Wednesday, February 28, 2007

21st Annual Marian Congress, March 24

21st Annual Marian Congress

Saturday, March 24
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (doors open at 8:00 a.m.)
U of St. Thomas (O’Shaughnessy Education Ctr)
2115 Summit Ave, St Paul
Sponsored by the World Apostolate of Fatima
(Archdiocese of St. Paul and Mpls chapter)
Cost: $25 per person by March 18; $30 after March 18
Box lunch included.

Father Michael Miller will speak on “A Council To Be Rediscovered,” tracking the causes of the crisis of faith that
occurred following Vatican II, the turnaround beginning about 1985, where we are today, and the future path. He is the pastor of
St. Joseph's Catholic Church and St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Delano and writes a monthly column for The Catholic Servant. The day includes Holy Mass.

For more information and to register, visit the World Apostolate of Fatima website.

Argument of the Month Club: Catholic men as American Citizens

Argument of the Month Club for Men: Catholic men as American citizens (David Pence)

Tuesday, March 13, 7:00 p.m.
Church of St. Augustine, 408 3rd St N, South St Paul
6:30 p.m. social (beverages and appetizers), 7:00 dinner and talk
Cost: $12 (FREE for priests and seminarians)

Enrich your faith, enjoy the company of other Catholic men, hone your rational discussion and argumentation skills, and fill up on
Kent's cooking. Dr. David Pence will speak on “Catholic Men as American Citizens: How the culture war against the atheists relates to the shooting war of the Jihadist.”

The meal is home-cooked and complete with beverage and dessert. Enter through the east doors. Men of all backgrounds and creeds are welcome. Fathers may bring their sons with them.

Please reply to Kent Wuchterl at or 612-722-8444 (your reply will help him plan the food; but you can still come if you can’t reply beforehand).

Rose Ensemble Candlelight Concert: Mystics, Prophets, Sages and Seers

Rose Ensemble Candlelight Concert: Mystics, Prophets, Sages and Seers

Saturday and Sunday, March 10 and 11 (Twin Cities)
and Friday, March 16 (
(see times and venues below)
Rose Ensemble

The exquisite voices of the Rose Ensemble will treat you to a program of gorgeous Medieval and Renaissance music exploring prophetic and mystical texts from many world religions and the insight and spirituality shared by people from all cultures and nations. Includes the music and poetry of twelfth-century mystic and abbess, St. Hildegard von Bingen, Renaissance Lenten motets and new works by Minnesota composers Edie Hill and Abbie Betinis, all performed entirely by candlelight. The music is interspersed with related sacred and secular readings, which will be narrated by MPR’s Tom Crann. Also features a pre-concert discussion led by Rose Ensemble member and musicologist Tim O’Brien.

Mar. 10 (Sat.),
8:00 p.m. (pre-concert discussion at 7:00 p.m.)
Basilica of Saint Mary, Hennepin Ave. & N 17th St, Mpls.
Cost: $15, $23, and $33, reserved seating

Mar. 11 (Sun.),
7:00 p.m. (pre-concert discussion at 6:00 p.m.)
St. Paul Seminary (St. Mary Chapel),
2260 Summit Ave, St. Paul
Cost: $15, $23, and $33, reserved seating

Mar. 16 (Fri.),
7:30 p.m. (no pre-concert discussion)
St. Rose Convent Maria Angelorum Chapel
Franciscan Way, LaCrosse, WISCONSIN
Cost: $20 and $12, general seating

For more details, visit the Rose Ensemble website or call
(651) 225-4340.

Annual Rose Ensemble Sing-along

Annual Rose Ensemble Sing-along

Tuesday, March 6, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Rondo Community Outreach Library
461 N. Dale St., St. Paul
Sponsored by The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library
Cost: FREE

Interested in singing Renaissance choral music? Join the entire Rose Ensemble for their annual sing-along. at the (almost) brand new Rondo Library. All experience levels welcome.

For more information, visit

Institute for Pastoral Theology returns to the Twin Cities

Institute for Pastoral Theology returns to the Twin Cities

Starting Fall 2007, Ave Maria University will once again offer its Institute for Pastoral Theology program at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Northeast Minneapolis. In three years, meeting one intense weekend a month for nine months, you can earn a Master’s Degree in Theology and be taught by some of the finest professors in the business.

Application deadline: May 15. For more information, visit

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Univ. of Minnesota sticks it to Catholics

Imagine an anti-Semitic play, written by a Hitlerian, being performed at the University of Minnesota. Imagine, too, that Jews complain and the president of the university justifies the play on free speech grounds

On March 1, the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre, Arts and Dance will host the Dario Fo play, “The Pope and the Witch”; it will be performed through March 9.

Imagine an anti-Semitic play, written by a Hitlerian, being performed at the University of Minnesota. Imagine, too, that Jews complain and the president of the university justifies the play on free speech grounds. Imagine, as well, that the play is defended by non-Jewish professors in charge of the production. Now really let your imagination run: bowing to pressure from Jews, a panel discussion on the play is scheduled, but no one from the Jewish community is invited to participate. Well, exactly this has happened, except that it’s not Jews who are being assaulted by the University of Minnesota—it’s Catholics.

When I challenged President Robert Bruininks on the propriety of having this bigoted play performed on his campus last fall, he offered a lame explanation why the show must go on. Following his collapse of leadership is Robert Rosen, the university’s theater director, and Steven Rosenstone, dean of the school’s College of Liberal Arts.

According to a report in The Catholic Spirit, the local archdiocesan newspaper, ‘Rosen, who is not Catholic, said he is not surprised by the strong reaction; however, he does not see the play as an attack on the Catholic faith.’ Perhaps he thinks it’s an attack on Islam, save for the fact that Muslims don’t have a pope.

Rosenstone confirmed that no Catholics have been invited to join the forum and that’s because ‘nobody was selected for the panel on the basis of faith or religion.’ That’s interesting—the play was purposely selected to bash Catholicism and now Catholics are purposely being denied the right to be on the very panel they pushed for.

This is what the University of Minnesota stands for: free speech for Catholic bashers and no speech for Catholics.

Accordingly, I will notify all members of the Minnesota legislature about this development: this is state-sponsored hate speech, partially funded by the target of hate, namely Catholics.

Contact Steven Rosenstone;

William Donohue is president of Catholic League which defends the right of Catholics – lay and clergy alike – to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination. SperoNews

‘Wave’ of prayer follows the sun around the globe

“The wave” used to be popular at sporting events, with sections of spectators taking turns standing up as one, flailing their arms and then sitting down as the section next to them rose, thereby creating an undulating effect that circled the stadium.

Well, another wave - one created not by spectators but by prayerful participants - is scheduled for March 2. But the 2007 World Day of Prayer will not circle merely a stadium but will undulate over the whole world. And, some of those participants will be seated (and kneeling) within the central Minnesota “section” of the world known as the St. Cloud Diocese.

World Day of Prayer (WDP) is a worldwide ecumenical movement of women who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday of March, according to the WDP United States Web site: Throughout the entire day, women (men are also welcome) collectively pray starting on the west side of the international date line at sunrise and ending on the east side at sunset. The prayers of people from 170 countries and regions follow the sun’s path around the globe.

Four women involved in planning and carrying out the WDP liturgy in St. Cloud met at the St. Cloud Diocesan Mission Office Feb. 9 to compare notes and discuss progress. The St. Cloud service is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 2 at First United Methodist Church in St. Cloud.

The women - Dolores Keech, a member of First United Methodist; Sheri Bitzan, a member of St. Benedict Parish in Avon; Wini Herda, a member of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Big Lake; and Mission Office director Rosanne Fischer - said that churches in the St. Cloud area have been meeting for to prepare for the annual event.

“Every year, World Day of Prayer has a theme,” Bitzan said. “The theme this year is ‘United under God’s tent (or mantle)’ ”

The theme was developed by a group of women from Paraguay, said Keech, who is chairing this year’s St. Cloud-area WDP service. Each year, a committee of women from one country designs the liturgy for the service that will be used worldwide that March.

The Paraguyan committee chose the ñandutí, a classic spider-web-like lacy Paraguayan handcraft based on woven floral patterns connected by a single thread, Fischer said. “The single thread is symbolic of global unity within diversity,” she added. [....snip] St Cloud Visitor

In the Beginning Was The Word...

Mitchell here.

Back in 1972 the best-selling novelist Irving Wallace published a suspense thriller (made into an eight-hour miniseries on CBS in 1978) called The Word. The story centered around Steve Randall, a cynical, hard-drinking, world-weary public relations executive (played wonderfully in the miniseries by David Janssen) hired by religious publisher George Wheeler to promote a project code-name “Resurrection Two.” The project turns out to be nothing less than (are you listening, National Geographic and Discovery Channels?) the Gospel of “James the Just,” younger brother of Jesus. The blockbuster assertion: Jesus did not die on the Cross the first time, but survived, continued to preach and perform miracles, and eventually went to Rome, where He was crucified a second time, and this time actually died. Wheeler believes the discovery will present a new, more human Jesus to the world.

From here the plot focuses on the standard elements: political intrigue, sex, betrayal, even a murder or two. Randall’s job is to prepare the public-relations juggernaut that will roll out the announcement of this discovery (you can see how things were different before cable television), while at the same time bringing into line some recalcitrant theologians, one of whom is campaigning to become head of the World Council of Churches (which was apparently imagined to be a prestigious post). As he becomes more involved in Resurrection Two, Randall even begins to lose some of the cynicism that has marked his life thus far.

Now, up to this point you’d be forgiven if you confused this story with, let’s say, something like The DaVinci Code. It has all the elements, albeit in a much more entertaining, better written format. But just when all the keys seem to be falling into place, Wallace throws us a curve.

The whole thing is a hoax.

Randall uncovers the master forger responsible for the fake gospel, a man with a longstanding grudge against the church. He tells Randall how he stole scraps of ancient papyrus from museums and used them to make the scrolls, how he concocted the ink and artificially aged it in order to fool the scientific experts. He planned to wait until Wheeler and his gang announce the news to the world, and then expose the work as a fraud, thus bringing down all of religion. (If this doesn’t make complete sense to you, keep in mind this is just the Cliff’s Notes version.) However, just when he’s about to show the skeptical Randall the evidence that will prove his story, he turns up dead.

Randall, now highly skeptical of Resurrection Two, continues to dig deeper but finds everything and everyone turning against him. Those in charge of the project put pressure on him to end his investigation. The recalcitrant theologian, Randall’s last hope to stop the project, betrays him and becomes a proponent of R2. The woman he loves doubts him. And when hecomes up with an ancient artifact that will totally disprove the story, he is arrested by the Italian authorities on a trumped-up charge, forced to give up the artifact, and held in custody until after the grand announcement is made.

There is a happy ending, or at least the hint of one. Resurrection Two sweeps the world, taking everyone in (including the pope). It is ushering in a new era in Christianity, making Jesus far more accessible and human to His followers (again, remember this is the abridged version you’re getting here). The new Bible, containing the Gospel of James, becomes an international best-seller. Randall, after hitting bottom, decides to fight back. (He is a PR genius, after all.) He starts work on a book that will tell the truth behind the hoax – a book that, with the publicity he can generate acting as a slingshot, may be the stone that brings the Goliath of Resurrection Two crashing down. We don’t see how his efforts fare – the book ends as he begins his work – but he straightens out his life, reconciles with the woman he loves, and thus fortified, we have hope for his success.

Lest you sell the book short, this brief description probably doesn’t do it justice. Irving Wallace certainly knew how to write a page-turner, and The Word is one of his best. And whereas pretenders like Dan Brown are clearly trying to mock and discredit Christianity, I don’t see Wallace playing that game. The whole Gospel of James the Just is exposed as a fraud, after all. The bad guys are truly bad (they’ll even kill to protect their interests), but they’re presented mostly as dupes, opportunists, or political Machiavellians out for money, personal power and glory – not schemers trying to deceive the faithful and bring down the faith. (And isn’t it nice, for a change, to have revisionist historians who are not truth-seekers, but mere profiteers, willing to sell out the Lord not for thirty pieces of silver, but international reprint rights.) They have so much invested in R2 (financially and otherwise), nothing can be allowed to stop it – not even the truth.

(If there is a bone to pick, it would be the idea that the pope would fall for this. One would have to assume his papal infallibility would protect him from making such a doctrinal error, even if everyone else was taken in. Wallace may be mistaken in giving us this, but I don’t think it’s out of malice.)

It was impossible not to think of all this the other day, seeing James Cameron on television “sinking Christianity,” as one commentator put it. It was so much like the scene of Nicol Williamson, playing the malevolent Maertin de Vroome, selling out Randall in return for the coveted leadership of the WCC, that one almost could laugh about it. It remains true that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The major difference, of course, is that Irving Wallace never pretended The Word was anything other than fiction. Dan Brown admits The DaVinci Code is fiction, but wants you to believe it’s based on fact. But James Cameron wants you to believe his is the real thing. (Or the unreal thing, if you will.) And the same gullible consumers that Steve Randall made his living off of are still there, waiting to gobble up Cameron’s titanic “discovery.”

To use a theological term, we “dare to hope” that Randall wound up bringing down Resurrection Two, just as we dare to hope Cameron’s proclamation will fall on deaf ears. And for that we have two causes for optimism: first, in this era of the blogosphere there will be any number of Catholic (and other) experts just waiting to pick the story apart, much as they do with other bogus claims.

And second – Irving Wallace had a much better plot.

Cross-Posted to: Our Word and Welcome to It

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sister Edith Bogue, blogging nun

If you’d like a glimpse into the life of a Benedictine sister who was raised as an atheist, deepened her Christian faith through English historical dance and teaches sociology at the College of St. Scholastica, check out Sister Edith Bogue’s blog.

“Monastic Musings,” an online diary that she began in July, is a blend of her thoughts on faith and her view of the world from a social science perspective.

“Welcome to the interior of my brain, vaguely censored,” said Sister Edith, a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth.
She was an atheist until she was called into the principal’s office for some misdeed as a third-grader. With the naive thinking of a child, she told herself that if the principal didn’t call her parents, she’d know God exists. When there was no call, she followed through with her vow and looked into religion. In fourth grade, she started attending Sunday school with a neighbor. In high school, she’d get up early on Sundays to visit churches in her Chicago neighborhood.

While attending Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., she met regularly with a priest to learn about Catholicism. She was baptized the month before she graduated. She went on to graduate school in Chicago and became a hospital social worker before deciding to teach in college. She spent 14 years at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor working on a doctorate in social work and sociology.

One day a counselor asked her if she could pick what she wanted to do, what would it be? “Oh, I’d be a nun,” she replied and then wondered where that thought came from. The counselor advised that such a quick answer must mean something.

When she got home, Sister Edith found a magazine for people considering a Catholic religious vocation that she had picked up earlier. She filled out a postcard requesting information and got responses from more than 150 religious communities. Then vocation directors began calling her. “I almost gave up because it was so overwhelming,” she said.

During a prayer retreat at a Benedictine monastery, she was invited to stay for dinner and evening prayers. The experience of being with about 100 sisters praying out loud together in liturgical prayer touched her deeply. “I felt like I walked into my own home for the first time,” Sister Edith said.


She narrowed her search to Benedictine monasteries and started what she jokingly referred to as her “bed and breakfast tour.” In 1996-97, she visited seven or eight and went to at least four of them three times.

During a religious retreat, she dreamed that God pointed out to her where she was afraid by marking areas of her life with a yellow highlighter. Her visit to St. Scholastica was highlighted so she thought she should explore why God was calling her attention to it. She returned to Duluth because she thought God might be calling her here.

In 1998, Sister Edith became an affiliate of St. Scholastica Monastery and visited every six weeks. In 1999, she became a postulant and moved into the monastery. She made her final vows on Jan. 15, 2006. [....Snip] Duluth NewsTribune

Sister Edith's Comments on the story in the Duluth newspaper.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wouldn't this be great if Real Estate ads would look like this? Home For Sale - Close to Adoration!

A beautiful, well-kept Colonial 3 bedroom, 1 bath home in a great West St Paul neighborhood. Just 3 blocks from Perpetual Adoration at St Joseph's Catholic Church and 10 minutes from the Church of St Agnes. $195K. More info at

Who says St Agnes isn't "grounded?" They have their annual Religious Articles Sale after all the Masses on the weekends of March 17 & 18 and March 24 & 25. A Great time to shop for graduation, First Communion, Confirmation, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Baptisms, Fishing Opener and all other special events.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Depending Upon How You Count, There's Still 40 Days Left In Lent!

Marcellino Ambrosio has an interesting list of forty things to get the most out of Lent.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of Lenten ideas, activities and devotions. But it’s a start! Many of the Lenten resources mention here are available on our website at or can be found by visiting our links page.

More Thoughts on Ash Wednesday

I've read that in New York City, Ash Wednesday is almost a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, Jews, Christians of all denominations, and even the unchurched. I noticed that the attendance the Basilica of St Mary's 5:30 p.m. Mass, their third service of the day (I'm not certain how ecumenical it was), was pretty impressive.

And now I read from Clairity, who teaches at St Scholastica and is studying at San Diego State U this term that even in body-worshiping California, the crowds were large.

One Ash Wednesday, I was trying to find a convenient service and went to the San Diego State campus where I was attending graduate school. SDSU has a Newman's Center and a beautiful little chapel, but normally there are no large numbers in attendance. Instead of the chapel, though, an auditorium had been booked for the day. It was filled with penitents on folding chairs waiting to receive their ashes. In fact, it is not a holy day of obligation, and apparently the faithful and others are not in need of that extra push.

So much for the regulars who are mortified by a big black cross stamped on their foreheads. The others come in especially to get their mark. Something resonates about this ritual which reaches back into the Old Testament in many cases, especially in the story of Jonah and his repentant Ninevites with their king sitting in a pile of ashes. Clairity's Place

Conference for Teens titled, “Pure At Heart”

March 3, 2007: A Conference for Teens titled, “Pure At Heart” will be held with Father Peter Laird, Father Andrew Cozzens, and includes Mass, a fashion show and a special chastity commitment ceremony, The event is for parents and teens ages 13-17 at a cost of $25 per person, which includes a box lunch. The Conference is being held at Providence Academy in Plymouth, Mn from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. To register, call: 952-224-0333 or see: Catholic NewsNet Minnesota

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Learning how to pray

Series: Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Learning how to pray

Wednesdays, February 28 through March 28, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Cathedral of St. Paul (Hayden Hall)
, 239 Selby Ave, St. Paul
Sponsored by the Cathedral Young Adults
Cost: FREE

The Cathedral Young Adults invite you to join them for this series
to help you enrich your prayer life this Lent.

Feb. 28: What is Prayer? (Fr. John Paul Erickson)

Mar. 7: Friendship with God: Contemplative prayer and the
Carmelite tradition (Libby Atkinson, M.A.)

Mar. 14: Sacred Scripture and Prayer: Lectio Divina and the
Benedictine tradition (Fr. Eric Hollas, O.S.B.)

Mar. 21: The Psychology of Prayer (Dr. John Buri)

Mar. 28: Discernment and the Ignatian tradition
(Fr. Patrick McCorkell, S.J.) [Got Culture]

Devotions are Returning

Last year, Jayne from So Many Devotions. . . So Little Time exploded on to the local blogging scene, resurrecting many fine devotions that seemed to have evaporated after the Second Vatican Council. There are many wonderful prayers to be found on her blog.

Now, just last month came another new local blogger, Sanctus Belle, who has Our Lady's Tears and she has been doing a lot of research and has found even more devotions dedicated to Our Lady's Sorrows, including some interesting novenas that I had never heard of.

The Catholic Church has also enriched the devotion to Our Lady's sorrows with indulgences for the pious recitation of the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, and also the Chaplet of Our Lady's Tears. Seven of Mary's Sorrows have been chosen for special veneration. These are the same sorrows of the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and are as follows:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon
  2. The flight into Egypt
  3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
  4. Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary
  5. Jesus dies on the Cross
  6. Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms
  7. Jesus is placed in the tomb.

1. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget I

2. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget II

3. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget III

4. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget IV

5. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget V

6. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget VI

7. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget VII

8. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget VIII

9. Mary's Sorrows - Visions of St Bridget IX

If you're looking for prayers to add to your Lentan schedule, you can fine wonderful ones on either So Many Devotions or Our Lady's Tears.

Catholic Writers Groups Foster Literary Revival

Several organizations have cropped up recently to foster a Catholic literary revival.

The table is too small for the dozen writers gathered in a coffeehouse on St. Paul’s trendy Grand Avenue. As they sip their specialty coffees, all ears are attuned to one young woman as she reads her fictional story about a World War I soldier.

The group calls itself The Minnklings — a Minnesotan take-off on C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s writer’s group The Inklings. Among others, it includes a newspaper publisher, an academic journal editor, published fiction writers and journalists. They gather to critique one another’s work and share stories about getting published. The group is one of several literary efforts underway aimed at supporting existing Catholic writers and fostering new ones.

“I have no idea what loop you have to be in to get into some of these publications,” said David Deavel, a regular attendee of the Minnklings’ and associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture published by the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas University. “What I find valuable is hearing other people’s stories about how to work with editors and publishers. Their experiences of getting in have been of the most value to me.”
So, through the University of Pennsylvania Newman Center and the Catholic collegiate organization Compass, Aparicio gathered a network of young Catholic writers to create the quarterly journal Dappled Things. The first issue appeared online during Advent 2005. The journal includes fiction, reviews, poetry and commentary by young Catholic writers.

The magazine receives approximately 20,000 hits each time a new issue goes online, some from as far away as Australia. Dappled Things just conducted a successful fundraising campaign to take its next step, a print magazine.
[....snip] National Catholic RegisterTim Drake is based in St. Joseph, Minnesota — and is a member of the Minnklings.

"The Catholic Spirit" on The Pope and the Witch Again

Cathy of Alex who blogs at The Recovering Dissident Catholic has a great post today on the Catholic Spirit's article and editorial on the play, The Pope and the Witch, which is to be performed at the University of Minnesota from March 1 to March 9.

Stop over and comment. She makes some good points about how Catholics are treated much differently than Muslims at the University.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lentan Mortification via our Diets

One of my general intentions, not just for Lent, is to do more spiritual reading.

I am currently reading, among others, The Cure' d'Ars Today, by Father George W. Rutler, a biography of St John Vianney, the patron saint of pastors and confessors. Father Rutler is occasionally seen on EWTN and reeks of erudition and I was nervous about picking up this book. But it is very readable.

Yesterday, an inordinate amount of time was spent on this blog debating our Lentan fasts and diets. Serendipitously, Father Rutler, in commenting on the reaction of his parishioners who lived in a region of France known for its fine cuisine, to Saint John Vianney's very rigorous, what we would call starvation, diet, noted "Now if this had taken place in the Sahara, where there is no food, or among the Saxons and Celts, whose cuisine has struck some as a recipe for mortification, this would have been less remarkable."

Being half Celt, I rolled off the couch in laughter after reading this haughty comment about English and Irish cooking.

Those of you wanting to limit your intake of food this Lent might do well to note Father Rutler's refined, epicurean palate and stick to potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.

40 Days in Lent? That's not what my calendar says.

Father Guy Selvester, who blogs at Shouts in the Piazza, and whose hobby is making and critiquing the coats of arms of various members of the episcopacy, also must be a history or calendar wonk. He has a nice post on the length of Lent.

Lord, HOW Do We Get To 40 Days?

Whenever Lent begins there is an annual argument. How do we count the forty days of Lent? Some of us were taught that the Sundays don't count. So, I went to Fr. Guy and asked him. This is what he told me.

Apparently, the first thing you need to do is get it straight why there are forty days and when they begin. Well, that seemed stupid to me. There are forty days in Lent because Jesus went into the desert for forty days. And, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, right? Everyone knows that.

Well, the Biblical image of forty days was correct it turns out but I also found out that Lent hasn't always had forty days. At some points in Church history it had sixty or even seventy days. I also found out, much to my surprise that Lent doesn't really begin on Ash Wednesday. What? Well, we commonly begin our Lenten observances on Ash Wednesday. But technically speaking Lent begins on the First Sunday of Lent. That is to say, Ash Wednesday (and the Thursday, Friday and Saturday which follow it) are penitential days preparing for Lent. In the missal they are not referred to as Lenten weekdays. Rather they are simply called the "Thursday after Ash Wednesday, the Friday after Ash Wednesday", etc. Years ago, the penitential part began well before Ash Wednesday. Remember things like Septuagesima Sunday and Octagesima [??] Sunday? On these Sundays the Gloria was already omitted from the mass and the liturgical color was purple...but Lent had not yet started! In the reforms of Vatican II the calendar was changed and the commonly accepted idea is that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday but the counting of the forty days does not begin until the First Sunday of Lent.

The next thing Father told me to find out was the time Lent ended. Again, pretty easy, right? Lent ends at Easter. WRONG! Lent ends on the morning of Holy Thursday. But, that wasn't always the case either. It used to be that Lent proceeded until the morning of Holy Saturday when the Easter Vigil was celebrated. That's why it was OK to have Easter baskets blessed on the afternoon of Holy Saturday. The vigil was already completed and Easter had "begun". Nowadays that's different. After Pope Pius XII restored the Holy Week rites in 1955 (ten years before Vatican II) Lent ended on the morning of Holy Thursday so that we then enter into the very brief liturgical season called the Sacred Triduum (meaning three days). This lasts until the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday when we then begin the Easter season.

So, if we begin counting the forty days on the First Sunday of Lent and end on Holy Thursday we see it's easy. We begin counting on the evening of the Saturday after Ash Wednesday. (Remember? The sabbath begins at sundown the night before a Sunday.) So, starting on the Saturday eve of the First Sunday of Lent we count forward until the eve of the Second Sunday of Lent. That's seven days or one week. There are five weeks of Lent (five times seven is Thirty-five) bringing us up to the Saturday eve of Palm Sunday. From there we simply count forward: Palm Sunday, Monday of Holy Week, Tuesday of Holy Week, Spy Wednesday and Holy Thursday morning. That's five more days. Thirty-five plus five equals...FORTY!

What about this "Sunday isn't counted" deal? I asked Father and he reminded me that Sundays, even in Lent, are days on which we don't do penance because every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection. That's why your teachers probably taught some of you that whatever you had given up for Lent you could have on Sunday. Abstaining from something is a penitential act and we don't perform acts of penance on Sundays. Anyway, Fr. Guy reminded me too that the missal calls these Sundays OF LENT. They are very much counted within the season of Lent.

So, even though we commonly accept that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (a manner of speaking I use myself and do not dispute) the counting of the forty days doesn't really commence until the First Sunday of Lent and it extends until the morning of Holy Thursday. THAT's how we get forty days of Lent. Oh, and, yes the SUNDAYS DO COUNT. Shouts in the Piazza

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Repent Ye Sinners

Has it been a while since you've hit the Confessional Box? Forgotten how to examine your conscience? Well, The Catholic Spirit the past month or so has been going through the old standby's, The Seven Deadly Sins. Why don't you start by checking to see if you've been guilty of any of those?

Are You Hungry Yet?

Mitchell here.

If you haven't already boned up on this, Jimmy Akin has the definitive guide to fasting and abstinence. Among the highlights (that you might not have known):

  1. "The laws of fast and abstinence do not bind those who have a medical condition that would materially interfere with their performance."
  2. "Beverages, even calorie-laden beverages (milk, OJ, coffee with cream, protein shakes) do not violate the law of fast. "Food" means solids food, not drinks (which count as 'drink'), though disproportionate consumption of caloric beverages violates the spirit of the fast."
  3. "Non-nutritive or non-digestible things taken to curb hunger (e.g., water, dietary fiber) do not violate the law of fast." . . . "The fast is from food (solid nourishment; technically, solid macronutrients), not other things (water, other beverages, fiber, medicine, vitamins)."
  4. The old saying, "You can have one full meal plus two smaller meals as long as they do not add up to a second meal" is FALSE. "The law says that you can have 'some food' twice, and 'some food' is clearly less than a 'full meal,' but it doesn't say anything about how much the two instances of "some food" add up to." . . . "A more helpful way of thinking of it (and a way more in keeping with the way the law is written) is to think of one full meal and two snacks, a snack being something less than a meal."
It's always nice to have clarification on something you only do twice a year. Thanks, Jimmy!

Lenten Soup Supper at St. Andrew

Cathy here. This post is a shameless plug for my parish. I may as well be honest about my pride.

Lenten Soup Suppers at St. Andrew in St. Paul, MN, begin on Friday Feb. 23rd and continue every Friday thru March 30th. There will not be a Soup Supper on Good Friday.

The soup is served at 6:00 p.m. in Carroll Hall (church basement). The dinner is followed by Stations of the Cross and Benediction in the Church. A free will offering for the soup is requested.

St. Andrew is located at 1051 Como Ave in St. Paul. Call 651-488-6775 for more information.

Fr. Ryan is always at the soup supper to perform the blessing before we eat. He also bring his, very tasty, homemade bread. Alas, Clancy, Father's dog, does not attend.

In keeping with the Lenten regulations of Friday abstinence, our soups are 100% meatless. They are all very good.

Yours truly will be assisting with the supper once again. I'll be there every Friday except March 30th. (I've got a date with some local bloggers to see Into Great Silence that evening.)

Come join us at St. Andrew for our 5th year of Lenten soup suppers!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Iowegian Wrestlers must remove "ash crosses"

. The start of this year's competition falls on Ash Wednesday. Catholics typically apply ash crosses on their foreheads in observance of the first day of Lent. Catholic high school wrestlers will have to remove ashes from their forehead when the state wrestling tournament begins Wednesday.

But Iowa High School Athletic Association officials banned the practice for wrestlers when they hit the mat, saying the ash could get into an opponent's eyes or mouths. ``There's no disrespect to Catholicism,'' said Bud Legg, an athletic association spokesman who also is Catholic.

He said all wrestlers undergo a skin and nail check prior to competition.

Rev. Kenneth Kuntz of St. Mary's Church in Iowa City, says he doesn't agree with the decision but won't challenge it because applying ash is optional. ``There are some hills worth dying on, and some that aren't,'' he said. ``For me, this isn't that big of a deal.'' Mason City GlobeGazette

Did Vern Gagne require that in the old AWA when Hulk Hogan went up against Jesse "the Body?"

The Pope & The Witch Premier is March 1 at the UofMN - Don't Go!

The American Papist has a good post with some links to others.

Father Z at W.D.T.P.R.S. also has his letter to President Bruininks of the UofMN, requesting that he report himself to the U's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action whos policies prohibit religious discrimination.

I now wonder how a land-grant institution, paid for by TAXPAYERS in Minnesota, can tolerate this choice, to so single out members of the Catholic Church for scheduled and then repeated insult and ridicule.

Taxpayers will be footing the bill for a scheduled and then repeated offense to Catholics.

You bear part of the responsibility.

Therefore, I respectfully suggest you might report yourself to your own Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. That office’s webpage ( has the following:

"PLEASE LET US KNOW if you, someone you know, or a group within our university community, has experienced bias, discrimination or hostility. We are concerned about incidents based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, gender identification, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status and/or sexual orientation. The University of Minnesota is ready and willing to provide support, and address disrespectful bias and discrimination within our community. We need to know what happens and how often, so that we can respond and help those who are targeted. By reporting incidents, you become part of the solution."

Simply attaching a schedule of the Theater Department’s season will indicate the religious dimension of the violation of your University’s policies as well as the where, by whom, and how often.

Kindly take action in this matter. It would be the right thing to do and you would be "part of the solution".

Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf



Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.


Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair,
Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy
but speak the word only.


Who walked between the violet and the violet
Who walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile


If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.


Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

`Ash-Wednesday', from Collected Poems 1909-1962 by T S Eliot, © T S Eliot 1963

For over 2500 years our music, literature, poetry and art was dedicated to truth, beauty and goodness and to our creator. At the beginning of the third millennium, when philanthropists endow arenas, museums and poetry journals, creations celebrate our beastly, brutish inheritance.

How have we lost the sense of our greatness and our divine origin so quickly?

Can we get it back?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Both sides inspired by S.D. bans on abortion: Lawmakers from other states try similar bills

The fight to overturn Roe v. Wade didn't start in South Dakota, but this state has served as inspiration to state legislatures and groups working to ban abortion.

While some think the failure at the polls of last year's ban - with an exception only to save a woman's life - slowed down the momentum of the movement, others were encouraged the issue was put in the national spotlight. "The thing that made South Dakota such a tremendous inspiration, even in the defeat, is they had pushed forward to truly ban abortion," said Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, a national Catholic antiabortion organization that supported last year's ban.

"It inspired other lawmakers to take a look at what they could do."

The ban's defeat also encouraged abortion-rights groups that say South Dakotans - with a 56 percent to 44 percent vote -- spoke against government intrusion in private decisions. "Those anti-choice politicians are out of step with the public," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "The American public is tired of the divisiveness and don't believe (government) should be making this decision for them."

Of the 12 bans introduced in state legislatures last year, only South Dakota's ban passed and was signed by the governor.

So far this year, a number of states - including North Dakota, Georgia, Utah and Mississippi - again have pushed for bans. Several have similar language to South Dakota's latest bill, which has exceptions for cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of a pregnant woman or to keep a woman from being irreparably damaged physically by pregnancy.

High hopes

Lawmakers in Mississippi now are considering a ban with exceptions similar to South Dakota's. The bill appears to be stalled by a committee chairman who says he won't hear any more anti-abortion legislation this year. Tanya Britton, president of Pro-Life Mississippi, said she was encouraged by South Dakota's bans and has hope for a similar ban in her state. [....snip] Sioux Falls ArgusLeader

More Young Women Becoming Nuns

In a culture dominated by celebrity news, a group of women is listening to a different calling, as the number of young women interested in becoming nuns is on the rise.

Melissa Schrefels loves to teach and she loves to shatter stereotypes. She does not wear a habit or veil and she does not live in a convent. She works part-time as a pharmacist at Target, is young and is the new face of nuns in America. "I am much happier having made this commitment than I would be had I been single and working part-time and volunteering part-time," Schrefels said.

It is a reward many more young women are seeking. Exact figures are hard to come by, but national organizations are excited to say that younger women -- and men -- are much more open to a lifelong religious commitment than they were 10 years ago.

In Minnesota, Sister Julie Brandt sees the trend first-hand. "For women in their college years, there's a much greater openness to even explore that possibility than when I was in college," Brandt said.

The charismatic appeal of Pope John Paul II and his many World Youth Days are credited with energizing an entire generation that's now about 18-25 years old. "It's almost like it's a cool thing to look at so they get a lot of support from their peers," Brandt said.

The other group interested in becoming nuns is women in their 30s and 40s. They are women who are re-examining their lives, seeking more meaning and are exploring spirituality, but want to do it in a group setting. "Professional experience and have established themselves in a career but they are looking at wanting something deeper, wanting something more, so they are searching and they seem to be finding us," Brandt said.

Web sites are the main way people are finding their way to the sisterhood. Blogs, including "A Nun's Life", have given people a peek inside. Services such as "Vocation Match" also help people find an order that suits their personality and needs.

The next step is usually a personal visit. "The younger generation, the ones that are in their early 20s, they call it the nun run," Schrefels said.

Schrefels said she was drawn to the School Sisters of Notre Dame because of the work they do to educate and empower women and children. The Sisters have a residence in Mankato, Minn., but Schrefels lives in a Twin Cities home with five other women. She gives her Target paycheck to her religious order.

Schrefels said her choice to become a nun is something people at work are always curious about. "They're like, 'Oh, you have everything up,' and I say, 'Well, I've received a lot more than I've given, in terms of just, graces of love and God,'" Schrefels said.

A culture that seems to value money, power, sex and materialism may actually be driving more young women to think about becoming nuns. "You get all this stuff and then what?" Schrefels said. "It's never enough, so it has to be about relationships and it has to be about family. It has to be about love."

Becoming a nun in most Catholic religious orders usually takes about six years. WCCO-TV

"Called to Love" a Retreat for Married Couples of All Ages - Nativity, St Paul, March 10

Called to Love, a Retreat for Married Couples of All Ages

9:00 a.m. to 4;30 p.m., Saturday, March 10, 2007
Nativity Parish, 1900 Wellesley Ave, (Stanford & Prior) St Paul

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12

-God's plan for Man, Marriage & Love
-Sacraments & Sexuality
-Communication & Reconciliation
-Husbands Love Your Wives / Wives Love Your Husbands

$30 per couple which includes lunch. Childcare available for modest fee but call ahead
651-696-5401 or

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Affluent - But At Risk: Teens Eating Dinner Alone

Sister Edith, who blogs at Monastic Musings and teaches Sociology has an interesting post on the loneliness of affluent teens whose parents work long hours.

Affluent - But At Risk: Teens Eating Dinner Alone

Teens at risk is used most often for adolescents from inner-city neighborhoods, living at or below the poverty-line. When I hear the term, it evokes an image of a troubled home: perhaps just one parent, or an alcoholic or addicted parent, chaotic schedules, not enough money to meet basic needs, and few community resources to help out. In contrast, most people assume that the children of the upper-middle class face little or no financial stress, and live in environments rich in supportive programs and resources. When we hear of a troubled child in such a home, we think it must be due to something unique to that family, not their environment.

Those assumptions turn out to be false.

Suniya Luthar, a psychologist at Columbia University, decided to compare the well-being of hundreds of affluent kids - 6th grade through high school - with a similar group from low-income neighborhoods. She was surprised to find that the suburban teens were, in fact, worse off than their inner-city counterparts in several areas: higher anxiety, greater depression, and higher substance use - cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. The teens in the wealthy suburbs turned out to be more at risk for mental-health and substance problems than those in the inner city.

I wasn't suprised to read that pressure to succeed - to pile up one achievement after another, participate in myriad activities, maintain high academic standing - and to be popular - were one of the major pathways to maladjustment found in the upper-middle-class suburbs. Over-scheduled and always on the go, these teens have little leisure time to be with friends, and felt a constant need to perform.

The other source of problems for these kids is surprising and sad: isolation from adults. Many of them spent hours every week in empty houses, often in neighborhoods where privacy is values, houses are far from each other, and little sense of community exists. Their parents' long hours at work - and their own activities - meant there was less family time in the rich homes, and more emotional isolation, than in the poorer ones.

One factor stood out. Teens who eat dinner with at least one parent on most nights had better adjustment and better performance at school -- even after many other factors were accounted for. Gathering around the table, sharing their lives and feelings along with the meal, is both an indicator and, perhaps, part of the dynamic of families that produce healthier and happier children. [....snip] Monastic Musings

Lectio Divina - A Week of Postings

Sister Edith in a timely post just before Lent in her Monastic Musings blog, comments on a Chicago monk's blog on the method of prayer called Lectio Divina, Divine Readings, the spirituality of which he was using and commenting on in an annual retreat.

Lectio Divina - A Week of Postings

Prior Peter, who blogs at Daily Bread, is certainly providing a treat for us while he is on retreat with his community : a full week of postings on the spirituality of lectio divina. "Next to the liturgy ," he say, "lectio is the prime component of monastic spirituality. It is a meeting of the monk with Christ in the Divine Word."

Lest you think this may be simply another presentation of already familiar material, he goes right to the tough questions in his first posting. First, "Are the monks doing their
lectio" - or have we let busy days crowd it out? Getting past that, he goes even deeper:

“Let’s assume that monks are doing their lectio. Do they seek answers for their lives in lectio, or do they run to the abbot as soon as there is a problem?”
He begins - but just begins! - to answer that question with a theological reflection on the origins of the Christian scriptures in the liturgical and communal life of the Church.

It promises to be a good week of reading!

(Michael Casey, a Cistercian, wrote an entire book, Sacred Reading, on

Here are links to all the posts:

Lectio Divina 1
Lectio Divina 2
Lectio Divina 3
Lectio Divina 4
Lectio Divina 5

Lectio Divina 6 - Always New

Prior Peter's series on Lectio Divina comes to a close with two final suggestions about what to read (besides scripture) and how to read it.

Lest we take any of his suggestions too seriously, or dogmatically, he also included this caveat:
We should be ready at an instant to throw out any old habit if we are moved by the Holy Spirit to approach Scripture in a different way, or if we are moved simply to sit in quiet adoration and intimacy with the Lord. This is the goal, and these suggestions are meant to lead to that goal. They should be left behind when the goal seems to be in reach.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Catholic Blog Award Voting: Preliminary Results

Being that I'm a political wonk from way back, I resurrected some of my rudimentary skills and did a quick analysis of the preliminary Catholic Blog Awards voting figures released this evening.

Below, you have the fourteen categories in which there was voting and the top five vote-getters in each category. Below them is the vote count for regional bloggers who had received nominations in the preliminary voting.
Congratulations to all of them.

To the left of their names is their vote total in terms of the percentage of the total votes cast for that category. The number of blogs receiving votes in a category and the total number of votes cast in the category are below the percentages.

Father Z, our Roman agent, did well this year, placing first in the Best Clergy category, third in Best Individual, fourth in Best Insider News and third in Smartest Catholic Blog. Congratulations, Father Z!

Others from our area who placed well included our own I.C., the Ironic Catholic, that anonymous humorist from Bemeely, Minn., who has split our sides many a time this past blogging year with her often hysterically funny posts. She placed fourth in the Funniest category (I think it was a fix) and garnered respectable voting totals in several other categories.

The real dark horse surprise this year was the Minnesota Mom, a newcomer to St Blog's Parish scene who captured a fifth place finish in the Best New Catholic blog category. I'd bet a lot of folks were surprised by that.

This is the first year that the voting was not limited to the top five nominees. The major purpose of the contest is to give exposure to blogs that normally don't get it. Hundreds were nominated and their URL addresses are hotlinked with their vote totals. Copy them to your own computer and at your leisure visit them all and add your favorites to your Blogroll.

If you have a spare two dollar bill, you might consider contributing (via PayPal) that amount to the people at the Catholic Blog Awards webpage who put a lot of effort into this, not to mention their own money.

Thanks to everybody who nominated, campaigned and voted. It was fun. And I've already added new blogs to my daily and weekly routes.

Best Apologetic Blog

29.62% Jimmy Akin: 218
8.97% The Cafeteria is Closed: 66
8.42% Pontifications: 62
6.79% Rorate Caeli: 50
5.43% The Curt Jester: 40

Best Blog by Clergy/Religious/Seminarian

12.07% What does Prayer really say?: 91
7.29% Pontifications: 55
5.97% Cardinal Sean's Blog: 45
5.97% Dappled Things: 45
5.84% Hermeneutic of Continuity: 44
1.59% A Son Becomes a Father: 12
1.33% White Around the Collar: 10
0.93% Monastic Musings: 7
0.13% Future Priests of the Third Millenium: 1

Best Designed Catholic Blog

9.34% The New Liturgical Movement: 73
6.65% Open Book: 52
6.39% Happy Catholic: 50
6.39% Rorate Caeli: 50
5.50% The Cafeteria is Closed: 43
0.90% Faith Mouse: 7

Best Group Blog

16.13% The Shrine of the Holy Whapping: 115
11.50% The New Liturgical Movement: 82
7.29% Jimmy Akin: 52
7.01% Rorate Caeli: 50
4.21% Moniales OP: 30
3.93% American Chesterton Society: 28
0.56% Stella Borealis: 4
0.28% Our Word: 2

Best Individual Catholic Blog

10.22% Open Book: 89
5.74% The Cafeteria is Closed: 50
5.28% What does Prayer really say?: 46
4.02% Alive and Young: 35
4.02% Daily Danielle: 35
1.72% Abbey-Roads2: 15
1.26% The Ironic Catholic: 11
0.34% Adoro Te Devote: 3
0.23% Monastic Musings: 2
0.11% The Weight of Glory: 1
0.11% Orbis Catholicus: 1

Best Insider News Catholic Blog

18.85% Whispers in the Loggia: 135
10.75% Open Book: 77
10.47% Rorate Caeli: 75
10.20% What does Prayer really say?: 73
6.56% The Cafeteria is Closed: 47
0.70% Stella Borealis: 5

Best New Catholic Blog

8.83% Rorate Caeli: 69
6.40% Cardinal Sean's Blog: 50
4.74% Alive and Young: 37
4.23% Et Tu Jen: 33
3.97% Minnesota Mom: 31
3.07% The Ironic Catholic: 24
1.54% Abbey-Roads2: 12
0.64% The Recovering Dissident Catholic: 5
0.26% Ironic Catholic: 2

Best Overall Catholic Blog

11.98% Open Book: 100
5.99% Jimmy Akin: 50
5.27% The Cafeteria is Closed: 44
5.03% Happy Catholic: 42
5.03% Catholic and Enjoying It: 42
3.83% What does Prayer really say?: 32
0.36% The Ironic Catholic: 3

Best Political/Social Commentary Catholic Blog

9.97% The Anchoress: 70
8.83% Catholic and Enjoying It: 62
6.70% The Curt Jester: 47
6.27% Jimmy Akin: 44
4.99% Hermeneutic of Continuity: 35
1.99% Abbey-Roads2: 14
0.57% Clairity's Place: 4
0.14% Stella Borealis: 1

Best Written Catholic Blog

6.17% Open Book: 53
5.47% Daily Danielle: 47
4.77% Jimmy Akin: 41
4.07% The Anchoress: 35
3.84% The New Liturgical Movement: 33
3.61% What does Prayer really say?: 31
13.00% Abbey-Roads2: 13
1.05% Adoro Te Devote: 9
0.58% The Ironic Catholic: 5
0.23% The Recovering Dissident Catholic: 2
0.12% Stella Borealis: 1
0.12% Our Word: 1

Funniest Catholic Blog

24.46% The Curt Jester: 192
7.26% Daily Danielle: 57
6.37% The Shrine of the Holy Whapping: 50
6.11% The Ironic Catholic: 48
4.71% Alive and Young: 37
0.25% Ironic Catholic: 2

Most Informative & Insightful Catholic Blog

100.00% Stella Borealis 867
** 1-867

Most Spiritual Blog

7.32% Pontifications: 52
5.35% The New Liturgical Movement: 38
5.21% Daily Danielle: 37
4.37% Moniales OP: 31
4.37% Vultus Christi: 31
2.96% Adoro Te Devote: 21
1.55% Abbey-Roads2: 11
0.99% Orbis Catholicus: 7
0.70% So Many Devotions So Little Time: 5
0.28% Monastic Musings: 2

Smartest Catholic Blog

9.77% Jimmy Akin: 77
7.99% Pontifications: 63
6.98% What does Prayer really say?: 55
5.33% Rorate Caeli: 42
3.93% The New Liturgical Movement: 31
0.38% The Recovering Dissident Catholic: 3
0.25% Stella Borealis: 2
0.13% Orbis Catholicus: 1
0.13% The Weight of Glory: 1

** No votes were actually released tonight for this category.