Monday, June 24, 2002


Either the Ovation Network knows I'm up late trying to get work done before a busy new week, and is tempting me to procrastinate, or it only airs this show in the wee hours of the morning. What am I referring to? A BBC program on the collabortion of Virgin Records and an Abbey of monks to produce a Gregorian chant CD. It's a fascinating look -- both funny and serious -- at the interplay between religion and business and where their motivations are in harmony and where they compete. If you can figure out how to locate schedules on the Ovation website -- I couldn't find any covering these insomniac hours --, try to catch this program the next time it airs.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Fulfilling Best Man Duties

I'm the best man for a life-long friend and his wedding is coming up this July 13th in Gross Pointe Farms, Michigan. Well, I just got off the phone with him and he informed me of two bits of distressing news. First, the reception hall has backed out and will no longer be able to hold his reception for 200+ guests. Second, their scheduled organist for the wedding has also canceled. I figure I should use every resource available to me to help them out if I can. So prove to me the might of the Internet and the wherewithal of St. Blog's. If you know of any leads on alternatives on either front -- even just a person who might -- please let me know by email. We know of the Illinois and Indiana branches of St. Blog's; let's now see the strength of the wing that hails from my beloved Michigan.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Best Fifteen Bucks I Have Spent In A Long Time

As many of you know, I'm always in search for resources that can help lay Catholics live out their mission and vocation more fully. There are a number out there (e.g., CFL, the writings of Bl. Escriva), but to date I have never come across one I considered extremely helpful for the day-to-day efforts at living out the call to holiness.

That was, until about a month ago. Some of you may recall my post a while back mentioning my discovery of a little book by Fr. Edward F. Gareshé, The Everyday Apostle. I have finished reading it. It is a treasure and I recommend you consider investing in a copy of your own. (Hmm, if a large enough number of you place orders with Sophia Institute Press via the link above, will they notice that the traffic came from Integrity?) To wet your appetite, here's the table of contents and a few quotations:

  • The Apostleship of the Common Man: Carry out God's work in your everyday life. "Where the priest may not enter unsuspected, the common Catholic is already there, a familiar and a friend. His common talk is listened to with interest and without suspicion; his testimony is accepted; his teaching will pass current as the word of a friend. Without suspicion, without prejudice, he can, if it is prudent and tactful, preach the saving truths of his Faith in a thousand places, where the word of a priest of God would be met only with anger, or distrust, or disdain."

  • The Apostleship of Speech: Let your conversation draw others to Christ. "If a readiness to share money, influence, and opportunities is looked for between friends, how much more should there be a frank and willing communication of those eternal truths which enrich and ennoble a man's immortal soul."

  • The Apostleship of Service: Accept every opportunity to do good. "He gives to us these duties, these opportunities, these suggestions of His grace -- to us and to no others, no angel and no saint. He gives them to us as we are, not as we might, or could, or would, or should have been. ... For the one word that [our brother] will take may be one that only we could give him."

  • The Apostleship of the Home: Make your home a place of holiness. "[We] would like to have more really Catholic talk at Catholic firesides. By Catholic, I do not mean parish talk or church talk, still less talk merely about Catholic men and women, but talk that is concerned with subjects of truly Catholic interest and inspired with Catholic feelings and Catholic thought."

  • The Apostleship of Encouragement: Inspire others with courage and cheer. "We are too likely to forget, in our superior way, that it is mere downright discouragement and dispiritedness about themselves and their own possibilities of reform which keep many, many poor sinners groveling in their sin. Get a man into a hopeful, eager spirit within himself, keen and sanguine about his own chances of improvement, and you will have given him an immense lift along the paths of righteousness and perfection."

  • The Apostleship of Praise: Praise what is worthy. "All of us, whether we like it or not, are moved by other men's authority and depend on their judgment and lean on their estimate of the value of things. What they praise, we are apt to esteem more highly; what they blame is lessened in our sight. If they are contemptuous or indifferent, we are very likely to be inclined to contempt or indifference, too."

  • The Apostleship of Speech in Business: Conduct yourself in a holy way in your workplace. "[M]any folk seem almost to have lost the sense of right and wrong in dealing with their neighbor's reputation. ... We have planted the fruitful seeds of aversion and suspicion in our hearer's hearts. The memory of our words ... may die away from their minds, ... [but] thereafter when the name of the person we spoke ill of comes to their ears, the lingering prejudice born of our unkind talk will rise up, and they will dislike and distrust him."

  • The Apostleship of Character: Wear a Catholic face. "There is something in the wholesome moral atmosphere that a true-hearted Catholic bears about him, which has a solemn eloquence to proclaim his Faith to his fellowmen."

  • The Apostleship of Counsel: Steer others away from error. "If we see a friend of ours wasting his toil in a bogus venture, or spending good money on worthless stock, we hurry and give him the word. May we not do as much in matters of eternal moment, when the gold at stake is the gold of heavenly merit, with which a man must buy of his God the kingdom without end?"

  • The Apostleship of Charity: Assist those in need. "Not that other good deeds are disregarded, nor that other crimes shall fail of their just retribution on that awful day [Judgment day]. But it is of these works of charity that we are most strongly reminded [in the parable of the goats and sheep], because it is these that even good men seem likeliest to forget."

  • The Apostleship of Consistency: Live your faith in word and deed. "There is an argument stronger with most men than any logic -- a way of preaching that is open to everyone and to which no soul can choose but listen: the argument of steadfast good example, a consistent living up to our Catholic principles and our Catholic beliefs."

  • Updates To Links

    I have made a few updates and done some pruning of the permanent links to the left. In addition to Maureen (mentioned below) and Catholic Light, make sure to visit what is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs: Disputations.


    To anyone arriving via Maureen McHugh's A Religion of Sanity: welcome! Reflections on CFL can be conveniently accessed from the list in the grey column to the left. To my regular readers I offer an apology for the slowdown in posts. I'm still struggling to get the work build-up from my vacation under control, making for many long days at the office (and, from the looks of it, another week's worth to go). Besides what I post tonight, it will probably be the weekend before the next reflection gets posted. Still, there's plenty to read in the archives. Help yourself.

    News From Chicago

    I have only lived in the Archdiocese of Chicago for coming up on two years. Still, I have grown to respect and admire Cardinal George and his approach to things. Follow this link for a press release regarding the Archdiocese of Chicago's implementation of the Charter. In my opinion, eminently reasonable. Tells people the Archdiocese of Chicago is working to implement the Charter. Speaks to the likely impact and provides relevant facts, but no more than necessary and clearly indicates that the Archdiocese will be proceeding with caution and fairness.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2002

    I Had Better Be Careful

    Those who read Integrity carefully are probably aware that I make my fair share of typos and grammatical errors, but try to correct those I discover. (One of the problems of being someone who writes what he hears.) Well, there's a new watch dog on the prowl in St. Blog's, Nihil Obstat, standing ready to correct the rest of us when we slip up. I sure hope N.O. has some better hobbies. Although I'm all for proofreading, you would think N.O. would cut people some slack until Blogger comes with a built-in spell-checking feature. Setting aside the fact that the Catholic concept of nihil obstat generally refers to not having objections to a text for reasons of greater importance than spellling, does anyone else find it amusing that dear N.O. refers to himself as the "official" proofreader of St. Blog's? Did I miss a meeting of the parish council?

    Sunday, June 16, 2002

    I'm Back

    Well, I am back from vacation and will be posting new reflections on CFL shortly. I had a chance to catch EWTN's wrap-up special on the Dallas conference. (Probably the best way to watch it, anyway.) I will keep my comments brief as I didn't see most of the proceedings and haven't read the documents (and don't intend to).

    From what I saw, the conference was a waste and an effort to placate people with zippy headlines ("zero tolerance") versus a serious effort to address the problem. I haven't watched these conferences in the past, but I was shocked by how much it seemed like a meeting of legislators than spiritual leaders. Part of the problem. Cardinal George had it right when he said little is new about this charter other than the collective resolve behind it (which is still to be demonstrated). Personally, what is new about the charter frightens me. (For those who have read the charter and know that I am missing some nuance, forgive me.) We've had plenty of experience with zero tolerance-type efforts in the secular law (3-strikes, minimum sentencing guidelines) and it has had little success. In my mind, it is the abdication of responsibility to judge each case fairly and justly. "The charter has settled the issue, I can point to it. It's responsible." I also find the deference to civil law troubling. Civil law can be against divine and natural law. If the civil authorities require all cases of abuse to be reported, even those revealed under seal of confession, will the bishops just submit to it? I don't have a problem with a bishop choosing to cooperate with civil authorities, but it seems to me that it is dangerous to establish it as a policy.

    All in all, it was pretty much what I expected. Of course, my expectations were pretty low. Still, I am disappointed that the bishops didn't spend more of their time discussing what bishops should be doing as shepherds. Why did the conference have to be a legislative activity? I read on The Corner Rod Dreher's comments on the bishops going to report every allegation to the civil authorities because they have lost credibility to do anything else. I don't know about this. It strikes me as somewhat defeatist. Yes, many bishops have squandered their moral authority. But it is only going to be reclaimed by behaving like bishops. From some of the comments of the bishops I am struck by the notion that some of them don't intend to disclose every allegation to the civil authorities because that is the right thing to do (and that's open to some debate), but because they can't stand the heat that would be on them during the time it will take to truly recover their persuasive authority by embracing their responsibility fully.

    Sunday, June 09, 2002

    Sorry, But I've Been Busy

    I am sure many of you have been waiting to see the next reflection on CFL. Unfortunately, things have been very busy at work this week, trying to get everything under handle before my vacation starts this weekend. Although I hope to have a series of posts after work tomorrow, frankly, I don't know if that will happen. So don't be surprised if Integrity remains dormant until Monday, June 17th. I may post a few times during my vacation, but I don't think it will be much of a vacation if I spend all my time blogging. In case this is the last post I make for a bit, I leave you with a few thoughts:

  • Unless you can resist the temptation to critique each word or statement of the Bishops, don't watch every minute or much of EWTN's coverage of the Bishops' conference. Frankly, I suspect many of you would watch it like my ex-girlfriend watches beauty pageants: to criticize and think hateful things about the participants. (Come on, admit it.)

  • Spend some time in prayer. Pray that God grants our Bishops His wisdom. Pray for the intercession of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.

  • Try to remember that the conference isn't the solution to the scandal but the beginning of the solution.
  • Update:I just noticed that Amy Welborn is advertising that she will be providing hourly updates on the Bishops conference next week. My goodness I hope not. I am extremely leery of that idea. It strikes me akin to giving minute-by-minute movie reviews. I don't care what the bishops discuss during the first ten minutes; I care what they discuss during the entire conference. I fear hourly updates will lend themselves to "grading" the bishops "performance" in that segment and not straight reporting. I see little to be gained from not letting at least a day's worth of activity unfold before commenting on it. Hopefully she will prove me wrong and her updates will be useful. Otherwise, she will be doing everyone a disservice.

    Cardinal George's Column In The Catholic New World

    Anyone who can get a print copy of it should read Cardinal George's most recent column in the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago, The Catholic New World. (The online version tends to be a week behind. Hopefully, they will post the column before the Dallas Conference.) His column is one of the most insightful I have read about the scandal so far. With due apologies to The Catholic New World, I am going to present some extended quotes from the column:

    "On the level of both appearance and reality, the bishops will be addressing the scandal of the sexual abuse of minors by a few priests and failure to correct this shameful conduct effectively and quickly on the part of some bishops. ... But the deeper reality also at stake throughout the discussion of policies is the holiness of priests and the trustworthiness of bishops.
    A priest of the Archdiocese commented a couple of weeks ago during one of the meetings about the Sacrament of Penance that people today haven't so much lost a sense of sin as a sense of forgiveness. In the midst of all the shame and scandal, the Church must speak of forgiveness or she will forget her own identity in Christ. There is now much justification for anger; but there is never justification for self-righteousness. Where there is self-righteousness, Christ can do nothing.
    A crisis of authority in the Church cannot be resolved if bishops don't act like bishops. A bishop has responsibility before Christ for keeping people united to Christ. A bishop therefore sets boundaries, in the matter of sexual misconduct or any other matter; but, more fundamentally, he encourages people to live virtuously in Christ. When people are "in Christ" and not full of themselves and their own lives, they are the Church. Since the bishop is the visible point of reference for union with Christ, people divorced from the bishop are not part of the apostolic Church.
    In fact, a bishop who doesn't get the loss of confidence in the hierarchy today must be comatose. But bishops cannot address that loss outside of the context of faith which creates the Church as Church. The sentence therefore has to finish like this: "My cardinal gets the loss of confidence in the hierachy, and he says we really have to ask for the grace to be more faithful disciples, in what we believe and in how we act, bishops and people together around Jesus Christ."
    Today, many groups and people, including some who still see themselves as Catholic, have a vested interest in the failure of the bishops at Dallas. No matter what is done, it will not be enough. And, given our culture, that's largely true. As the bishops move now to diminish and control sources of corruption in the Church, even among themselves, this larger social context of suspicion will remain. It's part of our history. The bishops must do their work and govern the Church as a faith community, but it is the Catholic laity who will determine what is fair in reporting and judging the actions of priests and bishops and it is the laity who will determine the place of the church in this society. There will be no place, because there will be no Catholic Church, no visible body of Christ, if people and bishops are not united in Christ. That's the reality."

    Thursday, June 06, 2002

    Now That's Rich

    I just got a telephone call from my alma mater (University of Michigan) hitting me up for a donation. What was the pitch? Some new chair they want to endow? A new curriculum initiative? Nope. I was told I should help my university because rankings are based in part on how much support alumni provide. Please! I'm supposed to open my checkbook because you want to improve your U.S. News & World Report ranking?

    Monday, June 03, 2002

    Article From First Things

    A while back, I mentioned this article written by a good friend and law school classmate of mine. The article is now available here at the First Things website.

    Latin Scripture Quote Of The Day

    ""Ego sum panis vivus, qui de caelo descendi. Si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in aeternum; panis autem, quem ego dabo, caro mea est pro mundi vita."" (Evangelium Secundum Ioannem 6:51.)

    Today's Lay Saint

    Today's lay saint is St. Elizabeth of Hungary. You can learn more about her here. (Yes, the Hungarian people have been blessed with several lay saints.)

    Saturday, June 01, 2002

    Emails and The Readers' Reflections Feature

    Wow, I've received more email since my Friday posts than I probably have at any other point during the life of Integrity. Let me just thank all of you who wrote. As I said in a previous post, I think Friday's comments were accurate but read as if I am more disillusioned than I am.

    Also, you will notice the Readers' Reflections link that appears after posts now. (If someone knows a way to make it appear on only certain posts, let me know.) We are going to give this a test drive and see how it works out with the next few reflections on CFL. As I said in my previous post, this is not a general comments section. Hence the different name. My hope is that people will find this a convenient way to contribute to the exploration of CFL. Please keep this in mind. If people start posting comments on non-CFL posts or use it for purposes other than what I just outlined, I will remove the feature.

    Forthcoming Encyclical

    EWTN's The World Over reports that the pontiff is working on a new encyclical whose subject is the Eucharist. Now, if that isn't a reason to pray for the pope's continued health, I don't know what is. What a treasure it would be and, from EWTN's report on the pope's comments about it, a helpful thread to understanding all of the pope's encyclicals.