More on Russell

So a friend pointed out last night that I hadn't posted anything more on Mr. Russell since we got him. Not for lack of loving Russell...just trying to ease him into the world of fame that my blog entails.

If you were worried, he's doing fine. We have the perfect addition to our house....he's stubborn, too smart for his own good, fantastically good looking...it's like we have a third copy of us! All he needs now is to start quoting rules from the Chicago Manual, 15th Edition, at strangers instead of barking at him. He's lost 2 pounds or so since he's arrived, which is good, because he was a little bit "heavy", the vet said. But we're one little happy family, and it's quite refreshing to come home to a tail wagging like a metronome.

Here are some shots for you, of Russell doing what he does best: sleeping (under his towel), following us around the house "to help," and falling asleep on my feet, which he tends to do. We have some video of him killing his koala toy as well, hopefully we'll mix it with some music soon and post it for the world. (We still think it's cute, but are aware that the playful shakes are an attempt to break the poor thing's neck. The picture on the top left shows Russell with koala innards hanging from his teeth.)

BTW, if you're thinking of adopting, I highly recommend the Golden Retriever Rescue Lifeline up in Biddeford, Maine, who matched us with Russell. Thanks again Melanie!


New favorite blog

So one of my new favorite must-read blogs is Peacebang's Beauty Tips for Ministers (Peacebang also has her own eponymous blog about things non-sartorial). And, while not a minister, this humble theologian loves her reflections upon faith and beauty. Some excerpts from a recent post entitled "Beauty is Relative...and Regional":

Today I am wearing a white blouse with lovely detailing (set-in waist, thin, pretty lines of embroidered thread woven througought in slimming patterns), a lavender tulip skirt that flares at the knees, and 4" cork sandals. Also beaded earrings.

In Massachusetts this is normal girlie get-up. It may be a bit froo-froo for clergy, but I had a hot lunch date today with my staff and I wanted to be cute for them. Thank you for asking: I did have a glass of champagne with my oysters. We have long, hard winters here in New England and when we finally get to sit outside in the harbor and look at the boats, we think it's worth a 2-martini lunch. Which both my secretary and office manager did have.
Apple-tinis, bless their hearts.


However, do you remember in all those dear old "Little House on the Prairie" episodes when the pioneers would spend all week in their overalls and wide-brim hats, toiling in the fields (and Laura and Mary would bring them cool ginger water) and getting grimy in a kind of sexy, manly, Michael Landon-ish way? But then when they went to Meeting on Sunday they took their weekly bath and got all combed and shined up, and put on their stiff Sunday best (which in Laura's case, meant bright blue hair ribbons on her pigtails)? And they looked kind of shiny and special, even if they weren't terribly comfortable and certainly not fashionable?

I think we should be shiny and special in some secular equivalent of our Sunday best every day. We should communicate shiny Sunday specialness when we dress every day, to represent the blessing of the Sabbath spirit whenever we walk into a room or into the office.

Amen, Sister.


Persuasion, not Punishment

"Yes, the bishops are 'called to teach the truth,' he [Theodore Cardinal McCarrick] said, but 'there should be no place in the Body of Christ for the brutality of partisan politics, the impugning of motives, or turning differences in pastoral judgment into fundamental disagreements on principle. Civility and mutual respect,' he continued, 'are not signs of weakness or lack of commitment, but solid virtues which reflect confidence and faith.' "

From a great article on how the bishops have, can, and will respond to politicians who reject or ignore church teaching by Peter Steinfels, one of the best Catholic church-watchers in the United States (excepting the Loggian Whisperer, of course, who's been on assignment for the installaion of Donald Wuerl as McCarrick's successor as Archbishop of Washington).


Liturgy of the Hours Resources

So I'm very excited (yes, I'm still a geek) to have discovered the other day, while bumping around the Catholic Church in France's website, a very easily accessible French-language Liturgy of the Hours site, Prier avec l'Église. I love language study in general, and find it relaxing to study something where there are more definite answers much of the time than in theology, and I've also found that reading the Bible and the daily news in a foreign language is a good way to maintain your gains. (Although, particularly if you're reading the Bible and/or doing theology, it does tend to limit your vocabulary a bit...e.g., I can talk about the Trinity in French for hours, but have more difficulty ordering a meal or asking where the bathroom is...) A little more searching finds the Office in Spanish at Cenaculum.org.

On the English-language side, sadly, the Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate, which has moved their English-language materials to ebreviary.com, now only has Friday and Sunday for free on their site, with a subscription service for the rest of the week. I imagine it does get expensive to maintain the site, but it's still disappointing, because their booklet-formatted prayers are great for praying the office in a group. Universalis is still free, but they don't include the antiphons or any of the prayers of the day, which I think are part of what keeps the office from being repetitive as one moves through the weekly cycles. It's also a pretty cumbersome format. Haven't found the Liturgia Horarium in Latin online in a format I can use easily, but you can get it for your PDA here...will one of my technologically-savvy traditionalist brothers or sisters get on that? Some of us pinkos like the Latin too!


St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Today is the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, so a happy feast-day to all of my Jesuit friends and various graduates of Gonzaga-devoted schools across the country.

As you can tell by the image, he's one of the church's "child saints" (the term "boy saints" having fallen out of favor, for obvious reasons...). He entered the Jesuits at the age of 18 and died five years later tending to victims of the plague in Rome.

One reason I love being Catholic is the treasure-trove, the grandmother's attic of saints' lives and devotional commentary on their lives; the saints, in their collective totality, are the greatest icon of the Holy Spirit which we have (a particularly fine example of this is the tapestry series at the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de los Angeles in California...here is the tapestry with a particularly West Hollywood, gym-fit Aloysius first in line in front of Stephen of Hungary, Marie-Rose Durocher, Matthew, and two of the future saints to come from the church of Los Angeles). But in addition to being a source of devotion, these strange outfits and crazy hats are also a great source of "Catholic fun". Today is one of those days. For example, one site describes Gonzaga as having died "of plague, fever, and desire to see God". And what started me looking on the web for more is today's collect, taken from the Liturgy of the Hours:

Father of love,
giver of all good things,
in Saint Aloysius you combined remarkable innocence
with the spirit of penance.
By the help of his prayers,
may we who have not followed his innocence
follow his example of penance.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

Now, as one of those "who have not followed his innocence," I couldn't help but feel a smile escape at the corner of my mouth this morning as I prayed the office and my tongue almost poked through my cheek. Some people might see this as a sign of my lack of piety and depravity; and others, particularly those selling Virgin Mary toast stamps down at the local Urban Outfitters, might feel free to just mock the whole darn thing. But I think that part of being a faithful Catholic today involves enjoying the freedom of the Christian to recognize our own collective, historical craziness sometimes, and to josh some of our spiritual forebears with as much gusto and genuine love as those who follow us will no doubt laugh, lightly and charitably, at our own craziness. I'm still convinced that more than anything else, Jesus loved to laugh, and the Father loves to hear it still.


Fr. Richard Erikson

There's a short profile in today's Globe Magazine on Fr. Richard Erikson, the new vicar general for the Archdiocese of Boston (the vicar general is the archbishop's "right hand man"...responsible for much of the day-to-day administration and oversight of the diocese). He was on his way back from a challenging tour of duty as a military chaplain in Iraq to the relative R & R of life as a wing chaplain in Hawaii...when he got the call that Hawaii will have to wait for a while. You have to bet that the Big Girl was cackling something fierce about that one.

Entirely unrelated, I had the wonderful experience yesterday of meeting Reader, I Married Him in person at a friend's party. It's always slightly unnerving when someone drops out of the blogosphere into real time, but it was thoroughly refreshing to put a person together with his words and descriptions of life.


Courtesy in Boston...it could win you some donuts...

So you heard it from the Globe...the State Secretary of Transportation is helping to begin a new "courtesy campaign" on the MBTA system. And while signs will do some good to remind employees to be friendly and riders to give up their seats for, say, pregnant women, the real hook that has a small shot of getting Boston's commuters to be nicer is the plan to have undercover agents distribute Dunkin Donuts gift cards to committers of random acts of courtesy. If there's one thing Bostonians like better than donuts and coffee, it's free donuts and coffee. Get ready to jump out of that seat.


My fifteen minutes begins...

So there's a very brief interview with me in today's USA Today, as part of a larger article on "God and gays"...but I'm happy to say that my "glamour shot" with the beautiful crucifix in our chapel down at the Paulist Center made the splash page of the website, and half of a page in the "Life" section in the print edition. I've already received a very kind email from CathoGay over in France who's writing some interesting stuff (seulement en français, I'm afraid).


Gaspee Days!

So I myself did not make the Boston Pride parade yesterday, and was marching in a different parade down in Rhode Island...the 41st annual Gaspee Days parade. Gaspee Days celebrates the 1772 incident in which a group of Rhode Island smugglers/rum-runners in the ship Hannah managed to ground His Majesty's Ship the Gaspee on the shoals near the village of Pawtuxet on the Cranston-Warwick border; they then went to a local establishment, had a few beers, and returned to the now stranded ship, evacuated it, and burned it. Thus began the first (slightly inebriated) blows for freedom during the American Revolution.

Every year we do it again. I think a columnist from the Providence Journal sums it up best:

The great Gaspee isn't a novel. It's every Rhode Islander's proud, pyromaniacal memory of inflammable insurrection.
We burned a boat. And we'd do it again. Heck, we'll do it every year just to stay in practice.
Gaspee Days are here again.
This weekend in Pawtuxet Village, celebrate. Gloat. Burn a boat.

Yesterday, despite the rain, I joined my old comrades with the Pawtuxet Rangers, Rhode Island Militia. I played fife for years with the fife and drum corps, and they were gracious enough to let me put a bright red wool coat and tricornered hat again to march down the street. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed marching and playing fife, and I'm thinking more seriously about joining up with a corps here in the Boston area. I'll keep you posted.

If you're in Rhode Island, today, Sunday, at 4 pm, they'll be burning the boat again in the harbor.

Also... a special thanks to Ron and John on Narragansett Parkway who graciously hosted a bunch of fifers and drummers on their porch yesterday morning during the pre-parade downfall, and even helped slake our thirst with some authentic 18th-century Bloody Marys...

Happy Pride, Walter Cuenin

In another bold move into the public debate over how the Catholic church should treat its gay and lesbian children, Fr. Walter Cuenin, former pastor of Our Lady's in Newton, preached yesterday at the interfaith pride service before Boston's Pride Parade. It's always dangerous to step out and be counted (as I might find out later this week...more on that soon), but you can often feel the breeze of a powerful little dove on your face when you do...


The Whisperer Raises His Voice...

just a little. And not his face. But great interview with Rocco Palmo, Philadelphia's Whisperer in the Loggia, at Busted Halo.com. Part II to come tomorrow. Some highlights:

  • Did you know that he's just 23 years old?
  • "My parents were culturally Catholic; go to mass on Sunday, put the envelope in the collection, go home and watch the Eagles lose."
  • "I sometimes feel like I’m in the confessional. I get about 250 emails a day. I beat myself up about the fact that I can’t get back to them all. They express so much in their stories and give of themselves. If anything, that keeps me going, because it sure ain’t the cash. I haven’t been solvent at all in any of this experience."
He's running out of money, though, folks, so if you enjoy getting all the gossip from Roma without having to install hidden cameras in the Jesuit residence, send him some cash via paypal.


le Français fait une rentrée

From this past weekend's New York Times, a great story about the revival of la Francophonie (and of Francophilie) in Maine. As a grandchild of a Québecer from Trois Rivières, and a dissertator on a Frenchmen who taught for most of his life in Ottawa, I'm very excited by the prospect of more French here in New England again. While "qui perd sa langue, perd sa foi" might be a bit extreme, and it's easy to romanticize rural Catholic Québec, it's still exciting to keep this part of people's heritage alive.

I learned my French up at the summer program at l'Université Laval, which is a great way of spending a few weeks in the summer getting a crash course. And I've since become a big fan of Quebec folk music, and come make some recommendations if you're interested (Les Charbonniers de l'Enfer and La Bottine Souriante are good places to start!).


Posting from the road

So I haven't been posting for the past few days, as I've been out here in Colorado for the Annual Meeting of the College Theology Society. Your trusty correspondent gave a small paper on ecclesiology, and heard some very good papers on other topics; I'm hoping to share a couple of them on here in a couple of days.

But today, since I have a red-eye flight tonight around midnight, I decided to pick up a car for a few hours and drive up here to the mountains. I'm in Boulder right now, at the Boulder Bookstore, enjoying a cup of coffee and some wireless internet. Then I'm going up to Estes Park for a few minutes to see some real mountains, then back down to the airport in Denver.

One of the shocking things for an east coast urban person about this place is the fitness level. There are tons of people running all over the place around here cycling, jogging, running, gesticulating, etc. Lots of people back home go to the gym, but you less often see people walking around who all look painfully healthy...not that I'm feeling inadequate or anything.

BTW, for those interested, Russell arrived safely yesterday back in Boston, and is having some adjustment issues, some nervousness, but we were told to expect that. More on him after I've actually seen the little guy...