Moving Into New Digs

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I know, right? AoftheA’s return to The Valley of the Blogs was mere months ago, and yet here I am, moving the blog again.

Truth to be told, this move was planned months before Patheos and I parted ways. Rebecca Frech (Shoved To Them, now at Backwards in High Heels) and I came up with this idea in late 2015. Today, with several other like-minded bloggers, we’ve launched The Catholic Conspiracy.

What’s The Catholic Conspiracy all about? Here’s a snippet from our introductory post:

We felt the Catholic blogosphere lacked something – a smaller scale group blog, where writers wouldn’t get lost within the crowd. Where their distinct, Catholic voice could be expressed and heard. We have invited other bloggers to join us who believe as we do, to form this online community of faith, hope, and charity. At the moment, we’re pretty small – five so far– but our plan is to expand to perhaps a dozen bloggers. Some you will recognize; others may be less well-known to you.

The Catholic Conspiracy bloggers are faithful to the Magisterium, in love with Jesus Christ and His Church, and dedicated to bringing Him to the world. We are not a news site. We don’t have correspondents in Rome. We don’t have a secret agenda, and we don’t collaborate from a hidden base somewhere in North America. We’re not hatching plots to infiltrate centers of higher education and government (although that does sound pretty cool!). We’re not here to subvert Church teaching, or promulgate dissent, or foment division. Our mission is our tagline: Catholic bloggers conspiring to bring Christ to the world.

Please check it out – don’t mind the construction dust and moving boxes, as we’re getting familiar with the new place. A few cosmetic changes will be taking place over the next few days. Check out the roster of blogs on the “TCC Network” page – each member’s blog, unique and independent, is listed there. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be adding different features and new bloggers, so it’s all very exciting.

One thing you can be sure of – the only thing changing about AoftheA is the address. The content, the humor, the attitude, the faithfulness – not changing one bit. Still the same orthodox commentary on heterodox hooligans. The puppet (his name is Calamity, by the way) will still be in the sidebar.

I still have to tell Sr Patricia, although she’ll figure it out eventually. I haven’t mentioned to lose her yet.

 

Posted in All The World's A Blog And We Are Merely Posters, Catholic Blogs, News | 1 Comment

What *Really* Happened In The Garden Of Eden

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (Really NSFW. Funny site, but trust me…really, really NSFW.)

Posted in Humor, Snark, Things Not Said In Scripture | 5 Comments

PARISH REPORT: Man Excited After Totally Nailing Genuflection

Doug can often be seen fine-tuning his genuflection technique.

Pat practices his genuflecting often, alternating from one leg to the other.

Photo credit: bluebike via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND

(AoftheANews) WALL, SD – Patrick Tella gave a huge thumbs up to his supporters after the 11:30 Mass at St. Tibia’s last Sunday, indicating that he finally executed a perfect genuflection when exiting the pew.

“All the years of training and exercise have paid off,” he told AoftheANews. “This is the greatest moment of my life.”

As fans congratulated him, Pat described his technique. “As I drop to one knee, I make sure the bent leg doesn’t extend beyond the foot, causing unnecessary strain on the anterior cruciate ligament, or hyper-extending the patellar tendon. The descending knee just brushes the floor. Definitely don’t want to slam the patella on that marble floor! See a lot of injuries when that happens. I’d demonstrate right now, but I don’t want to risk hurting myself.”

While Pat’s parents proudly hugged their son in the gathering space, Fr Neil Down, pastor of St. Tibia, spoke of his admiration for the young man. “The way he blesses himself while lowering down…it’s hard to describe. It’s just special. God’s endowed him with a lot of talent. I can see any one of the more prominent seminaries hiring him, training future priests and deacons.”

What’s next for Patrick? “Well, I hope to meet a girl and fall in love, and put my genuflection skills to the test. Or maybe first move out of my parents’ basement.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Grace From A Dying Friend

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V, one of my closest and dearest friends, is dying. The cancer in his liver has become unmanageable and untreatable. Earlier this week, he was placed in home hospice care, and just this afternoon, he was transferred to a nearby hospice facility. He may survive the weekend.

V is a convert to Catholicism, and we shared many lunches, phone conversations, and rounds of golf (many rounds) discussing the faith, how to better integrate it into the daily stuff of life: being good husbands and fathers; balancing faith and career; dealing with temptations; understanding suffering.

When the cancer was detected in 2013, he knew the road would be rough. His conversion (his wife was Catholic) occurred many years before then – it was because of his conversion that our friendship developed. I can’t recall how Catholicism came up in a conversation between us, but it was certainly God and His inscrutable way, forming the foundation of our friendship. Faith was the bond between us, and it’s prepared us both for this circumstance in V’s life. And mine. Two brothers of the Lord, helping each other along the way. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17)

In January of this year, after a consultation with his specialist, he confided in me that the treatments – which originally were showing some promise – were no longer effective. The cancer had metastasized in his liver, and was spreading. Still he was hopeful, yet resigned to God’s will. We spoke again during Holy Week, as he prepared for a family vacation to Florida. He sounded tired, spent – as Tolkien wrote in The Fellowship of the Ring, “…stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”. He described his condition to me – becoming gaunt in the face, and retaining fluid in his lower torso, legs, and feet. Still, he assured me, once they returned to Michigan, we would get together for lunch.

We got together, just not as we had hoped. The trip proved to be overtaxing, and V’s condition worsened. This past Tuesday, his wife L texted me that he was now in hospice, and he wanted me to know. He wanted me to come. I said I’d come visit Wednesday afternoon.

As I drove to his house, I thought about the things we would talk about, the memories we would share, the anticipation of meeting Christ soon. He knew he was dying, I knew he was dying – there was no pretense of any false hope. This was a final visit between two best friends.

I arrived, unprepared. V was more than gaunt. He looked 94 rather than 54, his jaundiced skin stretched tightly across his cheek bones and jaw. His trembling hands were splotched with countless liver spots. His swollen fingers could barely manipulate the remote control of his powerlift recliner. Despite his thick bathrobe, Mountain Dew sweatpants, and woolen socks, I noticed his distended belly, bloated legs and feet. He hardly resembled the man I last saw in January.

So I said what any friend would say: “Geez, V, Florida was so not good to you.”

And he smiled – weakly and feebly, but it was that smile I had seen so many times over the years. He sheepishly said ‘sorry’, and we embraced.

Speaking took tremendous effort, and when he did, it was with a barely audible squeaking voice. He had so little strength – this man who could drive a golf ball 300 yards – he was incapable of speaking in full, coherent sentences. He faded in and out of awareness, almost narcoleptic.

L, his mother, and his sister bustled about the house, so he motioned that he wanted to sit on the patio and spend quiet time together. He shuffled there under his own power, managed the steps down to the patio, and we sat at the table. I unfurled the umbrella.

We didn’t say much. There wasn’t much that needed to be said. No pretenses.

He was fading out a bit, sitting in the afternoon sunshine. I reached over and grasped his hand, and his eyes slowly opened.

“V, in a way, I’m kinda envious.” He blinked a bit, cocked his head slightly. “You can see the finish line.”

He nodded a little, and said to me, in phrases and whispers: “There’s a fork in the path before me. I can choose either one, and I’m at peace with the one I’m on.”

I held his hand for some time, in the sun, on the patio, that Wednesday afternoon.

The previous evening, I was in my parish’s adoration chapel. I have a regularly scheduled Tuesday night adoration hour. Much of the time I meditated on death and The Four Last Things: that it isn’t of our choosing, that it is always before us. I read the following from Thomas a Kempis’ “My Imitation of Christ”, from Book 1, Chapter 3: “Blessed is he that always has the hour of death before his eyes and every day disposes himself to die…Be therefore always prepared, and live in such a manner that death may never find thee unprovided.”

Eventually V started to get chilled, so we went back inside, and he returned to his powerlift recliner. I told him I had to get back to work, so I reached down and we embraced. He trembled a bit, just for a fleeting moment. Whether it was out of grief for himself, or for me, I’m not sure. Maybe my hug was too intense. I kissed him on the top of his head, told him I loved him, and asked him to pray for me.  He said, of course.

I hugged L at the door, told her to call if she needed anything. As I stepped outside, she grabbed my sleeve. V had followed me to the door. The three of us hugged, one last time, in the open doorway. We waved good-bye, and by the time I had backed out of the drive, and drove past their home, the front door was closed.

There’s a great grace in a happy death, in dying well. There’s also a great grace in witnessing a happy death. Knowing that V is at peace is a blessing and comfort to me. His journey towards the throne of God fills me with peace I don’t deserve. May I be so fortunate to have as happy a death. He is prepared. He is not unprovided for. He knows he’s received a tremendous grace, despite it coming with the burden of his family’s grief, and his friends’ grief.

I’ve received grace from our friendship and his witness to death, and for now, it is enough.

UPDATE: V died Saturday afternoon, in the company of his wife, mother, m-i-l, sister & brother-in-law. Thanks for the prayers – I have the best readers.

Photo credit: mikecogh via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

Posted in Death, Faith, Friends, Friendship, Thoughts | 7 Comments

PARISH REPORT: Nice Couple Recommends Apologist Whose Name Escapes Them

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(AoftheANews) SKOKIE – After the Sunday 10:45 AM Mass, Mort and Lucinda Portcullis, a nice, sweet couple, gave a rousing recommendation for a popular Catholic apologist whose name they had trouble recalling.

“I heard him on the radio yesterday, on that Catholic station,” Lucinda told AoftheA News. “What station, Mort?”

Mort tightly closed one eye while arching the other’s brow, cocked his head to the side, and scrunched his lips. “Oh shoot, it’s right on the tip of my tongue. W something something something, on the AM dial. Anyway, though, that apologist was great. Knew his stuff inside and out. He really strengthened my faith!”

“It was the FM dial, Mort,” Lucinda corrected. “But yes, he talked about Church teaching. Or maybe some saint or other, who started an order, I think. His name will come to me in the middle of the night, I just know it. But you’d like him,” she added.

“He’s the one with the beard,” Mort said, stroking his chin. “I can see his face clear as day, but his name…yeah, like Lucinda said. It’ll wake me up at three in the morning. I just know it.”

“He really spoke to my heart, whatever his name is,” Lucinda said.

Photo credit: Half Chinese via Visualhunt / CC BY

Don’t miss anything – like Acts of the Apostasy on Facebook!

Posted in AoftheA News Desk, Humor, News That Could Be True, Parish Report, Radio | 3 Comments

Sister Patricia On: The World Day Of Prayer For Vocations

(Sister Patricia Owens O’Flannery, OP, a post-modern pre-traditional omni-spiritual Dominican sister, periodically contributes to AoftheA.  Today she offers her thoughts on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. I think.)

Greetings, friends and readers of LarryD! May the grace and substantiality ofsisterpatriciablurry Sophia fill you with sagacious platitudes and good vibrations! I know, I know – my absence from the blog must have had you wrought with constellation, but I assure you, I am in good health and in good spirits (Sr Jacques Daniels makes sure of that!). My chakras have been in positive alignment since the Vernal Equinox – it was a rough winter, chakra-wise. But now I’m a Reawakened person, and Universal Optimude is my Eternal Song!

You would not believe my schedule! I’m constantly yinned and yanged between my new on-line Liturgical Dancing classes (booked til 2017!), my annual pilgrimages to Lhasa Apso and Burkina Faso, the occasional blog post at 1Peter5 (don’t tell LarryD, he doesn’t know), and overseeing labyrinth installations in convents across the globe. I’m not as young as I look, and while my spirit is spry, my body wants to say ‘Just go on without me’. Unfortunately, our species hasn’t evolved to that level of Consciousness, no matter what Joan Chittister says!

Which is why I was so exhilarated that LarryD asked me to write about the World Day of Prayer for Vacations. Godde knows I need one!

April 17, 2016 commemorated the 53rd celebration of vacations in the official Church. You may ask yourself, there were no vacations before 1963? Of course there were, obviously. However, it took until the genesis of the Second Vatican Council for the Church to formally recognize the impotence and necessity of praying for vacations. So while I may have my qualms and quibbles with the Roman hierarchical patriarchy and their medieval eccentricities regarding a great many things, I will give credit where credit’s earned.

Godde wants everyone – each and every person – to have a fulfilling vacation. We were imagined into being to realize our vacation. Getting our vacation right leads to peace and contentment, creating within our souls a bubbly evanescence, spreading light and laughter from our ebullient auras.

Vacations may be taken with family, with a community, or taken by oneself. Vacations are different for each person, predestined by the Cosmic Source from before the Dawn of Reality. Sometimes vacations are spontaneous and whimsical, but for best results, they ought to be prayed about and planned (the Church calls that ‘discernment’ – isn’t that cute?).

I’ve heard it mentioned that there’s a “vacation crisis” in the Church, but that’s ridiculous. Have you seen the lines at Disney World? No, if there’s a crisis, it’s this: too many people don’t take their vacation seriously, and simply go along with the crowd. They do what’s easy, rather than do what’s right.

If you have yet to perceive your particular vacation, I encourage you to do so soon. Don’t worry if you think your vacation isn’t as special, or as exciting, or as provocative as someone else’s. No two vacations are alike – so don’t compare! Simply fulfill your vacation as Godde desires for you, to the best of your abilities, and you’ll discover to your interminable delight that your life will resonate with the rhythm of the spheres in harmonious homeopathy!

I will your pray for your vacation at my upcoming Sweat-lodge retreat, and please, I beseech you, please pray for mine.

May the warm warmth of Sophia’s warm-heartedness embrace you warmly, and may you have a fabulous, fulfilling vacation!

Posted in Humor, Parody, Sister Patricia, Vocations | 3 Comments

My Thoughts Upon Reading Amoris Laetitia

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I know, I know – the Amoris Laetitia wave has long since crashed upon the Catholic blogosphere beachhead, with the tide dragging most of the resulting detritus back into the sea. Most, but not all. Tarry a bit upon the sand, and you’ll come upon an eddy pool here or there, where some crabs remain, chattering and snapping. That’s what crabs do.

So here’s a non-crabby reaction?

I had said I wouldn’t blog about AL until I had the chance to read it, and ‘stay in the bubble’, avoiding as much commentary as possible. I think I did pretty well in that regard. Not a single visit to Pewsitter!

I’ve read nearly the entire thing, including the notorious Chapter 8 (lol!). Amoris Laetitia is not the most eloquent of documents. Parts of it are beautiful (esp. Ch 4: “Love In Marriage”), while other parts meander from idea to idea, never reaching a full conclusion. Portions of it are vague, ambiguous even. Some of that may be due to translation, but I think most of it is Francis’ style. I get that – it’s his personality, his somewhat informal approach. It’s not my preference, but then again, he hasn’t asked me my opinion.

Most of my reading was before the Blessed Sacrament – quiet, no distractions, just me and the Lord. And here’s my conclusion.

I have work to do. Lots. I can love my wife more deeply; teach and encourage my sons more kindly; treat others more compassionately; follow Christ more closely; live my faith more boldly, and more humbly. In a nutshell: answer the call to holiness with joy.

As for the “irregular situations” bit that’s caused so much fury…okay, look. Some bloggers have decoded that to mean “divorced and remarried Catholics who didn’t get an annulment”. Adulterers, in other words. In their mind, “couples in irregular situations” is PC for adultery. I don’t think it’s meant to be interpreted that way. If you remove your “Pope Francis Is A Damned Heretic” glasses, you’ll see it’s not linguistic sleight-of-hand. Because here’s the thing: Every married couple is, to one degree or another, in an “irregular situation”. Granted, some people have great marriages – awesome marriages even – and their weddings were sacramental and by the book. But that doesn’t mean they’re not irregular. It’s just that they keep they’re irregularities private. They’re between themselves and God. There is no perfect marriage, no matter how devout we are in our faith, no matter how closely we live according to Church teaching. There is not a person in the world who has their shit so together, that they’re afforded the luxury of pointing at others’ irregularity. We’re all irregular. And since everyone’s irregular, the best course of action is to mind.your.own.damn.business. As one of my very good friends likes to say: “Keep your eyes on your own paper.”

It’s unfortunate some folks were reactive rather than reflective. It’s too bad so many people focused their efforts on proving Pope Francis a material heretic, determined to undermine Church doctrine by disemboweling the Sacrament of Marriage, instead of focusing on how AL might apply to their particular situation and station in life. Their misplaced focus caused them to stumble, and I think they missed the fuller purpose of the document.

Then again, maybe a lot of people who read Amoris Laetitia did that very thing. They just didn’t take to their blogs and vehemently express their blatant distrust of Pope Francis, calling him vile names, making themselves look foolish in the process. Rather, these faithful people quietly went about living their vocation: loving their spouses, nurturing their children, amending their lives, receiving grace for themselves and their families.

I like to believe so. I think it’s the better choice.

I think it’s the Catholic choice.

Photo via Visualhunt

Posted in All The World's A Blog And We Are Merely Posters, Amoris Laetitia, Apostolic Exhortation, Catholic Bloggers, Catholic Blogs, Pope Francis, Thoughts | 4 Comments