Sunday, May 29, 2005

corpus christi

More than any dogma, practice, devotion or moral norm, what sets Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity apart from all the other Christian churches is the belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Here, the Catholic concept of sacrament takes its boldest stand: a visible sign that is what it signifies.

The words of Christ at the last supper mean what they appear to affirm: "This is my Body. This is my Blood. Do this in memory of me."

Catholicism's radical understanding of Christ's intention and the meaning of his gesture has long made other versions of Christianity queasy. Outside the Church, 'communion' becomes a social gesture, a symbol of spiritual belonging, a ritual recalling a moving historical moment... anything but what it really is.

Catholic understanding of the Eucharist stems from our understanding of the Incarnation, the first sacrament. "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us."

A God who does not shy away from the human condition in all its messiness. A God who considers no aspect of Creation unworthy of its Creator. A God who teaches dependence on one another, selfless giving to one another, being truly there for one another... and does it personally.

This world would be a lonely, lonely place were it not for that small sanctuary light that burns day and night, oblivious to the shallowness and disregard of many, in chapels all over the earth. As long as that light flickers, we have everything to live for.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

boston massacre

Sure, it was only one game. Either a win or a loss, nothing more.
Sure, we'll just have to see where they are in September.
Sure, every team gets blown out once in a while. Geez, how many games do they play in a season, anyway...

Whatever. Nothing can make me enjoy this any less.
Bosox 17. Evil Empire 1.
And loving it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


In a few days they're auctioning off the Pope John Paul's old car. Nope, not the Popemobile, so recognizable from the past pontiff's globetrotting. His car. You know, his drive before being Pope.

A 1975 Ford Escort GL with over 60,000 miles personally logged by JPII will be sold to the highest bidder in Vegas next weekend (3-4 June). The Pope had sold the car to a US based auction house in 1996 and used the money for Catholic charities. The present owner has debts to pay and hopes to get $5m.

It appears that Josef Ratzinger's old wheels (1999 Volkswagon Golf) went for a measley $240g a few months ago.

How long before they sell indulgences on EBay?

Still dwelling on the topic of my last post, I did a quick search to see if there are any official fatwas condemning suicide bombings by jihadists, as T.L.Friedman called for in his op eds last week.

There is at least one (I'll keep looking), and very recent. Fifty-three Pakistani clerics signed a fatwa that rejects the killing of innocents, for whatever reason, as against the spirit of Islam. The fatwa was applauded only days ago by the Catholic bishop of Lahore.

Although it's unlikely that this decree in itself will reduce terrorists attacks in Iraq or elsewhere, it is a glimmer of hope on an issue, up to now, virtually hopeless.

holy, holy

Much has been made of the Newsweek story that sparked deadly riots and massive anti-US demonstrations in a number of muslim countries in recent days. The Bush administration has, somewhat sanctimoniously, called for reparation of America's damaged image in the Islamic world. The magazine, supported by numerous media sources, claims that the real cause of the trouble is not an isolated article, previously ok'd by Pentagon reviewers, but the Administration's entire response to Islamic terror, including especially the detention center at Guantanamo.

THAT is a beef that will go on for as long as Bush is in office and may even then never be resolved to the complete satisfaction of either party.

The Exorcist, however, would like to get his two cents in, specifically, on one aspect of the controversy.

Two pieces by editorial contributor Thomas L. Friedman were run by the NY Times last week on the Guantanamo incident that seem to reflect a broader misunderstanding of what's really the issue.

In Outrage and Silence (May 18), Friedman calls the alleged desecration of the Qur'an an outrage, but goes on to say that if riots are going to be staged and fatwas are going to be issued they should instead protest "the indiscriminate mass murders of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds by these jihadist suicide bombers".

In The Best P.R.:Straight Talk (May 20), he extends this thinking even further, saying, "we think the Arab-Muslim world must also look in the mirror when it comes to how it has been behaving toward an even worse crime than the desecration of God's words, and that is the desecration of God's creations". Mr.Bush should reprimand the Islamic world stating clearly, "I don't understand a concept of the sacred that says a book is more sacred than a human life. A holy book, whether the Bible or the Koran, is only holy to the extent that it shapes human life and behavior."

What "we think" and what we "don't understand" about Islam have seldom been more evident.

Our western culture, oh-so-remotely reflecting judeo-christian values, recognizes no greater dignity, no greater right, no greater value than that associated with human life. It is in the name of 'human dignity' that some defend euthanasia and abortion and others protest the death penalty or advocate adoption.

Not so in Islam. The dignity, rights and sanctity of Allah are quite evidently in a different category, untouchable and incomparable with human claims of any type, however noble. Foreign and contradictory as it may seem to us, Islam has retained a heightened, almost hair-trigger sense of the sacred that absolutely outweighs any other values, convenience or consideration. In practice, this results in a moral standard that westerners find hard to swallow.

From a theological standpoint, the Qur'an in Islam is not similar, in the way it is understood, to the Bible in Christianity. For us, Sacred Scripture is God's word analogously, that is, inasmuch as it reflects the true, original Word of God who is Jesus Christ in person. Inspired, but not dictated, the Bible is not diminished by this analogy. Its authority in the Christian world derives from it.

Again, not so in Islam. There is no human mediation involved in the Qur'an. The written word in it's original form (arabic) is directly identified with its Source, Allah himself. The Qur'an is God's caring and commanding presence among his people, the only way he is present in the world. To defile or disrespect the Qur'an is to dishonor God himself. Contrary to what Friedman asserts, its effect on human life and behavior is irrelevant to the holiness of the Qur'an.

A true muslim could never be indifferent to even a supposed affront to the Qur'an. The riots after the Newsweek debacle (inasmuch as they may have had anything to do with the Guantanamo story) were not an exaggeration, they were an obligation. Killing or dying in defense of Allah/Qur'an is not a denial of morality, it is its most sublime expression.

I do not think this way. You do not think this way. But it is equally irrational to expect fervent muslims to surrender their moral standards, which reflect a sensitivity to the Sacred long abandoned by the western conscience, especially on advice by George Bush. That is what Friedman proposes in his response to the Newsweek article conflict.

This is where the Exorcist begs to differ, in case you were wondering.

Monday, May 23, 2005

accusations dismissed

Both Ian Fisher of the NY Times and Marion Lloyd of the Boston Globe have reported that las Friday, May 20, a Vatican spokesman, Rev. Ciro Benedettini, informed the Legion of Christ that the investigation surrounding Fr. Marcial Maciel has been dropped and no church trial will be brought to bear against the founder of the congregation.

Unfortunately, I'm not so sure anything other than a guilty verdict will satisfy the men on crusade against Fr. Maciel. This is about vindication. Their vindication.

Juan Vaca, one of the accusers, responded to the news by saying that the dismissal of the case would damage the Vatican's credibility. Interesting. If an accusation is consistently dismissed for lack of substance, by different judges, who's credibility is really to be questioned, the accused's or the accuser's?

Hopefully the cloud has been lifted from over Fr. Maciel and the Legion permanently.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


This, the Sunday after Pentecost, is celebrated in the Catholic Church as Trinity Sunday. We focus, albeit for a few fleeting moments, on the momentous and unparalleled revelation of God as Father, Son and Spirit of Truth. This dogma or doctrine of faith is the basis of everything else Christians believe and teach. It is the fundamental content of Christ's message to the world: He came to bear witness to the Father, to reveal to mankind the God that all religion searches for.
Yet the doctrine of the Trinity is usually relegated to the meanderings of theologically inclined eggheads. The normal Catholic Joe who has to pull a nine-to-fiver just to stay alive and who, with any luck and a bit of good will, gets a little religion into his life on the occasional Sunday might not give a whole lot of thought to the meaning, much less the relevance, of seemingly obscure dogma. There are bills to pay, kids to school, a marriage to keep alive, vacations to plan, things to buy and sell... and, well, who has the time or the appetite for not-terribly-useful religious insights?

If that's the case with many a well meaning believer, what to say about the many, many people who consider all religious doctrine (especially Christian) just so much gobbledygook?(Please get to the point, Fr. Karras, the season finale of Desperate Housewives starts in a few minutes!!!)


(to be continued...)

Friday, May 20, 2005

May day

Today my niece is 11 years old. I will probably see her tonight and be able to say 'Happy Birthday' in person, but just in case, I thought I'd mention her on today's post.

She's into gymnastics and cheerleading and the like.
She practices at home. See?

She wonders why, oh why, is her uncle an exorcist...

Speaking of exorcists, Paul Schrader's version of the prequel is playing now in NY and LA. The NY Times didn't like it. Said it was only for "the serious crowd".

Damn skippy.
Wouldn't have it any other way.

Saw Reggie play his last game yesterday. I'm not a Pacers fan, but I will miss his quirky, in-your-face style, his last minute heroics, his encouragement of New Yorkers booing and jeering at the Garden...

He was, after all, one of the last reminders of the great NBA rivalries of the late '80s and the '90s.

The Detroit - Miami showdown should be interesting...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May miracles

May is the 'month of Mary' and, according to my mother,
we are to be on the lookout for miracles.

I think I found one.

It seems that ARCIC, the group of Anglican and
Catholic theologians who study the doctrinal obstacles
to the ecumenical efforts of the two churches, has
come to an agreement on the place of the Virgin Mary
in tradition.

The paper is called "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ".

That's the miracle?
The miracle is that I read it in
yesterday's NY Times.

Will wonders never cease? :)

Monday, May 16, 2005

the elusive truth

Went to the circus Saturday night and enjoyed it immensely. I was given a terrific seat on ground level to see the 135th edition of the Ringling Brothers Greatest Show on Earth. That's probably hyperbole, but it is certainly a spectacle that leaves little to be desired. Seeing all the families - grandparents, parents and kids - so obviously thrilled and enthralled was easily as rewarding as the show itself. Don't miss it if you have the opportunity to go.

There's a wonderful story in yesterday's Hartford Courant told by a 12 year old boy who accompanied his father to take part in the humanitarian relief effort underway at the Derej camp in Darfur, Sudan. Micah's Journal is the frank and moving narration of a child's experience among the world's sorriest victims of devastation and genocide. He is Catholic, part of a team of Catholic volunteers, who went to great lengths to make a foreign people's suffering and loss his own.

In times when kids often seem to get lost trying to imitate the likes of 50 Cent or Paris Hilton, when the ultimate dream of so many is to become an American Idol, when getting breast implants or body piercings has become the noblest of causes... ok, I guess I've made my point.

Good for you, Micah. You've made us proud and put us to shame.

The New Oxford Review runs an article this month on the controversy that envelopes Fr. Marcial Maciel and the Legion of Christ. In it, Cecilia Martin, author of Confusion in the Pews, asks, "Is the Legion truly the hope of the Church, or a Machiavellian deception that threatens it? The question begs for an answer."

Who will, ultimately, give that answer?

In all instances where a public figure is accused of abuse, he or she is, quite frankly, guilty until proven innocent. Even if eventually exonerated, the same media that so avidly detailed and expounded upon the allegations rarely shows the same eagerness in clearing the name of the accused.

Fr. Maciel has been accused of abuse that supposedly occurred forty years ago. If the case against him continues to gather steam, it can only end in a bitter draw: his word against his complainants', the word of those who defend his integrity against the word of those who distain his hipocrisy...

His accusers claim they seek only justice and the satisfaction of seeing their cause validated publicly. But someone obviously has an axe to grind. Organizations like ReGain and others who have championed the crusade of the nine accusers decry an endless litany of offenses committed by the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi that, even if true, have little or nothing to do with the case of Fr. Maciel. Their websites and discussion pages do not tire of rehashing old stories and speculating on future travesties.

The Legion has responded to the brunt of the accusations. But to an extent, the damage has been done. Fr. Maciel's credibility rests on the sanctity of his life and his undeniable record of service to the Church. The accusers hope to discredit his reputation and, if possible, undermine the foundations of the work born from Fr. Maciel's life.

Like I say, I have no idea how it will all turn out. But I suspect the Gospel will once again ring true. "God's wisdom is vindicated by all who accept it." (Lk 7,35)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

veni sancte spiritus!

In this business, as any exorcist worth his salt can tell you, you get used to spirits of the unclean variety. Nasty stuff, but it makes for great movies.

Today, however, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. That fateful day on which the Holy Spirit, the inner spirit of Christ Himself, filled the hearts and minds of his followers and initiated the great evangelizing mission of the community of believers.

Perhaps no topic is as difficult to wrap our minds around in the study of theology as the Holy Spirit... a reality we either tend to reduce to tongues and healing and emotional experiences of all kinds, or we simply choose to ignore.

Who is, then, the Holy Spirit?

"...the divine Father is actually the inexhaustible, externally flowing source of the divinity, but yet in such a way that in his paternal act of generation he keeps nothing of the divinity back for himself, nothing that he has not always entrusted to the Son, which is why the Son, as the perfectly responding image of the Father, likewise can keep nothing back for himself that he does not gratefully and willingly offer back to the Father. Precisely in this mutual lack of holding anything back in their 'for-one-another' does the starting point for our understanding of the Holy Spirit rest..."

Von Balthasar. You gotta love the guy.

Friday, May 13, 2005


This morning at Mass, with occasion of the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Fatima, I recalled with the numerous faithful (ok, so there were eight old puerto rican ladies, but they're probably saving this miserable world...) the day 24 years ago when John Paul II was gunned down in St. Peter's Square.

Today he did a little better. The Vatican announced that his process for beatification was officially open. Benedict XVI waived the standard five year waiting period. Good call.

The Exorcist also congratulates Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco, named today Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Benedict XVI. It is a burdensome office and our support and prayers are with him.

the skinny (2)

My observations on the Fr.Maciel/LC thing continue. My previous posts will put you up to speed.

3. The accusations of moral misconduct against the Founder of the Legion of Christ are based on acts said to have occurred in the 1950's and 1960's. The charges are brought by eight or nine individuals who waited, for whatever reasons, nearly 40 years to go public. Frankly, I don't think this supports their credibility.

Why wait so long? Fear of some sort of backlash? Even if he were as machiavellian as these people claim, Fr. Maciel's reach is only so long. People move on. Even machiavellian people.

Too much shame and anguish? Could be. But how does that change now? What's the statute of limitation on shame and anguish?

The episodes of child abuse by priests in this country are real, shameful and extremely painful for victims, family and the Church at large. That being said, it is also evident that some unscrupulous people, in the wake of the scandal, hopped on the band wagon and made false allegations against priests and bishops (remember Cardinal Bernardin...) in the hopes of settlement money, personal vengeance, 15 minutes of fame or other, darker objectives.

I know it sounds callous, but can falsehood be ruled out a priori in the case of the accusations against Fr. Maciel? It wouldn't take much imagination to speculate on possible motives...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

the skinny on the legion

I've had all sorts of trouble with my broadband company the past two days. Service has been spotty at best. Couldn't post, couldn't answer mail. Have checked with my neighbors here in the barrio and they are all in agreement: "Comcast es lo peor que hay!!!"

With that off my chest, I return to my thoughts on the Fr. Maciel/Legion of Christ thing that is starting to bubble again in the media.

Here's a picture of Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC at ordination at a priestly ordination ceremony back in 1991. Both have aged considerably since then, but remain young at heart.

Anyway, about seven years ago Fr. Maciel's accusers were at their most vociferous and it seemed to play well with certain media outlets who were still basking in the heat generated by the priest abuse scandals in USA and elsewhere. The canonical case went nowhere fast and, other than the books that were published - all with pretty similar versions of the same stuff (I've read them all, cover to cover) - there hasn't been much action until now that the case has apparently been revived.

Can't see the future, can't speak in tongues, can't hardly get out of my own way, so I don't pretend to predict where this is all going to go. (Unlike La Jornada, a Mexican rag, that ran a story on Tuesday, May 10, claiming to have it all figured out...) But I WILL say the following in response to all those who have asked me what I think about the whole mess:

  1. I have known Fr.Maciel personally since I was 13 years old. I have lived with him months at a time repeatedly over the last thirty years in all kinds of circumstances. I have been in his close company and observed the man carefully when his defenses were at their lowest... I have NEVER, not once, ever, had the slightest suspicion regarding his moral probity. Not a word, not a gesture, not a single solitary scrap of evidence that would induce me in the least to give credence to the accusations that have been leveled against him. Quite the contrary. He has been a mentor, a true friend and an impeccable model of virtue and priestly commitment at all times.

    I realize that my knowledge of and my frank admiration for the man do not constitute scientific proof of his innocence. Indeed, both those who argue his guilt and those who defend his integrity have only their testimony to offer. But given the choice between a judgement based on my personal experience of Fr. Maciel during the last 30 years or the dubious imputations of nine aged and possibly bitter individuals, I would clearly choose the former. In a heartbeat. Anything else would be dishonest.

  2. Fr. Maciel's accusers and the media people who put the wind in their sails cite the Vatican's unwillingness to pursue the matter as a sign of his guilt. Might not less tainted minds construe this rather as an indication of innocence? I mean, if the accusers themselves have sought out canonical authority as a reliable judge in this matter why such knee-jerk inconformity with the results thus far? Fr. Maciel has undergone more than his share of investigations during his long journey as founder of the Legion. His story is anything but a mystery to the ecclesiastical powers-that-be. If the case against him has not progressed further, might it not lack the merits to do so?

    The plaintiffs and the journalists they enlist allege that Church authority is in cahoots with the wiley Fr. Maciel and would prefer to cover up his wrongdoing. Why present the case in the first place, then? If both judge and accused are on board in the conspiracy, what hope of justice?

    There's not a whole lot of logic here, as far as I can tell. But, sadly, that's probably beside the point. Perhaps these folks won't be satisfied until a guilty verdict is issued no matter who the judge is. If not the Vatican, well, maybe the Hartford Courant or the Boston Globe or the NY Times or La Jornada...

(sorry, still have more to say on this, but I'm beat. will pick it up again tomorrow. peace.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My name is legion, continued...

It's been a bumpy day. I spent most of it in the hospital visiting with some very sick individuals. I have celebrated 6 funerals in the last 15 days. Of the six, five died of complications stemming from HIV/AIDS. My last one (yesterday) was a 32 year old latina who left behind four children. Only about ten people made it to the ceremony. I accompanied her to the cemetery along with her kids. That was all.

This world can be a lonely place.

That said, I return to the topic of my previous post.

All the mentioned articles retell the story in practically the same way: Marcial Maciel, Mexican catholic priest, founder of a growing religious congregation of priests (Legion of Christ) and a movement of laity (Regnum Christi) faces allegations from eight or nine ex-members of the Legion who claim they were sexually abused as youngsters.

Since the statute of limitations makes a trial impossible in civil court, the plaintiffs have sought recourse to a court of Canon Law. They claim that their case, presented eight years ago at the Vatican, was virtually frozen because neither the reigning Pontiff, John Paul II, nor Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith(CDF), wanted to pursue a matter so prejudicial to such an influential and recognized Church figure as Fr. Maciel.

The case languished in obscurity until December 2004 when canon lawyer, Rev. Charles J. Scicluna, a Maltese priest assigned promoter of justice for the CDF, reopened the case and traveled to Mexico and the USA to acquire statements from those involved.

Meanwhile, great speculation was raised by Fr.Maciel's refusal to accept a fourth term as Superior General of the Legion of Christ, after being unanimously reelected by the General Chapter of the Congregation held in Rome, January 2005.

To my knowledge, at least five books have been published in recent years retelling the tales of supposed abuse by the power wielding Fr. Maciel and his minions. They are:

(Back soon, supper's burning...)

"My name is legion, for we are many."

One of the classic exorcisms of the New Testament starts with an interrogation. A man posessed, a demented vagrant haunting a cemetery, falls at Jesus' feet.

"What is your name?" Jesus asked.
"My name is legion, for we are many," replied the man.

No exorcism is a bland occurance, but this one is especially wierd. A conversation between Jesus and the unclean spirit, followed by a choice of fate: the spirits are banished to a herd of pigs that meets a watery death.

Exegetes have labored long and hard to interpret Mark 5, but as far as a definitive understanding of the passage goes, well, the jury's still out. Even us seasoned exorcists switch to some votive Mass reading when this story sneaks up on us in the daily liturgy. The whole gashing-on-tombstones, spitting-and-thrashing, pigs-off-the cliff scenario is way too much at 7 am, before our morning caffeine fix has allowed valor to kick in...

Anyway, all of the above has really nothing to do with the gist of this post, except maybe for maintaining the exorcism motif of the blog and giving me a few words to play with.

Mark's demons came together in a legion. But let not all legions be demonized.

One of the subtexts being developed in the media beneath all the coverage of John Paul II's passing and Benedict XVI's rising concerns a series of accusations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder and, until January of this year, superior general of a religious congregation of priests called the Legion of Christ.

Yesterday a number of pieces were released by press sources as diverse as the Boston Globe, La Jornada (Mexico) and Rainbow Network, a gay/lesbian activist newsite. The Hartford Courant spoke of the matter in two different articles on April 20, ABC News ran a story on April 21 and the NY Times has published at least three different references between April 23 and May 1.

The story is not going away because those behind it will not let it go away. It's time Fr. Karras gave his opinion on all this.

(to be continued...)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

an exorcist's Mother's Day angst

Mother's Day is not an easy time for an exorcist.

You either go over to her place and listen to her mumble strange slavic syllables at an even stranger slavic radio broadcast.

Or you have to go through that, "She's in here with us, Karras!!" crap that Captain Howdy is constantly ranting about.
this is an audio post - click to play

"Deemeee, what for you do theees to meeee?!!!"

Either way, Mother's Day is a drag in this racket.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

one last post on the bride...

I can't believe that the media is still talking about the Runaway Bride. Must be because of idiots like me who just can't seem to let it go...

And speaking of the Bride, allow me a few final observations.

Jim Shea of the Hartford Courant empathizes with the
father of Unwilling Wilbanks. He says,

"...Harris Wilbanks (Dad) had two thoughts once ET phoned home:
Thank God she's all right. And, I should get a restraining order on myself."

If you add up the cost of the wedding hall, banquet, caterers, DJ, limo, etc... and the VERY likely fine to cover the cost of the search effort while Daughter Disappeared was shooting craps in Vegas, I'll bet Dad is himself thinking of hopping on a Greyhound to parts unknown.

But, as we all know, the financial encumbrances are only one layer of this spoiled wedding cake.

In a recent statement, Jennifer Wilbanks asserted that it wasn't the wedding she was fleeing. Sadly, I'm inclined to believe her. Weddings nowadays are hardly worth running from.

To see where I'm going with this read Eilene Zimmerman's piece in May 1's NY Times. (Here, admittedly, I digress from the case of the Feckless Fiance.)

Perhaps the way in which the choice of celebrant is approached says more about what weddings really mean today than any of the other decisions that go into planning the celebration.

Not that any one element of the ceremony, or even the ceremony itself, necessarily reveals the full significance of marriage - although we catholics believe that the sacramental liturgy does precisely that. But the choice of minister or officiant tends to say a lot about what the couple understands their wedding to mean.

During my missionary stint in Latin America, I knew many couples - catholics in predominantly catholic countries - who chose not to be married by a catholic priest because they understood what that would mean: indissoluble, forever, sacramental, total, "as Christ loves His Church...", etc. To choose a priest would be to choose something much larger than just the dude in the flowing robes. He stands for a meaning that goes far beyond his possible friendship with the bride and groom, or his being part of the traditional decor that some like in churchy weddings. That's part of why it is not even essential that he be a friend of the couple he marries.

Zimmerman's article about nontraditional officiants is quite suggestive. You'll have to read it all to get the full brunt, but a few bytes merit repetition here.

Given as examples of trendy marriage officiants:

  • Chris the lifeguard ("we were getting married at the beach, we wanted something light, yet official, so having a lifeguard seemed to fit")
  • Ellen Sweets, the food writer (yup, Sweets)
  • Jeff, a producer for VH1 music channel ("some were afraid I would turn the ceremony into a comedy...") Fear not, Jeff, by the time you were picked, it already was.

The criteria for choosing a nontraditional minister is equally varied:

  • 'whatever most personalizes your wedding'
  • 'whatever makes sense for you as a couple'
  • 'a good friend'
  • 'someone who reflects your identity' (kind of like choosing a screen saver for your pc or a tatoo for your arm...)

Apparently, traditional officiants fit none of these dubious requisites. What all the nontrads named in the article have in common is that they were "ordained" online in a matter of minutes.

I must really ask my superiors what the !#%@&!!#@! I was doing for thirteen years before being ordained, when it was only a mouse click away...

Not everything is as rosy as it may seem with the online ministers, however. The article cautions that:

  • many charge between $350 and $800 per service, although one popular minister (a geography professor) asks only for a bottle of tequila as payment
  • some have felt that, notwithstanding their officiants particular charism, "the solemnity of the act may have been compromised" (Hmmm... hard to imagine.)
  • some officiants are found not to have been ordained after all (Impostors!! What an outrage!)
  • not all online officiants necessarily show the same level of professionalism
  • not all states recognize marriages performed by online ordained officiants as legal
  • some ministers have arrived late or even drunk (geography prof?) to the ceremony

What then does marriage mean?

What could ordination possibly mean?

I think I just gave myself a headache.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lord, why could we not drive out these demons?

This is Fr. Damien Karras with an important notice for all you aspiring exorcists.

Not all demons cooperate.

I mean, like, sometimes an exorcism just isn't enough. Get me?

Sometimes you can only shake your head and wonder dumbly, "What in the world possessed her?"

You follow?


downright terrifying...

birds in the news

Birds have been big news in recent days. They have brought color to dour newscasts and have given relief to those of us who still haven't figured out the media's obsession with all things Jacko.

The ivory billed woodpecker, long thought extinct as a result of the destruction of its natural habitat in the southern US, has reappeared. Diminished, precarious, but not GONE.

A true survivor's tale.

Ornithologists and nature lovers of lesser pedigree are thrilled with the discovery of conclusive evidence of the magnificent bird's survival, including a videotape of a close encounter. Definitely good news and a bit of proof that we can undo some of the damage we've done to Mother Nature.

We've all followed the drama of 'T-Bill' or, 'Duck Cheney', who decided that the Treasury Department front entrance was as good a place as any to sit on her nest egg. The little quackers hatched yesterday and were whisked away like any other family of celebrities to a more discreet location. The paparazzi were not entirely foiled, but neither did Momma Duck make any effort to hide her true identity.

'T-Bill' doesn't care who's watching.

Finally there's one other notable birdbrain that caught our attention this week. This specimen was thought extinct and became the object of an expensive search across the southern US. It was briefly spotted and then vanished. No one could fathom why she would fly the coop just before mating season was to officially begin. At long last this rare bird reappeared and showed surprise at all the attention, as if there were nothing strange about her migratory pattern.

She's back and her wings are temporarily clipped, but those close to her are now worried about the bill...

This bird is famous for the wrong reason...