8 August 2020


 I have been thinking about my son in relation to the rest of the family.

On the whole, we are a dysfunctional lot. We have, as the saying goes, more issues than Vogue. Among the four neurotypical (whatever that means) ones there are specifically issues of depression and anxiety. It colours our whole lives.
Frodo's autism colours his whole life as well in far greater ways than our anxiety and depression. You can see that by the way we refer to these things. We *suffer from* depression, we *have* anxiety, but he *is* autistic. The condition is totalizing in ways that the others are not.
But he is different from us in other ways. He is, without reservation, the happiest of us. That is an incredibly low bar, to be sure, but he is seldom other than happy, and his joy often takes the form of a hyperactive exuberance. It cannot be contained, as though it must simply burst out of him through every pore in his body. And he has the exact opposite of anxiety: he doesn't have a care in the world.
In that sense, he helps to balance us out- our darkness and cares are brought to a level by his cheer and lightness. He is a powerful source of happiness in this family. Rose coloured glasses? Perhaps. But for the moment, I have managed to see him not as a problem to be tended or an issue to be fixed, but rather a cure to our problems. He still needs all our help, to be certain, but he, in his own way, simply by being himself, is also helping us.
Or so it seems to me.

1 August 2020

Father Damien

So, Father Damian of Molokoi is back in the news, thanks to some politician down in the States complaining that his statue shows 'white supremecist tendencies, or somesuch.  Some people are livid.  Perhaps we should regard this as an opportunity to speak about Father Damien.  People attacking the man on false or ignorant or malicious pretenses (or all three at once) are nothing new.  In fact, here is Robert Louis Stevenson, or Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Doctor Jeckyll and Mister Hyde fame sounding off against a detractor over a century ago.  

20 July 2020

I will make you fishers....

I arranged for a some of my Knights and a few friends to go salmon fishing on Saturday.  We chartered a boat and went out onto Lake Ontario.  It was to get some of us together and have some fun in a way that would not require us to go to confession.  I would call the day a success.

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(Most of those fish we're holding are in the 20 pound range. By the time we were done we had about 140 pounds of fish in the boat.)

20 June 2020

Tomorrow, we return

Some of us, anyway.

When the government announced that churches would be allowed to return at 30% capacity, I thought 'No problem with that.  The Mass I attend would have to double in size to reach that.'  However, with the other regulations- 2 metre distancing, etc,- there is no way we can reach even 10% capacity, so a lot of people won't be able to attend.  We have set up a page for people to get tickets or register for Mass, but, for some reason, the secretary was concerned that visitors would take up all available space and crowd out parishioners, and therefore made the place to register very difficult to find on line until late yesterday.  I asked that a sign be put up in front of the church telling people that they need to register before attending Mass on Sunday. That suggestion was dismissed.  I have a strong feeling this will not go well.

I have been wondering what effect the quarantine will have on us Catholics.  I had hoped, back at the beginning, that it would draw more attention among Catholics to what we were  missing, how fragile the ability to go to Mass every Sunday is, and perhaps make strengthen their attachment to the Mass.  I imagine it has had that effect on some,  but now I am wondering if it will have the opposite affect on others- they didn't miss it, and found they liked sleeping in on Sunday.  If the Sunday obligation can be dismissed and dispensed with, perhaps it was never that much of an obligation to begin with, they may think.  On the whole, I believe this is another situation where we 'are being sifted like wheat.'

At any rate, my attendance at Mass for tomorrow and for perhaps a little while afterwards is fairly secure: I have been asked to sing. This puts me in an interesting position as there will be no congregational singing, so only the introit, communion and recessional shall be sung solo, by me.  (You may remember the story of the choir in the States that ignore quarantine and held a choir practice, and then half the members of the choir came down with covid-19 and a significant number died?  Because of that, singing is listed as a high risk activity. )  So the fact that I will be going solo opens some interesting possibilities for me.  I no longer have to stick to the CBW III.  I may sing whatever I want.  This makes me want to drum the ends of my fingers together like some Bond villain contemplating his latest evil plot.  However, I should use my power for Good and not Evil, and bitter experience has taught me that there are few ways to split a congregation faster than to fiddle with the music.  And this is the first week back.  There won't be many coming, and I don't want those who do come to leave wishing they had been among those who could not attend.  So I will continue doing the communion proper, but not the full propers.  Yet.  Also, I can use something other than the terrible modified lyrics in the hymnal.  One of the hymns I will be doing tomorrow was modified to be inclusive, and in so doing they put in a transitive clause where an intransitive one was required. Dreadful not only in content, but in grammar as well.  I will be using the unmodified words instead.   

17 June 2020

Finally, our long, long Lent is drawing to a close.

Today in Toronto, Catholics began returning to daily Mass.  Cardinal Collins welcomed them to Mass for the first time in months this morning.

I know, I know, communion in the hand only is... suboptimal, shall we say?  Let's stick with the positives: we may again go to Mass and receive Our Lord.  Thanks be to God.

For those who are in places and cannot yet return to Mass, I will remember you in my prayers at Mass this Sunday.

9 June 2020

Keeping busy

I've been back at work for weeks now.  The 'quarantine' lasted only a few weeks for me, before work decided I was 'essential' and had to come in.  ironic, because I am almost at the exact tenth anniversary of when a bunch of us were called into a meeting and told we were fat and our hours were going to be cut.  All the essential worker who are back now had their hours cut then. 

I've still had some time on my hands, and I've been filling it in my shop   I'll have some photos up of my work soon.  I have also been giving virtual walks, explaining the history of our city, and Catholics within it, and some of the history and trivia of our churches.  I've talked about the arrival of the Famine Irish, how to read a church, the history and art of our cathedral, the monuments on University avenue, The Battle of York, the Battle of Stoney Creek, and about the time every single church in Toronto was placed under interdict.  Tonight I will be doing a repeat of an earlier walk, dealing with the clashes between the Orange and the Green in Toronto, including the Jubilee Riots, the second of which was the largest riot in Toronto history, when about 8-10,000 protestants attacked a procession of about 2,000 Catholics.

If any are interested, let me know, and I can try and arrange something for you.

8 June 2020

And now for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the current news cycle.

I have been watching daily Mass Live Streamed from St Michael's Cathedral basilica since the quarantine began, ad I noticed a while back that our Archbishop, Thomas Cardinal Collins, has the same symbol on his vestments- it's the one in the centre picture below:

The picture comes from the website for St Peter Celestine Parish in Pakenham. It was thanks to them that I learned the meaning of the symbol.  I recognized elements of it, but I couldn't put it all together.

The Lamb, representing Christ, the Agnus Dei, holds the labarum, the flag of the Church Triumphant, as he sits upon a closed book- the book being the bible, and closed symbolizing that it has been fulfilled.  The whole sits atop a cloud, symbolizing heaven.  Seven seals hang from the book, referring to Revelations and the seven seals mentioned therein, also symbolizing that the book will be opened again, in the fullness of time.

So that solved the riddle of my cardinal's vestments.  Here's the link to the website for St Peter Celestine- it's worth a look, although the photos are not of the highest quality.  The church is a beautiful little church, and its walls and windows are absolutely covered with symbols and stories from our faith.  The website has a virtual tour which gives a very good explanation of the symbols, and how they are organized throughout the church.  It's worth a look.