So much for the benefit of the doubt...

So, I had planned on blogging just a tiny bit tonight before leaving for the Bay Area for Christmas, and had expected a nice piece about Advent waiting. That might still ensue, if I am not too jet-lagged and have internet access tomorrow.

But today's Boston Globe has me just a little bit, well, waiting for the kingdom again, as it were. When I wrote some time ago about the removal of Fr. Walter Cuenin from his parish in Newton due to financial impropriety, I was upset at the use of a technicality by the diocese in what seemed to be an act of reprisal due to his positions on a number of controversial church issues. At the same time, I was really, really trying to give the archdiocese the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they were just trying to keep everyone on the same page? Maybe it was simply that the diocese was trying to crack down on any financial impropriety...

But in today's paper, one finds this lovely story about Fr. Hugh O'Regan, who over the past six years has been funneling money from one parish that he serves at to another. He will face no disciplinary action. His parishioners at Holy Trinity never knew about the money transfers -- or their parish's overall financial health -- because he never convened a finance council for the parish. (Incidentally, this is the one parish institution involving lay people required by canon law to exist in a parish...there's no absolute requirement for a parish to even have a parish council, but according to canon 537, there is to be a finance council...). While it might be nice to think that this is "an honest bookkeeping mistake," as the archdiocesan spokesperson described it, I'm honestly flabbergasted at the double standard here. Apparently financial irregularities only get you removed from a pastorate if your pastoral council knows about them, approves them, and regularly reports them to the parish. If you keep your parishioners in the dark (or happen to host the archdiocese's Latin Mass?), little things like playing with the numbers aren't really a problem. I can only hope that more people start pointing out the ridiculousness of this rather than just letting it slide.


Childish, Yes...But Funny

So, this is normally the sort of thing that I send off to thirty unsuspecting friends and acquaintances ...in other words, I find this hilarious, but others tend not to. But that's why I have a blog now, so people can choose whether or not they want to walk into the cluttered anteroom of my psyche. From www.t-shirthumor.com.


Cavalcade of Bad Nativities

Since we're almost halfway into Advent, you should check out the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities at www.GoingJesus.com. My personal favorite: these fun (and wise!) owls. Knuck, knuck, knuck.

This year, she's added Angels We Have Heard Are High, a celebration of freaky-deaky angels. As she writes, "sometimes the angels just can't resist taking a chicken out for a spin..." As you might imagine, half the fun is in her witty running commentary, here and in "the Passion of the Tchotchke" and "the Stations of the Kitsch." Hopefully she won't end up in Episcopalian hell, surrounded by Thomas Kinkade landscapes forever....


My favorite collect ever...

There, now how many bloggers can you find out there who not only have a favorite collect, but are willing to admit it in public?

My favorite collect ever is for today, Thursday of the First Week of Advent:

we need your help.
Free us from sin and bring us to life.
Support us by your power.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, etc...

What I most like about this one is the simplicity of it, and I remember it mainly because my shorter morning and evening prayer only used the prayers from the first week of Advent for all four weeks. If Advent is a time for getting back in touch with the need to wait for the kingdom, and to call out, even lament, the fact that the heavens need to be rent once more, then this captures it pretty well. In a time when war is raging, where my own church seems intent on making me run away from it, when life is difficult for friends and colleagues, when the cold is setting in and the leaves are beginning to rot away, this prayer is, for me at least, a great way of bringing that longing, that sense of shriveling in a world that seems not to have been changed by Christ, directly into my prayer. And, like all good liturgical prayers, my personal sin and my personal need for help are not considered in isolation, but as part of the "we" who need God's help, the "we" who struggle with sin, the "we" who have tasted the beginnings of new life but haven't sat down at the banquet table yet.