Saturday, August 23, 2003

Churches and Chapels of Santa Barbara

In the past on this blog, I have been quick to point out particular churches in Santa Barbara that I find particularly beautiful, such as St. Barbara's Greek Orthodox Church, and even St. Sophia's in Los Angeles. I would like to continue doing that over the next few days, focusing on some of the other churches of Santa Barbara. Being possessed of a new digital camera, I hope to get up some good pictures for you. I am doing this not only because of my love for *some* of the churches around here, but also because it's a side of Santa Barbara that largely goes unnoticed, even by many who live here!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Come in, 99...

I'll bet you thought this stuff only existed in the movies. Well, now you can have your own:

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If you're paranoid enough, this might be your style, for the right price...

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Theology on Tap, 2

So last evening I went down to Camarillo, CA to attend the last in the series of topics for Theology On Tap, an event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The topic was Traditions, Rituals, and Funky Relics and, as I said in the last blog, it was basically a Q&A with the Auxiliary Bishop for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, Thomas J. Curry.

As I understand it, the original Theology On Tap began in the Archdiocese of Chicago and quickly spread around the country, offering talks and discussions on theology in casual settings for young adults, offering drinks including beer and wine. Last night's evening proceeded with the introduction of Bishop Curry. Fortunately, Bishop Curry is no stranger to us as we have worked with him several times over the past few years. He is the co-sponsor of the Bridge Building Young Adult ministry program with which I am currently involved. He is a very intelligent, soft-spoken man from Ireland -- he articulates the faith very well and even has a Ph.D. in American History with an emphasis on Church/State relations.

Bishop Curry prefaced the Q&A with a little discussion about his own life and the nature of his vocation. He expressed to us that the one thing that is exceedingly different now than in his youth is: choices. Now it is commonplace for young adults to choose to do several different things within their lives, including changing majors, changing careers multiple times, and moving around frequently. When he was discerning his future at our age, there wasn't a lot of freedom to do these different things, and with that came a small sense of comfort accompanied by restriction. Once you made up your mind about your career, you did it, and you rarely questioned it.

Bishop cautioned us by saying that even though having choices in life is good, it is often a source of great confusion. Young Adults of Generation X are terribly afraid of messing up, of making the wrong decision - so much so that they are much more stringent on themselves and have much more unrealistic expectations about their lives. Bishop Curry faulted the individualistic bent of our society for creating much of this confusion, even though it has created much of the choices. The implications of this in the development of a healthy spiritual life are staggering. I believe this has contributed to the laissez-faire attitude many young adults now have with regard to the Church, especially when it comes to embracing challenging teachings such as being open to the confusion often associated with a loving acceptance of children in married life. Bishop stressed that our society preaches so much about rights when it speaks of choices, and the question then becomes Why can't you give me the right to choose X instead of Is it right to choose X? The former destroys the role of moral compass and exalts the individual's ability to choose, whereas the latter humbles the self in deference to what is true.

At any rate, Bishop Curry then opened the floor to questions. Many questions were simple enough, yet it was good to see people asking questions the answers to which they sincerely didn't know, such as Why does the color of vestments vary?, and how does one become a bishop?, to which Bishop quipped, Well, you better not live like you're running for the job, or you'll never get it!. Other questions included why do the Eastern Churches make the sign of the cross differently than Latin rite Christians?, and how do we explain Mary and the Saints to non-Catholics?. Interestingly, there were also questions about predestination to which Bishop responded very well, illustrating the practical failure of embracing a theology of predestination in religious circles, particularly the effect on the Puritan communities of early America.

Toward the end, there was a question asked about relics, including whose relics were in the altars of our Archdiocese. Bishop Curry explained the purpose and history of relics, but added, yes, relics are bordering on 'strange.' Many older families embrace traditions that may appear strange to outsiders, and just think - the Catholic Church is a 2000 year old family, so of course we have many things that will appear strange! Although Bishop Curry did not know off hand whose relics were in the altars, I informed him later that over 90% of the altarstones in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles contain the relics of St. Candidus, the 3rd century Roman martyr. The remaining bones of Candidus that aren't in our altars are kept at Calvary Cemetary in Los Angeles. Just today, I also found this web page explaining Candidus a bit more and how he ended up in Los Angeles:
Candidus, known as the senator militum, was among the leaders of the Theban Legion who led the opposition to Maximian, noting that "we are your soldiers, but we are also servants of the true God. We cannot renounce Him who is our Creater and Master, and also yours even though you reject Him."

Maximian, seeing no hope of overcoming their constancy, ordered that the entire legion be put to death. This all occurred near Agaunum (c. 287 a.d.) and September 22nd is the day that Candidus and his companions are commemorated in the Roman Martyrology.

St. Eucherius, the bishop of Lyons during the first half of the 5th century, is the source of the story about Candidus. Though certain aspects of the account are ambiguous, it seems clear that the martyrdom is an historical fact.

For many centuries, the principal relics of Candidus and his companions were preserved in a 6th century reliquary at the Abbey founded by Saint Theodore of Octodurum...
Bishop Curry then told me, That's good to know! He then leaned over and quietly asked me, Who was that again? Boy, I am such a Catholic nerd.
Theology on Tap

I decided to go on a trip down to Camarillo with the other members of the Advisory Board of the Bridge Building Young Adult ministry this afternoon to hear the final evening in a series of Theology on Tap. This session basically featured a Q&A with our illustrious regional bishop, Thomas Curry. I will write more about the experience later today :)
In Assumptione Beatae Mariae Virginis
ad introitum, Rev. 12, 1.

Signum magnum apparuit in caelo:
mulier amicta sole,
et luna sub pedibus eius,
et in capite eius corona stellarum duodecim.

Psalm 97(98), 1:

Cantate Domino canticum novum: quia mirabilia fecit.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
sicut erat in principio
et nunc
et semper
et in saecula saeculorum.
I trust that you all had a blessed Feast of the Assumption. Less than two more weeks until the feast day of my beloved patron and friend, St. Augustine!


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