been different if they acted in the midst of persons trained and armed?
So, I am curious to know - if your state required this of you, would you be willing to purchase a firearm and serve?
Okay, this is just frickin' EPIC! Put on your best grunge, baby, we're going to swing Seattle! Call the boys and tell them to line up some chicks and bourbon!
Added bonus: you can finally understand the words to the song.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
I gave her first driving lesson to my 15-year-old daughter.
I have to brag, Dolly Girl did well, although I knew she was nervous. We went to the housing tract behind our property to practice the very, very basics - turning the car on, easing it out of park, and pulling away from the curb. We tried a little backing up, but the 3-point turn was a little much. And I made her drive home along the road from the subdvision which had her executing a hairpin left turn into our driveway and gunning it up the hill . . . I think she was glad to get home. In fact, after I executed the 3-point turn for her, I said, "Okay, let's switch places again," and she replied, "Oh, you mean we're not done?"
But it was her first time. And I am very proud of her and how well she did, able to fluidly - but slowly - drive down a street, watching for parked cars and executing turns well.
More so, it made me realize, tempus fugit and good lord, I really do have me a teenager.
Pray for her, pray for me.
Now excuse me whilst I go have a Jack and Coke . . .
Friday, December 21, 2012
In email from chief campaign advisor David Axelrod that urges supporters to watch President Obama's moving address to the community of Newtown, Conn., there are two links that open a page with a video player featuring the president's speech and two donate buttons asking for $15-$1,000 for his campaign.
"The next chapter begins today. Stand with President Obama for the next four years," headlines the donation and video player page.
While he links to the donation pages in his email, Axelrod did not mention donations with his words. Instead, he expresses the horror the nation feels about the shootings. "Our hearts broke on Friday as we learned of the tragic and senseless deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut," he wrote. "As we reflect on the lives lost last week, we must also, as the president urged, consider how each of us can play a part in making our country worthy of the memory of those little children."
But above and below a picture of Obama giving his speech are two links to the donation and video player page. One reads, "Watch this speech." The other reads "http://my.barackobama.com/Newton". Clicking the picture also directs supporters to the video player and donation page.
So "playing a part" in this tragedy means giving money to Obama. I went to "http://my.barackobama.com/Newton" and it seems they have taken the page down, instead replacing it with a picture of this doofus of a pizza delivery man:
Thursday, December 20, 2012
But I also saw this and it made me think about people who get overlooked at these times of sadness:
All of you, I am sure, have heard so much about the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Many of you have received emails from me about my younger brother, Father Luke Suarez, who is a priest at St. Rose of Lima parish, a Catholic church just down the road from Sandy Hook Elementary. He, and his pastor, Monsignor Weiss, arrived at the school within moments of the shooting, and have been caring for the community ever since. The picture I have included was taken at the school.
Father Luke has an impossible task before him. His diocese is without a bishop right now…. Monsignor … is personally devastated by the losses. The parish is very large…. The rectory has received serious threats, and as my brother gave the homily Sunday at the noon mass, the church had to be evacuated by SWAT teams. After experiencing identity theft and online hacking incidents, he had to erase all of his internet accounts. After a weekend of endless media requests, notifications and vigils with heartbroken families, and little sleep, he now has two wakes and two funerals every day, until the fourth Sunday of Advent. Father Luke has not even been ordained two years.
My large family has been trying to send Father Luke our love and support from afar, and one of my brothers was able to visit with him briefly a couple times. All he asks for is prayer.
I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of a way that our beautiful, loving community could tangibly reach out to Father Luke, Monsignor Weiss, and the St. Rose parish, to support them in this most awful of times. I have sent many prayer requests, and I am asking for more prayers again. But I also want to ask everyone to search their hearts, and if the Holy Spirit moves you, please consider sending one of your family’s Christmas cards to the rectory, with a few words of love and encouragement. Here is his address:
Father Luke Suarez
46 Church Hill Road
Newtown, CT 06470
My brother has said over and over again that without the prayer support he is receiving, he could not keep going. And this week is only the beginning. Everyone there is still in shock. Their peaceful home has been desecrated by violence. They will need to live with this sorrow forever.
But in our weakness is His strength. Grace abounds. Can you help me carry him through this time of trial?
On a hopeful note, Father Luke did say that no media coverage has even touched the deep, beautiful awakening of faith that has occurred there. Their tiny church, where my children have received sacraments and where Luke was ordained, has been full of people in prayer without ceasing since this tragedy happened. Love is stronger than death.
Please feel free to share the address with your family, friends, and community. An outpouring of love will sustain these good priests through their impossible ministry–impossible on their own, but possible with God.
I am so grateful to live in this community. We are all so blessed with one another. Every day, I see you all loving one another as Christ loved. Thank you for letting me reach out to you now.
Think of Fr. Luke and Msgr. Weiss - they are hurting. Think of the first responders, the police who had to walk in as the first witnesses - they are hurting, too.
I remember a story told to me by a priest who was a former friend, how he found himself as junior man on the totem pole the only priest at his parish when 9/11 occurred, and how scared he was that he would not have the right words to say or the right thing to do. But . . . he did what the Holy Spirit led him to do and people were comforted. Sincerity overcame inexperience with a tragedy of great magnitude.
So, pray for Fr. Luke and Msgr. Weiss the same as you might pray for Cardinal Dolan. These men have suddenly become the "go to" guys by people in a great deal of pain and doubt and turmoil. And think about sending a card.
And send one, too, for these folks:
Newtown Police Department
3 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Co.
18 Riverside Rd
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
It is already past midnight in other parts of the world and no apocalypse yet. Of course, maybe that is because the end of the world will be on Mayan time, which I am guessing is the same time zone as Guatamala, since that is where the Mayan capital, Tikal, existed. And that corresponds to our own Central Time Zone. So, just in case it still is going to happen, to all the people who have visited here from the Internet . . .
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Jellico straddles the Tennessee-Kentucky border. It is Appalachian, heart and soul, and the decimation of the two main industries - coal and timber - has brought poverty to the area. People are hurting. Kids are hurting.
Catholic Charities of East Tennessee runs the Mountain Arts Project at the Crazy Quilt Friendship Center. The center serves as a thrift store, a soup kitchen, and an overall source of aid and assistance for the community. Its manager, Ed, is a sweetheart.
Each Christmas, the good people of St. Albert the Great parish gather donations and make up gift baskets and food boxes for distribution at the center. But it is not enough to just hand them out, not when it is Christmas. So the delivery is done via a Christmas party, run by our Youth Group.
Santa is there! There are snacks and soft drinks. Face painting is going on and this year there was also nail decorating. And I took a corner of the center, made a small studio as best I could, set up a light stand, and shot some family portraits.
I will not show you the families, out of respect for their privacy. But in setting up and adjusting my camera settings, I asked some of our Youth Group to sit in and pose as a group, so I could judge how I would shoot these pictures. There they are above - kids living their Catholic faith. Amen, and amen.
Earlier today I was editing the family portraits and I was doing so, I started to tear up. These families, these pictures will mean a lot for them. One mother-daughter team posed and I heard the little girl say to the much older woman, "Come on, Mom, let's get our nails done." A woman standing nearby turned to me and said, "You know, that's not her mama. That's her grandmaw. But her mama run off and so her grandmaw formally adopted her." Another woman was excited: "I have no picture of me and my husband with all of our grandkids!" Judging the wide variety of ages among the grandchildren, she had been waiting for quite some time for this opportunity.
At one point I grabbed a cup of soda and looked around. Our kids were being good hosts, people were happy, and for me, I felt for a short time, all was well in the world and it was ready for Christmas. I thought about unhappy people I knew - if I could say something to them, it would be, you idiots, stop thinking you and your perceived problems are the center of the universe, there are people with much, much less than what you have and if they can find a way to cope, you have nothing to complain about.
There are kids who will not have a parent home at Christmas because they are incarcerated. Or they are simply "gone." Or the parents are there but that gift basket that they receive is the only thing they will get for Christmas. And the food box is the only "special" meal they will have. Our teens from St. Albert the Great realized that and made sure the children had a good time.
You want an answer to how do we keep another Sandy Hook from happening? We give our youth the opportunity to do service and realize its worth to others. No, there will still be violence, but there will be less when a child learns that no one is exempt from service to humanity as a human.
Yeah, the kids are alright, as The Who sang.
I had the opportunity yesterday to assist with a music video shoot in Nashville. And I have to admit, geek that I am, the highlight was standing with the clap board before a take and making it *clack*! All shooting took place in an airplane hangar. Not only was I amazed at the gear used, but the talent of the musicians was fabulous.
By the way, I like the way the director yells, "Cameras rolling!" and each camera person yells, "Speed!"
Oh, and Ash Bowers is a great guy and very talented. A friend of mine emailed me during the day how much she liked Ash's music and I showed him the email, and he was gracious to let me record a short message to my friend, thanking her for being a fan and wishing her a Merry Christmas. That's class.
So when I see a headline as in the Associated Press' "How Prepared Can We Be If Evil Strikes Again?" I cannot help but think that is sort of putting the cart before the horse. Instead of taking the position we are victims of this disembodied "evil" with a gun - which assigns malice to the tool used and not to the person using it - maybe it would serve us better to recognize the source of evil and ask what can be done to thwart his purpose.
Would it mean Jamie Foxx gets less money?
Foxx, promoting Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming “Django Unchained,” an ultra-violent Western-style vengeance film about slavery, told the Associated Press that actors can’t ignore that the violence they portray onscreen can influence people in real life.
“We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence,” Foxx said Saturday. “It does.”
Then . . . why do you promote it? Why would you say that after the horror in Connecticut and yet go on another press junket to promote your new film?
Play-acting violence comes natural to humans. Give a kid a stick and it becomes a machine gun taking out a nest of assassins. And it does not always lead to actual violence. But somewhere along the line, sometimes something goes awry. Maybe it is mental illness. Maybe it is a lack of conscience. Maybe it is a failing to consider or see consequences. Do you want to talk about evil? The Devil is a real entity and at that moment, he slips in. And starts to fester. And fed by things said by the likes of Jamie Foxx, who can make a joke about killing all the white people and receive applause for such, leads to a disdain - or worse, complete indifference - for human life.
That is the evil against which we should be prepared. The bad news is that the Devil is subtle. We will hear more about Jamie Foxx's movie but perhaps might overlook something like this:
Belgium is considering a significant change to its decade-old euthanasia law that would allow minors and Alzheimer's sufferers to seek permission to die.
"The idea is to update the law to take better account of dramatic situations and extremely harrowing cases we must find a response to," party leader Thierry Giet said.
The draft legislation calls for "the law to be extended to minors if they are capable of discernment or affected by an incurable illness or suffering that we cannot alleviate."
Socialist Senator Philippe Mahoux, who helped draft the proposed changes, said there had been cases of adolescents who "had the capacity to decide" their future.
See, it's not the legislature killing children. They want to protect the rights of those children that have the "capacity to decide," that's all. But if they have the "capacity to decide" whether to end their life, then pedophilia is meaningless, yes, since they may also have the "capacity to decide" when they will take a sexual partner and who it will be. After all, in states like California, the law recognizes the "capacity to decide" of a minor girl to obtain an abortion without parental notification - but she is "protected" from tanning salons, tattoo parlors, and school nurses distributing aspirin.
See how that works?
The weapon given to us by God is free will. Nurture it. Use it.
Monday, December 17, 2012
A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.
After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.
-- Matthew 1:1-17
Let me explain, for those who may not have read the sci-fi novel, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." In that book, men build a super computer and ask it to give them "the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything." This computer thinks for 7.5 million years and finally gives the answer: "42."
Add up the number of generations that Matthew recites at the end of the Gospel. 14 + 14 + 14 = 42.
No, just a coincidence . . . but a good time to use Sudden Realization Ralph.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
If you’ve ever been outside for a sunrise, you’ll notice something fascinating about the hour or so before sunrise. Of course the sky starts out black, and then it fairly quickly gets light – usually a bright blue. Then, as sunrise gets nearer, but still before you can actually see the Sun, the sky explodes into a symphony of rose colors…the same color as my vestment for today
The Church calls this Sunday Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a command to have joy. …the color Rose denoting the fact that the sunrise is getting nearer, the Son of God stands on the edge of storming the beaches of this world as a fellow human person two thousand years ago, the celebration of which we will celebrate in a few days.
The first reading tells us to shout for joy with an exclamation point. The psalm says “Cry out with joy”… St Paul says in the second reading not once but TWICE to Rejoice…again with an exclamation point.
And yet, especially today, there is a temptation to say “No Thanks”. Priests are people, and so like you, I’ve spent a lot of time the past 24 hours thinking about and praying for the people in Connecticut, trying somehow to make sense of something that can’t ever make sense.
The Catechism has an absolutely beautiful passage I came across yesterday: “Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.”
How true! How easily such events can shake and test our faith. So many begin to ask questions in times like these “how can an all-loving God let this happen?”
But even when people start asking that question, we already start to see the sky turning rose – because people who, hours earlier, would have said they didn’t believe in God, who hours earlier would have said that science can’t prove there is a God so there’s no such thing, such people begin asking questions about the God that they hated just hours ago.
“Rejoice! I say it again, Rejoice” This weekend is Gaudete Sunday, and St. Paul and the Church urge us to be people who REJOICE. St. Paul, in saying REJOICE, was not writing from a cruise ship in the Bahamas, he was writing in a society that was equally accustomed to barbarous atrocities and evils with our own time – St. Paul cries out for us to rejoice not because things are always perfect, in fact that is why it is a command – REJOICE! It is a command because sometimes we can’t summon the energy to do it on our own, and so we must be told.
And the call to rejoice is especially important IN THE MIDST of atrocities, like the one we face now, because it is at times like this that people are looking for answers from us.
I saw a picture on the news last night of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newton, CT, and not only could you not get in the Church for Mass, you could hardly find a place on the front lawn of the Church.
So precisely when the demons in Hell are celebrating what they perceive to be yet another victory of senseless violence, people are flocking to God, even if they are angry, even if they are confused, they are flocking to him.
And what do those who flock to him find? What do all the people standing on tiptoes last night to catch a glimpse of the Eucharist SEE when they flock back to God??? John Paul II says it best in his AMAZING letter on suffering…He says: “They see a God on the cross who is himself suffering, and who wishes to answer the question “why is there suffering” from the Cross, from the heart of his own suffering” That is why I think it is completely ridiculous and a lie to pretend that the cross without Christ’s body on it means anything. Some churches would have us act like suffering is over, the cross is over, but Catholicism says NO – Christ suffered, God suffered, and still suffers, and that MEANS SOMETHING FOR US WHO ARE SUFFERING TODAY. I have a crucifix in every room and every hallway and everywhere I can to remind myself of this fact when I am suffering – I remember that HE suffered to, and suffers still through our pain, and so although I don’t walk away with every answer, I know I’m united to God during difficult times.
What did the tiptoeing Mass attendees see and hear last night, they saw Christ on a cross, and they heard Christ’s words acknowledging his suffering. To know that Christ suffers and shares in our suffering is a game changer and it is the good news –
The Gospel could possibly be summed up in these words: “Christ changed suffering from meaningless to holy” even if suffering still doesn’t make sense to us
And that is why the Church says REJOICE, not because violence has ended, but because God has taken evil and brought good out of it
"Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, rejoice." Today is Gaudete Sunday around the world, it is Gaudete Sunday in countries where Churches are routinely bombed, it is Gaudete Sunday in Rwanda, it is Gaudete Sunday in Churches where young and old are starving and are victims of extreme poverty, it is Gaudete Sunday in Newton Connecticut, and it is Gaudete Sunday in Indiana.
I was running at the Y this afternoon, and I saw where some residents of Newtown have decided to take their Christmas decorations down because they feel guilty celebrating anything. I certainly understand what they’re saying, but I think the Church’s solution is better. The Church tells people all over the world, those in areas of famine, war, violence, poverty, sin, death, and despair to Rejoice.
We suffer in this valley of tears, but so does Christ, and suffering, despite its pain, is no longer meaningless, it is holy and sacred.”
And so we pray for the grace to be able to do what St. Paul urges, we pray for the grace to “Rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again, rejoice”
Saturday, December 15, 2012
If you have any faith, then you will know the answer: for you to choose between it and holiness.
And look to Genesis for God's command:
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
You must master it. God created Man in His image. He created us above the animals whose behavior is set by instinct. We are to think. We are to reason. And we are to develop a conscience by which we conduct our lives, one that is hopefully aligned with God's desire to see us become holy.
So do not think we exist at God's whim and have no control. The good news is, we do. The bad news is, we do - and Hell has no one there involuntarily.
Are there demonic influences in the world? Of course. But a society that denies God will deny the Devil, and from that the Prince of Lies gains his greatest strength.
Remember to pray for Adam Lanza, too.
When I was younger, I used to pride myself in "getting the picture" despite the odds - even if those odds meant violating another person's privacy. It was not always a challenge. Oftentimes, people at a public event expected to see photographers. It took some years of shooting at my former parish to win the trust of the parishioners to the point where I pretty much had carte blanche.
But . . . no more. I am more aware of boundaries and of limitations. This is not to say you cannot get a picture of a grieving person. I am reminded of a funeral I photographed for a friend and how the rule was, no pictures of the body. Fair enough - the picture I got of my friend with her arm around her father's girlfriend, from behind, as they knelt together in front of her father's coffin said more about grief and consolation than if I shot it from in front and got their tear-streaked faces.
My friend's father's death, while sad, was not a tragedy given his age and health. To have a child murdered by a carzed gunman is something else. Look at that picture above - this is in a church where a service is being held for the children killed yesterday. That is inexcusable, to stick a camera in a person's face like that, with the loss and grief so fresh. What. The. Hell. Is the media that competitive that we compromise the dignity of humanity?
I have heard the photographers were asked to leave. Good.
I saw this on Reddit.com:
I don't care about karma, that's why I made this throwaway.
I was raised in newtown from aged 8 until my graduation from N.H.S. I walked the hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary school and have nothing but positive memories of the place. I remember Mrs. Chard in the library, always smiling and never having a bad thing to say about us. I remember when, in 4th grade, the teachers decided to let us have a bit of fun during lunch and they brought in a karaoke machine for anyone to use. I remember seeing the same sign you've seen on tv every morning before I entered a school full of love, happiness and innocence. Like you, I always considered my hometown a bit special, a bit above the violence and carelessness of the world; a safe haven for my development into the young man I am today.
I was torn apart, as was the rest of the world, when I awoke Friday morning to the news. My best friends mother was freaking out, I knew I had to be with them, and I stayed with them all day.Bit by bit our neighbors and friends chimed in, letting us know their children were safe. Some stayed quiet, and we knew why.
We all gathered, at Saint Rose to mourn the death of children so young, and the teachers who saved them. If you can imagine what it's like mourning the death of the little neighbor you used to babysit, or the kids you watched hop up on the bus every morning, you can understand that it's a solitary moment. As a community we gathered, forgoing the feuds (and trust me, we're human, we aren't perfect to one another at all times in this town, just like in yours) all the bitterness and anger, and we came together in love.
You can comprehend my anger at hearing cameras go off as I watched my best friends father break down. You can relate you wanting some alone time to be able to talk about how to get over this as a community without the intrusion of public opinion, reporters, and all the like. To the reporters hoping to get a Pulitzer prize for their efforts yesterday I ask: Is your soul worth it?
Are you happy, 24 hours news media? You've got what you wanted, right? You've got something to talk about for days, and every December 14th you can remind us of a day that will haunt Newtown until the earth shatters into the emptiness of space (although for us that happened yesterday). Now you can have 25 pieces of fodder to discuss mental illness, gun control, safety regulations, and what ever else you need. You have a list of 20 children and 5 heroes and you can call up every one of their names, hardcore atheists and Christians, when trying to convert people. Wonderful!
Come on, let's keep talking about Adam, a kid who I went to school with. Let's give more psychopaths a folk hero to rally to when this happens again in another state. Good job media, people who can't shut down their opinions for 5 fucking seconds, and camera man looking for prizes. Don't patronize us, you don't care about the deaths, you just want ratings. And everyone will keep watching. As if you deserve to toss out your opinions.
I'm glad we can become another Columbine, (to you residents there, I never understood until now, and we are in a morbid club, inexplicably intertwined by violence) another cold useless fact. You can do all of this and be happy, because you wanted it.
For the record, no one in Newtown was talking about gun control laws, mental health issues, or anything. We were just holding each other, trying to make sense of the senseless. We are ok with you grieving with us, but put down the camera and help us try to piece back together our lives. We need that more than media coverage of this sad day in our history.
I'm putting this is /r politics because I have no idea where to put it. You can repost it I don't know where it goes and it doesn't matter. Thanks for reading.
Now let us pray.