Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vocational Crisis?

Shortly after we got here last month, we went to Mass at the Cathedral (no, there is no TLM here in Cheyenne, and the closest one is 40 miles away in Ft. Collins) and during the intercessory prayers, a plea to "end the draught of vocations in our diocese."

The smartalek in me wanted to say "This is Wyoming. Get more people and we can get more priests."

This isn't totally untrue. According to the Factfinder on the United States Census Bureau website, there were 522,830 people living in Wyoming in 2007. Compare that with 793,010 people in Indianapolis, Indiana alone. In other words, there are 270,180 more people living in Indianapolis than there are in the entire state of Wyoming. Do we honestly have enough priests in Wyoming with such a small population?

Considering that Wyoming is also over two and half times the size of Indiana from a geographical standpoint, the answer, of course, is no.

As you all already know, I came from the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. In 2004, there were over 98,000 Catholics living in that diocese, with 95 diocesan priests and 19 religious priests for a total of 114 priests over an area of 9,832 square miles. In the same year, the Diocese of Cheyenne had 50 diocesan priests and 10 religious priests for a total of 60 priests over an area of 97,548 square miles for 47,800 Catholics. Comparing the two dioceses, Cheyenne had roughly half the priests that Lafayette-in-Indiana had to cover roughly ten times the area.

That ain't easy.

So how is this fixed? Obviously the Diocese of Cheyenne needs more priests. What I noted in Indiana about vocations was simply this: The parishes where there's Eucharistic Adoration on a regular if not perpetual basis are the ones that have the most amount of vocations coming from them. A mere eight years ago, when the priest who was saying our TLM for our deanery was entering the seminary, there were only about two seminarians before him. Now eight years later, there are 27 in formation for the diocese. Those parishes with perpetual adoration, like Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Carmel, Indiana have quite a few seminarians in formation for that diocese right now. In Lafayette, they have one place for perpetual Eucharistic Adoration - at the St. Elizabeth Hospital Chapel, and as a result, there are quite a few vocations coming from St. Boniface. They not only have quite a few diocesan seminarians but also recently had a priest for the FSSP ordained from there within the last year.

The bottom line is this:

  • Promote perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Those seem to be the parishes where the most vocations come from.
  • Stick to orthodoxy. If the parish has too many dissidents attending it, it's likely that most of the people there are going to try to "fix" the problem by promoting heterodox solutions. These solutions never seem to work. The young potential seminarians are not interested by and large in the "solutions" from 1976. They want to stick to the teachings of the Church and following the Pontiff's lead.
  • Select orthodox seminaries to send young men. Just like I aluded to above, if you send seminarians to orthodox seminaries, and other candidates know about it, they'll be more attracted to the priesthood. There's an excellent seminary in our area down in the Archdiocese of Denver that Archbishop Chaput opened a few years ago that's fantastic. They have a different kind of vocations problem: Too many seminiarians and not enough space to put them all.
I think this would be the best start for the Diocese of Cheyenne. If they can get this far, establishing a minor seminary at Wyoming Catholic College would not only be feasible but likely necessary into and of itself.

But first things first.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


We brought some food with us from Indiana; mostly just cereal and extra juice for the kids and what not. We wound up taking them over to St. Joseph's Food Pantry here in Cheyenne today. Our freezer, fridge and cupboards are stocked with food, I paid $1.409 per gallon of gas today and after my "weekend" (Wednesdays and Thursdays), I'm actually looking forward to going back to work, and not because I can't stand being around the house but rather because I totally love my job now.

Yeah, we've got a LOT to be thankful for this year.

Last year, I worked in a job that made me miserable in a company which I didn't like (they gave to Planned Murderhood), producing a product that I've not believed in my entire professional career. When we got the word that many of us were going to be laid off at the end of April, I was actually somewhat relieved. I was going to start looking after one year anyway.

Easier said than done.

The job market in Indianapolis wasn't too different than the rest of the country. The problem with being in broadcasting in Indianapolis is that the market is tight even when the economy is good. People just hang onto their jobs there for good reason, and I can't fault my former colleagues for that. In the same situation, I'd be no different.

We tried everything we possibly could to stay there, and at my wits end, I called my uncle in Houston. I'd not spoken to him since I was about 10 years old. He gave me some of the best advice I'd ever been given.

I needed to move. I needed to leave everything I know and love behind.

That's not how he said it; my version reads a LOT harsher than that. But what it boiled down to was this: You have to go where the jobs are. You need to be able to rely on yourself, and if that means leaving everything you know behind, then it must be done. He made a lot of sense, although we weren't done exhausting all of our options so we thought. When those were exhausted, I started rifling out resumes all over the country. Six months of unemployment was far too long, and it was taking it's toll.

A few weeks later, I had an interview here in Cheyenne. A couple of weeks after the interview, I had an offer.

I'm grateful to my uncle for giving me the advice. TV people aren't supposed to grow complacent. We are drifters; drifting from market to market. Thirteen years in Indy was probably a little too long, to be honest with you. That said, I do hope that I can stay with my present company as long as I can. It's a top notch operation, I like all my co-workers, and Cheyenne and Wyoming have really grown on me. The only thing I would have done different is come out here about three years ago. Granted, this company does have a similar facility down in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, and I'd consider going there for the right position, but if I stay in Cheyenne for awhile, I'll be perfectly content to do so.

So, what am I thankful for this year? Having not just a job that I totally love but one that pays me more than I've ever made before, in a city that's cheaper to live in. I can go home on I-80 heading west, looking at the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The people are extremely friendly and easy going. I'm thankful that my friend Desmond and his wife put my wife and I up for a couple of nights in Denver while we drove up here to search for a place. They, too, were instrumental in making this a success. I'm thankful for my parents helping us out and taking the kids while we settled in. We couldn't have done it without them either. And I'm thankful that if nothing else happened this year, at least I got back in touch with my uncle.

Yeah. I have a lot to be thankful for indeed.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving this year.

FUN FACT ABOUT WYOMING: Not so much about Wyoming as it is about my three year old. When he says "Wyoming" it's not much different than when he says "Yao Ming".

Mail Bag

Woo-Hoo! I've got a few comments to what I wrote, so it's now time for the stagecoach to ride in with the High Plains Papist Mail Bag...

In response to Pro-Choice Violence, Clairvaux writes in "It was in the pro-life news today that 2 women became really ill after someone put a chemical on the parking lot near them. One was under care for 4 hour at the hospital really sick. They are considering it a deliberate chemical attack. Pro-life people pray and are quite/peaceful. And yet such hate and foul language spews from the pro-aborts. A few might need an exorcism."

Once again, the pro-choice lie is exposed. Their "peaceful" movement is off the charts in violence. I can't think of anything more violent than killing innocents. The great majority of them are against the war for the reason that they don't like the violence against innocents yet can't seem to understand that they not only condone the killing of innocents but those who are the smallest and weakest of us all: The unborn. To show you just how "peaceful" they are, they're more than willing to try to kill or injure you doing it. Bleeding brilliant.

On the same note, Paul writes "What the pro-life side should do is hire a "goon", like they have in hockey - the one guy who's job it is to dole out a few knuckle sandwiches whenever the pro-aborts get physical."

The pro-life movement can't return violence for violence. Even the lives of those who perpetuate the violence and those who attack are sacred in the eyes of God...

That said, what is Bob Probert up to these days?

In response to The Word is the Word, Cynthia writes "This is a great piece, Chuck. One thing that bugs me (but you know I'm a V2 baby!) is how everybody approaches it as either-or; either Latin or vernacular. It seems to me that with the indult we have a magnificent opportunity for both-and; both vernacular and Latin masses available to the People of God."

I wasn't born until 1970 myself, but the way that I see it, 90% of the people who don't like the idea of a Latin Mass are mostly afraid of not understanding the Latin. What I don't think that they understand is that if we got used to the Latin again, it wouldn't matter where we went to Mass or what language the vernacular is in because we'd have more uniformity. I also think that people are afraid that they're not going to understand ANY of it, which is of course not true since in the case of the 1962 Missal, the epistle and the Gospel are re-read in the vernacular and the homily is, of course, in the vernacular as well. When I miss the English Mass and go to a Spanish Mass (when I can't get to the Tridentine Mass for some reason or another in the first place), I don't understand any of it, or at least as much as my two years of high school Spanish will allow me.

Not that I have a problem with the Novus Ordo in general. That's what I'm going to have to work with for awhile, but I'm confident that I may be in the right place to see if a Tridentine Mass can be instituted at the parish we just joined and then people will have the option of going to either. That's what I pray for, anyway.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Word is the Word

I originally wrote this next piece for the April 27, 2008 edition of The Catholic Moment, the newspaper for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. When we still lived back east, I was doing guest editorials for The Moment. For those of you who think that this was a little "soft" on the use of Latin, please keep in mind that I was writing this for a diocesan paper trying to drum up more interest in the Latin Mass. For those of you who've already read this in print or in one of the Yahoo groups I moderate, I apologize for the rerun.

The Word is the Word

A couple of years ago, I remember having a conversation with my sister on the telephone. I was telling her about an incident a few days prior, when a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door. They said something that made me think, “That’s not correct. Look in the beginning of the Gospel of John.” The two parts that stood out the most were “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2) and “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). I told my sister that I hear this in Mass every day!

In Latin.

At the time, I was going to the daily traditional Latin Mass at Holy Rosary in Indianapolis. In the 1962 Roman Missal, they have what’s called “The Last Gospel,” or the last Gospel reading before we leave Mass, and it’s the same Gospel reading every day: the beginning of the Gospel of John.

My mind went straight for those passages during the little visit with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I assume it’s because I was hearing them day in and day out at Mass, despite the fact that they were being read in Latin.

My sister had some excellent insight here. She said that she got the same feeling when she went to the bar mitzvah of the child of a friend of hers. Even though what was being read was in Hebrew, she just kind of “got it.”

“The Word of God speaks to your heart, regardless of what language it’s in.”

She really hit the nail on the head there. The Word of God is the Word of God, regardless of what language it’s in. I don’t speak Polish. If someone proclaims the Word of God to me in Polish, does it mean that it’s any less of the Word of God? I certainly wouldn’t think so. I’m sure the same argument was used 40 years ago with the idea of broadening the use of the vernacular, that we shouldn’t be afraid to use the vernacular. Likewise, 40 years later, we can apply the same logic to the use of Latin in the Church. After all, in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council, it does say that “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36). We need to have that connection with our past through our liturgy. Even the early Church recognized that, deciding to keep the Kyrie from the original Greek when the liturgical language was changed to Latin.

This is not so much an argument against using the vernacular as much as it’s a simple reminder that we shouldn’t be afraid to use Latin. It is, after all, still the official language of our Church.

This guest editorial was written by Chuck Abraham, a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel and a board member for Una Voce Carmel.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Points of Interest

Wow. The last few posts I wrote were pretty heavy, and the last few days has my head swimming with things I want to write about, all of which are very important issues, but I'm not sure where to even begin. So I'm going to lighten the mood a little with this post...

Wyoming is big. I mean REALLY big. You wouldn't believe just how big...oh wait. I can't plagiarize Douglas Adams. I can, however, give you a list of places I intend on going within the next year.

Roughly thirty five miles east of Cheyenne is the town of Pine Bluffs. In Pine Bluffs is a nice shrine to Our Lady of Peace. I think I initially saw the flyer for this shrine at St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne. The couple who was behind it apparently made a pilgrimage to European apparition sites and decided to erect this shrine. I think this was an excellent idea. I remember the Marian Wayside Shrine on US-41 in St. John, Indiana from when I was a kid. We need more of those around. You just don't see those kind of things anymore and it's too bad. We've become such a politically correct society that ANY outward display of religion is frowned upon (unless it's the state religion of atheism, then it seems to be perfectly permissible). Seeing this is so close, we may just go see this on the next nice day (which we apparently DO get from time to time in Wyoming).

The Carmelite Monks of Wyoming are in Clark, Wyoming, just up the road from Cody. Being close to Yellowstone National Park, you can imagine that this is some of the most beautiful parts of the world, let alone our country. These monks lead a simple life of prayer and work. They use the 1962 Missal and are the only ones in the Diocese of Cheyenne to do so (which is great in the way that we do have Tridentine Masses here in Wyoming but is somewhat inconvenient being literally across the state from them). Plus, they roast and sell their own coffee. This sounds like the kind of monastery I want to support (or likely live next door to). I can't wait to make this road trip!

About 170 miles southeast of Jackson, Wyoming is the town of Lander. Lander is the home of Wyoming Catholic College. This is a liberal arts college where the student learns the traditional classical liberal arts curriculum. These kind of colleges and universities are few and far between these days. Many of them bought into the spirit of the day during the 1960s "Enlightenment" (Read Here: Modernist Heresy) and thus abandoned the traditional structures of an education in liberal arts. Wyoming Catholic tries to revive that classical education and once again makes great what was once commonplace among Catholic institutions of higher education. Plus you can take equine courses, although that IS common among colleges in Wyoming.

So this is the inteniary for the next few months. It will be difficult to get out when it starts snowing, as some roads close in the winter around here. What I can visit, though, I'll make when it's nice.

In any case, I'll be back at it within the next day or two, shooting from the hip as usual. Even the Drifter has to have a moment of peace every so often.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Our Cultural Earthquake

According to an article from ZENIT today, Cardinal Stafford went on record about the election of Barack Obama.

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” the cardinal said, “[…] a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

"On Nov. 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake,” continued the cardinal. He pointed out that president-elect Barack Obama campaigned on an “extremist anti-life platform,” and described him as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.”

There's an old punk song from a band called Discharge that comes to mind.

Protest and Survive - Discharge

The savage mutilation of the human race is set on course

Protest and survive, protest and survive

It's up to us to change that course
Protest and survive, protest and survive

Punk songs aren't very long. This one in particular is short and repetitive, but I digress...

Counterculture, to those who are true to it, is not a choice so much as it's thrust upon them. At some point, you only want to do what you think is right, and sometimes doing what's right isn't doing what's popular (a hard lesson I learned from years in northwest Indiana's punk and metal scenes). When we live in the Culture of Death, we must be the counterculture. The Culture of Life IS the counterculture now. We must refuse and resist the Culture of Death at every turn. That's all of our jobs. Some may be called on to be martyred, but it's not up to just them. It's up to all of us.

The next four years is going to be difficult for the Culture of Life to say the least, but if we cling to Our Lord in the Eucharist and Our Lady, we'll help topple the Culture of Death. Pagan Rome might have been burning while Nero fiddled, but a Catholic culture emerged from the ashes. It's going to happen again, and we can help bring that to light, but not without struggle, sacrifice, and clinging to the Truth.

Time to go to work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Here We Go Again

Here we go again.

According to the Catholic League, here's what Bill Maher said about the Church yet again on his November 14 show...

“A Catholic priest in South Carolina has told his congregation: If you voted for Obama you can’t receive Communion. That’s right. The cracker won’t let you get the cracker. He said supporting Obama constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil. Then he proceeds to pass around the plate so everyone could chip in to payoff the child f------ lawsuits.””

This is from the same man who brought us the classic "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death."

Bill Maher is simply not funny. That's why ABC dropped him in 2002. He so desperately wants to be David Letterman, Jay Leno, or Conan O'Brien and it's simply not in the blood that runs through his B-movie veins. So instead, he decides to take his act to HBO, where he doesn't have so many FCC rules to follow, and start spitting his venom at the Catholic Church. It's not politically correct to make jokes about Jews, lest you incur the wrath of Abe Foxman (another one of my "favorite" people, largely because he seems to do more harm than good in Judeo-Catholic relations), and I think he's afraid to make jokes about Moslems, Hindus, and other religions who have extremist groups within them who are known for violence.

Perhaps Maher is feeling the need to dumb his show down by writing the rough equivilant of toilet humor into his monologue. You know: Getting that "least common denominator" demographic. After all, if you keep attacking the Church and only one guy, Bill Donohue, responds, then it must be working, right?

So what's Maher's deal? Bad writers (himself included)? Is he on the take from anti-Catholic groups feeding him money to spew vitriol against the Church? Is he merely aware that without spewing said vitriol that as a comedian, he sucks?

Perhaps without the Catholic Church, Maher is reduced to "pull my finger" jokes. It would suit his writing capabilities.

Monday, November 17, 2008

WANTED: Child Friendly Parish


Now that we're settling in to our new surroundings here in Cheyenne, we're beginning to "parish shop". You know, the tedious task of finding the right parish in which to attend Mass every week. While I won't name any of them by name, the place we went to last week stuck out in my head, and not for good reasons.

There was a girl there right in front of us, perhaps late teens or early twenties. At first she was pretty non-descript, but shortly after the readings started, as my kids were finally beginning to settle down some, she turned to her grandmother (or at least the old lady sitting beside her), pointed in our direction and said "I can't hear anything. I may as well just leave now."

As we sat there in shock, the first thing that went through my wife's head was "HELLO?!?!? WE'RE SITTING RIGHT HERE!!!" I was a little more laid back with my thinking. I was more along the lines of "Thank you. You've just helped me narrow our choices down to one of the other parishes..." She then went on to stick a piece of gum in her mouth during the homily (yes, she DID go up to receive the Eucharist) and then started texting friends on her phone after she returned to her seat.

Yes, this particular instance did happen at a Novus Ordo, but you know, it happened during a TLM back in Indiana as well. One particular time, during the first TLM for the diocesan priest who was overseeing our Latin Mass community, one lady turned to my wife angrily and said "WHY DON'T YOU JUST LEAVE?!?!?" and we've had some people making comments in passing as well during other TLMs.

Just like not everyone at the Novus Ordo is necessarily nasty towards those of us with small children, not everyone at the TLMs are either. We got a lot of people who commended us for bringing our children to the TLM because of the importance of learning the TLM from an early age. One guy said me "Are those your kids? I know how it is: We had six ourselves. By the way, you only need two candles lit for a Low Mass..."

Those people are the true Traditional Catholics; those who embrace the old liturgy but don't forget the social teachings on abortion or contraception as well. What makes me the angriest is when I hear someone complaining about "those noisy kids in Mass" get into their car with pro-life bumper stickers all over it and take their two children home.

What's the matter? You can talk the talk but you can't walk the walk?

The bottom line is simply this: We believe in the Church's teaching on contraception. We also believe in the Church's teaching that we, as parents, are our children's first teachers. We will be taking our children to Mass to teach them what they're supposed to do and how they're supposed to behave. We will NOT take them to the Crying Room (that's utterly useless), the Nursery (to reward them for not behaving during Mass? Don't think so), or the "Children's Liturgy of the Word" (too disruptive during a Novus Ordo). Our main responsibility as Catholics is to teach our children well enough to stay Catholic. Innovations such as what I just named hurt more than they help. I'm not going to stop taking our children to either forms of the Mass because some pharasee "isn't getting anything out of it." You're supposed to be going to Mass to give
, not get.

If you disagree with my sentiments, that's fine. You're more than welcome to do so. We'll see you at Mass on Sunday. We'll be sitting behind you.

And if you do have problem with my children, have the stones to say it to my face.

Now, the lighter side...

FUN FACT ABOUT WYOMING: If you go to a regular sit-down style restaurant, do NOT make your hamburger a double. Not unless you missed your last meal or intend on missing your next one. One hamburger patty will suffice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pro Choice Violence

On November 10, Fr. Frank Pavone from Priests for Life received the following comment on his blog...


I am predicting that there will be more anti-abortion terror because of this election. I AM ALSO PREDICTING THAT THIS TIME IT WILL BE ANSWERED IN KIND BY PRO-CHOICE COUNTERTERRORISTS, who will mount similar terrorist attacks against well-known right-to-lifers. FATHER FRANK will be a natural target for pro-choice counterterrorists.

I therefore advise you, Fr Frank, if you read that there has been another abortion-clinic shooting or bombing, get out of town immediately. Take a vacation abroad. Go visit the Vatican. If there is another act of anti-abortion terror, your life will not be safe in the USA.

Good luck."

The full text of the post is here.

Fr. Pavone goes through the entire post siting the violence that's done against pro-lifers, and as per usual, there's one guy who sits there and denies it to the bitter end that "the number of people who have been killed, or shot, in the USA for being right-to-lifers is ZERO."

Ever notice when the evidence is clear on something that there's always someone who has to insist that it never happened? Don't Neo-Nazis still insist the Holocaust of Jewish people during WWII never happened, either, even when there's overwhelming evidence?

When violence does occur by those in the pro-life movement, why is it that organizations such as Priests for Life or Feminists for Life ALWAYS decry the violence, distance themselves from those involved, and in some cases offer rewards for the capture of those who take it too far, yet do you ever see Planned Parenthood or NARAL doing the same thing? Of course not! By definition of their very existence, those groups feed and thrive on violence; violence against the unborn, violence against women, and violence against those who disagree with them.

Abortion is slickly marketed. The entire abortion industry issues their propaganda, and then basically cry foul every time someone, anyone disagrees with them. The only real difference between their propaganda machine and Vladimir Lenin's propaganda machine during the Russian Revolution is that when you didn't agree with Soviet ideology, you were usually shot. Likewise, violence occurs against pro-lifers at an alarming rate, and yet those in the pro-choice camp insist it doesn't happen. Doesn't the letter to Fr. Pavone indicate that maybe it DOES happen, and will happen on a larger scale soon?

The letter to Fr. Pavone isn't counterterrorism - it's terrorism. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this, and anyone who threatens a non-violent priest is, in fact, a coward at best.

I guess I should expect that out of an industry and ideology that thrives on killing those weaker than they are, though, shouldn't I?

Chuck, MI

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quod Inferno in Wyoming Ego Agendo?

The Drifter is in town.

Cheyenne, Wyoming to be precise as to which town. My name is Chuck Abraham. I am a broadcast television operator working in Cheyenne, but originally am from the south suburbs of Chicago nestled in the northwest corner of Indiana. I just spent the last thirteen years in the Indianapolis area, so Cheyenne is, to say the least, different.

While in Indiana, I was writing guest editorials for my diocesan paper, The Catholic Moment. Holy Mother Church certainly is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, that's for sure. I love the Traditional Latin Mass and was a founding board member of Una Voce Carmel. I hope to help bring the Traditional Latin Mass here to Cheyenne, but having a bishop first probably would be a good idea. Bishop Ricken was transferred to the Diocese of Green Bay shortly before we got here.

If you're asking yourself why I don't just find an independent chapel or whatnot, I have a simple answer: Staying within the authority of the Church is critical if you want to make the Traditional Latin Mass more available. I know, I know...not all bishops are going to be open to the idea, or if they do, some of them make it damn near impossible to make it worthwhile. There are ways to get it done, though, and as time goes on, I'm going to write about what I know that has worked.

One downfall I've seen with many traditionalist sites and blogs, though, is that they refuse to talk about ANYTHING else except liturgy, dogma, and doctrine. These things are all extremely important, but not being a one-trick pony (or a three-trick pony in this case), I'm not going to limit this blog at that. There are enough other issues to talk about that are critically important in the Church today that I think get ignored too many times by traditionalists.

Sit back and enjoy the ride. :)

In Christ Through Mary,
Chuck, MI