Saturday, May 31, 2008

The religious life

For a while now, I've been toying with the question of whether I might be called to the religious life. I'm nowhere near the same stage of self-understanding on that score as I am with regard to the priesthood (where I'm convinced myself and am working to convince others and the Church at large). I go back and forth on it quite a bit. My involvement as an *Associate of Holy Cross began on the premise that I wanted to test such a vocation, and assumed that I would either conclude I was so called, or else wish to be a friend of the religious life.

These are the communities I'm investigating.

Christian Communities
*Oratory of the Good Shepherd
*Brotherhood of Saint Gregory (which one interlocutor dismissed as "religious life lite for slutty gay men." "Where do I sign up?" was my retort.)

Religious Orders
*Holy Cross Monastery (Order of the Holy Cross - West Park, NY)
*Julian House Monastery (Order of Julian of Norwich - Waukesha, WI) (But their Rule scares the shit out of me.)
*St Gregory's Abbey (Order of St Benedict - Three Rivers, MI)
*Society of St John the Evangelist (Boston, MA)
*St Joseph's Priory (Order of St Augustine - Springfield, NS)

St John's, Detroit, on YouTube


Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at Detroit's 1928 BCP Anglo-Catholic shrine. The O Salutaris was sung to a tune other than "Verbum supernum," and Jesus wept.

A "Frankenmass" with an odd setting of the Preces. And with the second set of preces ("O God make speed to save us...") missing, 1979-style. Still, I know where I'd go to Mass if I lived in Windsor (we won't even entertain the notion of my living in the US).

Ye who own the faith of Jesus

My induction into the Society of Mary has been postponed again. Last year, I was prepared for admission, until at the last minute it was revealed that I hadn't been to enough meetings. This year, due to a confluence of a number of things not going as planned, it wasn't able to take place on the Feast of the Visitation once again. It was too bad, since Bishop Victoria Matthews was there this time. I've been told I can be admitted in the fall, but I prefer to wait until next Visitation. (Technically, the Visitation won't occur next year as it is displaced by Pentecost. In practice, I suspect SOM will keep it on the last Saturday of May as usual, and bump Roberta Elizabeth Tilton, Founder of the Anglican Church Women). In any event, I was glad to get to St Mary Mag again for another outdoor procession. The weather cleared up just in time!

I will note briefly (now that I've seen it twice and know that it's not a one-off) SMM's odd practice of switching the places of the Te Deum and Benedictus at Morning Prayer.

Detail of the Solemn Mass and Outdoor Procession below.


The Mass was Willan, of course: Mass 3 (except Gloria and Credo, de Angelis). The motets were also Willan. Two motets preceded the Mass: "Fair in Face" and "Rise up, my love."

The Mass itself began with the Introit, not the traditional one, but a generic one of unknown provenance ("Rejoice we all, and praise the Lord, celebrating a holy day..."). No smoke, as the principal celebrant was in the nave for the wreath ceremony. He blessed the wreath and sprinkled it, and placed it around the base of the statue of Madonna and Child.

The Ritual Choir had the wrong gradual with them, but improvised valiantly. The sequence hymn, which blew me away, was "Virgin-born, we bow before thee" (Mon Dieu). Offertory hymn was "Sing we of the blessed Mother" (Abbot's Leigh). Another Marian motet by Willan: "I beheld her, beautiful as a dove."

In addition to the principal celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon, there were two concelebrants. And when I say "concelebrants," I mean they wore discrete chasubles and extended their hands in a vague, Anglican fashion during the dominical words (which one of them, but not the other, murmured along with the principal celebrant).

The Communion proper was sung as an antiphon on the Magnificat. After the post-communion, we embarked on a procession with the statue of Our Lady. Lots of favourites for the hymns:

*"Sing of Mary, pure and lowly" (Hermon)
*"Hail Mary, blest Mother" (French)
*"Hail, O Star that pointest" (Ave Maris Stella)
*"Now in holy celebration" (Oriel)
*"Ye who own the faith of Jesus" (which during the May Festival is sung to "Daily, daily")
*"Sing how the age long promise of a Saviour" (Coelites Plaudant)
*"Tell out, my soul" (Woodlands)
*"Be joyful, Mary" (Regina Caeli - sung more slowly - and with an odd pause - than the way I learned it. "Alle-luuuuu-ia.........Rejoice, rejoice", etc.)
*"For Mary, mother of Our Lord" (St Botolph)

Upon returning to the church, we repeated "Sing of Mary, pure and lowly" and said (alas) the Angelus before being blessed and dismissed.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Saint Augustine Prayer Book

Tip of the biretta to Fr Tay Moss, from whom I received this morning, to my surprise, a copy of the Saint Augustine Prayer Book. Subtitled "A Book of Devotion for members of the Episcopal Church," the prayer book was originally published by the Order of the Holy Cross in 1947 and revised in 1967 to reflect changing liturgical norms. Even in its revised form, however, it's quite traditional, and follows the basic shape of the American Missal in its order of Mass. A table of contents can be found on Wikipedia. Many of these prayers are much "higher" than anything I've encountered at Holy Cross Priory in the twenty-first century. (Nonetheless, the Marian Antiphon is unfailingly sung at Compline and I understand that Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament does occur on occasion at the mother house in West Park, NY).

I've been pouring over the little volume all day, and it's quite a treasure. There's much in here to enrich my practice of the Daily Office and of private prayer. Many thanks to Fr Tay, whose thank-you note has already been dispatched. Now I really must return my parish priest's copy to her, as it's been on loan to me for too long! It's quite frail and makes me rather nervous.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Revising the Marriage Canon

An excerpt from the minutes of Council of General Synod, 24 May 2008.

Revision of the marriage canon

Lela Zimmer asked on behalf of the committee if COGS could clarify whether it wants to consider a revision of the marriage canon, or a process to consider such a revision. She also requested clarification on whether this work is to include all legally qualified persons, or the particular category that includes same-sex couples.


As a result of the conversation, the following resolution was adopted: the Council of General Synod

* concurs in the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee's understanding that it is to address the particular category of "legally qualified persons," i.e. same-sex couples at least one of whom is baptized Christian;

* agrees that development of a theological rationale for the marriage of such couples should precede the preparation of any draft amendments to or revision of the Marriage Canon;

* requests the committee to report to the COGS no later than November 2009, and

* directs that, if the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee develops such a rationale, it should, in conjunction with the Handbook Concerns Committee, prepare draft amendments to, or a draft revision of, the Marriage Canon for consideration by the COGS in March 2010 for possible submission to the 2010 session of the General Synod.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Corpus Christi at SMM

As Jack Benny would say: Well!

Solemn Mass, Outdoor Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, and Benediction at the Church of St Mary Magdalene.

The "Gathering of the Community" omitted the Asperges, but otherwise was the usual Introit-Greeting-Kyrie-Gloria-Collect sequence. The Mass was Willan's Mass 12 (the Gloria and Credo were de Angelis).

After the First Lesson, Gradual verse, Epistle, and Alleluia verse, the choir and congregation took parts in the proper sequence (Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem) from the New English Hymnal. The deacon chanted the Gospel, and the rector/celebrant preached. After some announcements about renovations (moved up in the service because of the ensuing Procession), the deacon led the singing of the Prayers of the People, which was followed by the Kiss of Peace.

The offertory hymn was "Let all mortal flesh keep silence" (Picardy) which was too fast and loud for my liking. The offertory verse was sung in Latin. The motet was Tallis' O Sacrum Convivium. The Orate Fratres was interpolated.

After the postcommunion, the MBS was exposed in a monstrance, which the celebrant held up for all to see. It was taken under the ombrellino, and we proceeded outside, with two of Toronto's finest escorting us down Bathurst Street. We sang several hymns, not all of them Eucharistic-themed.

*Alleluya! sing to Jesus (Hyfrydol)
*Eternal Monarch, King Most High (Deus tuorum militum)
*Jesus, gentlest saviour [Caswall (Wem in Leidenstagen)]
*Once, only once, and once for all (Albano)
*Of the glorious body telling (a familiar but unidentified tune, attributed to St Thomas Aquinas)
*The Church's one foundation (Aurelia)
*(I think the last was) Though art the way, to thee alone (St Magnus [Nottingham])

When we returned, we were treated to Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the motet for which was "Ave Verum Corpus" (Martin). The Divine Praises were said (no Precious Blood, no Assumption, "noble" Joseph). The Angelus was omitted.

I did regret the omission of "Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour" and "One bread, one body," but look forward to singing them at St Matthias, Bellwoods's observance of Corpus Christi next Sunday (they did their Patronal today).

I thought my mother would faint when we were done. "You didn't tell me it was going to be two and a half hours long!" she cried at me. Her initial reaction of "I'm never doing that again!" was ultimately tempered to "Now that I know what to expect, I can handle it once a year." She also agreed that Benediction, which she had been worried about participating in for the first time, worked well.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A heavily-disguised illiterate

The top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing users. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel
Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blessed be St Matthias, numbered with the Apostles

Today I went to St John's Convent for Low Mass with Hymns on St Matthias Day. Although I didn't plan it this way, I happened to be there on the day the postulancy committee was interviewing. A number of people were there for that reason, including the entire College of Bishops, my parish priest and Christian Education minister, and a couple of other priests I know informally. I got to sit at Mass with our CE minister and the diocesan bishop.

The celebrant of the Mass was a Fr Bruce Mutch, who according the diocesan website is an honorary at St Thomas's, Huron Street. Despite being a regular visitor at St T's, I have to say I have never seen the man before in my life. He's one of two priests listed in St Thomas's entry on the site whom I have never seen function liturgically there. (The other is Fr Charles Irish, but I know his wife, so I can vouch for his existence).

The celebrant's stole and chasuble, and the burse and chalice veil, were a strange but lovely sort of burnt orange - almost what (in my politically incorrect childhood) Crayola used to call "Indian Red."

We did not sing the Gloria, but after the Collect we sang "By all your saints still striving" with the special verse for St Matthias. At this point, I was a little sad that the music was provided by a priest on electric keyboard, since done well on organ, "King's Lynn" is just orgasmic. The leaflet indicated that the Apostles' Creed would be used, but the celebrant announced the Nicene, which caused some confusion. The offertory hymn was "Who are these like stars appearing" (All Saints). The Communion hymn was "Father, we thank thee who hast planted" (Les commandemens). We closed with "You call us, Lord, to be" (Rhosymedre).

As always, I came for the Mass, but I stayed for the superb dinner. Today we had a chicken stew on rice with some slightly overcooked (but in a good way) green beans (delightfully enhanced with sliced almonds) and glazed carrots, which always remind me of special occasions at my old group home. Blessed are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, you give us food from the earth.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Evensong in Toronto

If you're an Anglican in Toronto, your options for Evensong are limited.

*For those who like cathedral Choral Evensong, there is the Cathedral Church of St James, every Sunday at 4.30pm. There are occasional exceptions (the ordination of deacons and the diocesan confirmation) but it's pretty dependable. It's usually preceded by an organ recital at four o'clock.

*For those who like it Solemn, there's St Thomas's, Huron Street. Solemn Evensong and Devotions, with a little more congregational participation than is to be found at the cathedral, is on Sundays at seven o'clock, except for the Sunday after Christmas. The "Devotions" in question are a sort of Benedictio interruptus, lacking a monstrance and the Divine Praises, and with a bowdlerized antiphon on the final psalm ("Let us adore Christ our Lord in the most holy..."). Most priests, I'm told, discreetly give the actual Benediction, some do not. Look forward to a Procession and Te Deum on big Sundays.

*Choral Evensong is held on Wednesdays in term (5.15pm) at Trinity College.

*On the first three Sundays of each month at seven o'clock, the Church of the Redeemer offers the only BAS Evensong that I know of at any parish in the diocese.

*Once a month from September to May, Solemn Evensong and Benediction is sung to plainsong at the Church of St Mary Magdalene at 4.30pm on a Sunday. This is my personal favourite.

*St Margaret's, North Toronto, has Prayer Book EP on the first Sunday of every month at 4pm.

*St Paul's, L'Amoreaux, the unofficial cathedral of York-Scarborough episcopal area, has "Evensong with hymns" with a choir on the last Sunday of the month at 6pm.

*St Anne's has Choral Evensong "as announced" on Sundays at 4pm. In my experience, St Anne's rarely announces anything, so if you want to catch their excellent choir, best give them a call.

*St Olave's, Swansea, has periodical BCP Choral Evensongs which are announced on the website.

*St Luke's, East York offers something described as "Evening Prayer and Praise" that is "usually" on third Sundays. Best to call.

Worth noting: Holy Family Church at the Toronto Oratory. Solemn Vespers and Benediction (English and Latin) at 5pm on Sundays. I run into Anglicans there all the time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My favourite Mass settings

In no particular order:

*Missa de Angelis
*Cabena: Mass in the Dorian Mode
*Willan: Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena
*Proulx: A Community Mass
*Haugen: Mass of Creation

Monday, May 5, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Reitmans = 1; Haute Couture = zéro

You know you love it.

How to Say the Office of the Departed using the Book of Alternative Services

Officiant: Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord.
People: And let perpetual light shine upon them.

The Psalms
The Book of Common Prayer (1962) provides Psalms 90, 121, 130. A Monastic Breviary prescribes that the ordinary psalmody of the day be used. If the psalms are appropriate, this option may be used. The opening versicle and response "Rest eternal..." replace the Gloria patri at the conclusion of each psalm.

The First lesson
The Book of Common Prayer provides Isaiah 38.10-20 OR Isaiah 43.1-7 OR Job 19.21-27a. A Monastic Breviary prescribes Ezekiel 37.1-14 in the morning and II Samuel 12.15b-23 in the evening.

First Canticle or Responsory
Appropriate options include "The Souls of the Righteous" (p. 80), Responsory 1 ("In the evening, tears" on p.101), number 2 ("My life is in your hand, deliver me" on page 101), number 3 ("The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous" on page 102), or the responsory for Lent on page 106. The first line of the Gloria Patri is replaced with Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord.

The Second Lesson
The BCP commends John 5.24-29 OR I Corinthians 15.50-end OR Revelation 1.9-18. A Monastic Breviary prescribes I Corinthians 15.35-49 in the morning and I Thessalonians 5.1-11 in the evening.

Second Canticle or Responsory
See above.

The Apostles' Creed

The Prayers of the People for Funerals, printed on both p. 579 and p.593, are appropriate.

The Collect of All Souls is on p. 429.

The Lord's Prayer
Traditional and contemporary forms are provided in the BAS.

V. Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May they rest in peace [and rise in glory].
R. Amen.

Dextera Domini: the Declaration on the Pastoral Care of Left-Handed Persons

The Declaration on the Pastoral Care of Left-Handed Persons

THE RIGHT HAND of the Lord has adorned his spotless bride, the Church, with many wondrous gifts, not the least of which is the supreme ministry of defending the arsenal of Christian truth. Through the wisdom of a provident God, this congregation, the watchdog of the household of faith, exercises diligent custody over the sacred deposit of doctrine, guarding it like a talent buried in the sand (Matt. 25:25). To this richly satisfying task it brings the feral instincts of a lioness protecting her cubs and the dispassionate zeal of a raptor pursuing its prey, so that the pearl of great price may be safely gathered up with the wheat and deposited in the nets of Peter's bark (Matt. 13:46; 13:30; John 21:6). Wherefore it seeks to infiltrate the entire Catholic world, like leaven mixed into a lump of dough (Matt. 13:33), and so, like yeast, to ferment the pilgrim Church with its viscid and fungal spores so that the entire mass may swell into a frothy, pulsating, gelatinous ooze of faith. Thus, like a prudent householder, it may bring forth from its storeroom both the true and the old (Matt. 13:52).

Having already disposed of other perversions, it becomes necessary to speak out with the profound disgust regarding yet another aberration which, like the pulling of a polyester fiber, threatens to unravel the seamless garment of faith.

This particular menace has been propagated by those who, basing their opinions on spurious sophisms of the psychological and behavioral pseudo-sciences, claim that it is acceptable, or even normal, to use the left hand when engaging in manual activities. In the face of tradition and right reason, they point to a small but vocal minority of individuals who primarily use their left hands or purport to be bimanual. With callous disregard for the natural order they judge indulgently, and even excuse completely, sinistral behavior, that is, the indiscriminate use of the left hand in the place of the right. Such an insidious abuse is defended as though there were no difference between right or left, Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free (Gal. 3:28).

For while it is neither possible nor desirable at present to decide whether this disorder is genetic in origin or merely the result of repeated nasty thoughts, in either case one may never argue that left-handedness is compulsive and therefore excusable. It is, of course, necessary to take note of the distinction between the sinistral condition and the individual left-handed actions, which are intrinsically disordered and utterly wrong.

And although the particular inclination of the left-handed person is not necessarily a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. Therefore, both the condition and all acts flowing from it are to be condemned, as are all those who suffer from it or engage in it, and everyone who thinks like them or defends them or befriends them, into everlasting torments in the lowest pit of hell where the lake of fire is never quenched and the worm dies not (Mark 9:48).

I. General Principles
INDEED, CATHOLIC TRADITION has constantly taught that only the right hand
may properly engage in manual activities. The left hand must remain curbed and passive or, at most, ancillary and subservient to the right hand, analogous to the function of a pallet in respect to an artist, or the operation of a dustpan to a broom, or the role of a wife in relation to her husband. Hence, the use of the left hand, either principally or indiscriminately along with the right, has always been held to be an abuse, a sin against nature, and intrinsically disordered as an unnatural vice.

Right reason itself argues for this arrangement. For reason is properly called right reason inasmuch as it emanates from or tends toward the right. Hence, in all things reasonable, the right is right and is to preferred, with the sole exception of the wearing of earrings of men, wherein, left is right and right is wrong.

The very use of language, even in pagan times, confirms that what is on the left side in unfavorable and perverse. It is no linguistic accident, but rather a natural manifestation of the divine will, that the Latin word for "left" (sinister) has come to connote evil, malevolence and villainy, while in common speech a left-handed compliment is no compliment at all.

The aesthetic argument, to be sure further reveals the uselessness of left-handed activity. For who can gaze upon the handwriting attempted with the left hand without sensing that it is tilted the wrong way, that is, as if blown off course by a malign east wind (Exod. 10:13; John 4:8). In the nearly unanimous estimation of humanity such scrawling is a cause of wonderment and no little aesthetic scandal.

Moreover, the Scriptures themselves amply attest to the preeminence of the right hand and the depravity of the left. Thus the right hand confers blessing and signifies strength, while the left hand is treacherous and deadly (Gen. 48:13-20; Exod. 15:6; Eze. 21:22; Rev. 1:16-17; Judg. 3:15, 20:16; 2 Sam. 20:9-10). A place at one's right hand is the seat of honor and dignity (1 Kings 2:19; Ps. 45:9, 110:1). Sagely does Qoheleth teach that "a wise man's heart inclines him toward the right, but a fool's heart toward the left" (Eccles. 10:2). In like manner, both the passivity and the inferiority of the left hand are apparent in the solemn injunction forbidding us to let our left hands know what our right hands are doing (Luke 22:50). And it is by no accident that the elect are to stand like innocent sheep at the right hand of the Eternal Judge, while the reprobates cower and whimper like noisome and tick-infested goats on His left, awaiting their dizzying descent into sulfurous fumes and unfathomable miseries in the mind-bending agonies of eternal damnation (Matt 25:31-46).

In a similar vein, the Fathers of the Church eloquently denounce sinistral behaviour in many and varied texts. Thus, Origen writes that "the perverse, because of their sinister deeds, tend toward the left," while Augustine unambiguously teaches that "the Lord strongly forbids the left hand alone to work in us" (Origen, In Matth. 23,70; Augustine, Serm in Mont. ii,2,9). A multitude of other Fathers and Doctors would have written in like manner had the thought occurred to them.

But by far the strongest and most persuasive argument for the Church's position is drawn from the so-called "teleological proof," wherein it is demonstrated that the purpose of having hands is twofold. The lesser and secondary use of hands is to handle things, or, within limits, people. The greater, or primary, end is to reflect the divine activity itself. Thus manual endeavor is said to be "procreative" in that it mirrors the creative work of God. And God, as is obvious, uses only His right hand, as Scripture clearly teaches (Exod. 16:6-12; Deut. 33:2; Ps 17:7, 18:34, 74:11, 110:1, 139:10; Is. 48:13, 62:8, Lam. 2:3; et al.) In fact, this congregation, privy as it is to the intimacies of the Godhead, is presently studying this very matter and intends to issue a definitive determination regarding the exact number of fingers on the Deity's right hand and how they are adorned.

Therefore, it is obvious that left-handed activity, or sinistrality, lacks an essential and indispensable finality. Such a deficiency marks each and every sinistral act, rendering it defective and incomplete. In short, sinistral behavior, like contraceptive sex and theological dissent, is about as useful as mammary glands on a male bovine [Tr. note: the typica is somewhat more graphic].

Let it not be said, moreover, that left-handed activity is fundamentally private or harmless to society. In a world where the common cold is spread principally by manual contact, such arguments are patently groundless and futile. Manual activity is always social in nature, that is, oriented toward and affecting the lives of others. In view of this, the following practical applications are presented for the religious submission of the minds and hearts of the faithful.

II. Pastoral Norms

SINISTRALS, THAT IS left-handed people, should always be made to feel the depth of compassion that the Church wishes to extend to all contemptible deviates.

It is deplorable that sinistral persons have been the object of malice, prejudice and bigotry in the past; the dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

Having amply touched upon this point, however, it is necessary to add that at times good Christians can and ought to regard such persons with aversion and abhorrence as cheap, vulgar, degenerate, perverse, errant, depraved, vile, warped and base, and totally undeserving of opportunities belonging to right-handed people. Some, of course, may erroneously object that the Church's position could tend to encourage feelings of animosity and intolerance against such maggots. Special care must thus be taken to point out the finely nuanced distinctions operative in this situation. It is, for example, quite possible to love people while simultaneously hating everything about them, including the fact of their existence, just as it is possible to uphold and defend the dignity of an ant while in the very act of crushing it underfoot. History is replete with many sterling examples of this Christian principle in action (See, for example, the decrees of Gregory IX and Sixtus IV establishing, respectively, the Roman and Spanish Inquisitions.) On a practical level, the faithful may legitimately deem it necessary, and even laudable, to discriminate against sinistrals in the following areas, among others:

- the adoption of children and the employment of teachers and coaches, lest, by work and example, the impressionable young be exposed to shockingly offensive manual options;

- housing, since it would offend Christian piety that innocent people, who rightfully protect their homes against vermin and pests, should have to live next door to such human debris;

- the military, for in conformity with the intention of our warrior God, who trains for battle (Exod. 15:3; Ps. 18:34) morally correct guns and weapons of war are fittingly designed only for the right-handed lifestyle;

- the workplace, given sinistrals' well-known tendencies to proselytize, overtly or covertly, and to warp the unwary into a left-handed lifestyle;

- life in general, since the sufferance of sinistral behavior, like a contagious disease, is both a menace to the right ordering of the cosmos and a deterrent to universally accepted natural activities like handshakes and manual transmission driving.

WHEREFORE, BISHOPS ARE to be especially concerned to defend and champion authentic morality, not only in family life and in the prompt transmittance of the Peter's Pence, but also in the regulation of manual activity. While promoting the joy of virtue for its own sake, let them not disdain other effective means to coerce proper manual behaviors among the faithful. Such might well include the occasional homiletic reflections upon an afterlife in company with grotesque fiends, as well as richly detailed accounts of unimaginable torment, excruciating heat and unrelenting pain and putrefaction amid rock-rending shrieks of anguished despair in the bottomless chasm of Gehenna. Above all, they are to remind sinistrals that manual activity may be undertaken only by right-handed people within the context of a lifelong commitment to right-handedness.

Therefore, let sinistral and bimanual individuals be instructed to disguise their sinistrality by keeping it repressed, although under no circumstances are they to keep their left hands in their pockets. For a vice that is truly repressed is no vice at all. To this end, hypnosis and mind-altering pharmaceuticals may be licitly administered so as to render their left hands useless.

If such individuals are indeed incapable of being cured of this disorder so as to properly use the left hand only in a secondary role, if at all, they must refrain from all manual activity with either hand. For God, who is bountiful to his loved ones in sleep, has blessed inactivity for the sake of the kingdom (Ps. 127:2; Matt. 19:12).

Additionally, insofar as these sinistrals still lack the capacity for, or obdurately resist a lifelong commitment to right-handedness, they are to take more urgent measures to be cured. In this connection, it is altogether licit and harmonious with the principle of double effect to resort to the therapeutic use of amputation in accord with Scripture: "If your [left] hand causes you to sin, cut it off, for it is better to enter the kingdom maimed" (Matt. 18:9), etc.

Finally, all sinistrals, to whom bishops and pastors of souls offer the solace of holy religion, should be assured that despite their best efforts they will probably go to hell anyway for thinking left-handed thoughts. Let them thus be encouraged to know that, after a life in which they have basically considered themselves worthless, they will at last find themselves entirely worthy of something; to wit, eternal damnation in the slime-infested miseries of the abyss, where horribly disfigured imps and little red demons with pitchforks and tridents will perform unremitting acupuncture upon their most sensitive bodily parts as they roast in the searing embers of hell. About which, most assuredly, this Congregation will happily have more to say in the future.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion

While I don't share the traditional Roman Catholic antipathy to lay handling of the sacred species, I had to share this delightful tidbit from Maureen Martin.

Will priests be forced to pick up slack?

DAVENPORT, IOWA -- While Catholics across the country pray for an end to the religious vocations crisis, many parishes are now reporting a sharp decline in extraordinary ministers, the lay volunteers who distribute communion to parishoners.

"It has gotten so bad we only have two eucharistic ministers for every one parishoner," said Nelda Roarke, an extraordinary minister at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Davenport, Iowa. "I can remember the days when we had more people up here with the priest than we had people in the pews," Roarke said. "It looks like those days may be gone."

Gina Louvain, an extraordinary minister at Queen of Mercy Catholic Church in Birmingham, Ala., said she thinks people at her parish are just losing their commitment to service. "I guess people are just more interesting in praying in their pews or contemplating Christ or something, whatever that means," she said.

"I've heard at one parish that the priest actually distributes communion by himself now," said Louvain.

In an attempt to counter the shortage, Roarke is hosting a spiritual retreat for current extraordinary ministers, as well as for those who feel God may be calling them to the job. "People need to know about the rich spiritual heritage eucharistic ministers have," Roarke said. "Why, I believe, Saints Peter and Andrew helped Jesus distribute bread and wine to the other disciples at the Last Supper. Well, at least that is what I am telling people anyway."

She has also designed buttons for extraodinary ministers to wear that state: I'm Extraordinary. "I think the Garmond font will really grab people," Roarke said. "The first thing parishoners will notice when they go up to receive communion is this button. It will remind them whose presence they are in."

Benny Fiedler, who serves as an extraordinary minister at St. John the Baptist Church in El Paso, Texas, said he hopes people will heed the call and start volunteering again. "Sometimes Catholics just don't realize what they have," he said. "Back when Catholics used to believe these hosts were actually Jesus' body, nobody but the priest would be allowed to touch them. But now that we have advanced in our wisdom and knowledge, we are now allowed to do almost as much as the priests do."