My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions for 2010



Dear Blog Visitors:

Whenever we focus on a new calendar year, we tend to think about the theme of endings and beginnings. For example, we remember those who died in 2009 and we move ahead in the hope that 2010 will somehow be a better year.

In Christianity, we think of life and death in a variety of ways. For example, we celebrate the miracle of birth, which is further enhanced via baptism, as depicted in the photo above (a baby I recently baptized). When Jesus instructed his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, it served as a reminder for future generations that He died for our sins, and through our baptisms, we have the enhanced opportunity to live good lives in the service of others.

As sad as death is to those who experience the loss of a loved one, there is also comfort when one thinks of the departed as entering into a new phase of eternal life. So, as we remember those who were close to us in their earthly lives, they remain with us via both our memories and in the promise that we will be reunited with them in God’s eternal home.

Whenever we enter a new year, it is very common to make resolutions. I have made five resolutions that I would like to share with you:

1.) I resolve to respect persons of all faith persuasions, understanding that the mystery of God resides in all of creation.

2.)I will continue to avail myself to persons who seek me for baptisms, weddings and funerals, recognizing that these persons simply wish to have God present for their celebrations, minus what they perceive to be institutional trappings.

3.)I will avoid those who try to entice me into theological arguments in cyberspace.

4.)I will continue to work behind the scenes for an opportunity for conservative and liberal Catholics to gather in an atmosphere of mutual respect, whereby diversity would be celebrated, as opposed to being attacked.

5.)I will continue to be open to the will of the Holy Spirit, understanding that God has a purpose for all of us.

I was rather amused when I stumbled across a web posting yesterday. The anonymous poster suggested that 2010 offers an opportunity for Catholics to celebrate my leaving the church, and further stated that Roman Catholicism is better off without me. I make no judgments about the anonymous poster, just as I hope he or she comes to realize that I continue to strive toward being a better person by leaving myself open to whatever God desires of me. (In reality, I have not officially left the Catholic Church; I am simply ministering independently of the institution, leaving myself open to God’s will and being open to what all houses of worship offer in the way of spirit-filled hope.)

My very best to all of you during 2010.

Peace to all,
Ray

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflection on Eastern Rite Churches



Dear Blog Visitors:

A few friends have inquired as to whether or not I have intentions of moving to an Eastern Rite church. In retrospect, I can certainly understand why an assumption might be made, considering that many of my Facebook friends are indeed Eastern Rite bishops and priests. In addition, married priests are plentiful in the eastern church, whereas celibacy remains normative in the western church – namely, within Roman Catholicism.

At present, I remain a member of Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester, New York. Spiritus Christi, which is independent of the Diocese of Rochester, is known for its inclusiveness and multi-faceted outreach ministries. However, considering that I have very little time to myself, due to my high-pressure secular job and weekend activities that occupy my time, I have been utilizing many Sunday mornings to spend some time alone in spiritual reflection. During this time alone, I often focus on liturgical matters.

Whenever I think about what makes worship meaningful to me, ritual comes into play. When ritual is celebrated correctly within Roman Catholicism, it can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience. Likewise, it would be an understatement to articulate the fact that Eastern Rite churches are indeed endowed with very rich liturgical rites and rituals. I therefore am very grateful to priests and bishops of eastern churches who have linked with me in cyberspace.

Despite my liberal tendencies, which have been most prominent in reform initiatives geared toward a more inclusive priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, I am also somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to my liturgical tastes. So, while I love the inclusive atmosphere at Spiritus Christi Church, I am also drawn to the elaborate rites celebrated in Eastern Rite churches. In this regard, I tend to favor medieval chants over the gospel music that is commonplace at Spiritus Christi.

I am encouraged by the fact that dialogue continues between western and eastern churches. I also appreciate the fact that I have experienced some wonderful interchanges with priests and bishops of Eastern Rite churches, whereas certain segments of the Roman Catholic Church continue to consider me an outcast because of my ordination as a married priest in 2006 by a married archbishop.

As I move toward retirement from my secular job (hopefully in 18 months), it will be my hope to situate myself in a worship community within my immediate neighborhood. Presently, I drive several miles on Sundays I attend liturgies at Spiritus Christi Church. So, I have been examining worship possibilities in close proximity. In this regard, it is interesting to note that there is a Coptic (eastern) community within walking distance of my home. This coincides with the study I have been undertaking in assorted eastern rites.

This has been a rather long answer to the question I am occasionally asked – specifically, whether or not I am moving toward membership in an Eastern Rite church. In the final analysis, the mystery of God can be experienced anywhere within the vastness of the universe. Communities we are drawn to are part of this sacred mystery. No particular institution can claim to have an exclusive claim to God, so I continue to embrace the vast assortment of religious communities that dot the landscape. In the meantime, I continue to minister to those who seek my services as an independent priest, whether it be as an officiant for a wedding, funeral or baptism. I simply hope that at least in some way, I am helping to bring the sacred mystery of God into the lives of others.

Let us all pray that 2010 is a year filled with abundant blessings.

Peace to all,
Ray

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thanks to World War II Veterans

Dear Blog Visitors:

I want to begin by extending my gratitude to the multitudes of people who sent messages of sympathy to me following the death of my father, Sidney Grosswirth, on November 18.

My father was born while World War I was in progress. When it came time for America to join its allies in World War II, my father was unable to serve, due to a broken back he suffered in a serious car crash. However, he often talked about his friends who were able to serve.

As I listened to two Christmas classics a few days ago, namely "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "White Christmas," I was reminded of the significance these songs had for soldiers and their families during World War II. As I reflected, thoughts of three of my father's friends immediately came to mind: Paul Roxin, Harold Wiesner and Chuck Snyder.

As Brenda and I were shopping at Eastview Mall a couple days ago, we noticed that Paul Roxin was autographing copies of a book he recently wrote, entitled 'One Foot On The Ground: A Pilot's Memoirs of Aviators & Aviation.' At age 93, Paul still has very vivid memories of his days in World War II. I was deeply touched at the message Paul wrote on the front page of my copy of his book: "To Ray, the son of a great father." Paul then related to me a very moving story about my father. (I am indeed very grateful that he and my father were good friends, beginning from their days as kids and lasting through their senior years.)

What follows are the front and back covers of Paul Roxin's book:





Harold Wiesner also grew up with my father and I remember him well. In addition to his distinguished service in World War II, Harold went on to become a well-respected lawyer in the Rochester area. Here is Harold's military photo:



Finally, I am also including a photo of Chuck Snyder. I didn't know Chuck, but his photo was included in an album my father saved for many years. Here is Chuck in his military uniform:



In conclusion, my thanks to Paul Roxin, Harold Wiesner and Chuck Snyder for their military service during World War II. While I continue to pray for world peace, I am likewise thankful to those in past generations who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Peace to all,
Ray

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Greetings to All Bloggers





Dear Blog Visitors:

I want to take this opportunity to wish all bloggers in cyberspace the very best of the holiday season.

I continue to be mindful of the fact that bloggers don't always agree with each other, particularly when it comes to a contentious issue such as church reform. However, especially at this time of year, it is good to put differences aside and instead embrace the symbolisms of peace and light, which are both characteristic of Hanukkah and Christmas.

I have included two photos of Brenda and me. We both extend holiday greetings to all who visit this blog.

Let us continue to pray for peace in our world.

Happy Hanukkah!





Dear Blog Visitors:

I want to take this opportunity to wish my Jewish relatives and friends a very blessed Hanukkah.

Hanukkah always brings back memories of my childhood, which was a wonderful Judeo-Christian upbringing. I continue to be thankful to my parents for exposing me to all the elements of Judaism and Catholicism. As a young boy, I had the privilege of attending Hebrew School and preparing for my bar mitzvah, while at the same time, celebrating Christian holidays with my mother's side of the family.

I often tell people that I am probably a rarity, in that I went through a bar mitzvah, baptism, confirmation, and finally became ordained a married Catholic priest.

In honor of my Jewish relatives, I am posting two photos. The first was taken of my father and his siblings around 1927. (My father is pictured on the far right in the first row.) The second photo was taken at my Bar Mitzvah in 1962.

Peace to all,
Ray

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Researching My Ancestry




Dear Blog Visitors:

I have been taking a break from the busyness of the holiday season to return to one of my passions - namely, researching my family ancestry.

If you have never taken the challenge of searching records that pertain to your family history, it is an enterprise I highly recommend, because I find it helps to give your life purpose/meaning.

Before beginning my ancestry quest several years ago, all I had was some very basic information. This led me on my quest. Researching my father's side of the family was especially challenging, because it required my looking for long-lost Hungarian data. Researching my mother's side of the family was a little easier, especially with the help of the Dodge Family Association, which has done some remarkable work, such as tracing the origins of Dodge settlers in America and beyond.

I thought you might like to see a couple old photos I discovered recently. The first one is of my maternal great-great-grandmother, Maria J. (Lightfoot) Dodge, who was married to my great-great-grandfather, Frank M. Dodge, who served with distinction as part of Company A of the 8th New York Regiment of the United States Cavalry. The second photo presents my maternal great-grandparents, Charles L. Dodge (1872-1936) and Louise Amelia(Johnson) Dodge (died in 1932).

My thanks to my ancestors for helping to give my life some purpose.

Peace to all,
Ray

Saturday, December 05, 2009

My First Visit with Santa


Dear Blog Visitors:

I normally try to stay focused on the religious aspects of the holiday season, such as reflecting on the weekly and weekend readings of Advent and Christmas. However, it is especially nostalgic for me this year, as I reflect back on the many holiday celebrations that took place amongst my religiously diverse family.

As a child, I felt privileged to celebrate Hanukkah with my father's side of the family and Christmas with my mother's side. (My father was Jewish and my mother was Roman Catholic.) With the recent death of my father, and the fact that both of my siblings live in other states, I am left to my family holiday memories this year, although my wife and I will celebrate the holidays together, in addition to our gathering with friends on Christmas Day.

As I reflect back on my Christmas celebrations as a child, I have very fond memories of my maternal grandparents, Franklin and Dorothy (Burke) Dodge. My very first visit with Santa was on the same day my grandparents purchased a new coat and hat for me. It was in December of 1953, when I was four-years-old. In the above picture, I am featured with my new hat and coat, and in the presence of Santa in the old Sibleys Department Store in downtown Rochester, New York.

My very best to all of you this holiday season.