Saturday, February 25, 2006
Today, the longest Saturday in recent history (my recent history), happy hour is convened in honor of Jesse Donald Knotts (1924 - 2006).
He had me laughing out loud before I was 6 or 7 years old.
To your fond memory I lift this glass of Maker's Mark.
Rest in peace, Deputy Fife.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Yesterday the Chancery office sent us two items in the same envelope: guidelines for Lent and Holy Week and promotion of the golf tournament coming up in May for the benefit of the KofC vocations fund.
Lent and golf.
The sublime and the mundane.
Incense filled sanctuaries and sunlit putting greens.
Anyway, among the guidelines there were a few truly small details that caught the Exorcist's eye.
In April of 2002 the Holy See reallowed the veiling of images in church, but only from the fourth Sunday of Lent till Holy Saturday.
No exposition of the Eucharist is permitted from before evening Mass on Holy Thursday until after the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. This applies even to parishes and religious communities authorized for perpetual adoration. The Blessed Sacrament is taken to an altar of repose after the Mass of the Lord's Supper where it is reposed only in a closed tabernacle or pyx, but not a monstrance. Adoration may be held, but only until the stroke of midnight on Holy Thursday. I wonder how that will fly in the LC centers...
Parish priest have the faculty to confirm at the Paschal Vigil unless the candidate is a baptized, uncatechized Catholic. In that case, specific permission must be requested from the Archbishop.
It may seem strange, but that exception actually says a lot about how the Catholic Church perceives itself. On Holy Saturday, without consulting the bishop, I could confirm an unbaptized adult (after baptizing him, of course), someone baptized in a non-Catholic church, a baptized Catholic who - by no fault of his own - was brought up in a non-Catholic community and therefore, never confirmed and an apostate who has returned to full communion with the Church.
It is only in the case of the negligent, lax or indifferent Catholics (or Catholics brought up by negligent, lax or indifferent parents) that the bishop's specific permission must be sought.
OK. Now let's go play golf!
My interest in decapitated chickens is waning.
Haitian vodun, Caribbean santeria and Brazilian macumba all allow for the sacrifice of small animals in their rituals. There are certainly Haitians, Caribbean hispanos and Brazilians on this side of the city, but the Exorcist can not recall pissing any of them off.
I have a short attention span. My feathered horror is fading, fading, fading...
Besides, there have been other, less creative omens around the parish lately.
The rear side window of our mini-van has been smashed. Twice in ten days. Once on the street, once in the parking garage.
The genius who did it made off with roughly $3.47 in change and left us replacing a $650 piece of tinted glass. Twice in ten days.
Hey, hater! If you're reading this, next time try ringing the doorbell! We give out food, clothes, AND money to help folks all the time!!!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Last night, as the wind howled through the church steeple, I watched The Birds. Alfred Hichcock's dramatization of Daphne Du Maurier's story casts our commonplace feathered friends in their most sinister light: winged terrorists with an anti-human agenda.
I now believe there is something terribly prescient in Hichcock's horror.
As the avian flu scare swells in many regions of the world, it is believed by some to be a harbinger of even greater evils hovering on the horizon of humanity's future.
A fowl's head was found inside a can of pinto beans in DeKalb, IL. As if that weren't scary enough, the lot number of the recalled cans is 5348 MF. Unreal.
Our Vice President was recently implicated in a threat to homeland security when an Al Quaeda cell, cleverly infiltrated in a flock of quail, duped him into shooting an attorney. Several of the quail were shipped off to Gitmo for interrogation, but this thing is far from over.
And now the birds have appeared on the Exorcist's doorstep. Literally.
On February 15, I opened the curtains in my bedroom and saw, by the door of the rectory two large roosters. One white, one red, both headless. They were laid out on either side of the steps with a border of pennies carefully arranged around them in the snow. No blood. No other message.
On February 16 I left the church in the early morning hours for a meeting downtown and later had a funeral and a burial. When I returned to the rectory at around 1 pm I found the head of the white rooster at the base of the gate that opens from the street to the front lawn. I did not see it earlier and I am sure it wasn't there the day before.
On February 17, fully expecting the red rooster's head to be nailed to the church door, I discovered instead, a meticulously placed row of red candy hearts on the bottom step of the rectory front porch.
What does all this portend for the Exorcist and his parish?
The birds know...
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
The Exorcist finds vague solace in the occasional media piece that casts the Catholic priest in a favorable light.
Two such articles caught my attention over the past few days.
1. The story of Father Andrea Santoro, a 60 year old priest of the Diocese of Rome serving as a missionary in Turkey. He had recently been transferred from the town of Urfa, on the border with Syria, where there is no Christian population, to Trabzon on the Black Sea where he ministered to a Catholic community of 15 people.
Kneeling in prayer in St. Mary's church, the Capuchin parish that was entrusted to his care, he was shot twice in the back at point blank range by a 16 year old Muslim youth apparently distraught over the Mohammad cartoon controversy.
Many testimonies have surfaced, by Christians and Muslims alike, recognizing the stature and healing presence of Fr. Santoro. This is the type of man on whom the salvation of humanity ultimately depends.
2. The same day that Fr. Santoro was murdered, the Boston Globe ran a story about a local miracle worker, Father Patrick J. Power. An orphan at four years of age, he was sent to Massachusetts from Ireland to live with an older brother. He entered the seminary at Laval University in Quebec and was ordained a priest in Boston in 1867. At his first parish assignment, in Chicopee, Fr. Power contracted pneumonia and died, a little over a year after his ordination.
He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden. By 1929 over one million pilgrims and miracle seekers had visited his grave. To this day there is an endless stream of visitors who leave letters of thanks, petitions, photos and other symbols of their personal world on the site of the good Father's resting place. He was young, joyful, caring and holy and people still flock to him.
See that? All the complaints about the media bias against Catholic priests is pure nonsense.
If you're a good priest, you can still make the papers.
As long as you're dead.
The Exorcist has found something to look forward to.
It seems that heavy snowfall gives us cause to cancel activities - meetings and the like - even when the storm is well over and travel, strictly speaking, is possible. For reasons less than obvious to me, this weekend's snow was someone's excuse for cancelling on me this evening.
I decided to celebrate by seeing a movie that a Mexican friend had recommended to me some months ago. I was not disappointed.
See Voces Inocentes, staring the beautiful Chilean actress Leonor Varela and a cast of children actors that draw even the most detatched viewer into the story.
The movie tells the story of Oscar Torres, a young boy growing up in a small town in El Salvador in the 80's, as his country languishes in the throes of the conflict between the US supported Salvadorean army and the equally ruthless Farabundo Marti guerrilla. The indiscriminate and unforgiving effects of the violent civil war are vividly reflected through the lives of Chava (Oscar), his friends and his family.
Although the story and setting are very different, in a way Voces Inocentes reminded me of Fernando Mierelles' City of God.
Both movies seem to transmit a basic truth about our world: if you want to know the reality of the world we've made and what we've become, look through the eyes of the children.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Hardline hindus have gone on a bloody rampage to protest the celebration of Valentine's Day in India as "shameless and totally contrary to Indian culture".
Great. All this from the folks who brought us tantric yoga and the kama sutra.
Once again, the Exorcist is baffled.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
This is a sample of things that happened this week.
Life just has lots of different colors, that's all.
1. I had stopped on the side of the street to answer my cell phone when a little kid with a backpack and a box of juice opened the door of the van and got in. We stared at each other for what seemed like decades until he uttered words of profound truth: "You're not my mom." "Nor are you my son", I observed.
Damn mini-vans all look alike.
He quickly exited and I decided to move on before the local authorities asked me what I was doing outside the school to begin with.
2. I got home Tuesday at 4pm. As soon as I opened the door and shut off the alarm, I knew something was terribly wrong. My four brain damaged parakeets were absolutely silent. I climbed the stairs to the second floor hallway and saw them huddled together in the cage, under their wooden house, trembling with fear.
The reason? Three bats were flapping about, helter-skelter, throughout the upper floor of the rectory. This is February, people. The dead of winter in New England. Aren't bats marsupials or herbivores or crustaceans or whatever? You know, the type of critter that HIBERNATES in the winter?
It's got to be global warming. Even the bats are confused.
3. Old lady #1: I was sitting where I always like to sit at the cinema, the last row of floor seats before the stairs, watching the trailers. An old man, himself none too steady on his own feet, was steering a wheelchair with a rather large woman in my direction. He stopped by the aisle seat and, with difficulty, maneuvered the chair according to his wife's instructions. She then tried to unload herself from the wheelchair to the theatre seat with her husband's help.
In fact, she plopped unceremoniously to the floor.
She glared up at her hapless mate and accused him publicly: "See that? You done it again! Look at me here on my butt in front of everybody. Ain't that a fine sight?"
It was, indeed, a fine sight.
So fine, that I got up and offered a hand at the same time her chastised husband was trying to lift her considerable butt off the carpet. She said to me, "Thank you, young man. I'm sorry to be of bother." And she pushed her husband away nearly shouting, "Don't you grab me, you ol' fool! You want to end up on the floor with me?" He did not. I could tell.
4. On Thursday evening I went to unlock the rectory door because folks were showing up for the parish council meeting. There, outside the door on the frozen lawn were two grayish-red foxes. They startled, stared and then scampered down the embankment toward the railroad tracks. There appears to be an urban fox population now in our vecinity. Who knew?
5. Old lady #2 and #3: The woman I went to visit at the nursing home yesterday was quite ill and quite old. I sat at her bedside for a few minutes after giving her the annointing of the sick. The door opened, a head leaned in and said, "Padre, Catalina's mother is here and wants to see you." And I thought Catalina looked old...
Catalina's mother told me that she had thirteen children and Catalina was the third she watched die. She also said that children should bury their parents, not the other way around. But I guess that's just one of the risks of living to be 98 years old. You may outlive your children.
And that's the Exorcist's post for today.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Have you seen the blasphemous cartoons of the Danish infidels?
Hardly the stuff intifadas are unleashed for.
My muslim brothers have yet to learn that in this smug, secularized world you either learn to deal with ridicule and insult philosophically, taking the high road, or you expose yourself to even greater derision.
It's amazing what folks are willing to get upset about these days.
Ain't that right, Kanye?
Friday, February 03, 2006
One of the items on my to-do list upon returning to the US was "getting in touch with the gang". There has been enough progress in that area to move the item from 'to-do' to 'getting-done'.
This is the gang. Well, some of it.
We were always a mess of adopted, foster and family-born kids as we grew up. I left home in 1978 and, as predictably as unfortunately, lost contact with a lot of the guys. It's been almost thirty years and at this stage I still don't even know where some of them are. That bugs me.
But, like I said, I'm working on it.
I touched base with another member of the gang last Sunday. Jamie is such an incredible guy that I figured he deserved a mention on the blog. Born with cerebral palsy and put up for adoption, he's had more obstacles to surmount in 35 years than lots of us will see in a lifetime. Now he's got his own apartment, his high school diploma, a job (something to do with paperclips) and is going to community college.
As a kid he always had a very contagious laugh. His whole body would tense up and his arms and legs would jerk around as he cracked up, totally out of control. We would come up with all kinds of really dumb stuff just to get Jamie to "spaz out". I like to think that he enjoyed it as much as we did...
Anyway, Sunday night, I just couldn't resist. Yeah, it's been a long time and I probably should have tried to catch up on stuff with him.
Yet I deliberately went for the spaz-out.
Now that we've hooked up there'll be plenty of time to talk about stuff. But nothing beats a little spazzle-dazzle. Right, Jameser?