The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics, translations, good Knights, Roman birthdays...

I've become one of those people who greets the Olympic games with a yawn. I wasn't always that way. I can recall being glued to the TV screen, fascinated by the enthusiasm and spirit of the amateur athletes who once competed in these games. In those days -- 30 or more years ago -- they all seemed happy just to be there. I hope it's still that way for most of today's Olympic athletes, but I somehow doubt it. Something has happened along the way. The Olympics have become as professional as the NFL and NBA. With the exception of those who compete in the few obscure sports that lack the following needed for sponsors and media attention, many Olympic athletes are now paid professionals and many of these are very highly paid indeed. The members of our basketball, tennis, hockey, and volleyball teams are all professionals, as are many of our track and field athletes. Somehow I find it difficult to cheer wildly for a team of millionaires as they compete against some third-world team that had to scrape together the money for their airfare.

Remember the Jamaican bobsled team? How could anyone root against those guys? And what about the "miracle on ice," the remarkable victories of the United States ice hockey team over the Soviet Union and Finland in 1980? Although some members on that team went on to play in the NHL, they were just college kids at the time, playing for the love of the sport. I'm afraid those days are gone forever. Of course we do have Lopez Lomong, the US flag bearer from the Sudan, Michael Phelps, Dara Torres, and the other swimmers...

The other thing that bothers me about the Olympics are the accompanying ceremonies that increasingly resemble pagan or new age religious rites. One can only pray that one day the entire world will have as much respect for the Eucharist as it seems to have for the Olympic torch.

Enough grumbling, or I'll risk turning into a curmudgeon. Anyway, I won't have time to watch much of this year's summer Olympics since our elder daughter and four of our grandchildren arrive Wednesday. I'll have better, un-curmudgeonlike things to do.

And speaking of better things, I'm pleased to see that the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship has approved the new English translation of the Order of the Mass. From what I've read so far, it corrects many of the mistranslations found in the current Ordo Missae. It's also refreshing to read that Cardinal Arinze, the Prefect of the Congregation, does not want the changes made immediately, but explained that time is needed "for the pastoral preparation of priests, deacons and for appropriate catechesis of the lay faithful. It will likewise facilitate the devising of musical settings for parts of the Mass.” A nice change from the approach taken back in the 60s and 70s when major liturgical changes were introduced almost overnight with little or no catechesis. Some bishops and liturgists are, of course, upset about the revisions, even though their purpose is simply to ensure the English accurately reflects the Latin of the Roman Missal on which all translations are supposedly based. Read more about it here.

It is also good to see that some Catholic organizations still have the courage to support publicly the Catholic Church's teaching on so-called "controversial" issues. The Knights of Columbus, at their supreme convention in Quebec City, approved resolutions calling for the legal protection of marriage and asking Catholics holding elected office to “be true” to their faith by acting “bravely and publicly in defense of life.” How sad that the Knights had to do this. How sad that so many Catholic politicians, judges and government policy makers reject Church teaching out of hand. And it's especially sad that we have regressed so far morally that such issues as the protection of innocent lives and Christian marriage have become "controversial." Click here for more on the Knights' convention.

But any sadness I feel is outweighed by joy because organizations like the Knights are willing to stand up publicly and tell our society to "Stop!" This is something we can all do. These life issues are not as complicated as some would have us believe. One need not be a physician or biologist to know that abortion is the wrongful taking of a human life. One need not be a sociologist or psychologist to know that same-sex marriage is simply not marriage. And one need not be a Christian to know these things. You and I and every human being knows them in our hearts because God has blessed us with Natural Law, the law that enables us to discern right from wrong, the law that governs our human nature. And so, don't fall prey to the obfuscations of the "experts" or the rationalizations of the politicians. Listen instead to your Church, a Church guided today, as it has always been, by the Holy Spirit. And pray for those who obstinately refuse to listen to and follow the Church's consistent and inerrant teachings on faith and morals.

Note on our upcoming trip to Rome: The mad planner (that is I) has struck again. In addition to the papal audience and the tour of the excavations under St. Peter Basilica, I have also booked a tour of the Vatican Gardens and a combined tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. We visited the Museum and Sistine Chapel back in 2000, but it's all far too much to take in on a single visit. But even with all these planned events, we'll still have time for good food, good wine, and good times.

I'll celebrate my sixty-fourth birthday while we're in Rome (September 13 - St. John Chrysostom) and in anticipation of this minor milestone could not help but recall the old Beatles' song. Remember the lyrics? "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?" When I posed this question to Diane today, she nodded, although a bit reluctantly it seemed to me. And so, I guess this means I'm good for another year. One more reason to praise God.

God's peace...


  1. Outstanding, Deacon Dana!

    We share much in common.

    And thank you for your link!

    I will reciprocate.

    In Christ,

  2. My new best friend is a Knight, and was just appointed Deputy Grand Knight of his Council. He's been trying to recruit me, if nothing else so I can get the life insurance for my family. One of my objections was that I've heard of the controversies surrounding Knights who are pro-choice politicians and "never criticize a brother Knight." The other day he told me about this news.