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What an epitaph


Sometimes when I am stumbling around cyberspace looking for some bit of information, I come across a story about something or someone that completely restores my faith in the innate goodness of human beings.

I don't know Joe Kuban of Fort Worth, Texas, a Catholic school teacher for some 30 years. But I wish I could have known him. I read his obituary online today: Longtime Fort Worth educator Joe Kuban inspired his students. He died June 4 from complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 59.

The obit described him as "the popular, energetic educator who founded what is believed to be the nation's longest-running high school ecology program."

Mr. Kuban taught generations of students to be free thinkers, appreciate nature’s beauty and become stewards of the land. ...

"He was definitely the real deal," said Nolan teacher Ellen Browning, who heads the ecology program Mr. Kuban started in 1974. "He was passionate about stewardship. Education. Music. His faith. He practiced what he preached. He touched so many lives."

Your 'real father'


On the way to the library just now, Diane Rehm had as her guest Lennard Davis who has a new book out about discovering who his biological father was.

Mr. Davis is, of course, entitled to live his own life, ask his own questions, and the such. But he and Ms. Rehm continually used the term "real father" to designate one's "biological father." A woman called in and said that she was not raised by her biological parents but that her real parents were the ones who taught her, tolerated her, loved her. Mr. Davis waved off her point with the observation that we humans are inquisitive beings.

Indeed we are. But, Mr. Davis seems not to grasp the very profound point this woman was making and both he and Ms. Rehm continued to use the obnoxious phrases "real father" and "real parent" when they were referring to biological parents who had largely been absent from their progeny's psycho-social development. He seems not very inquisitive about what might make a human being human, apart from a certain manner of clustering DNA.

Bishops' liturgy debate ends in whimper rather than a bang


Following the most protracted public debate of their June 17-19 spring meeting, the U.S. bishops were unable to make a final decision about four new translations of texts for the Roman Missal, the collection of prayers for use in the Catholic Mass.

Those texts, a set of Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions, represent the latest stage of more than a decade of struggle known colloquially as the “liturgy wars.”

Those debates pitted one camp favoring a contemporary and accessible translation against another seeking a more “sacred” and traditional text, closer to the Latin originals. In that sense, the “liturgy wars” are related to deeper tensions in the church surrounding Catholic identity.

tIn broad strokes, the camp favoring a more traditional text, with Rome's backing, has had the upper hand since the late 1990s, and the texts considered by the bishops in San Antonio bear that stamp.

The four texts up for consideration today were:

* Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions
* Votive Masses and Masses for the dead
* Ritual Masses
* The Order of Mass II

Odd couple combo of bishops strikes blow for transparency


tIn what some wits might be tempted to call a minor miracle, this morning's session of the U.S. bishops’ meeting in San Antonio produced a small blow for transparency, engineered by an unlikely pair of prelates.

tToday's agenda called for the bishops to vote on several proposed new translations of liturgical texts, and under the rules of the conference a two-thirds vote of all bishops of the Latin Rite is required for approval. After brief floor debate, the vote on the first text ended up falling short, and so Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the USCCB, announced that the measure would have to be settled by mail-ballots from bishops not present in San Antonio.

tIn keeping with the conference’s long-standing practice, George did not announce the results of the inconclusive vote.

At that stage, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, widely seen as one of the most conservative voices in the conference, rose to complain. He argued it’s “silly” that the results of an inconclusive vote are known by the USCCB staff, since they have to compile the results, but not shared with the bishops themselves.

Madoff: The pain and suffering of horrific fraud


This week the prosecutors in the colossal Madoff ponzi scheme case filed 113 victim impact statements. I read them all and admit that after about 20 of them, they began to look, sound and feel the same. The Wall Street Journal blurb on the matter included this paragraph:

"The letters ... range from one paragraph to several pages. Most are personal tales of loss blamed on Mr. Madoff. The story of Morton Chalek of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., was typical: "I am 86 years old. I have a broken knee, I have lung cancer and thanks to Madoff, I am now bankrupt." A lawyer for Mr. Madoff, Ira Sorkin, declined to comment."

New pro-life Mass wins overwhelming vote by bishops


In a signal of the U.S. bishops’ strong commitment to the pro-life cause, they approved this morning a text for a new “Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life.” Among other things,the Mass is to be celebrated each year on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

If Jan 22nd falls on a Sunday, the observance will be moved to Jan. 23. The proposal to approve the Mass passed by a vote of 183 to 3 this morning during the bishops' June 17-19 spring meeting.

The text requires approval from the Vatican before it becomes official.

The lone bishop who rose to discuss the "Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life" was Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who said that it had long been a "source of wonderment" among his priests that there is no Mass in defense of unborn life.

"We have Masses for fair weather, for earthquakes, for prisoners, but nothing for ending abortion," Sheehan said, urging support of the proposal.

The Lord's Prayer


"The Lord's Prayer" Matt 6:7-15

Kansas City is a self-proclaimed city of fountains. Perhaps the crown jewel of this claim is the large circular fountain near the Plaza that features horses and other figures frolicking in multiple jets of water. Approached from the west in the early morning, the towering plumes of spray catch the rising sun and magnify it in a rainbow play of light and water. By late afternoon, people will be sitting on the edges with their feet in the fountain or standing in front of it for pictures.

A drastic budget contraction for the city had earlier threatened funding to keep the fountains going. But like swimming pools in the central city as the summer heats up, the human importance of these water works became evident. Fountains lift the spirit. Swimming pools cool the body and tap off frustrations that might go back into the community. We need public signs of vitality to soothe and inspire, bring us together for beauty and comfort.

Bishops endorse immigration reform


tIn response to a proposal from Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, a longtime advocate for the rights of immigrants, the bishops endorsed a statement in favor of comprehensive immigration reform to be issued in the name of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the bishops’ conference. Mahony urged the conference to speak out in view of signals that congress may be on the brink of addressing the issue.

tGeorge’s statement, adopted by voice vote Thursday morning, urged President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to adopt comprehensive immigration reform by the end of 2009.

t“We respect all just laws, and do not encourage the entry of illegal immigrants into our country,” George’s letter said. “But from a humanitarian perspective, we support our fellow human beings … who suffer from policies that separate them from their families and drive them into remote corners of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths.”


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September 12-25, 2014


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