Sunday, November 29, 2009

Solidarity in Vigil

To-day nearly an hundred catholics, mostly parishioners of long standing, returned for the third week, for a prayer service in front of their confiscated parish. They engaged in an inspiring programme of song, and prayer, in a most respectful, and solemn manner. They began at 11.30 a.m. in front of an impromptu shrine. Upon the fence, in front of the boarded church, there was the white and red of Poland, candles, and four pictures: two of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, one of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and one of John Paul the Great.

Some of the hymns, that they sang, were the same Bishop Lennon heard when he was taking their parish. Much of the service was Marian in nature, hymns and carols of the old country and the new were sung. Patriotic hymns of the old country, and the new were sung. Decades of the rosary were prayed in polish.

Flags were held: a colonial american, polish national with the eagle, and a large Solidarność flag. And the people were in solidarity, in solidarity with the church, with each other, with the centuries, with the old nation, with the new country, with other faithful catholics whom had and will have their parishes wrenched from them. The preponderance was in polish, but the solidarity was with all the faithful. There in an embryonic form was being created a 'sodality', a catholic fellowship (most often under the patronage of Mary, the Mother of God).

They were truly conservative. They wanted to conserve their parish and faith. They were holding ground in front of an aggressively activist autocrat, whom was tearing the fabric of solidarity. His actions will have people leave the ancient faith, some may go to another rite, or to a group in schism or in heresy, some will go nowhere. These firm believers were doing what was done in the old country, when occupiers and unbelievers closed and destroyed churches, they gathered in the same location and prayed. Here in Cleveland they prayed without clergy. The clergy are flagging, they are failing to lead, some are fearful. At one time the United States had some crusading and fearless priests. Much of the laity is also apathetic, many are fearful, and many have been taught to be fearful and obedient, some enjoy submission.

When the bolsheviks took over Holy Mother Russia, and later many communists in other lands, they believed religion would die out when the current, aged, stubborn believers passed from this earth. Old women gathered in the time of Vladimir Ilič Lenin, and after, to pray and light candles in front of suppressed, and closed, and demolished churches. Seventy years later, under Mikhail Sergejevič Gorbachev, old women were doing the same. They were not the same old women. The communists are now out of power in europe. Churches are being rebuilt. In the diocese of Lennongrad, Ohio the parishes of eastern europeans are being suppressed. Some people are keeping a faithful and prayerful vigil.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Escalation in Afghanistan is a doomed strategy

Last Friday, Bill Moyers did a service to the nation. He broadcast tapes of President Lyndon Johnson discussing what to do about Viet Nam. Currently, a similar situation involves President Barack Obama and another asian war, this time in Afghanistan.

In both scenarios the military wants guns, money and men to fight a native insurgency. Johnson worried about Nixon, Goldwater and the war enthusiasm of the Republican party. Obama also has war enthusiastic Republicans. The Republicans, in both scenarios, want this issue to help defeat the incumbent president in the next election.

The Republicans wanted virtually all of Johnson's domestic policy stymied. The Republicans want the complete failure of Obama's domestic policy. Why would a Democratic president co-operate in his own destruction, and allow the country to suffer so?

There are Viet Nam revisionists that claim the war was lost not on foreign soil but by traitors at home. The germans said similar things after 1918. Some germans blamed in on the 'jews'. In the United States it was blamed on the 'hippie anti-war protesters'. No, Viet Nam was lost, because it was unwinnable. The people who were against the war were sane patriots. The people who were for the war, both then and now, confused military success for national glory, or were, simply, worshipers of Mars.

Senators Richard Russell and Michael Mansfield advised Johnson correctly, that Viet Nam would be a long, bloody, expensive disaster that would devour the nation's well-being. Both South Viet Nam and Afghanistan had and has corrupt and incompetent governments. Those who advised the reluctant president away from war were right. Johnson knew Viet Nam was going to siphon America, and yet, he was pulled in. He had no desire for it, but still he fell into the swamp. The arguments for increased involvement were insipid. Ten years earlier Graham Greene had written The Quiet American. No dominoes were not falling, war delusion was growing.

It has been reported that Joseph Biden and Karl Eikenberry have advised President Obama against escalation and the military wants more war.
The Constitution has the commander-in-chief to be a civilian, unfortunately a civilian can be overly influenced by military men, specially when he lacks the conviction to say, "NO!".

Afghanistan was a disaster for the British and Soviet empires. Viet Nam was not held well by the chinese, japanese and the french. By what fictive alchemy will this asian war be won? Tuesday President Obama is expected to ask for over 30,000 additional men to be sent to Afghanistan.

I have heard friends, of over fifty years in age, say unconsciously "Viet Nam", when describing the destination of relatives and acquaintances in the military over the last few years. They meant to say, "Johnny is going to Irak", or "Johnny will be shipped to Afghanistan". Their deep thoughts slipped involuntarily through their lips.

I have a pacifist friend, an extreme christian pacifist friend, who said to me, "You don't have to be a pacifist to be against these wars". Yes, it is that obviously simple.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The very walls cry out against the bishop

A most beautiful church is Holy Trinity in Lorain, Ohio. There are paintings of eight angels with scrolls on the nave walls. Each angel bears a scroll with a Beatitude in slovak, beneath the angel is a block with a Beatitude in english. And below that is a candle. A candle, a catholic should know what that means. This church is consecrated. Most churches are blessed. A thing consecrated is given an indelible mark of permanence, it has been raised beyond profane usage in perpetuum. So put forth the Angelic Doctor Aquinas and the Council of Trent and so did the first century church. To profane such a place is a sacrilege. A consecrated church is to last as long as stone stands upon stone.

The scroll, supra, is of one of two angels in the choir balcony, it has a passage in slovak from Genesis xviii, "nieto tu ineto len dom boži a brana nebeska" which in english are the words of Jacob, "this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven. "

And then on the scroll passage, of the other choir angel, in slovak and english, which has the words of God, Whom speaks to Solomon after the dedication of the temple:
For I have chosen and have sanctified this place, that my name may be there forever and my eyes and my heart may remain there perpetually. (II Par. vii. 16)
Holy Trinity is scheduled for a mass of eviction on 13 December 2009 by bishop, Richard (Richie Lenin) Lennon. The very walls cry out against him "Sacrilege."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Last song for Cecilia

St. Adalbert 2347 East 83rd St. Cleveland, O.

St. Hedwig 12905 Madison Ave. Lakewood, O.

In many choir lofts and music rooms there is a window of Saint Cecilia. She is the patron of music and is often remembered. Her presence is not required, but is always welcoming.

For a catholic in the US, 22 November is remarkable for St. Cecilia, and sad as the anniversary of the murder of President John Kennedy when he chose to go to Texas.

To-day was the last Sunday in the church year, Christ the King. To-day, if you went to church on either Cleveland's east side or west, you could have seen one of the windows above. Now, next year...well, Bishop Lenin has marked those churches expendable.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Shame on Richie Lenin as he assaults another parish.

Richard Lennon has hired Jones Day law firm, the most powerful in the Middle West. He has used the civil courts to advocate, and enforce his claim of possession, while he has not deferred to Rome. St. Mary, Bedford, had received an extension to December 9th for the Vatican to review its appeal.

Richie Lenin is methodical. He uses different, foreign cars to arrive to a suppression. He was surprised by the raucous reception he received from the Poles at St. Casimir. He was prepared on this day. When two dozen parishioners left as he began his homily, he was blasé. People left, most often, calling out, "Shame on you". He had his staff and undercover police occupy perimeter positions. Armed, uniformed police came and went, yes, in the Home of the Prince of Peace, Jesus who disarmed Peter must have been saddened.

Later four parishioners processed with protest placards, and were escorted out. The police were more aggressive than in the past. The doors were locked. A policeman banged several times to have a door opened.

Richie Lenin is not a pastor, he is an imperious figure. He has no sentiment, only will. He recognises only his prerogative.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Taxing men

A local Republican party official [Steven M. Backiel] wrote this on his blog:

There are many diverse opinions within this County Party membership and you should all feel welcome to share those opinions in a courteous manner on this site. Just please remember that not everyone is a pro-life, social conservative who favors governmental de-regulation, tax reduction, limited spending and a massively strong national defense (although I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be)…

Besides the contention that there is not a diversity of opinion in that party, there are the rife contradictions in the statement, "governmental de-regulation, tax reduction, limited spending and a massively strong national defense". This could be made accurate, and honest, by saying, "complete ascendancy of corporate moneyed interests and militarism".

The contradictions are that de-regulation refers to no legal constraints on moneyed interests, added regulations to deny civil and political rights are not much of concern and to create a stronger police state is favored, albeit gun proliferation is promoted, so a greater militarisation of society will be achieved by these measures. The part that reads, "tax reduction, limited spending and a massively strong national defense" is thorough bullshit. Most income taxes are spent on the military. If one was truly interested in "tax reduction, limited spending" they would cut "massively strong national defense". What he, and they, may mean is that no tax money will be denied for military spending. But, there is still another tax they approve of. This "massively strong national defense" requires another tax, that of men, some whom return in caskets to Dover Air Force Base. There may be an increase in this tax by draft. This may meet with some opposition, for those, and they are by far—Republicans, who advocate more military and more war, quite often make damn sure, that, they are never in position themselves; please refer to five deferments Cheney, and gwbjr somewhere a.w.o.l. in Alabama.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

War to end all war

Sixty five million men were veterans in what was once called, in this country, the european war. Millions did not survive that war. In the wars since, civilians are the primary casualties. To-day, you do not need all the fingers of a hand to count the surviving veterans of the war that ended on St. Martin's Day 1918. Martin was born into a military family, and bore the name of a false god, the god of war. He became a christian and would not fight. He became a patron of France. France was the western front, in that war, and their were several others. France alone, had a million and four hundred thousand dead combatants in that spectacle.

President Woodrow Wilson called it the war to end all wars, he was wrong. To-day, President Obama allows this country to participate in at least two wars. One in Irak and one in Afghanistan. If one were to read T.E. Lawrence and Rudyard Kipling, one would know the folly. The last one to be successful in those two theatres was the macedonian, Alexander. The british english, who, defeated the french in america and india, were enfeebled in Afghanistan. The soviet russians, who, defeated the nazi germans, were enfeebled in Afghanistan.

There are yeomen historians, who write serviceable and accurate narratives. Not enough people read and comprehend.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.—George Santayana
November 11 was first Saint Martin's Day, Martin of Tours. I quote from Butler's Lives of the Saints, Martin addressing the apostate emperor Julian:

'Hitherto', he said to Julian, 'I have served you as a soldier; let me now serve Christ. Give the bounty to these others who are going to fight, but I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.' Julian stormed and accused Martin of cowardice, who retorted that he was prepared to stand in the battle-line unarmed the next day and to advance alone against the enemy in the name of Christ. He was thrust into prison, but the conclusion of an armistice stopped further developments and Martin was soon after discharged. He went to Poitiers, where St Hilary was bishop, and this doctor of the Church gladly received the young 'conscientious objector' among his disciples.

may people worship Jesus and not Mars

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pillar of Saint Casimir

Saint Casimir's is insular, relatively few non-polish people come, yet it is a part of the universal church. It is self sufficient. It taxed the diocese's resources not at all. Now, what is a 'vibrant' parish? Is there not some social contract, some implied promise that states, here are requirements, standards, thresholds et alia, that if met are proof of passing? Or is that just verbal camouflage and smokescreen? There are outward generalisations of the national situation, where certain commonalities are true in the vague, macroscopic, national situation, that are then applied as rationalisations for actions committed in particular, parochial situations, in which the national generalisations decidingly do not describe, nor apply to the present situations.

Here in the diocese of Cleveland, and elsewhere in the United States, parochial communities have been unsentimentally crushed. Whether Casimir's island, amidst the slumish blight of Cleveland's east side, had less chance than a snowball in an inferno to survive, as compared to the episcopal fiat of Richard Lennon can be conjectured.

There are many reasons, beyond the supposed guidelines, that the parish should endure. It was important enough for Karol Wojtyła to have made a pilgrimage. It is a parish that was in accord with the Solidarity movement for labor and freedom. And of course it was the spiritual home of souls for generations, as were and are other parishes.

The local media has been intermittent in their attention. The coverage on Sunday (8 November) was poor and negligent. WEWS5 had abundant and telling footage that they chose not to broadcast. To answer a stupid koan, yes a large tree when felled does make a sound, even if not televised with audio. Some of the parish members also made sounds the bishop could not ignore, and did not appreciate. In fact, the scene was truly dramatic; people were singing and crying as they sang in polish. Bishop Lennon does not like ethnic displays. Lennon does not like to be confronted. Lennon does not like to be challenged. He does not have much to worry about in the professional media. Their neglect is to his advantage.

WKYC3 did have a human interest
story on the pastor some time ago, Monsignor Leo Telesz. He is the oldest priest in the diocese, and now has been pastor for thirty-six years, in addition to previous postings at St. Casimir's and other polish parishes in town. The man is of sharp mind, fervent faith and great dedication, yet he is being dispatched, unwillingly, to a nursing home. A few issues ago in the bishop's paper, an article of biography was published; that does not assuage the issue. If not for the communal compact with the parish's members and as a corporate person, Saint Casimir's continuance should have been ensured on Father Telesz's behalf alone!

--written on this day, Saint Leo the Great 2009
Postscriptum: Monsignor Telesz died 27 March 2013, ten days short of his 96th birthday.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Poles surprise the bishop

In the movie Casablanca, the occupying Germans begin to sing in Rick's Place. Then the Frenchmen all sing the French national hymn, the Marseillaise, absolutely rousing and poignant, and all with a soul would weep. The French are defiant to their occupiers, the leading German officer was not amused, and ordered the police chief to find a reason to close the establishment.

Richard Lennon came to preside over a Mass of Eviction at Saint Casimir in Cleveland. It was the third Mass there that day. A very solemn Liturgy, in Polish, replete with an outdoor Eucharistic procession was the middlemost event. Lennon has closed about two dozen parishes in ‘his’ diocese, and they have been the most uninspiring and perfunctory affairs, but these Poles introduced him to their contempt of him. They stood up to serenade him. They sang Polish patriotic hymns, they sang a deeply sentimental Marian hymn, they brought in recorded music on speakers to sing with. He was not amused. They booed him, cursed him, and walked out on him; in less than an hour and a half he was whisked away in a silver car onto Sowinski Avenue.

Of the four local television news channels, at least two (wews5 and wjw8) took footage. On the Sunday broadcasts only wjw8 reported the event inside the church, and that in passing. A major, heartfelt, emotional position was clearly delivered, and few outside the church building and those immediately outside are aware of it. A very good photographer from the remaining major local paper spent time there, we will see if the morning edition will give notice and publish.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Who shall acquire Augustine and buy Baraga?

The diocese of Cleveland, Ohio is liquidating parishes and selling off their possessions. Some of those affected are smaller, urban, ethnic parishes of pristine care and financial solvency, and are served by non-diocesan clergy. The ordinary of the diocese, Bishop Richard Lennon is unimpressed with each particular criterion, even when it is in conflict, nay in contradiction, of his rationale for suppression and extinction.

Infra (pictured below) are details of the first and the sixth or last window on the Saint Joseph side wall of Saint Lawrence Catholic Church, Cleveland. Saint Lawrence's parish is of slightly over a century in existence. The present church building was created before the second world war at the end of Hoover's Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt led the nation and Joseph Schrembs was archbishop of Cleveland.

The art in a church is more than atmosphere, more than decoration, and the degree of artfulness is not of primary or secondary importance. The art depicts the truths and teachings and commemorations of the faith. These two windows have no letters to read, but they are well identified and tell much.
The first is of a man and a child. The man wears a mitre (hat) of a bishop, and carries a book (Scripture) marked with a cross. But which bishop? and why is the child there? They are at a beach and the child has dug an impression into the earth near the shore. Now, if you are well read, or had a faithful and diligent sister as a grade school student, you must know it is Saint Augustine.

Now, Saint Augustine was bishop of Hippo (near Carthage, modern day Tunisia on the southern Mediterranean Sea) about the years on either side of A.D. 400. He was a doctor of the faith and church father, the foremost theologian of christianity before Saint Thomas Aquinas. He wrote much, one work was on the Trinity (De trinitate). He spent many years, on and off, in its composition; only on The City of God (De civitate Dei) did he spend more time.

One day he saw a child dig a hole in the sand, and asked why and what for. The child told Augustine that he wanted all the ocean put into the hole. Augustine enquired more of him, the child responded that it would be easier for the hole to contain all the seas, than for the mind of Augustine to comprehend all the Trinity. The child, an appearance of an angel, then was gone.

Still above the scene is a heart aflame, pierced with arrows for Augustine prayed, "Lord, you have wounded me with your Word." Writing is not needed on the window.

Frederic Baraga, Servant of God, *1797 †1868, was a missionary to the Chippewa (Ojibwa) and the first bishop of Marquette, Michigan. He wrote devotional books in Slovene, Ottawa and Chippewa. He was the grammarian of those indian languages. His ability as a polyglot was useful. On the south shore of Lake Superior his communicants were the indians, and the french, and the newer arrivals, to the iron and copper mines, that were irish and german. He traversed the frozen country in snowshoes. So the county that is about the mission he founded in 1843 at L'Anse, Michigan is, to-day, Baraga.

Baraga was born in Slovenija during the Napoleonic period, and was schooled in both the occupying german austrian and french languages. He went to law school in Vienna and became a priest in Ljubljana. In 1830 he went on to Cincinnati and was sent to Michigan, eventually he became, for several years, the only priest in upper Michigan. After years his visage resembled an indian. At the time and many years thereafter he was warmly remembered. There is an active cause for his canonisation.

Now, how will Bishop Lennon dispose of Saint Lawrence, and the images of the sainted, bishops Augustine and Frederic Baraga?

Monday, November 2, 2009

'Citizen' initiated ballot measures

To-morrow is election day. In Ohio we have 'citizen' initiated ballot measures. Many are corporate business initiatives.

Issue 2 is one for an agricultural board. It is to regulate, in part, care of farm animals. Most animal care issues are promulgated by humane societies, this one is not. It is by agri-business. It will have a governor appointed board. Governor appointed boards are virtually universally occupied by representatives of business, big moneyed business, which are virtually universally not concerned with citizens' interest.

Issue 3 is for gambling casinos. I, think, it is the fifth time. Each one of these 'issues' are written by the prospective owners. Let us contemplate, to whom will this benefit the most. Also, the leading opponent is a competing gambling money.

The legislature is constituted to write laws. Often, they are 'influenced' by moneyed interests. But, the moneyed interests also have other avenues.

Issue 6 is for a restructuring of Cuyahoga County government. It again is supported by moneyed interests.

Too many 'citizen' initiatives are not!!! And for a tangential grievance, the 'teabagger, don't tread on me crowd' does not come out and oppose these sham 'citizen' measures. Yet, they oppose real community organisers, citizen activists, and legally and democratically elected Democrats. The hypocrisy and mendacity of the american political scene is gargantuan.