Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Great Wars

The Great War.

I was taught by the teachers who had served in the generations following the great wars. In my high school, I had seen the photographs, of teachers in military uniforms. Post-war, men returning afterward still wore their uniforms, as civilian teachers at a military school. At least for a while.

My father had graduated from the same high school. A generation later, I had many of the same teachers. And I was taught what my father had been taught here in the years when World War II broke out.

The world had been reshaped by the Great Wars.

I enrolled at a Catholic university in the fall of 1971. Students who had seen the face of a priest in worship. Young Catholics who had no barrier in place as Mass. The philosophy and theology courses were unaltered, unlike the students, in the early 1970s by Vatican II. And I was taught by priests who seemed unchanged by Vatican II. Young men now in long hair. Unveiled women. In church.

At Catholic universities, where all students were not Catholics. Men now in long hair. Women now on the pill. And the spiritual tension, challenging the system of God.

The Great War. There were the battles being fought, over implementing changes of Vatican II. Younger priests were sent in to replace older priests, with power, replacing the Kosher-like priests who would not implement change. When papal authority said, “Just Do IT.”

There was the day to day strife in rectories, between priests. Over change and how to implement change. There was day to day strife over what was happening in the church, over what had happened in the world. Other than as chaplains, these priests might have missed the great wars. Unaware of how the world had changed.

Vatican II. The Catholic world had been reshaped by the Great Wars. And then Vatican II, with the requirement for clear and coherent speech … in the native language. With the purpose of greater understanding, with the demand unchanged for appropriate mood and affect. In the churches. In the music. But always there was an underlying tension. With occasional apprehensions. With the disorganization in task execution. With a conscious that could be turned off and on. Over good and evil. And in the battle for power.

Were those older priests, after Vatican II, feeling not much different than Eve? Yeah, unappreciated Eve. Like all women, especially after the great wars. When women had no power. In the legal process. When Lincoln might have freed the slaves, but not the female slaves. When nothing really ever had changed. When the civil rights movement, at the time of Vatican II, called the question, when the law of the land was not synonymous with true justice. When there was only a pretense of belief in the order to the system.

Then the war of independence. Women at war with insensitive men. Over the relationship. Women in the insensitive world in search of soul mates … and the battle fatigue. In a church still led by the pre-Vatican II priests, as well as priests formed from behind the Iron Curtain or priests formed in the reign of Hitler. In the day when only men were called to war. Some voluntarily and others involuntarily. When there was so much denial, were was the truth-telling about suffering in this world … about the damage done in the dominant culture? In relationships. In something invisible.

And the repercussions. In all real wars there was Trauma and Recovery. Even in the war of independence. Since Joseph Ratzinger was elected, a debate had taken place over an attempt to change the way the Catholic world had been praying, since 1965. In a letter dated July 29, 2006, Bishop William Skylstad, then President of the Conference, informed Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments that the Latin Church Bishops of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops approved the translation of the Ordo Missae at its plenary meeting on June 15, 2006. Before jumping through the hoops on the same issue in 2008 and 2009. For the English speaking world. (It is of note that Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, does not speak English.)

It was like the ‘turn-back-the-clock game where the professional sports team brought out vestments from one hundred years ago, in the clash of the modern world and the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, with their “slavishly literal” translation into English of the new Roman Missal from the original Latin. With new bishops in authority, appointed under the regimes of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, without the collegiality of the Holy See, the people in charge were ordered, not instructed, to follow the Nike model and “Just Do It.” These bishops who pledged loyalty every five years, to the pope. These bishops, those slavishly literal bishops, who had too often failed to show any true leadership — in Tucson, in Portland, in all the bankrupt dioceses and archdioceses in American – in the sexual abuse crisis until journalists exposed all of the cover ups. The old order, with too many shills, was to return. With the disorganization in task execution. With a silence, not telling the people in the pews about the plan. Those announcements were focused on the coming parish closings, not on the new way to pray.

In the age of divorce. Where even the Vatican was getting ready to divorce itself of the nuns — over their implemented changes — if not now maybe from the rest of the Catholic female world. Over issues of language. Ignoring all the issues of pain in relationship that the Vatican II tried to ignore. With a silence. Still keeping the reports and goings-on secret.

And so the timing to test, to measure, all the damage. In relationship. In relationships. In alienation. Between God and man. Between men and women. Measured in neuropsychological test findings, about true understanding.

There are those tests to report upon those very brief latencies of word-finding difficulties. Or confrontation naming. The Boston Naming test, dealing with expressive language. Measuring personal if not institutional intellectual capability. And all the occasional lapses of attentional deployment. All these things that happened during prayer.

The demand upon entry to the seminaries, for Visual Spatial Reasoning and Perceptual Organization, with high average perceptions. And the Bender-Gestalt to measure the perceptual motor skills, with good visual construction abilities.

The slowly forgotten Great Wars, which had changed the world. What humans perceived. The slowly forgotten perceptions of humanity. And inhumanity. The norms of the neuropsychological world. The Boston Naming test, like the city in New England, dealing with expressive language. In my own language. And the testing for confrontation naming.

The word-finding difficulties. In prayer. In a church that was abandoning the translations which have been used for 45 years. By my generation and the one behind me.

Binding orders. Teachers in military uniforms. Men returning afterward, who still wore their military uniforms in civilian times. At an all-boys high school. At least for a while. Dealing with authority, like Adam and the old world, before Eve. Adam living in all of the silence. And with the one commandment before she arrived, about the Tree of Knowledge. When in the story of Eve and Adam, Eve never really cared about the old rules –the one rule. Or the old commander and his war stories. I think Eve still did not care, as Adam tried to gain some control over the world before Eve.

That Old World Order which existed before the Great Wars. We were all gonna be praying, in a sense, in Latin again, in a way that Romans once dominated the world, with all the friendliness towards people under the domination of empire that Adolph Hitler tried to reproduce. In union with the church throughout the world. With an ensuing certain rigid thinking that might assist in a discipline to reach the highest thrones. In one piece. Unbroken. Slavishly, in union.

POST SCRIPT: In an August 20, 2010 letter, Francis Cardinal George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced receipt of a June 23rd letter from Cardinal Llovera Antonio Cañizares, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with the provided guidelines for publication of the full text of the English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition,as mandated by the Vatican. The document states, “The use of the third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.  From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.”

There are, in the new translations, reportedly 12 new responses which will have to be learned by those who attend Mass, replacing the language used in the Mass since Vatican II.


The Deacon’s Bench

POST SCRIPT: The Catholic News Service reports an item from VATICAN CITY on November 23, 2011 that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has just issued a 41-page text on reforming the international financial system. Perhaps the Vatican was compelled with its own expertise after getting the Vatican Bank running so smoothly after accusations of money laundering in the 1980s, and then the subsequent investigation by Italian officials of the Vatican bank in the past two year.




POST SCRIPT: In November 2014, the magazine Commonweal writes: “It is extremely unusual to have a lengthy vacancy at the top rung of a major Vatican office, especially when it’s a Roman congregation. Normally when the pope accepts the resignation of a prefect or assigns him to another post, he appoints a successor within a matter of days. Usually he does it immediately. That hasn’t happened with the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS). Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, soon to be sixty-nine, had headed the office since late 2008. But on August 28, 2014, Pope Francis named him Archbishop of Valencia. That was almost five weeks ago. He still hasn’t been replaced. During his nearly six years in that office, Cardinal Cañizares helped to advance Benedict XVI’s liturgical preferences. Those sympathetic to his efforts claimed his appointment to Valencia was part of Francis’s purge of the former pope’s men. But that’s not quite right. The cardinal had actually asked Benedict to send him back to Spain. He had hoped to be named Archbishop of Madrid, head of the church in the nation’s capital. Instead, Francis sent him to Valencia, Cañizares’s fourth diocese, where he was ordained a priest in 1970. What is puzzling is why it has taken so long for Pope Francis to fill the vacancy he left at CDWDS. Perhaps the pope is waiting until Saturday, after the cardinal is officially installed in his new diocese. Or it may be that there is a tug of war in the curia over the appointment. In any case, the delay has people of varying liturgical leanings waiting with bated breath.”



Religion Blogs

Religion Blogs
Rabbi Abraham Skorka

“Martin Kalkowski

Reach Baseballs

Father’s Day.

In the house I grew up in there was a spot in the basement where my father kept at least a dozen Reach baseballs. Maybe two or three dozen.

Those different generations…. for my family, Father’s Day and baseball were and still are synonymous. In the age of television, Father’s Day and the U. S. Open are now synonymous, at least with fathers who grew up with television as a foster relative.

What is inside the ball? From one generation to the next, kids have always wondered what’s inside the ball.  Whether it was about the inert game of golf or baseball, most kids have a curiosity about the insides of the ball.  There is a sense of wonder about what is inside, and what is inside the ball is part of the attraction to the game.

Reach was the manufacturer of these baseballs kept in our basement. With Joe Cronin’s signature on them. Made in Haiti. In the late 19th century, Spalding had acquired Reach and then operated the company as a subsidiary, leaving the Reach name on these balls used in the American League. Our supply was always replenished.

That childhood sense of wonder –of what was inside the ball–was the first of the various real life mysteries in our lives … for my father’s kids, anyway.

It was a Father’s Day in the last 1980s. I lived in Chicago and my dad was in town on a trip that had him, for professional reasons, at Comiskey Park on that Sunday.  Afterward I took him to five o’clock Mass at old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. It was one of the few buildings that had survived the Great Chicago Fire.  Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church then was being revitalized by a priest named Jack Wall.  And I think that was the day he delivered his Holy of Holies homily.  It had to do with Roman centurions storming into the temple, which must have been in Jerusalem, in search of the Holy of Holies about which they had heard so much.  It was the secret to what inspired the passions of the people of Israel.  After much destruction around the location inside the the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle where Holy of Holies was kept, the Roman centurions left.  They were unable to resolve the mystery of what was behind the thick curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place drawing such reverence from the people.

That Holy of Holies. It is not irreverence to compare my feeling to what is inside the ball, to the same mystery that Jack Wall talked about that Sunday. Have you ever been overcome with the smell of horsehide?

The spirit within. Exhibiting that spirit within. Hustle. The tenacity shown on the diamond. Or the gentleness at home.

Children in their innocence had a reverence for things that too many jaded adults lost along the way. About baseball. About life. The institutional voice of a parent who was always there from the beginning, as the seat of authority. In the humanness of a Father. The mystery and reality of life. Until one day any child had to answer the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Baseball was an art form, in one of the mysterious celebrations of life. Baseball which all seemed to start in our basement. At my house. Someone once wrote, “Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it.”

There were always the questions. The bad hops. The mysterious bad hops, in the game of inches. On the playing field. The subtleness of the mystery. On diamonds. In churches. Until you eventually figured some things out. With the help of a father. Like the indicator before the steal sign. From one generation to the next. Those sacraments that produced Grace. Baseball was one of the sacraments that produced Grace. Like the sacrifice fly. God in His incredible subtleness, day in and day out. With the squeeze play. Baseball was one of the outward signs, believed by me anyway, believed by some American Irish Catholics anyway, over time, which produced INWARD signs. When the outward signs over time produced INWARD signs. And Grace.

What was the attraction? When I grew to be a man there was still a sense of the Holy of Holies around the game of baseball. The spirit within. At an outdoor ballpark. We had had this 28 year gap in Minnesota, with real baseball.

Generations were more adept now at using the new technology. My brother subscribed to the “bigger, stronger, faster” philosophy in sports that you heard promoted on television. That new technology. In car commercials and sports. Wherever that had taken us. With Chrysler and General Motors.

Baseball, in the horsehide, was one language of creation. Not many spoke the language like I had heard it. Like in poetry, here were places for pauses. For silence. Like in church. With the background noises, in the relationships which developed.

When I was fourteen, I got my first job. It was at a ball park. I worked there over 9 seasons. At an outdoor ballpark. Something happened to a person when you went to a ballpark everyday of the summer, even when the team was on the road. The ballpark was like a church. Something was absorbed each day. With the smell of resin and horsehide. A relationship developed, an invisible bond, with the past to the present. An invisible bond which was too often missing from too many who played the game professionally today.

Whereas I used to wonder what was now inside the ball, now with Bud Selig’s autograph I wonder in the age of steroids, from about 1992 through the present day, what is inside the athlete. I wonder about what inspired the passions of these present day people who had missed out on the real Holy of Holies.

Though my father died eleven years ago, Father’s Day and baseball still for my family are synonymous. I had come to learn baseball was about relationships, that a ballpark was more than a holy place where the Holy of Holies was kept, but a place to share something deep inside, from a craftsman who was connecting the past to the present, very much the case by my own father. With a reverence for the game, through Sport involved with Time and Place and Distance, baseball had become a part of me, through this father-son relationship passing on the power in bonds between people, passing on the Spirit.

Religion Blogs


Té Tremble

In modern times, one universal truth since the French Revolution has included the anger and the fear that the young always directed at institutions which sheltered a civilization. Not at all unlike the anger and the fear that came out of slavery. Like in Haiti about the time of the French Revolution. Before the Louisiana Purchase. The anger and the fear directed at royalty and the clergy. At the time of the French Revolution, the anger at all of the estates, including the journalists covering the story.

The anger was over the powerlessness…. in the always and everywhere identity of being a slave — this powerful identity from the past in the New World based upon race that is not allowed in polite society to be discussed… Or about that anger from the past which had come of slavery.

I spent part of last weekend with the descendants of displaced slaves. I attended a program on Sunday about rebuilding Haiti. After waking earlier that day to “Speaking of Faith,” a National Public Radio program that morning which had discussed life in western Alabama where shelter had always been based upon a social order of the soul, with its burden of history. The houses of western Alabama always had had porches, in a day when air conditioning did not cut off a family from a neighbor, with a concern of long-term survival. Whereas part of the rebuilding process, part of the architecture included recycling building materials of the past, and an architectural teacher from the University of Auburn mentioned the slave houses in this part of the Alabama. As he was talking about the importance of an architecture that was committed and engaged, he asked who now could ever understand in this day and age slavery? “Either its social and/or cultural part at the time of slavery?” In western Alabama, where had been the descendants — with its displaced slaves and the slave masters still present. Architectural students from the University of Auburn had to find out about the truth in the collective memory of slavery, in the architectural systems being re-created.

The Saint Paul Public Library offered a panel discussion with sponsorship of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library with mostly Haitian people. Max Adrien is a Haitian-born Hamline University French professor with a Ph. D., from Tulane University in New Orleans where he helped establish a Haitian Creole program. In examining Haitian history, he told the story which began on December 5, 1492 in Haiti. Where Columbus sank the Santa Maria. Why Columbus came, with the late 15th century European God. Perhaps initially with a 16th century benevolence. To find a route to the east. To avoid the Ottoman Turks –those fierce Ottoman Turks. Adrian said he had a B.A. from Loyola University in Chicago, and knew well the theology of Columbus’s world. In a five minute history, he spoke of the arrival of the French who formally claimed control of the western portion of the island of Hispaniola. With the encouragement of Louis XIV, the French West Indian Company had begun to grow tobacco, cotton, indigo, and cacao under the labor of the enslaved Tainos who inhabited the island before Columbus’ gang arrived. With high Taíno mortality attributed to a missing immunity to Old World diseases, a French monsignor had suggested going to Africa to import replacement labor. And thus the history of African slaves from hundreds of different tribes, with hundreds of different languages. The estimated number was 790,000 African slaves in 1783-1791. And so the story of displaced slaves, from Africa.

Thirty years younger than the United States, Haiti was the first independent black nation in the Western Hemisphere. Adrien discussed Toussaint L’Ouverture’s revolution from France that caused enough fear to Napoleon for the United States to complete the Louisiana Purchase. Louisiana, with its sugar base economy. Louisiana, with its same French connection. Louisiana, caught in the same slave trade triangle as Haiti. He made mention of crippling reparations paid to France after the country’s revolution in order to lift an embargo. And its history has shown the ongoing dependence ever since, based on reparations for the freed slaves, and with the old paradigm of slavery. In the 18th century, Haiti was the richest island in the Caribbean, with its economy based upon sugar.

Barbara Pierre-Louis, a Ph.D. candidate, gave a personal account of her Haitian history, where reference was made to Paul Farmer’s powerful book, The Uses of Haiti. Both of these speakers had been in Minnesota on January 12, 2010 on the day of Té Tremble. Roulio Lundy was a young Haitian who had married a Minnesotan in March 2009 but was home on the island. One of 19 children, he gave a moving account of visiting a neighborhood where a woman his own age had prepared him lunch as he readied to journey 60 miles in his car to return to his mother’s home on that Tuesday. After turning down an invitation to eat food three times, he finally took the food and put it in his back seat and set off for home. Five minutes down the road, there was upheaval on the road he was driving on. The sky turned black. And the buildings along the side of the road collapsed. It seemed the end of the world had arrived. He spoke of picking up 3 young men in his car as he resumed his travel, witnessing horror after horror of adult men sawing off their arms, to escape from the rubble of their buildings. Offers of all worldly goods were made by those trapped if somehow they could be saved. The four men distributed the food and water in the car as they came across horrific scene after horrific scene. And he found that the woman who had prepared his food had died in the earthquake. He had a flat tire later that afternoon, and took a wheel off another car to continue on, at one point abandoning his car. It took him until midnight on Thursday to complete his journey on foot to his mother’s home. He found that all of his family member were alive.

There were questions. One question was from a woman who had sponsored a child through the NGO called World Vision. The Minneapolis wife of Roulio Lundy suggested that the people in the audience take a different approach. She told of the dislike of non-government organizations (NGOs), who have been helping in Haiti for 50 years, with more poverty today than 50 years ago, with a greater number existing on less than $2 per day than ever before. The view there that the people were poorer, and the NGOs richer. Causing in the view of many locals, more damage than good. The NGOs that seemed to want to do something. That was the environment in Haiti before the earthquake.

Yes, I had spent part of the weekend with the educated descendants of displaced slaves. Maria Roesler-Lundy had married a descendant. Her husband was the only member of the panel who did not carry a post graduate degree from an American university. And all of the Haitians had spoken of the prestigious schools in Haiti. The few prestigious schools. Education maybe not unlike the air conditioning which had cut off so many from their neighbors. And there was this undertow of class, even among the descendants of displaced slaves, some who had gotten the chance to attend the prestigious schools, to pursue passing on the academics to the next generation. With or without the anger at the concept of the 16th century God.

The institutional advancement of a nation. Maria Roesler-Lundy came over to give a more explicit answer dealing with World Vision, about the NGOs created and survive, on the back of the poor.  She said her answer had not been about just World Vision. Her answer dealt with giving not just money alone to Haitian causes, but the need to get actively involved with the people in the nation. And when her husband compared this crisis of rebuilding to being about more than sharing money but similar to preparing food and then eating it with the people, and suddenly I was overcome with the realization that the only reason he was standing in front of me was because he had not stayed to share the food prepared by his former next door neighbor. And I understood the reasons hat he had wept at the conclusion of his speech, delivered in Creole.

His answer was about creating a relationship. “Don’t try to change the Haitian people,” someone had opined on “This American Life.” The moderator had wrapped up the program quoting an American physician who had gone to Haiti long before the earthquake. He had commented upon all the Fixit types who come to town and get right down to work. Never starting the morning, as the locals ask each day, “How are you? How did you sleep?” There were now a lot of foreigners who skip the morning greeting each day. The advice of anyone going to Haiti who would deal with Haitians was “Try to understand their point of view.” Because in Haiti, there were some grateful and some ungrateful.

Institutional advancement in Haiti was a slow and cumbersome process, Apricot Irving reported on “This American Life.” The pitfalls of the old model of the 19th century benevolence could be seen over and over. Many Haitians were experts at receiving aid, but not changing their own lives, maybe attributed to a built up immunity to Old World theology, as some kind of remnant of an slave culture. Foreigners always in charge, with hope that the Haitians would catch on. Immunity maybe to the 16th century God of Columbus, who somehow had allowed slavery. And then the 19th century benevolence. As the slaves over time had become dependent on their slave masters. And now this cowboy culture from the US, when the problems are there to fix. The Fixit American Men from Mars, and their women, giving out of what these people did not have. Of technology. Of water. It was the social order of slavery.

The doctor that Apricot Irving interviewed said, “Build a citadel and you build another benevolent dictatorship. The cowboy to fix the problem. For efficacy, service and security…why not become a benevolent dictator?” The choice was to either continue the dysfunction, or to create a new model. To replace the old model in this slave culture. Of Papa Doc. Or the NGOs. Or think about the hard work of community building. When along the way, services in 2010 will not be provided. And that admittedly was a terrible choice. Building true community takes time….with a perseverance in a relationship. Between people.

So the reconstruction of Haiti. And the choice between the old model and the new. The old model which creates a new slave plantation, dependent on the masters. With all of the fruits just like before. . . With the distance. And the consequence. The ensuing anger, the violence…the discontent. Or the choice which comes with authentic generous sharing. When people gave, out of what others did not have, with a true caring. A never ending caring, which was seldom recognized when any people were enslaved. So the reconstruction of all of the shelter, in the New World, which always has been based upon a social order of the soul.

And so the spiritual architects, finding out about the truth in the collective memory of slavery, in the architectural systems being re-created. In the new discoveries of 2010, in the reconstruction of Haiti.