Month: August 2009

A Devilish Conversation.

Once more will he fill your mouth with laughter

and you lips with rejoicing.

                                                          Job 8;21

A Devilish Conversation 

Lucifer: As your first lieutenant, I’ll have to hand it to you, Mr. B. You’ve put the Catholic Church in crisis. I never thought it could be done.

Beelzebub: I’m not one to brag, but look at my figures: Today, one in ten Americans is a former Catholic. The number in the pipeline for future priests and nuns is now a trickle. Only 20% of Catholics go to Mass on Sunday. And look at the churches that are closing down —13 in Miami, 39 in Scranton, 33 in Albany, 52 in Cleveland — and that’s just the beginning.  Already 170 parochial schools have shut their doors.

Lucifer: Wow!  You’re a genius.

Beelzebub: For the past 2000 years, the three defenses the Church had that I couldn’t penetrate were first the Eucharist.  That’s the anchor, the guts and the greatest spiritual value of all.  When a believer appreciated and embraced the essence of God becoming Man and realized that in the Eucharist substance and spirit became one, I was shut out in the cold. Today, surveys show that only 30% of those attending Mass believe in Christ’s presence in Holy Communion.

Lucifer: What are the other defenses?

Beelzebub: A big one is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, therefore, the Mother of God.  Since year one, she has been one of the most powerful combatants I’ve had to face. In every way, she embodies all that I detest.  With her mystical and intimate spiritual power, she armored believers against everything I tried to do.  Gad, how I hate that woman!

Lucifer: I imagine she feels the same way about you.

Beelzebub: But now, even though Pope Benedict entrusted the Church to the heavenly protection of Mary as the Mother of God and mother of all believers and of all humanity, most American Catholics are putting Mary on the shelf with the Rosary and all her trimmings. They agree with Protestants that Mary has too much prominence in the spiritual world. (Chuckling) So, they have put a straight-jacket on my one of my greatest opponents.

Lucifer: And what’s the third defense the Church used against you?

Beelzebub: Silence.  The door is closed for me when Catholics shut out distractions and directly tune into any member of the Holy Trinity. Their meditation sickens me. It makes me feel so helpless I want to throw up.

Lucifer: But how did you get the Church to tear down these defenses?

Beelzebub: Well, regarding the Eucharist, the good Church fathers have minimized the importance of this key sacrament by developing what I call the busy Mass, which is more Protestant than many Protestant services. For example, they have made it a sing-along. Can you believe that in a busy Mass, the congregation is often encouraged to sing eight times during a one hour service? The music director is the majordomo of a Mass, and the priest is often a tag-along.

Lucifer: Unbelievable!

Beelzebub: Then I tricked the Church officials into adding a Communion Hymn.  I convinced them it would be a means of singing praise, when it really is a device to keep the parishioners from concentrating on the spiritual depth of actually receiving the body and blood of God. And it works like a charm. The current church is more concerned about hymns than Him.

Lucifer: What’s the third defense you knocked out?

Beelzebub: You’re not listening. I told you, it’s quiet time and meditation. Now with the busy Mass, there is not eight seconds in the hour long service that is not filled with music, action and talk. They have eliminated silence for meditation — communication which binds man to God.  So, now that silence and meditation are verboten, I have a picnic at every busy Mass, and I can romp wherever I want throughout defenseless Catholicism.

Lucifer:  Fantastic! How did you do it?

Beelzebub: Remember that the most successful way to accomplish a bad thing it not through bad men. Instead, you misguide good people.

Lucifer: But I still don’t understand how you have achieved so much self-damage to the Church.

Beelzebub:  Elementary, my dear Lucifer.  Didn’t you ever hear of mind control? 

 (And what are your thoughts?) 

            Good Reading

       In the August 17-24 America magazine, be sure read the astounding article “I love you for hating me” by Barbara J. Kouba.

            Chuckle timepriestLaughing

ten-commandmentsWhen mailing an old family Bible to her brother, the mail clerk asked if there was anything breakable inside.  She replied, “Only the Ten Commandments.”



Communion, Juicy Fruit Flavor

You will discharge your labor well if you perform with gaiety,

quietly, courageously, constantly.

Bishop Joseph Fenwick (1846)Bishop Joseph F

 Communion, Juicy Fruit Flavor juicy-fruit1At Mass last Sunday I had a thought provoking experience. Two rows in front and sitting alone slightly to the right was a neatly dressed young man. I estimate he was in his late twenties.  What attracted my attention was that he was obviously chewing gum.

He seemed attentive during the service while he constantly chewed in a slightly rotary movement. At the time for Communion, I followed him up the aisle and watched as he received the Sacred Host.  He chewed going and returning to his seat.  At the end of Mass when we walked out of the church, he was ahead of me, still enjoying his gum.

          Wild thoughts raced through my mind.  What action took place inside the young man’s mouth when he received the Host?  Had he stashed the chewing gum in the corner of his cheek so that he could quickly swallow the Host before he resumed chewing?  Or, God forbid, did he crush the Host into the gum?

          I have since wondered what action I should have taken.  Had he insulted my wife sitting beside me, there would have been a scene. Instead, his action implied lack of respect for the Son of God, and I was silent. My excuse for inaction was to put the blame on others.

The fellow was probably born fifteen years after Vatican II Conference.  Since then, the Church has successfully undervalued the Eucharist and Communion Sacraments in favor of a busy Mass which eliminated Mystery, silence and meditation.  As do too many Catholics, the gum-chewer probably considers the Host to be merely a spiritual vitamin pill, freely dispensed during the service as a doctor might give a sample placebo to his patients.

When I converted to Catholicism over fifty years ago, I was attracted by the spiritual reality of God having become man and the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the very Body and Blood of the risen Christ. But the young man, whose behavior upset me, probably has scant knowledge of the dogmas of Incarnation and Communion.  Who should have prevented his ignorance?

          My only consolation is the fact that this young man was at Mass. 

(And what are your thoughts?)

 Take The Joyful Catholic Quiz- Just Click Here!

The winner of the gift copy of Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics is Adrienne, who logged in at 7:05 PM on August 13.. 

Chuckle Time

  golfing priestOne beautiful Sunday morning, a priest who wanted to play golf, asked his associate to cover for him at early Mass. Observing this from on high, this annoyed St. Peter, who asked God, “Are you going to let him get away with it?”  God told him to be patient.

          On the 4th hole, the priest, playing alone, hit the most fabulous shot of his life — 420 feet straight towards the green. When he walked to the ball, the priest realized he had made a hole-in-one. This puzzled St. Peter who asked God, “What kind of punishment do you call that?”         

          God smiled and said, “Who’s he going to tell?”


My favorite priest

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Self-Blindfolded in Paradise

Just because I am God’s own, totally unique, God’s very own possession, what else can I do but sing of God’s goodness. My whole being sings.

                                                              Sr. Charleen Hug, S.N.D.

(She teaches theology at Notre Dame Academy in Toleodo, OH)

Self-Blindfolded in Paradise


Last week when I was in Florida, I took an early morning walk.  The morning sun felt good on my face.  I shook hands with a giant benjamina ficus tree by firmly grasping one of its root stalks, and I sensed the power and strength of this masterpiece of Nature.  Further along, I stopped to listen to a mocking bird in a large hibiscus tree with yellow bell-shaped flowers. For my benefit, the bird sang every song it has ever heard — non stop.

          When I passed a six-foot gardenia bush covered with white flowers that perfumed the area, I snapped off a flower to put in my buttonhole.  In all directions, there was lush green vegetation and shrubbery with bright red and orange flowers.  I thought that the word which best described the place was “paradise.”
          Then I saw a man walking forward me, with a dog on a leash and a cell phone held against his ear.  As we passed, he didn’t see me.  I startled him when I said, “Good morning!”

          He gave me a quick nod and pressed the phone closer to his face.

          “Communication’s a great thing,” I said.

          “You betcha,” he muttered as he passed on his way.

          As have millions of his compatriots, the poor fellow walking the dog is a victim of the Age of Distraction, which has been successfully nurtured by mobile technology.  iPods, Walkmans, cell phones and the yet-to-be-invented audio-communication tools entice us to be blind to that which is within our field of vision.  It is difficult to be a joyful Catholic when you are not aware of nearby people and things in which you should have interest.

          It is good to test ourselves occasionally to be sure we haven’t let modern hearing and speaking devices prevent us from quiet time. As Father Thomas Massard, S. J., wrote in a recent American magazine, “If technology is rendering this sort of deliberate oblivion more likely, then let’s unplug and make a choice for immediacy.”

          I think it’s important to be available and receptive to hear the Voice which needs no device to reach our ears.


(And what are your thoughts?)



Joyful Catholic Quiz

(The first to send the right answers will receive a gift copy of

Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics)


1.   Who were the women who discovered the empty tomb of Christ on Easter morning?


2 When a new Pope is elected, what is the color of the smoke that arises from the Vatican chimney?


3.  Who was St. Monica’s famous son?




Chuckle time

 (Church Bulletin) Now that we have a second baptism fount at the North Entrance of the church, babies can now be baptized at both ends.


My favorite priest

Don’t forget to submit your recommendation for your favorite priest above.

American Catholics, Don’t be Proud!

At first glance, it doesn’t look too bad.  I read that, in the period 2004-7, we rated 9th among other nations with our number of 309,000 adult baptisms. Then when I gave this further thought, I was ashamed of our poor rating.

 For example, ahead of us in 7th place was Peru with 425,000 baptisms.

Since their population is less than one-tenth of that in America, relating our miserly achievement to theirs is comparing Buffalo, NY, to Los Angeles.

  In 6th place is Mexico with 445,000 baptisms.  As their population is one third that of the USA, comparing our number of new Catholics to those in Mexico is relating Corpus Christi to San Antonio.

Why do we have such a poor record of attracting others to our faith?  Could it be that we are too smug and secure with our self-satisfaction, too free of fear of deprivation, etc.?

  What are your thoughts?

Shame on the Diocese of Kansas City!


Shame on the Diocese of Kansas City!


Had I read this in anti-Catholic press, I would not have been surprised. But I was shocked to see it in The Catholic Key  of the Kansas City Diocese. It seems that the holy folks there are pissed off  at my friend Sister Carol Keehan, who is the extremely competent head of the Catholic Health Association, because of her support of some of President Obama’s pro-choice appointees.


The headline (which is all of what most people read) states “Catholic Health’s $856,093.00 Nun”.  Then to confirm that they are taking a cheap and unfair potshot, they don’t mention until at the end of the article that “Sister Carol does not keep her salary. It goes to her order.”


They further imply that Sister Carol and the Catholic Health Association (representing over 1200 Catholic health care sponsors, systems, facilities and related organizations and services) don’t care two-cents for the poor, because they have chosen for their board of directors some of the top health officials in America, who are earning large salaries.  I want my mid-western Catholic bigots to know that when Sister Carol headed Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, even thought she took charge of an institution that was deep in debt, she ordered that no patient would ever be turned away if they were not able to pay.

Diocese of Kansas City, go sit on the stool in the corner and face the wall.

Joyful Catholic Quick Quiz


You will discharge your labor well if you perform with gaiety, quietly, courageously, constantly.
Bishop Joseph Fenwick (1846)


For us joyful Catholics, the first chapter of my book Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics presents a problem that raises its ugly head every time I go to Mass. The chapter is “Why Do We Catholics Behave the Way We do?” And, so far, no one has given me a plausible answer.
Canon Stuart Wilson, a priest in London, told of his secretary commenting about a picture in obituary section of the London Times. “Why,” she exclaimed, “I recognize that man. He has been going to daily Mass for twenty years, and we never knew who he was.”
Now at the end of each Mass, Canon Wilson tells the congregation , “Sit a bit longer and get to know a stranger sitting nearby.” When this happened to my wife and me when attending his Mass, we introduced ourselves to a young woman next to us. She told us she was from Australia, in England studying to be a nurse. We learned about her family, and we told her briefly about ourselves, Fifteen minutes later when we reluctantly said goodbye, it was with a loving hug. Wow! To think this happened in a Catholic Church.
For ten years I have been going to an early Sunday Mass, which is not overly crowded with most of the parishioners sit in the same pews. With my instilled Southern Hospitality, I disturb the tranquil waters by smiling at those around me. I usually get flash smiles in return. When I’m feeling brassy, I will occasionally say, “Good morning.” Half the time, I get a muffled reply. One old fellow was so shocked to hear my voice that he quickly looked down to be sure his pants were zipped up.
While inside a structure dedicated to a leader who instructed us to love our neighbor, why do we behave like cloistered souls?
(And what are your thoughts?)


Chuckle Time
Returning to the church for the Saturday 5PM Mass, the young priest was stopped on the sidewalk by an ancient parishioner who said, “Would you mind helping an old lady up the steps?” He gladly obliged and when they neared the church door, she asked if the monsignor was saying the Mass. When he smiled and said that he was doing the Mass, she said, “Would you mind helping an old lady down the steps?”

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