An energized Pope John Paul II arrived in his homeland today at the beginning of a four-day trip brimming with sentimental and historic memories.To a welcoming crowd of thousands, he expressed his "joy" at being in Krakow, the city where he worked in a quarry as a youth, wrote plays and poetry, studied for the priesthood in a clandestine seminary and served as priest, university professor and bishop.As if making a point about fighting off the ravages of age and disease that have marked his recent years, he walked down the stairs of the Alitalia jet that brought him from Rome with the help of a single aide. A mobile lift of the type that had been used increasingly to lower him to the ground on such visits remained hidden behind the plane.The pontiff remained standing during the Polish and Vatican anthems at the airport. Instead of kneeling to kiss the ground, he kissed a basket of wildflowers.He took a light tone about his infirmities."I want to apologize. The president is standing, the cardinal is standing and I'm sitting. I'm sorry, but I must admit that somebody erected some kind of a barrier here and I cannot stand up," he said, referring to a portable lectern from which he read his arrival speech.
Friday, August 16
Saint-makers tend to be as humble as their subject matter. "It's a calling," says Catherine Robles-Shaw of Nederland, a santera who makes her own historically correct gessoes and varnishes to finish delicate retablos, bultos and altars carved from native woods. "It's the stuff of my life." Littleton native Jose Raul Esquibel is a carver whose work was first created as gifts for friends, and can now be seen at various churches in Colorado and New Mexico. He says his primary motivation for picking up a knife in 1992 was his Catholic faith, compounded by a desire to educate the region's lost lambs. "I saw lots of regret about having lost the New Mexico-Colorado religious heritage," Esquibel says. His intent as a santero -- and as a scholar of saint-making -- is to restore the layman's sense of community that traditionally drives the artform.
But the former cathedral's 126-year-old bones are still good, and the history it is steeped in so powerful that the structure is getting a second chance at life, not as a church, but as the center of a multipurpose project. Its developers hope the complex will again be a heartbeat for the city.The cathedral is to be converted into a performing-arts center, with Cal State L.A. as its main tenant; the nonprofit St. Vibiana's Arts Project, which secured funding for the renovation, will help steer its future. The multistory school building behind it will be torn down to make way for a new Little Tokyo branch library. The old rectory, built in 1933, will remain, possibly becoming space for continuing-education classes for Cal State--although much work would be needed to turn its tiny rooms into classrooms.A restaurant may be built on some of the garden space adjoining the rectory. On the other side of the church, toward 3rd Street, there would be new housing and parking structures.It is a dramatic turn of fortunes for St. Vibiana's. After being heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge quake, it came perilously close to being demolished two years later by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which had made the decision to build a new cathedral on the site. Eventually, the archdiocese chose a site eight blocks away; St. Vibiana's successor, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, is set to open next month.Though the old church has been gutted of pews and lighting fixtures, such treasures as colorful decorative painting, mosaics and tiles remain. The marble altar needs polishing but remains impressive, even in the dim light punctuated by slivers of sunshine that shoot through the boarded-up windows.
I assume that the national secular media has covered this thoroughly with the proper sense of outrage commensurate to what they'd do if someone, let's say...dropped a bag of groceries in front of a mosque?
Katie, Joseph and I took the ritual trip to the Knoxville Zoo this morning. I've been going to this zoo for - get this - almost 30 years now. I remember going there one Saturday with one of my high school friends (I can't remember who - maybe Mary Beth, maybe Mary Celeste - can you tell these were Catholic girls?), when it started raining. We got drenched, and for some reason, headed to the public library, where we met my beloved Latin teacher - long-haired harpist Ann Christeson whose whereabouts are now unknown to me - and greeted her, in my own memory, with all the giddy nonsense that two teen girls drenched with rain would offer.
Our high school senior superlative photos were taken at the zoo - I was voted Most Likely to Succeed (hah!), which didn't impress me just because I was so, so, so relieved not to have been voted Most Studious. That was not a badge of honor, not to anyone.
And almost every years since I've had children (remember, that's about 20 now), I've gone with one or more. It's changed over the years, and not, in my mind, for the better, although there's a reason for everything. No more hippos, polar bears, seals, sea lions or walruses. Only one kind of bear. A nice gorilla and chimp exhibit though - although they are the only monkeys there. It's odd - the zoo has been constantly changing and "improving" over the decades, but to my mind, it's just shrunk.
The two high points were the camel ride - and yes, Joseph got up there with Katie - and this from a little tyke who's just adapted to riding the horsie in the grocery store. (Of course there will be pics later). There was also a cute prairie dog exhibit - it was on a small built-up hill, into which had been built a child-sized tunnel which led into a clear dome rising above the ground - so your child could pop her head up right at prairie-dog level. It was cute.
However, what really torqued me was the bird show. Cute, cute - an amazing talking bird, vultures, gorgeous owls, and so on. But throughout, the little bird show lady chirped her script, telling us about the birds, telling us every other sentence about how important it was for us to care for the environment. Reuse, recycle, rewhatever.. And I don't mean just once - it was the theme of the entire show - as if my tin can in the recycle box was going to help an endangered bird in the Himalayas. I didn't quite figure how that worked. I am so tired of those people hectoring me.
Speaking of hectoring, while I was waiting for the camel ride to end, a girl in front of me dropped her drink. She burst out to her mother, "It was an accident - don't start preachin' at me, Mama!"
The rest of the day was about packing - my stuff, as well as items from here that I'm taking back, and cooking. My son Christopher lives, works and goes to school here, living in an apartment in West Knoxville with a guy named Drew and his ugly bird dog named Snoopy. I made him a big batch of red beans and sausage as well as a batch of chicken salad, which he loves. Maybe it will last through the weekend, maybe not.
Tomorrow, it's an early rising (the car's already packed), and the end to a very nice visit (as always) with my dad and Hilary, and back up to the Mighty Midwest. But will my husband be there? Or will we beat him coming home from the Busch race in Michigan? We'll see......
Edwards claims in his lawsuit that Monsignor Michael Smith Foster -- now the judicial vicar of the archdiocese -- fondled him on numerous occasions while he was an altar boy at Sacred Heart Church from 1980 to 1985. Foster is also the presiding judge of the Metropolitan Tribunal of the archdiocese, which handles annulments and issues of canon law.
From the Touchstone Blog, the top comment by Podles - on a Dallas News story about a molesting priest who was sued, whose sins cost the Diocese of Dallas 5 million bucks and who, after all this, and after he left the priesthood (mind you - after the crimes were discovered, admitted and sued over) - the Diocese of Dallas paid for his law degree from Tulane law school and gave him an $800 a month stipend for his first two years out.
I invite you to ask anyone who know who is a former priest who left active ministry to marry,was laicized and married in the Church, and is a faithful member of the Church whether their diocese paid for a professional degree after they left.
It is a sick, sick thing to do this, not only because it represents a grave injustice to coddle criminals, but the double standard communicates a double standard between - let's put it bluntly - treatment of men who are pederasts and treatment of men who seek to enter into normal, heterosexual, sacramental marriages. How bizarre is that?
I was in Maine with my parents and other relations, and, as a 17-year old girl, thought little of it. Sort of like the impact of some Vegas headliner's death on a kid today.
By the way - I've been meaning to blog on this for a week. We saw Elvis' friend...whoever (Esposito?) on Larry King the other night, and he said that Elvis was reading a book in the bathroom when he died. It was, he said a book about.....The Shroud of Turin
And yes, I've been to Graceland. It's much smaller than I expected and the interior decor - ghastly.
But I come not to bury Elvis, but to praise him. Look at the photos of that young man - just a teenager from Tupelo. Then listen to that voice on those Sun recordings. Something called genius, in its most natural state.
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