Tuesday, December 31, 2002

New Blog.....

For those of "traditional", "conservative", or "just plain Catholic" persuasions to discuss, debate, and find common ground. Please email me if you wish to contribute.

....but I won't be working on it today!

I'm ballet parking at the ComedySportz New Year's Eve shows. Will be going to Mass beforehand, of course, since I'll be dead to the world tomorrow morning.

A Happy and Blessed New Year to all of you.

Monday, December 30, 2002

On Latin Masses, Circling the Wagons, and Local Support

An interesting post by Jeff Culbreath about whether or not it's a sin to go to the current usage of the Mass, as well as the duty of a faithful Catholic to find a good parish. Michelle of And Then?responds.

My thoughts on the matter, from years of experience. They are in no particular order, and are likely self-contradictory:

1) The most important thing is a valid and licit Mass. If you have that, you can receive grace upon grace, no matter how much dreck is piled up around it. And most importantly, you can receive Him.

2) That being said, it is near impossible for many people to be well-disposed to receiving those graces if the parish commits liturgical abuses with impunity. Best to stay away from those parishes if their liturgy becomes an occasion of sin against charity for you. I know. I avoid certain churches because their hijinks drive me to distraction.

3) That being said, it does no good to nitpick over every tiny variation on the liturgy. You will be driven to madness if you do. Besides which, some priests have been trained to do some things, or have been intimidated and coerced into them, but they are otherwise good men. One example: one particular priest I know of (ordained in the early 70's) took a rather casual approach to the way he celebrated Mass. Nothing that would render an invalid Eucharist, of course, but enough to make me shake my head at times. However, his preaching on abortion and morality was the best I ever heard. He minced no words about those matters, and backed up his words with participation in the archdiocesan Project Rachel program. He is now a team member in a consolidated parish in which liturgical abuse is probably routine, as it has been all over this archdiocese. A bad priest? Not necessarily.

4) In most places, the parish leadership won't care about what you think of their abuses. Either the Ordinary (bishop, that is) supports them, or they've intimidated the Ordinary into letting them do their own thing, or they are quite willing to defy the Ordinary if it had to come to that. Best to leave such places to their own devices.

5) On the other hand, glimmers of hope do occur, and parishes can be changed for the better. I know of one church which has been revitalized by a young, faithful pastor. Fr. Don started another daily Mass, restored weekly confession (people take advantage of it!), built a Perpetual Adoration Chapel, hired a great youth minister, teaches catechism in the school, and preaches orthodoxy in the pulpit. He may not have everything 100% perfect, but what is in this world?

6) There is no such thing as a perfect parish. No matter how good things are, someone will find a reason to complain.

7) People who come to an orthodox parish tend to be from all over the place. They're usually not missed in their old parishes.

8) Also, extremely liberal parishes tend to be magnets for people who like that sort of thing. St. Joan of Arc gets as many people from great distances as St. Agnes.

9) Oddly enough, it is often a liberal bishop who lends more support to an Indult Mass. Bishop Sullivan of Richmond, VA not only gave a church to the Tridentine Community there, but has offered Mass for them as well. Bishop Howze of Biloxi used to personally offer the Latin Mass for the community there. Bishop Hubbard in Albany established a personal parish for the Indult Community. And here in Milwaukee, Archbishop Weakland had let them worship in the Cousins Center (the Chancery complex). Go figure.....

10) Some bastions of orthodoxy are urban churches in poor neighborhoods. The suburban refugees not only provide numbers, but needed money and other resources. Also, many "outsiders" will do more than simply go to Mass and participate in a few parish activities. They get involved in the surrounding community. For example, several people who go to St. Anthony's volunteer at a nearby pregnancy-crisis center (learning Spanish to do so), help out at the local St. Vincent de Paul, and participate in the annual festivities in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

11) Sometimes, fighting it out can be worth it. My mother has stayed at her parish, even though the pastor is a liberal. She and a few others make sure he doesn't do anything outrageous. Granted, the parish is staffed by a a small group of Franciscans, which means that my mother or someone else can go to the Custos if their pastor acts up, but the situation ther allows for some sort of orthodox presence to remain there.

12) Worth Fighting Out Part II: This parish was staffed for nearly 50 years by Slovenian Franciscans, a solid group of priests. Unfortunately, their numbers grew so small that they were no longer able to take care of this growing suburban parish (see the History section for why the parish moved). The parishoners actually negotiated with the Archbishop for their choice of diocesan priests -- and won. To this day, the parish has Perpetual Adoration, solid catechesis, and a reverent liturgy (OK, the music could be better, but....).

13) Worth Fighting Out Part III: Sometimes a "mole" will come into a typical parish and start subverting things for the better. Maybe it will be a young, orthodox priest who's willing to change things outright as a pastor (like Fr. Don) or quietly do his own thing as an associate pastor. Or you'll get a youth minister or DRE who actually believes and practices the Faith, and teaches it well. Or a music director who starts playing more standard hymns, and may even slip in some chant and polyphany. You never know.....

14) OTOH, these people also have the tendency to be chewed up and spit out, once discovered. The new pastor may encounter massive resistance from the "pastoral team" he's inherited -- all of whom are signed to long-term, air-tight contracts. The new associate pastor may find his stay to be very brief. Youth Ministers and DREs will find themselves under the glaring, lidless eye of other team members, and find it better to leave. As far as what can happen to a music director who actually practices what the Vatican II documents actually say, I invite you to pick up a copy of Thomas Day's Why Catholics Can't Sing.

I don't know if I've exactly addressed Jeff and Michelle; indeed, I don't know if I've stuck to the point at all. But your thoughts and opinions are always welcome.....

Sunday, December 29, 2002

The one day I root for them.....

The Bears are losing to the Bucs. So much for a bye.........

Better than Football (especially today!)

Lord of the Rings -- the Two Towers was excellent! I especially liked the way they handled Gollum/Smeagol, and how they worked in the Aragorn/Arwen story.

That being said, I do have reservations about how books are adapted for the silver screen. I know that some extraneous things must be cut (Bombadil,. the songs, etc.), and that the timeframe needs to be compressed some, but I think that I would have kept Theoden and Eomer closer to the book (Eowyn was just fine). And in both installments, I would have developed Galadriel more (especially since Gandalf is taken to Lorien to recuperate).

But it was still three hours well-spent. And much better than, say, yelling at the TV while the Packers are getting creamed.

2002 Tributes

As with every year, lots of well-known people died. A few I'll miss:

Chuck Jones. He is one of the great film geniuses of the 20th Century, working his magic with animated figures rather than "real" live actors. Duck Amuck, What's Opera, Doc?, One Froggy Evening, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and many other great works..........

Dave Berg. Loved reading his Lighter Side in Mad Magazine.

Dudley Moore. He was a good actor and an excellent pianist.

Waylon Jennings. Like most kids my age, I watched Dukes of Hazzard when I got the chance (talk about guilty pleasures.....). Waylon sang the theme song and narrated.

Ted Williams. His playing days were long over when I was growing up, but I saw old films of him, and no-one before or since had a sweeter swing.

Dave Thomas. He's known best as founder of Wendy's, but more important was his work for adopted children.

Lionel Hampton. Great musician. Benny Goodman did the right thing to bring him into the band, musically and otherwise.


--Went to Barnes & Noble Friday evening. Used my gift card to get Jame Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food. Online version is found here. WARNING: not for the weak of stomach.

--Worked as ballet parker for all three shows at ComedySportz. Talked with the mounted police. One of the horses tried to eat my tutu. Made good tip money.

--Went to Mass at Old St. Mary's in-between the matinee and the evening shows. Beautiful old church. Wish the parish had a website so I could show you.

--Listening to The Best of Richard & Linda Thompson -- the Island Years as I blog. Great guitar work; intelligent, heartfelt lyrics; and some beautiful singing by Linda.

--Going to see Two Towers this afternoon. Alas, I forgot that the Packers play this afternoon. Oh, well.

--The roomie got me a mini of 12 yr old Chivas Regal. Mmmmm......

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Tempis Fugit

Went to Gary Spiering's wake last night. It was a closed coffin funeral, since the body was not embalmed due to Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease. I saw my childhood friend Darryl for the first time in years. He looks pretty much the same, and has settled down with a wife and three children.

A few things which gave me thought:

--- There were photo galleries of Gary in the visitation room. He hadn't changed much from high school until his illness. I also hadn't realized how "young" he was --- only 58 years old. He had always seemed older to me, perhaps because he was my friend's father, and I was only just a kid.

--- Memories poured back for me. Gary was as blue-collar as you can get -- a rough-and-ready guy who was a tough but fair dad. I remember one time I ran into him, years ago. I called him Mr. Spiering, and he immediately corrected me, saying that I was an adult now. Out of all my friends' parents, the transition to a first-name basis was easiest with him.

--- The family seemed relaxed now. Gary's death was sudden, but not unexpected. You could hear laughter in the visitation room.

--- I also met Darryl's wife and children for the first time. I'd rather have met them at another time and at another place; still, it was good to see that my old friend has done well for himself.

--- Darryl's oldest is six years old, and is the spitting image of his father. I felt like I was glimpsing into 1975 again, when I first met Darryl at St. Augustine's School in West Allis.

May Gary rest in peace, and may I meet him again merrily in Heaven.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Christmas in Review

Been a busy two days.....

Christmas Eve. I forgot to set my alarm! Woke up at 6:35 and had just enough time to brush my teeth, slap on deodorant, pull on my clothes and make a bus. Got to work on time, though.

Work went by quickly -- only half a day (with a full day's pay!). After I punched out at 11:30, I went to the athletic club to shower, grabbed some lunch, and went home.

Didn't do much when I got home. The roomie was too shy to come over to my parents' place, so I gave him his gift right away -- a bag of whole-beanAlterra Coffee . Then I had to go pick up beer for that night and the following day. Decided to go all-out and purchased Pilsner Urquell and Anchor Steam. Blogged a bit.

It came time to head on over to the folks'. It was me, Mom, Dad, my two sisters, my three nephews, my grandmother, my aunt, our friend Kevin, and Kevin's dog Henry. The boys got lots of electronic stuff -- DVD players, games, computer stuff. My sister Diane got a new grill. My grandmother got a gift certificate to Outpost Natural Foods. My parents got a variety of things. My aunt got lots of tea. And Henry got treats.

Everyone liked their gifts from me, fortunately. I did forget to bring over my aunt's gift, but I remedied the situation the following day.

As for me, I got a couple of checks (Thanks, Mom & Dad and Grandma!), gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Walmart, some tea, a new microwave (thanks again, Mom & Dad!), a C. S. Lewis compendium, a slow-cooker cookbook, and a Natalie MacMaster CD (I'm listening to it right now).

It's very strange......aside from cash (always appreciated), a few gift cards, and the occasional needed item, I find myself at a loss to ask for specific things for Christmas. I prefer giving small but useful gifts, and watching the youngsters' delight in their presents to getting things.....

Midnight Mass. I decided to go to Milwaukee's Indult Mass this year. To my delight, the roomie also wanted to go. So we got to St. Mary Help of Christians around 11 pm, and proceeded to give him a tour of the church as it was set up for the Latin Mass. At 11:10, a Rosary was prayed; and at 11:30, a service in the vernacular presided over by Fr. Skeris. Gerard Saguto, a subdeacon with the FSSP, chanted the Christmas Proclamation, and read from Isaiah and St. Leo's Christmas sermon. The choir and congregation sang several carols, and the service concluded with the blessing of the creche. By this time, the church was comfortably full.

Then came Mass, offered by Fr. Skeris, with the Missa super Dixit Maria sung by the choir. Father preached a spot-on sermon about the "Reason for the Season", in which he spoke about the naked effort to completely banish Christianity from the public square. And the rest of the Mass was, of course, the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

I was concerned that my Congregationalist (UCC, actually) roomie would feel totally out of place at this Mass. To my delight, he wasn't. He loved the music and the sermon, and said that the tone and atmosphere reminded him more of his childhood church than did the UCC congregation he tried in Milwaukee!

One sad note: Afterwards, about a block away from church, we saw a man lying in the street, with a police officer tending to him. Whether the man had been hit by a car or collapsed on his own, we don't know. We saw paramedics speed to the scene. Please remember that poor man in your prayers.

Christmas Day. Met a friend for brunch downtown. Originally, we were going to meet at the Hotel Metro, but their restaurant was closed (they had a continental spread for guests). So we went next door to the Pfister Hotel's cafe. Expensive, but good stuff!

Came back to my apartment and relaxed for a while. Then back to the parents' -- this time, the roomie came along. Diane's two boys were with their father, but we were joined by my dad's cousin Carl, a retired engineer. Carl and the roomie talked quite a bit.

Dinner! Home-cured ham from Rupena's, homemade kielbasa from another local butcher, and all sorts of other yummy stuff, accompanied by Spanish and Portuguese wines, as well as the aforementioned beers. Henry went under the table and accepted discreetly offered bits of ham.

Shortly after dinner was finished, my oldest sister's best friend from high school came in with her husband and four children. The two older boys are built like offensive lineman -- not fat, but big. The youngest boy shows signs of getting that big as well. The lone daughter, a young lady of 12, is absolutely beautiful, both inside and out. But under that genuinely sweet exterior lies the heart of a fighter -- she has to be, with three brothers (two of them older). And she knows how to win fights.

The roomie and I came back home around 8:30, stowed our CARE package in the fridge, set up the microwave, and got ready for the next day.......

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Verbum caro factus est......

I had always wondered as a child why the Christmas Mass during the Day didn't have one of the passages from Matthew or Luke. Then, one day, I understood......

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you and yours.

But Also Remember.....

.....those whose Christmas won't be an occasion for cheer: the imprisoned, the homeless, the forgotten, the lonely, those whose loved ones are sick and dying, or have recently died. Please remember the Spiering family -- Gary died a few days ago after a long illness. In the long run, a mercy, but still......

Christmas is here!

Been extremely busy with work and other stuff the past week.......haven't been in the mood to stare at a screen.......anyways....

Did most of my Christmas shopping yesterday.....since most of my family don't have immediate Internet access, I can tell y'all what I got everybody:

Mom & Dad: Gift certificates to a good used bookstore downtown. Perfect for any bibliophile you know.

My nephews: Gift cards to Borders. They can get a CD, a DVD, or maybe even.....a book!

My sisters: Gift certificates to a spice store. Would have gotten them hand-picked samplers of spices, but the employees were too busy, and it was getting late....

My aunt: An assortment of teas. I get her that every year. Fortunately, she likes tea.

My grandma: A blue butterfly mobile and a card. She was the toughest one. What do you get for a 93-year-old who doesn't need much of anything anymore? I had gotten her gourmet food items in the past, which she enjoyed, but she didn't want those anymore. My parents had already bought for her a gift certificate to a natural foods store, so that idea was out. But she still does arts-and-crafts, and maybe she'll like this......

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Prayer Requests

Been busy, or not in a blogging mood. May have more Thursday.....

Got several prayer requests for y'all here:

--For Monica M. Miller and her family, as she undergoes chemotherapy to battle breast cancer.

-- For Pastor Steve Wiest and his family, as he battles a recurrence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

--For Ryan, the son of a family friend, who recently attempted suicide.

--For me, a sinner.


Wednesday, December 11, 2002


What store to loot when civilation crumbles?

brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks Brian!

Sunday, December 08, 2002


Gonna be a tough one tonight. The battered Pack, playoff-assured but not playing at 100% and minus several starters, faces the spoiler Vikings, with a good defensive end and potent offensive weapons. It may be cold up in the Land of the Frozen Tundra, but it'll be no easy ride. Updates forthcoming.......

Update I Packers went 3-and-out. Vikings are within striking range. Very early, but very nervous.....

Update II Vikings 10, Packers.....0. Argh.

Update III 44-yard run by Donald Driver nullified by penalty. Driver injured. Vikings intercept. St. Vincent of Green Bay, we need your help!

Update IV Packers on the board 13-3. Need more points! Must win! Oh, and Driver's OK.

Update V Halftime. 13-6. Need more than field goals.

Update VI 19-13 Pack. Gotta WIN!!!!!!!

Update VII PACKERS ARE AHEAD!!!!!! 26-22. Gotta win! GOTTA WIN!!!

Last Update PACKERS WIN!!!!! The end was a bit messy, though. Hovan got escorted off the field by the police WHOA!!!!

Gotta hit the sack.. Back to the salt mines tomorrow.

On Catechesis

Didn't realize I posted a header with nothing underneath.......this time I will actually post something......

Much talk on HMS Blog regarding what makes effective catechesis. As a former Confirmation/RCIA teacher, this subject is close to my heart. My thoughts on the matter:

1) Catechesis Starts at Home. It makes the teacher's job much, much easier if the child gets formation right at home -- as big as regular Sunday (and Holy Day!) Mass attendance, and as little as Grace before meals. Other things that help: regular family prayer, books on Catholic subjects, a money box for charities during Lent, an outing to a monastery or convent whose members take their calling seriously, crucifixes in the bedrooms, a shrine to Our Lady or an icon wall, Mom and Dad setting a good example with their own lives and conduct, regular opportunities to go to Confession with preparation beforehand, explanations as to why certain things are not good or even outright evil, explanations on why Catholicism is the "complete package", not doing the "Judas Shuffle" after Communion --- and many more things which time does not allow. Any other things for effective home formation are welcome in the comments box.

Conversely, it makes the teacher's job much more difficult if little to nothing is being done at home. If the parents don't go to church themselves, or if they're doing something totally against Church teaching (shacking up, supporting Planned Barrenhood), or if they're weak on the Faith themselves, or (in the attempt to get the child into class in the first place) they say, "I leave it up to him/her to decide" -- what will an hour's worth of instruction do if it's not going to be reinforced afterward? By the grace of God you hope a seed has been planted in the child, but by human measurements, it's spitting into the wind.

2) Catechesis continues and is reinforced in the Rites and Devotions of the Church. Long heading here, but there is more to it than just Sunday Mass.

Let's start with Sunday Mass, since that is the most important part. First important thing: not the preaching, but the way Mass is celebrated. I've posted extensively on this (alas, my archives are in Blogger Limbo right now!), but it bears repeating that the law of prayer is the law of belief. The way a church is decorated, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament, posture, the choice of hymns and music, silence before Mass, adherence to the GIRM and not the latest liturgical fad, the reverence of the priest and ministers, the way the Eucharist is treated, and much more (again, comments are welcome).

Close behind that is the preaching. There has been much discussion about what makes a good homily. All else being equal, it is extremely important that the Church's teachings are presented in a clear and unambiguous manner, and drawn from the readings of the day. The preacher (be he priest or deacon) should, whenever possible, find a way to tie the Eucharist or confession or the Church's teaching on sexuality or the Four Last Things.

Beyond Sunday Mass, any Religious Ed program should schedule regular opportunities for their students to go to Confession (the pastor willing). A Rosary and booklet of prayers should be included among the books and other study materials. Begin and end with prayer, both with your students and the teaching team thereafter. Teach the kids to pray the Rosary if they don't know it already. If you're in a parish that has a Perpetual Adoration chapel, talk about it and (circumstances allowing), take them there once in a while. Pray for each other. And always find a way to apply things to "real life".

More on Confession: a booklet on how to make a good Confession should be included with the books, other materials, and Rosary. If you take them for the opportunity to receive the sacrament, go through the procedure if a refresher is needed. Have people handy to individually help kids prepare. Lead the group in a Rosary while confessions are being heard (besides the Prayer Power generated, it's also a good way of reducing distractions).

3) Head and Heart -- both/and, not either/or. I always tried to keep a balance in my program, both in the course design and in my teaching team. I'm much better at the Head stuff; others excelled at reaching hearts. This was the three years course I designed:

1st year: Creed/Sacraments/Commandments (lots of Head stuff, but the Commandments got into the Heart).

2nd Year: Prayer (Head frame, Heart body)/The Mass (tried for both -- I taught it, so it was more Head stuff).

3rd Year: The Holy Spirit (more cerebral)/the Call to Holiness (hit close to the Heart).

This setup didn't last beyond my time there, but I daresay it's a decent one -- on paper. Application can be another thing.

4) Teachers must be willing to make spiritual sacrifices for their students. Always pray for your kids. You may do more for them with a Rosary or a mortification than you would in the classroom.

Gotta run now.....going to the folks', and then Packers game tonight......

Saturday, December 07, 2002

I didn't know I had it in me.....

What's your inner animal?

brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks again, Michelle!

Thursday, December 05, 2002

On Catechesis


Which 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' actor are you!?

brought to you by Quizilla

This quiz actually means something to me, since I do improv -- still as a student, however. I'll be returning to Level 104 workshop come January. But I don't mind. It's a lot of fun, and that's what counts.

More Prayer Requests

Sam Gale, the father of my dear friend Sue Gale, died yesterday morning from pancreatic cancer. Please remember Sam and his family in your prayers.

Please also remember Tim Schultz, a member of my parents' parish. His cancer has returned.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Prayer Request

Please remember my friend Pastor Steve Wiest and his family in your prayers. His lymphoma has returned.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

All Is Right With The World....

....Well, maybe not. But the Packers won, and that makes life just a bit better......

Regarding that snarky Bears fan who commented on last week's loss: this song is dedicated to you:

The Bears Still Suck
The Bears Still Suck
The Bears Still Suck
The Bears Still Suck
They Really, Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Suck
Yes The Bears Still Suck

(Song by The Happy Schnapps Combo)

Packers Vs. Bears

1 pm, and I'm not a happy camper. Bears are ahead 14-3. In Lambeau. In December. Something's not right here.

Update: Halftime. 14-6. Weird play to end the half. Packers had ball, went for Hail Mary Pass. Bears picked it off, fumbled, Pack recovered, tried lateral, Bears picked off ball, got run down to end the half.

Gotta get it into gear for the second half.....

Update II: Pack went ahead with a TD and a FG. 16-14. Hope the lead lasts......

Update III: 23-14 Packers. Not over yet.....but things are looking maybe just a teeny eeny bitsy bit better.......gotta ask St. Vincent's intercession (and I ain't talkin' De Paul or de Zaragoza)......

Today's Appropriate Hymn

Did anyone sing this today (or some version thereof)? Please let me know if your parish did.

Wake, awake, for night is flying;
The watchmen on the heights are crying:
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices;
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past;
The Bridegroom comes, awake;
Your lamps with gladness take;
Alleluia! And for His marriage feast prepare
For ye must go and meet Him there.

Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her Star is risen, her Light is come.
Ah come, Thou blessèd One, God’s own belovèd Son:
Alleluia! We follow till the halls we see
Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee.

Now let all the heavens adore Thee,
And saints and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone;
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where we are with the choir immortal
Of angels round Thy dazzling throne;
Nor eye hath seen, nor ear hath yet attained to hear
What there is ours, but we rejoice and sing to Thee
Our hymn of joy eternally.


After working two shows at ComedySportz, I didn't have the energy to travel for Mass this morning, so I went to the 8 am at the church nearest me.

Several things irked me while I was there:

Blue. My favorite color, in fact. But the proper color for Advent is violet, perhaps a bluish-violet for preference, with blue and silver trim. The decorations, candle, and vestments were all a cobalt blue. Not proper.

Hokey "themes". Someone came up with the cute idea of having a "word of the week": Love, peace, joy, and faith. All excellent works, but not deserving of having banners (blue, of course) hung up in the sanctuary each week. Accompanying this throwback to the '70s is the Cameroon Christmas song "He Came Down".

No old Advent hymns. The processional was "He Came Down"; the offertory was something by David Haas; the Communion was James Moore's "Taste and See" (the emasculated version); and the recessional was "Eye Has Not Seen". Except for Haas' song (an unmemorable effort), there was not a single song related to Advent or the Second Coming.

I have experienced worse in my time, but this sort of gimmickry gets tiring. Let the season speak for itself. No decoration (except for some flowers --no pointsettias yet! -- on Gaudete Sunday), simple violet vestments and paraments, a low-key Mass setting (like the Jubilate Deo), and hymns which reflect the season. Outside of Sunday Mass: more opportunities for Confession (and not just the requisite communal penance service, either), Sunday Vespers (possibly done in collaboration with other parishes), and a Parish Mission. The pageantry waits till Christmas -- then get creative! (Within the proper boundaries, of course.....)